WE think Mr. Churchill's attitude in regard to the timing of the General Election fully jus
tified. Evidently it would have been better had an electiqp been postponed by general consent until after the end of the Japanese war and the •obtaining of some sort of indication as to how Europe was to be settled. politic
ally and economically. It is a ridiculous exaggeration to suppose that the present Government of all Parties, even if it has to rely on an outdated Parliameret, is no longer democratic. By contemporary Continental standards—'and most of all by the so often invoked standards of Russia—it is a. model of democratic and representative Government. No one really doubts that in any future Government, however based, the chief posts will again be occupied by established party leaders. And it is more then arguable that in present conditions a party Government, faced with profoundly" important decisions involving the world's future, must be less representative than a coalition Government.
Still the general consent was not obtainable, and the Prime Minister's letler to Mr. Attlee seems to suggest that he himself, was not sanguine of obtaining support for an indefinite postponement—a postponement which would have involved the otherwise undesirable prolongation of the life of the present Parliament.
Thus the real practical question was narrowed down to the choice between a July or an autumn election. The Labour Party's attempt to raise the cry of "Coupon Election " was well and truly met by the Prime Minister's second letter. For our part, we should have thought that the more conservative programme, more especially in view of the general political trend in Europe, required a longer time to make its appeal felt than the
attractive sounding promises of Labour. But the vital point is that any British admipistration facing a General Election within six months is practically powerless. For some months now the Government has been weakened by the expectation of an election and tho consequent angling for position among its members and supporters. Nothing could surely be more suicidal for all concerned than any prolonging of the agony during a period when it is all-important that decision, firmness and independence as regards both foreign and domestic issues should be the key-note of the British administration. If an early election is necessary the only way to ensure real government is to get the business over as soon as possible so:that a new administration can go ahead backed by the latest decision of the electorate.
Standing Alone I T is well that we should consider • again for a moment how immensely
important are the issues at stake— issues, the handling of which will he entrusted to whatever party or coalition emerges from the electoral decision.
To-day Great Britain and America stand before the would es the sole guardians (among the major Powers) of the principles for which the war was fought. Though it is unfortunately true that the need for appeasement while the war was being waged has forced us to become partneis in highly immoral policies and decisions, notably in regard to Poland and 'Yugoslavia, it will be generally conceded by fairminded men that we were faced by a most painful dilemma. And at least it will he agreed that we have stood to gain nothing by the decisions which we were forced to make, And to-day Britain and America remain the twb major Powers who are demanding nothing for themselves and are stand% ing 'arm for international decisions honestly based on the general interest.
Russia without waiting for any peace conference or even temporary agreement has set her Polish flag on the Oder, having annexed Poland itself. She has defined her boundaries in East Prussia and annexed a part of Czechoslovakia. She has settled unilaterally with Finland and the Baltic States. Tito (certainly acting with Russian approval) makes it quite clear that he well understands the truth of the proverb that possession is nine-tenths of the law. Who imagines that, whatever abstract protests he may make, he will ever retreat from territory he has claimed, conquered (even against allies) and administered (without the smallest regard for law or democracy)? And France, despite her weakness, is preparing the way for the annexation of the Rhineland, meanwhile sharpening her sword and trying out her hand in territories she occupies, as for example in Italian border territories and in the tslear East.
All this makes the most patent nonsense of the Atlantic Charter and turns the painful legal labours of San Francisco into a poor joke.
Against it all stand Britain and America, and whether the world is gradually to recover from the banditry of war or to descend to an open international morality of smash and grab will depend in large part on the firmness and discernment of the next British GovernMent.
Signs of Sterility Signs of Sterility 1A7IIAT we have said is, we think, " broadly true. But we believe that British and American policy still fall very far short indeed of what it ought to be.
Despite the good intentions and a record contrasting so obviously with that of others, there is something dangerously negative and complacent about everything that is being done. A kind of moral blindness seems to prevent the intention from being carried into effect, as though the ethical principle were rendered sterile and even self-deceptive because divorced from the seed of Christian life. Already we have fallen behind the clever Russians in a matter where a living propaganda bears a closer superficial resemblance to Christian charity than to a dehumanised ethic. The Russians, while distinguishing carefully (and no doubt to their own great convenience) between what they call Fascist and others, have gone out of their way to make themselves welcome to the Ger
man people. We, on the other hand, seeking to carry out woodenly a self-righteous policy of not soiling our hands by contact with what we have been taught to regard as dirt are leaving the German people " to stew in their own juice." thus being forced to have resort to the German military high command to help us deal with the consequences. In other words we have the worst of both worlds. Nor do we doubt that this " no fraternisation " attitude was adopted to sonic extent because we wished to appease the Russiane—a hope which it has singularly failed to fulfil.
But the important point to note here
is that behind the ethical principle there is always the secondary motive of self-interest. Not only did we think it in our interest to appease Russia rather rhea carry out the full implications of our ideals, but we hope somehow to. gain by this Carthaginian peace. The other day Lord Vansittart in one of his Jenunciations of the Germans conzluded his reflections by suggesting that all German patents should be seized and distributed among the Allies. Very convenient! And the Germans possess very many other covetable possessions which it would seem to be highly convenient to make our own.
But in the long ntn it does not work that way. If we refuse to fraternise again with the German people (in other words treat them and their society in C Christian spirit) we shall only bring disaster upon the West of Europe and play into Russian hands.
That is why it is absolutely necessary that our negative ethical righteousness should he vitalised by a positive Christian action.
We must help Germany, i.e., the German people and the leaders in whom that people can have confidence, -arid we must help the rest of Europe. We cannot afford the correct behaviour which betokeas a moral and spiritual Isolation. Wherever the British and American names carry there must be charity, friendliness, help. spiritual, moral and temporal. And to those readers who may feel that the opening paragraphs of these notes had a Tory flavour we say that it may very well he that a Labour Government; if true to its popular principles, might well see the point of this attitude more quickly than those Tories who one day appease the German industrialists and the next demand that they all be hanged on the nearest lamppost.
THE OLD GANG IN FRANCE
THE return to France of the liberated political leaders of the Third Republic has almost automatically led to the expectation that these men will resume high office arid high responsibility. Yet it is a strange and somewhat ominous view,' One thing about which the French Resistance was clear, so we were told, was that France would never go back to the bad past. Yet it is welcoming that bad past with open arms! And instead of seeking to apply to the future of France a test of 'spiritual and moral worth (even in honest socialist and leftist interests) it prefers the mechanical and, in reality, superficial discrimination of behaviour during the painful and perplexing epoch which was inflicted on France very largely owing to the •low standard of political behaviour under the Blunts, Reynauds and Cots. We have no hesitation in saying that the Mains, the Weygands, the Dente and the Estevas are worth far more to France than any of the old political gang, and if one is sincerely searching for those responsible for France's sufferings one will not take long justly to apportion the blame.
But oven if we allow that in the heat of passion it is inevitable that honest patriots who made mistakes after the armistice should be pursued, it still remains inexplicable why the politicians of the Third Republic should be welcomed and expected (in some cases after years of absence from the French scene) to take the helm of the Fourth.
Or is it inexplicable? Can it be that the youthful vigour and high Idealism of resurgent France conveniently covers darker forces who care little whether the Republic is the Third or the Fourth so long as they hold the strings which move the puppets?
E of the post-war headaches
was discussed in the Commons last week in connection with the question of continuing national propaganda under the official authority of the Ministry of Information. Several members expressed the view that broadcasts putting the British point of view for continental listeners should be maintained. Mr. Thurtle, Parliamentary Secretary, Ministry of Information, however, was hesitant, declaring that in peace-time national unanimity would be broken up and that therefore there would be no single " British point of view." and that. in any case, "an official service, expressing inevitably an official point of view. would not necessarily be as true a reflection of the state of opinion in this country as that set forth by the other agencies."
There was one aspect of the matter to which no reference was made. and this was the possibility that others of the Allies may and probably will use the radio to express their distinctive views. Europe, and indeed the world, _has become a vast electorate with the greater Powers as candidates for popular favour. We may anticipate that national policies will urge their respective claims in the fullest publicity. For the first time in the history of diplomacy it is possible to address directly and in their own language the millions of other countries who previously had to rely solely on their Governments' official version of events and policies. That is a forward step and makes it more difficult for the propaganda of any Government to go unchallenged. But whether we should lend' ourselves to radio war conducted under official auspices rather than depend, as Mr. Thurtle suggested, on other agencies is a different 'question.