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I Officers at Trade Union…

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I Officers at Trade Union Meetings. WE are pleased to learn of Mr. T. 1. Mardy Jones protest against the presence of police officers at a trade-union meeting at Llantwit Fardre last Sunday. With Mr. Jones we whole- heartedly join in condemnation of this latest im- portation from Prussia, as a gross breach of an inalienable right hardly won and dearly held by the trade union movement in these isles. Per- haps we ought not to have written inalienable there, for the Defence of the Realm Act al- ready, we believe, alienates the right theoreti- cally, and, unfortunately, the trade union branches as a whole are not filled with that virulent love of trade union liberties that does characterise our South Wales movement among the miners, and without which an easy toler- ance of official supervision virtually, means a surrender of the right to transact collective in- dustrial business free from the trammels of an autocratic oversight by officers of the crown. Mr. Jones did right, too, in taking his objection on principle, for we do not suppose that had the officers remained throughout the meeting under notice and followed that up by attend- ance at all Federation meetings for months to come, that they would have found anything in the projects before the meetings, or even in the speeches foi1 or against those projects, to which legitimate objection could be taken even under the widespread meshes of D.O.R.A. We per- sonally do not take the extreme view that the conscious intent of our rulers is to become the mentors of democracy as is the Prussian Execu- tive, by the exercise of a supervision that is all embracive. We believe that the British attempts in this direction are the outcome of a nervous fear on the pan of people who entirely fail to understand and as a result cordially distrust the trade-union as an integral part of v the democra- tic machinery, a distrust that has been height- ened by the (to them) inexplainable invasion of the political field by the industrial army. Not having the workers opportunities to learn at first-hand the vital relationship between produc- tion and politics, not knowing by bitter experi- ence that the modes of production are an ill- valiblc index to the state of Government en- joyed, to them the whole thing is a mystery; and we imagine that their dreams are peopled by nightmare visions of firebrands who meet in cellars and thou go forth to trade union gather- ings to s-ow the poison of political revolution in the minds of innocent, ignorant, but pliablo proletariats. Such a picture is a grotesque cari- cature of the real facts, but "still it is under- standable and in its light the visit of the official Las an antidote to the imagined firebrand is understandable. Much less understandable is the docility of the workers as a whole that would allow the mentorship without protest; for, though we believe, as we have already said, that the intention is not to unnecessarily inti- midate or officially mentor the movement; the surrender of the principle of private meeting oould easily lead to the evolution and growth of such intention in the days to come. There is nothing on earth to justify such interference with trade union rights; for it is obviously fool- ish to postulate that secret propaganda. harm- ful to the Government, or contrary to the in- terests of the Commonweal can be engaged in through the media of trades unions with their thousands of individuals; and more parti cularly with their cosmopolitan outlook on politics. Thanks to the fact that in politics some of the workers may be fooled all the time the adminis- tration have a much more effective supervision than could be provided by the attendance of the entire police force at trade union gatherings. Against the last kind of supervision there is no complaint except a complaint anent the crass ignorance of individuals who are apparently in- ca-pable of learning which party in politics fur- ther their real interests and the interests of the world in general; but against the imported supervision of police or military officers there must be, as there has been by Mr. Johes, a spirited protest on principle.

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