I LIBERALISM'S LOCAL PROBLEM. PAGE 3.
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l) Political Notes 0 By F. W. Jowett, IVUP. THE IRISH ARRESTS. I It is quite in accordance with the common practice for the British Government to adventure on a startling policy which includes wholesale imprisonment of Irish leaders directly Parlia- ment has adjourned for a period. This practice has been the custom both in regard to home and foreign affairs. The Anglo-Russian agreement was announced at The beninnins: of a parlia-. mentary recess, and each of the important stages leading to conscription was developed, or decided upon, whilst the House was not sitting. The amazing proclamation issued by the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland would have led to awk- ward questions for the Government if the House had been sitting, but it will be old and stale be- fore'Parliament meets again. The Government alleges that certain people in Ireland are plot- ting with Germany. But if the allegation is true. in fact, then the proclamation is, in effect, an admission that the passing of an Act of Par- liament to apply conscription to Ireland has produced treason conspiracy in Ireland, but no • soldiers. Such a confession of failure has surely never before been made in a State Proclama- tion. THE FRUITS OF CONSCRIPTION. I The Act of Parliament under which conscrip- tion was to have been applied to Ireland was passed on the eve of the Easter Parliamentary recess. Ample warning was given to the Gov- ernment, during the progress of thp dehah on the measure, of the bitter antagonism that would he offered to conscription by the Irish people. Furthermore, on the first day after the Easter recess, the Labour Party Executive, along with the Parliamentary -Committee of the Tra.des Union Congress, sought an interview with the Prime Minister and left with him after the interview a considered statement in the farm of an appeal against the policy of imposing conscription on the Irish people. LABOUR'S WARNING. I The document left with the Prime Minister I staled that the Labour bodies represented by the deputation had informa.tion which enabled them to gauge the strength of Irish feelings and to form an estimate as to the fierce resentment "hioh would be excited if the attempt to en- force conscription should be made. This was more than seven weeks ago, and the Prime Min- ister discovered—six weeks after Labour had given a written and formal warning of the true state of affairs—that Laliour was right in de- claring that the attempt to enforce conscrip- tion will mean not merely the shedding of the blood of thousands of Irishmen and Englishmen and Scotsman, too; but also the maintenance of a huge permanent army of occupation in Ire- land." Now that the Government has realised the truth of this and has decided not to go for- ward. the Prime Minister might with aclva-ntnge read over the appeal left with him by Labour seven weeks ago. SINN FEIN AND GERMANY. I Put although it was foreseen that the Irish people would offer fierce resentment to conscrip- tion. there has been no reason for anticipating that it would take the form of a pro-German conspiracy, and the alleged plots with Germany should be substantiated by reliable evidence be- fore any credence is given to them. The Sinn Fein leaders have shown no sign of agreement with German militarism. They believe in- Irish independence, but not in dependence on a for- eign potfer. So far as is known at present there are no pro-German> either iti Ireland or in Great Britain. There are Irishmen who be- lieve in Irish independence and there are people both in Ireland and in Great Britain who believe that German militarism can only be overthrown by the German people, but pending the promised revelations of the alleged German plot in Ire- land—which may, for all we know. be the work of spies and agents provacatours—we may take it for granted that, since the di-appearajice of the Tzar and his rule in Hussia. German rule is the last which any people would seek to im- pose upon themselves. PRESIDENT WILSON'S WEAKNESS. President Wilson continues to speak in digni-j fied and carefully measured terms in condemna- tion of the aims' of conquest and exploitation of Germany. The treatment of Russia by Germany since Russia was forced to TiJ a kr peace deserves all that he says of it. Indeed cOlldemnat.ion in much stronger terms than President, W ilson has used has been expressed in the Reichstag itself on the conduct of the German Government to- wards' Russia. There is evidently a very con- siderable force of German public opinion in op- position to the Government in the matter. But there is afwa-" one thing lacking in President Wilson's speeches on this subject which defeats their quite obvious intention. If his intention is to carry conviction to the mind and heart of the German people that the aims of their government are unjust because they involve con- quest and exploitation, then his intention can- 'not be accomplished so long as he ignores the aims of conquest and exploitation to which thej Allies are committed. A DIFFICULTY. It is all very well for President Wilscon to ignore the existence of the secret treaties, which involve vast schemes of conquest and exploita- tion for his European Allies in the event of the Allies defeating the Central Powers, but the x German people have read the secret treaties, for although the treaties officially secret they have oeen printed, published, and translated into most of the European languages. With these treaties in the background (although their authentic!ty is not- denied) it must appear to A Germans, who are a¡.;kcd to denounce their own Government's aims of conquest, that President Wilson is trying to bounce them with the most blatant hypoeriey when he calls on the a(-(-j-oclited representatives" of Germany to come fonvard and lay their terms on the table and says that we (the Allies) have laid ours, and they know what they are." If Presi- dent Wilson undertakes to speak for the Allies the terms he musT, defend or repudiate are the terms included in the secret treaties which have not been laid on the table, and they are flagrantly open to condemna tion because they involve schemes of conquest and exploitation- for which he denounces Germany. I BLATCHFORD'S BLOOMER. I Mr. Robert Bla tehford is so keenly anxious to foment hatred of Germans in the lump, he rot only accepts for gospel truth everything that appears in print charging the German Army with cruelty and crime, and blames the C&'rman people for it and not the Gorman Gov- ernment, but he is also so eager to pile on the agony that he failed in one of his recent articles W discriminate between Finnish White Guards and German Soldiers. In a statement. issued by M. Tchicherin,«Russian Commissary for For- eign Affairs, there is included a passage which relates that the WThite Guards, after the cap- ture of Viborg, arrested Russian subjects to the number of a bout 200, among them women and children. After a consultation, the officers in- formed them that they were all condemned to death. They were placed against the wall and shot by machine guns. The wounded were killed with rifles and bayonets. Now the White Guards are not German soldiers. They are the army of the Finnish Aristocracy, and they are fighting in a class war. and not in a war be- tween nations. The G-erman army is also as- sisting the aristocrats and M. gives instances of the cruel way it is being used in the report from which Mr. Blatchford quoted, but the worst examples of mercilfess cruelty are perpetrated by the forces of the Aristocracy on their own countrymen because the poor have dared to take from the Aristocracy their pro- perty and their »privileges. WORST SCANDAL YET. I The Committee on National Expenditure has exposed a scandal in its last published report which is the worst so far recorded in the al- ready long list of scandals it has exposed. In the summer of 1916 it was decided to establish a school of aerial gunnery at Loch Doon. Half a million pounds was spent on it and then the scheme was abandoned, not one pennyworth of use having been made of the site or the money .spent on t. Tliet-c is, however, one point on which the committee might have informed the public, of which I see no mention in the abridged reports I have read, viz., the point as to whose land it was that was so persistently puffed as the best site for the purpose required, when. in fact, there can hardly exist a worse site in the British Isles? BALFOUR ISMS-N. 1. I Mr. Snowden (referring to Lord Cecil's con- demnation of peace offensives '') Does the right hon. gentleman think it proper for an Under-Secretary, on his own, without consulta- tion with his superior, to make important an- nouncements in regard to policy? Mr. Balfour: There was no announcement almut policy that I remember. To what does the hon. Member refer? Mr. Snowden Has the right hon. Gentleman treated this interview as lie treated Count Hert ling's speech—that is, he never read it? Mr. Balfour: I have read ir., and I suppose the hon. Member has. I have not discovered an announcement of policy. Has he? Mr. Snowden Yes. < Mr. Balfour: What is it? Mr. Snowden rose—— Mr. Speaker: The hall. Member will answer on Thursday. > I No. 2. I Mr. Kinu asked the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs whetner he has information that the Persian Minister at the Hague has presented a Note declaring that the Persian Government declares as null and void all treaties and agree- Intents imposed on Persia-, especially the Anglo- Russian Agreement ol 1!J07; and whether he (-an make a statement on this subject? Mr. Balfour I iiave seen a report to this .effect in the Press, but I would remind the hon. Gentleman that Persia is not a party to the treaty to which he refers. (Of course Persia was no party to the treaty in question. It was a treaty between Russia and Great Britain to divide Persia into "spheres of influence.") PRISONERS OF WAR. There has been a. very general belief among the public that Germany wrtuld not agree to ex-" chango prisoners or that the difficulties were all made by Germany. This belief, it appears, had no reason for its existence. Lord X ewton has now stat.ed that the military authorities here were opposed generally to exchanging prisoners. France, apparently despairing of persuading this country to ajjree to a scheme of exchange, has made a separate agreement with Germany her- self which involves an exchange of some 330,000 prisoners of both sides. The British Govern- ment is, therefore, going to reverse its policy and arrange for the exchange of British and German prisoners if possible. The distraught wives and mothers of British Prisoners of War inl1 wish ili?, Government every success in the new^policy. of course, but they will be surprised to learn that it is a new policy.
Economic Students in Conference. I CARDIFF MEETING STRONG FOR I UNIFICATION. SYLLABUSES TO BE STANDARDISED AND I COUNCILS TO BE APPOINTED. A happy and businesslike little conference of delegates from 21 of the Social Science Classes in existence in the South Wales and Monmouth- shire area, was held at the Ruskin Institute, Cardiff, on Tuesday, for the purpose of en- deavouring to lay the foundations for a consoli- dation of tho classes into a co-ordinate unitv of methods, as of interests. Mr. Dai Thomas, of Rhondda No. 2, was elected to the chair, an on the whole his presidency was a splendid one though his own deep interest in the subject- matter down for discussion led to his partici- pation in the discussion to a greater degree than is good for a man's reputation for a calm sphinx-like impartiality that is supposed to be the sign manual of a boau Brummel of chair- men. Personally, I prefer the warmth, the human warmth, if I may so put it, of a Dai Thomas with a motto of I promise to be can- did but impartial—never," than the frigidity of a gavel-holder ice-clad in the rules of debate, and anxious, only for an opportunity to exer- cise a logical dissection of pro and con with the chilly deliberation of a Judge of Assize. Mr. Thomas has won his spui-s on behalf of working- class education in Rhondda No. 2; which with its education committee and his propaganda leaflets, shares pride of place with Aberdare in the progressive impetus it has given to the study of Marxian economics and Socialist philosophy in this coalfield. Conference had one defect, and we all felt it. It lacked the presence of those fine young men who have laboured so hard to create this movement. Of them all only Ted Williams was present—prison, and. other reasons robbing us, of the pleasure of meeting Cook, Mainwaring, Mark Starr, Syd Jones and the rest. Though it must be confessed that in aU probability what we lost in their absence, we gained in the expedition with which business was despatched; and the presence of none of them could have added to the sincerity or good in- tention of the gathering. UNIFORMITY OF CURRICULA. I The Agenda was only a short one, but it con- tained the nucleus of a great future for the cause of working-class independent education. Perhaps the greatest difficulty that the prac- tical experience of the past few years of active work has revealed is expressed in the first re- solution, that: "In order to co-ordinate the work throughout the districts and to assist both teacher and student alike, an uniform syllabus shall be drafted for the use at all the classes." Everybody felt this need and there was not a dissentient voice raised on the question of -un- dertaking the work, and ultimately it was de- cided that the teachers should draw up such a syllabus, divided into elementary and advanced sections, to cover the class work, and compre- hending the subjects set out in the curriculum of the Central Labour College. As Ted Wil- liams pointed out, this had a vital bearing on the last resolution, in which it was set forth that: In view of the anticipated great short- age of teachers during the next class season, a proficiency test be set to some of the abler .stu- dents so as to decide their fitness for class leadership." Ted emphasised the remarks made by Mr. Foley Tromans, of Mountain Ash, who had set forth the happy experience of Aberdare I in the examinations recently held. Aberdare has worked to a syllabus, and the consequence is that there are quite a number of students there who, in the words of the Examiner, are efficient to take leadership. Such a test as had been applied in Aberdare by the examinations was impossible elsewhere, said Ted Williams, for the i-eason that no uniform syllabus, was worked to which could guide the examiners in setting tho test, and he advocated study circles, rightly guided along lines to be set out in the unified syllabus of the classes, to meet the diffi- culty of teaching; staffs until such time as such uniformity should allow of discriminating selec- tion, and t.o all of this the conference agreed. THE CENTRAL AUTHORITY. I Another keenly felt want was supplied by a fi-anie some, kind of provisional committee to "frame some kind of scheme for the organisation of classes." It was perhaps only natural that the speeches should for the most part have leaned in the direction of a close "hitching" of this committee to the Executive of the S.W.M.F., and, in a lesser de- gree, to the N.U.R. central organisation, since most of the classes have been definitely estab- lished under the wing of the Federation, which has also—with the railwayman—indirectly pro- vided the trained teachers by the joint control of the Central Labour College. But the inde- pendent classes would naturally have been re- duced to an unenviable position under such a scheme, and ultimately the discussion took the form of the immediate formation of a manage- ment committee to get on with the work of management and organisation. The representa- tion of each class it was felt would mean a con- ference every time any work had to be done, and offered little prospect of efficiency at that, and ultimately it was decided that the area covered by die South Wales clashes should be ?()i,_(,aiiised into groups—either determined by geographical or other considerations of conveni- ence, who would have the right to select a dele- gate to the committee of management, and who in turn would be mandated by the group coun- cil and be held to strict accountability -by his home organisation for his sins of omission and commission. Such a committee will not spring into existence immediately, and so a provisional committee of seven was elected, roughly repre- senting the whole of South Wales, who will tackle pressing problems, and who, I take it, will be called upon in particular to get busy on the organisation ol the divisional "councils in their own areas. Mark Starr's suggestion of a Summer School at the sea-ide. was down on the Agenda, but it wis fe-t to be just a little too idyllic for the times, and its ron-idernt'on was adjourned sine I I die. A.P.Y. j
A Rebel in Prison I MR. A. FENNER BROCKWAY'S LETTER TO HOME SECRETARY. WILL NOT OBSERVE PRISON RULES IN FUTURE. Mr. A. Fenner itrockway, C.O., editor of the liabour Leader," who for over two years has been incarcerated for the crime of conscientious- ly objecting to military service, has sent the fol- lowing manifesto of revolt to the Home Secre- tary. Sir Geo. Cave: Sir,—I think it right to acquaint you with the fact tli4t I can no longer recognise any ob- ligation to obey prison rules. I have come to realiso recently to acquiesce in the violation of freedom is a serious thing against one's highest personality. I am a prisoner in oonsequenee of an act in connection with which I feel no moral guilt; which, indeed, I did in response to the impera- tive demands of conscience. Consequently, I cannot acknowledge the justice of my imprison- ment. By physical force it is in your power to keep me in. prison, but 1 have determined hence- forth not to acquiesce in the denial of liberty by consenting to obey rules which limit still further my freedom of action. I feel that only thus can I remain mentally and spiritually free. AN INHUMAN RULE. The first effect- of this decision will be to ig- nore the rule "prisoners shall preserve silence." About this rule I want to make two remarks. (1) The rule in itself is inhuman and immoral. A prisoner who strictly observed it would go mad in a few months. I actually know one case where a prisoner conscientiously felt he ought to observe it and he largely lost his reason within four months, so that subsequently he had to be sent to a nursing home for the insane. To speak is as natural as to breathe and to at- tempt to enforce on men who are in frequent contact with each other the rule of silence is sheer cruelty. It is true that C.O.'s who have served twelve months are now permitted to speak for two periods of 40 minutes daily, but I am not prepared to have silence imposed upon me in the presence of my friends and comrades at other times. Nor can I forget the conscien- tious objectors who have not served a year, and the ordinary prisoners. For them, too, I feel I must protest against this rule by declining in future to recognise it. (2) In practice, of course, this rule is not kept. No system of discipline, however rigid, could enforce so unnatural a regulation. But the fact that prisoners are not allowed to talk openly leads to surreptitious talking and deceit- fulness. In this respect, as in most others, the prison system invites the growth of those char- =tice which find exprwon in crime; I am conscious in my own person of the development of an adeptness for deception which I know to be bad. Whilst I do not consider that an at- tempt to evade discovery in breaking this and similar rules is necessarily wrong, I ha1% de- cided in future when I talk to talk quite openly. IGNORE RULES. Nearly a year ago I informed the Governor of the prison that I did not recognise any moral obligation to obey prison rules and so far as I have obeyed them since that time I think I can honestly say I have been actuated mostly by consideration for the prison officers, who I have realized are as liable to punishment as prisoners. But I feel now an overwhelming conviction that the only attitude by which I can remain spiritu- ally erect is openly to ignore rules which limit, healthy, normal conduct, and by" accepting which I consider I should be acquiescing in the fettering of my individuality.-Yours faithfully. A. FENXEH BROCKWAY. Walton Prison, Liverpool. May 13th, 1918.
Soermus to Quit Britain. I SCOTLAND YARD SERVE RUSSIAN VIO- LINIST WITH SEVEN DAYS' NOTICE. WHAT HAS HE DONE? Fdvard Soerinits is to leave the country. The brilliant violinist who visited Merthyr with such pleasant results to himself personally and to all with whom he came in contact was last week or- dered through Scotland Yard to return to Rus- sia. So far we hare been unable to glean any information as to the why or wherefore of this extraordinary and arbitrary expulsion. Scermus' English is too rudimentary to render him dan- gerous as a. propagandist; and Rinec his pro- grammes "are almost exclusively composed of Bach's works, it is difficult to understand in what lie has hampered the autocrats at Weft-1 minster. The writer of "Under the Clock" in last Saturday's "Daily News and Leader" ap- parently shares the general inquisitiveness as to what Seen mis may he guilty of, for lie wrote: — NO BOLSHEVIK MUSIC? What exactly is the offence for whicn Mr. Edvard Scermus, the violinist, has been ordered through Scotland Yaid to return to Russia? I understand he has never addressed a meeting in this country or any oilier. He has been re- jected for military service both in this country and in Russia. His sole crime appeals to be that he is a confessed Bolshevik, and tha.t he claims to interpret the spirit of Bolshevism by the medium of his violin at popular concerts. I must confess I have never heard Mr. Scermus' music and cannot- say what his influence may be. But it must bo very had to justify an order to return within a week to Russia, at a time when his wife is so ill that it is out of the question for her to travel. "Incidentally Mr. Soermus is an Fsthoninn. Esthonia happens at the moment, to be in Ger- man occupation, so that even the pretence of repatriation "has no sort of reality about it."
I Merthyr Colliery Assessments I "A PUBLIC SCANDAL," SAYS LABOUR GUARDIAN. I Mr. John Prowle (Aberdare) was responsible for a remarkable attack at Saturday's meeting of the Merthyr Board of Guardians on the Â8- sessment Committee. During the discussion on a motion from the Assessment Committee asking the board to sanc- tion the appointment of a valuer to re-value certain collieries, in the union, he said tha-t the committee as it was at present constituted could not deal with the matter as it should. "There is a bit of dirty business throughout the whole T h e-re is a'man- thing," alleged Mr. Prowle. "There is a. scan- daJ and the soouer it is exposed the better. Yes, a lu I will wash my hands clean of the commit- tee unless they are more honourable. The as- sessment of collieries here is a public scandal, and it will always Be the same whilst you have satellites backing each other up. Mr. Harry Evans (Penydarren) pointed out that a recent recommendation of the board to the Assessment Committee was that the whole of the pits sho.ild be re-valued, bu.t Mr. Morgan Thomas (Ciefn Coed) questioned the policy of wholesale valuation as if the colliery companies instituted appeals, as they undoubtedly would, the board, in the event of the appeals being up- held in the courts, would be involved in heavy costs. Replying to Mr. W. Parker (Bargoed) Mr. F. T. James (Cler'c) said there was nothing to pre- vent the Assessment Committee increasing their assessments of coal if they cared to, but their experience as business men would necessarily govern the amount of their advances. Mr. Parker stated that although the prioe per ton of coal was greater than in pre-war times, colliery proprietors, owing to decreased output, were exempted from a big proportion of rates which would have to be paid prior to the war. He thought the assessment per ton should be increased so that the aggregate rates derived from the. restricted output were not decreased. Eventually the Assessment Committee's mo- tion in an amended form specifying no given collieries was adopted.
"Disgraceful and Unjustifiable." MERTHYR GUARDIANS CRITICISE COR- PORATION ACTION. Protests were make by the Merthyr Guardians on Saturday against au announcement by the Merthyr Corporation that grave spaces made in Cefn Coed Cemetery prior to 1898, unless pur- chased before May 31st by the relatives of the people buried there, would be utilised for the burial of persons other than those related to the deceased. Mr. James Davies (C6fn Coed) described the aotion of the Corporation as disgraceful. There were hundreds of soldiers, he said, away on ac- tive service who might not be in a position to take the necessary steps to repair graves in which members of their families had been buried. Mr. F.T. James (Clerk) suggested he should enquire and report to the board whether the notice applied to any ground or grave belong- ing to the board. If it did not, they as a board, could do nothing in the matter. The Rev. Llew. M. Williams (Rector of Dow- lais) wanted public attention called to this high-handed and unjustifiable action on the part of the Corporation, and on his motion, seconded by Mr. James Davies, the matter was referred to a special sub-committee, a report to be pre- t pared meanwhile as to the number of graves owned by the guardians in the ceTneterv.
I Ex-Soldier's Eviction. INDIGNATION AMONGST MAESTEG WORKERS. The eviction of Steve Kilnan is causing con- siderable indignation amongst the Labour forces in Maesteg. Briefly the facts are these: Kilnan. a dis- charged soldier, lived with his wife and three children in apartments at 56, Carmen-street, Caerau, with another family, wlu>, on an eject- ment order being obtained against them, re- moved to Bridgend. Kilnan failed to rent another house. He thereupon a,pplied. for the tenancy of 56, Carmen-street, where he had now been residing as sub-tenant for 13 months. It was refused, and the Bridgend magistrates were asked for an order to eject him. His case wa" defended by the Maes.teg Trades and Labour Council, and was adjourned for a iiiontil to give him further opportunity to obtain another house. He approached every owner of house property in the district, but again to no effect. At the adjourned hearing the order was grant- ed. A deputation from a public protest meet- ing. convened by the Trades and Labour Coun- cil, meanwhile got an assurance from the owner that the order would not be put into operation for seven days longer. This occurred on Satur- day week; yet on the Monday following Kil- nan, his family and belongings were "put on the road." Last* Saturday a further meeting, held at Caerau, passed a strong resolution of protest against the treatment meted Kilnan together with an added declaration that such measures would not in future be tolerated by the workers.
I Discharged Men. At the Annual Conference of the National. Association of Discharged Sadoits and Soldiers hcu,id last month, it was agreed by 72 votes to 26 to take joint action with tho Parliamentary I Committee of the Trades Union Congress in re- gard to the problems of demobilisation.