ACTU IS NOT SO SURE
By DOUGLAS HYDE The T.U.C.'s new campaign to end Communist activities in the trade unions gives the organised Catholic trade unionist a chance to do a job of work which no one else can do as well.
The T.U.C. can lead a great anti-Communist campaign, but it is the Catholic who is in the best position to give it a positive character.
This is a view I heard expressed in the lobbies of the House of Commons this week and which is being underlined by people in touch with trade union circles.
Captain Raymond Blackburn, Labour M.P. for King's Norton, Birmingham, a consistently outspoken opponent of Communism at home and abroad, was one who fore. saw new lines of action for ACTU.
Capt. Blackburn is not a Catholic, neither, for that matter, is he a member of the Pailiamentary Socialist Christian Group. But he has been watching ACTU's growth with increasing interest,
" I believe that the Association of Catholic Trade Unionists are doing a splendid job," he told me, " but they could do something really big on this."
He welcomed the T.U.C.'s campaign but insisted that an antiCommunist " witch hunt " is not enough.
"We have got to get the facts of Communism to the people. We must let them know the truth so that they understand what they are dealing with. And that is where the Catholic trade unionists have their chance," he told me.
" Let them explain the evils of Communism to those who are only just becoming aware of them."
PRACTICAL SUGGESTION He had a practical suggestion for ACTU branches. In this country, he says. are now many refugees from the Communist-dominated countries of Eastern Europe who know Communism at first hand. He recalled that a meeting he had himself arranged at the House of Commons had a record attendance of M,P.s to hear Mr. Mikolajczyk speak on his own experiences at the hands of the Communists in Poland.
'I'rade union branches often invite " outside " speakers who arc not infrequently Communists. Catholic trade unionists he suggested, might urge that the victims of Communism he invited to tell their personal stories and to explain what they themselves have seen and experienced..
After this assessment of ACTU's possibilities by a non-Catholic it was disturbing to discover that some, at least, of the Association's members find it difficult to see what part they can play in the present situation. Understandably anxious to avoid a purely negative anti-Communism they seemed inclined to take a gloomy view of their Organisation's possibilities.
" What good will it do ? " was the question asked by more than one. An official of the Tailor and Garment Workers' Union said that there were so many members of the Communist Party in the unions who did not let their membership be known that getting rid of the few declared members would make very little difference.
"If they all go underground they can still continue their activities and no one be the wiser " suggested a London bus conductor. " Anyhow, why should we get rid of them when some of our best men are Communists 7 " Another Catholic trade unionist advanced the view that " the majority of workers are not really interested in motives as long as results are achieved."
PRODUCE THE LEADERS
A non-Catholic docker said that Catholics are always recalling Cardinal Manning's role in the trade union movement years ago. But," he asked, " where are the Catholic leaders to-day ? If you produce the leaders no doubt you will get the support for your ideas."
But the Executive of the Westminster Association of Catholic Trade Unionists which met on Sunday last decided to support the T.U.C. move and to encourage their members to carry out its policy. As this decision seeps back through the deaneries to the branches positive action, possibly along the lines of that suggested by Captain Blackburn will, no doubt, emerge.