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I Public Opinion -and Strikes

I The Strike Settlement. !

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I The Strike Settlement. Whilst cordially welcoming a -settlement of the railway strike, before it had developed to the catastrophic culmination iliat, a little prolonga- tion of the strike musf inevitably have led to; we must confess that the terms of settlement leave us a little cold. And whilst the South Wales railway workers have had the good sense and discipline to accept the orders of Unity House to return to work, we are not surprised to find an ominous head-shake of doubt when the terms are discussed with them. The retention of the 110 per cent. formula; in the first clause of the settlement, and its apparent cancellation by the very next clause presents a problem in speculation that meets with as many conclusions from railwaymen as there are types of mind, or brands of cynicism, optimism or pessimism to be found in their ranks. For ourselves we are pleased that the "get-back-work-and-then- we-will-talk order that was so iiuparously flung at the N.U.R. men has had to give place to a more reasonable spirit then that Geddesian one in the chambers of Downing Street, but in the terms themselves we confess to seeing noth- ing more than a clever subterfuge by which a discredited Government has managed to save its reputation from the fate it so richly deserved. To Mr. Thomas and his executive thinking only in terms of wages-and-hours leadership the finale may reasonably present the aspect of victory but from the first the Government aimed at giving the strike a significance far removed from that of ordinary industrial battle. They largely succeeded, but the consequences were the oppo- site to what they had hoped for. The bourgeoisie flocked to their standard whilst Labour girded up its loins to do battle against it. Daily as the strike progressed a mere intense consciousness was called into being, and the solid aspect pre- sented by the trades union and democratic forceii in the nation at the week-end spelled the defeat of the Government on the very field that that Government had carefully prepared and unscru- pulously lied to bring about. Then with an array that was all in their favour the railwaymen con- sented to receive the concession that their own solidarity and the unquestionable support of the whole might of organised Democracy had won in terms that to the ordinary untrained i-ndividual conveyed exactly the description given to the settlement by the Paris Matin "âa moral vic- tory for Uoyd George. We know, of course, that. there was no moral victory at all, but we must confess that the withdrawal from a position that was hourly becoming more untenable was effected with brilliant strategy, so that the IDflD who could say who had won would probably he open to an equally prompt negative argument no matter upon which side he happened to be. One thing alone we have occasion to be thankful for. The rail waymen were selected to bear the | brunt of the opening exchanges in what was in- tended as a grand campaign against trades unionism, and so well did they meet the attack that probably that campaign will have to bo put off until it is tiOO late W hen we think how easy I it would have been to have received the capitula- tion in terms that left r.o doubt as to the victor, and remember that such a document would have perforce performed the great public service of ridding us of this impossible government, we are inclined to despair that it is Labour's invariable custom to show such gracious leniency to a de- feated enemy. To s lvoot a couple of arrows when there is a quiverful to hand has, we seem to re- member, been regarded as false modesty even by the emissaries of heaven.

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