Hyde Park Rhetoric In Print
Is it possible that Civil Servants have too much time on their hands?
In the June issue of Taxes, the journal of the Inland Revenue Staff Federation, there is an article on Spain, by a certain R. D. Charques, which for the intricate muddle of its thought must have taken many hours of raw nerved emotion to concoct.
He has written in praise of a Help Spain motion which was carried at the Federation's annual conference at the end of May.
The first step to this decision to meddle ineffectually with the Spanish War was made by Mr. R. F. Smith (London City Taxes) who moved this resolution: That the machinery of the Federation be utilised for the purpose of a collection throughout the membership in aid of medical supplies and services for relief of suffering in the present Spanish Civil War.
Mr, Smith however spoilt his case by emphasising that he had no political motives, that he was moved only by humanitarian feeling.
This did not satisfy those who wanted to help Negrin's anarchical government; it sounded too suspiciously like helping the Spanish people.
Give to Spanish Medical Aid
So L. J. Callaghan in the name of the Executive Committee proposed the following:— That this Conference, having given serious attention to the situation in Spain and particularly to the abolition of Trade Unions in the territory controlled by the insurgents, calls upon all members of the Inland Revenue Staff Federation to give all possible help to the Spanish people in their fight for freedom of association by: 1. Giving to and assisting in the collections organised by the Spanish Medical Aid Committee and similar bodies; and 2. Giving their labour to Voluntary Industrial aid for Spain.
And that a Sub-Committee of the Executive Committee shall be set up with a view to co-ordinating and developing this work, and to make contact with similarly organised bodies within the Civil Service.
There was some opposition but in the end this resolution was adopted.
" Horrible Pecksniffian Apologia "
The article by R. D. Charques praises Callaghan's motion as being " practical and realistic " as apposed to " humanitarian."
Trade unions, it is argued, should be in no two minds as to which side in the Spanish conflict they should give their sympathies because " Franco's authoritarianism is authoritarianism at its damnedest. The glib and nauseating pretence that is popular in this country that, in the event of his complete victory, he will evolve a form of government that is neither liberal nor Fascist but ' essentially Spanish ' is a horrible Pecksniffian apologia for the continued spread of Fascist ideas; there is evidence enough and to spare that it is as hollow a pretence as non-intervention itself.
" And there is not less evidence that Republican Spain today is firmly wedded to democratic principle."
But R. D. Charques conveniently leaves out all hint of evidence to support either of his statements. He is content merely to fill his pages with the fulminations of Hyde Park orators who every day explain the past, present and future political chaos of the world to indifferent Londoners.
"Of the dangers of Italian and German intervention, of the barbarism of the insurgent methods of waging totalitarian war, of Guernica and the rest—of these things it is perhaps unnecessary to say very much here."
"Is the Pope a Christian?"
He is right. It is quite unnecessary. The public has decided about these things.
Listen next time you have an opportunity to the questions of the people around a pro-Franco platform (there are such rarities). You may be amused at first.
" If the Pope is a Christian why did he give divine audience to Franco?"
" What position does Cardinal Hinsley hold in the Fascist Party?"
" What was Cardinal }Tinsley's real reason for his recent visit to Rome?"
These were heard on a recent Sunday evening on Streatham Common.
Yes, at first you will be decidedly amused. But in the end, when you have discovered the universality of popular ignorance, when you have heard such questions as " What about Guernica? How can a Christian uphold Franco the bomber of women and children? How can a Britisher uphold Franco the bomber of British ships? How can a Catholic uphold Franco, the ally of anti-Catholic Nazi Germany? What about the wealth of the Church in Spain? What about Gibraltar? What about our sea routes?" over and over again you do not smile so easily.
The legend of free Spain fighting Fascist aggressors has been created, and in the sentimental head of the Great British Public it sticks obstinately. Reason, logic and facts are as bullets against water.
Spanish Liberals Have Said . .
For R. D. Charques, whose knowledge of Spanish affairs seems confined to what can be picked up from Left Book Club choices, a reading of the pronouncements of some of the most ardent Spanish Liberals might give him a more balanced view of things.
As a preliminary one would suggest : — Alca1a Zamora's article in Journal de Geneve of January 17, 1937, obtainable at 5-7 Rue General-Dufour, Geneve, Suisse. 1 Zamora was first President of the Repub (Continued at foot of next C011414a.)