WHY YOU SHOULD VOTE LABOUR. PAGE 3.
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Political Notes By F. W. Jowett, M.P. COALITION-A CONSPIRACY. 4 I The Coalition arranged between Mr. Lloyd George and Mr. Bonar Law, to which Mr. G. N. Barnes is attiiched for ■) asons of convenience, is of a new kind. It is, < fact, no Coalition at all, but a conspiracy agaiinst representative government. The object of its promoters is to obtain a Parliament consisting of their own nominees to rule the country during the period of re-settlement after the war. Each individual candidate at the forthcoming election will have the whole weight of all the forces at present oontrolled by Mr. Lloyd George and his fellow conspirators, these including the semi-offi- cial publication departments, almost the entire capitalist press, the rnionist party machinery and a considerable part of the Liberal Party machinery—the whole of these backed by a col- losai election fund—thrown against him un less he promises to serve in the next Parliament as a follower of the Lloyd George combination. OPPOSED ONLY BY LABOUR. I What the combination proposes to do with the next Parliament is not stated. Constituencies are only expected to say whether or not they will send a nominated follower of Mr. Lloyd George to the House of Commons. Against the Coalition conspiracy there is only one organised party in opposition, ft is the Labour Party. No wonder the conspiracy is backed by a big elec- tion fund. There is. money in it for the capital- ists, as well as power for ambitious political leaders. CAPITALIST SUPPORT-AND WHY. I This nominated Parliament Mr. Lloyd George is asking for will have valuable properties at their disposal. There are State owned munition factories, for instance, over on which £ 5^,000,000 of public money has been spent. If the State were to remain in possession of these factories and adapt the machinery and plant to the manu- facture of things required for -peaceful industry and domestic use,- as the owners of other muni- tion factories are doing, prices could be kept down. The orgie of profiteering contemplated by su pe r-ci pi tall stis-,R-lio see before them a. period during which the destruction and wastage of twer roftr years ot a vrbrid war must be re- paired and at least partially restored—could be held in check if there were State factories where the cost of production would determine the price of the product. Hence it is the policy of capi- talists to get hold of all such State property as quickly as possible and get it cheap. The Sta* factories will be sold in a restricted market simi- lar to that of a broker's "knock-out" within the broker's ring. Already some of the State owned ships have been disposed of that way, but for the big ramp that is to come, Parliament must be kept as free as possible of members who cannot be controlled and whipped." More than all things else it must he free from Labour members who are not chained to the Coalition. MR. GEORCE'S VAGUENESS. I The complete change of the transport sys- tem. to which Mr. Lloyd George made a vague reference in his speech to his followers, may mean anything. As a matter of fact he alluded to the Cbrn Production Act almost-in the same breath and the Corn Production Act is based on the policy of su bsidies. For all .the country knows to the contrary, therefore, the next Par- liament under the Coalition conspiracy may not only dispose of the State's ships at brokers' prices to the shipping companies, but it may also subsidise the shipping companies in addi- tion. This, as the "Daily News" points out, i would be a very interesting result of the war. In this connection the Dailv News does well to remind the public of the war-time prosperity of shipping companies, which it proceeds to illustrate. ABOUT SHIPPINC. I In 1916, for instance, two Newcastle Com- panies made dividends of 25 and 30 per cent., respectively. There is also the case of the Lon- don and Northern, whose pre-war profit was 9174,000, wliieli increased and became £ 657,200 in 1915-16, and the Furness Withy Line that before the war made about £ 714,000, and in the year mentioned made tl,386,950 Two instances are given of sales of the increased selling price of ships. The first is that of a single-deck steamer which sold for £ 35,000 in 1912, and fetched at another sale in 1916, £ 185,000. Still more profit was made in the second case given of a ship sold in 1913 for £ 31,500, and- resold in 1916 for £ 235,000. A capitalist Coalition Gov- ernment supported by a Parliament of pledged followers of the government would protect all capitalist exploiters in the possession of their'ill- gotten gains and give them further opportuni- ties of the same kind. SIR LEO MONEY AND THE ISSUE. I Evidently Sir Leo Money, who has just re- signed the post he held as Parliamentary Secre- tary to the Shipping Controller, has some know- ledge of the capitalist plot for the support of which the Coalition is organising; the return of its pledge-bound followers to the next Parlia- ment. Take notice of what he said, for it is dead on the mark. The real issue," he said, was whether the means of production should be owned by the nation." "America," he said, was building thousands of ships which would be State-owned. Were the vessels now held by the Government in this country to be handed over to private companies Was the nation to own its land, mines, electrical power, water power and the war factories which were worth £ 62.000,000 ? It might be unpopular to ask those questions in the House (he was speaking in the House of Commons) but they would be dis- cussed outside." Sir Leo is right, they will. We shall see to that. "WEI" I Another very interesting result of the war for democracy is that the Central Powers who lost the war have gained democracy so completely that it is not unlikely the war will be continued to prevent them using it as they wish. As for democracy in this country, there is no thought of it in the mind of Mr. Lloyd George or of Mr. Bonar Law. Speaking to his section of the followers of Coalition partnership the latter (Mr. Bonar Law) declared that the Coalition Govern- ment must have a free hajidJn the. new Parlia- ment (this is why followers" are wanted and not representatives). What we (the head men of the Coalition) are going' to do," said Mr. Bonar Law, is to face the new problems with freedom of action and deal with them as we think best." Note the "we," and think of it after a million British men have been sacrificed and another million men have been made help- less cripples to establish democracy in Central Europe—the "we" comprising three persons, Mr. Lloyd George, Mr. Bonar Law and a decoy, Mr. G. H. Barnes. DEMOCRACY AND PEACE CONFERENCE. I And if the real peace conference takes place what will be the situation of the representatives there? In the name of Great Britain men will speak who have not consulted the people on any question whatever and who will have, with the help of their political machinery and their con- trol of the press, filled most of the seats of the House of Commons with pledge-bound fol- lowers." The Central Powers, on the other hand, will he represented at the peace confer- ence by Socialist democrat-s without exception, sent there by the common people. TRIUMPH OF PROLETARIAT. I Of this development of democratic power there has been a novel experience already which would doubtless be a, urprise to Sir David Beatty when he met the official representatives of the Gorman Navy recently on board the Queen Elizabeth." Tie ofigial representatives (" plenipotentaries ") were delegates from the Workers' and Soldiers' ^ptmcil: a leading seaman, a chief-quartermaster and a torpedo engineers' mate. There was a, German Admiral present, 'but he was onlv in attendance in the capacity of technical adviser. This is a striking illustration of the effect of the war for demo- cracy. which has cost 1,000,000 British lives and converted 1,000,000 strong British men into cripples, but the result is dear at the price.
Conversion of The Mensiiiviki. I THROWN IN THEIR LOT WITH I BOLSHEVISM. The Avanti 11 reports, on the authority of Genosso, a very reliable correspondent, thWt the Russian Mensheviki (the Social Democrats who were formally in opposition to the Bolsheviki and favoured a more moderate programme) at their meeting on October 21st, declared that the Bol- shevik revolution of October, 1917, was an his- torical necessity. They further announced their refusal to enter into any political collaboration with parties hostile to democracy, or to take part in any coalition with capitalistic leanings, even though it may sail -iinder democratic col- ours. In the international field, the Menshiviki announced their aim to be the restoration of the unity and independence of Russia in accord- ance with the ideals of the Revolution. They repudiated the interference of foreign capitalists in the internal affairs of Russia, declaring them- selves in agreement with thq Soviet Govern- ment in its efforts to free Russia from the for- eign intervention. The passing of this resolution is interpreted by Russian public opinion as the conversion of the Mensheviki. Now that the Mensheviki have repudiated all oonneotion with the counter-revolution, their leader, Abramoritch. has been released from prison. The conduct of Paul Axelrod, who is working against the Bolsheviki, remains inex- plicable, but the Mensheviki declare that he acts I '1 "I' d t} ),¡f1.I\.ø: II only on his own responsibility i.iid -4Reially repudiate him, thus destroying the in,,I rtance of Iiis propigiiidt. r As Keren sky and other Russians, who have been put forward as appealing for Allied inter- vention, have always urged their plan as coming from the moderate Socialists, the bottom is hereby knocked out of the arguments in support or interfering in Russian affairs, ft will be re- membered that in the elections for the Consti- tuent- Assembly, which was dismissed by the Bolshiviki, the issue was altogether between the moderate and extreme Socialists, the Rus- sian parties whicli correspond to the Liberals and Conservatives in this country only gaining a bout a dozen seats.
Fables and Illustrations." One of the neatest booklets that has come to our office fin- some time now is Joseph Southall's Fables and Illustrations," which has just been put out by the National Labour Press, Ltd., at nett. The Fables, the six produced are all too few. have aU the delight and moral excel- lence which this branch of literature has in the hands of H. master of the art of Aesop or La Fontaine. As an illustrator also, ,Mr. Southall is to be congratulated on a technique that has polish and appeal in every line. In some re- spects the work is reminiscent of Walter Crane, but the subject matter is vastly different. The book is one we c.An cordially recommend as a nice piece of artistry, both literary and' line, quite out of the usual rut.
Restoration of Trades Union Rights. I A PLEDGE ABOUT PLEDGES. I Mr. Lloyd George addressing a conference of employers and trade unionists last week, an- nounced that the Government wished it to be fully understood that they intended that the pledges given to the nvons in March, 1915, should be carried out -md asked the advice of both parties as to tluu best methods to be adopted. No one will quarrel v ith the sentiment ex- pressed, but it is hard to understand why, with such excellent intentions, the Government has allowed the War Pledges Bill to languish from session to session, like Peri knocking at the gates of Paradise. The history of the Bill is worth recording. In August, 1917, Mr. Churchill introduced a Muni- tions Bill containing clauses concerning restora- tion. These were dropped in order to facilitate the speedy passing of the Bill, but he assured the House that he was in full consultation with the Ministry of Reconstruction on the subject, and more than suggested that a bill would be introduced in the next session incorporating these pledges. Nothing more was heard of them, however, until March 14th, 1914, when Mr. Kellaway, in answer to Mr. Anderson, said that the whole question was being carefully considered by the vitrious departments concerned, and that an an- nouncement would be made in due course. On April 15th he referred Mr. Rowntree to his previous answer on March 14th. On April 23rd Mr. Anderson repeated his question. This time Mr. Kellaway replied that the Minister of Munitions had received many re- solutions on the subject, and was anxious to in- troduce legislation as soon as Parliamentary business would permit; perhaps in a fortnight's time he might be able to give a more definite undertaking. The Civil Service Estimates on April 25th pro- vided the next occasion for an explanation. Mr. i d (? d t lvcllaway, in reply to a speech as to the date when it would be possible to introduce legisla- tion on the subject. Still no date. But the House was assured that the Government had not weakened as to the necessity of seeing that the trade union conditions were restored after the war in accordance with the Treasury agree- ment. On June 26th Mr. Tv^lawp.^ was still unable ) to give a date for the introduction of the Bill, but he announced that the Ministry of Labour had been taken into consultation with the Min- istry of Munitions and the Ministry of Recon- struction. In reply to Mr. Terrell (of the F.B.I. and National Union of Manufacturers) he said that the employers also had been consulted on this matter. On July 18th the House was assured that in- ter-departmental discussion was still proceeding. On October 17th the attack was resumed by Mr. Rowntree—this time on the Prime Minister. In reply, the Government regretted that it was unable to make any statement at present. An- swering Mr. Pringle, who suggested that there was a great change in the situation, Mr. Bonar Law replied that it seemed to be in precisely the same position, which was certainly true of the Bill if not of the situation referred to by Mr. Pringle. On October 21st and 22nd the Government had nothing to add to the statement of October 17. On October 28tli the Minister of Reconstruc- tion was attacked, and in the course of the pro- ceedings it was admitted that the last Munitions Act did not legally restore trade union condi- tions, and Dr. Addison again assured Mr. Ter- rell that both sides would be consulted before action was taken. The matter was now before the War Cabinet, where it apparently remains to this day. On November 7th, Mr. Bonar Law replying Mr. Rowntree said that it was the intention of the Government to introduce the Bill. Conver- sations were being initiated between members of the Government and the parties interested, but it was feared that it would not be possible to introduce the Bill that session. A protest was made by Mr. Pringle against the principle of consultation with employers, on the ground that they had not been parties to the Treasury Agreement and had no right to a say in the matter, to which Mr. Bonar Law replied that 'the situation did not make it un- wise1 to try and reachll-n agreement. On November 12th Mr. Bonar Law announced that he had abandoned all hope of introducing the Bill during the present session. To sum up: the Bill which in 1917 was pro- | mised for the next session was under considera- tion in March, 1918, was being discussed in July, and was indefinitely hung up last month Such is progress.
WHERE 18 WAR PLEDGES BILL? I Although a Trade Union Commritte-e was set up at the close of the Conference of Trade Unionists and Employers called by Mr. Lloyd George last Wednesday, it is understood that the trade unions representing the skilled workers in the engineering and kindred trades refused to appoint representatives on ;the Committee. The attitude of these Societies, is understood to be that no discussions can be allowed to take place, on the matter of restoring trade union conditions until the Government has definitely secured the passage into law of the War Pledges Bill, and has thus redeemed the promises which have been left so long unfulfilled. Mr. Lloyd George's statement bv no means satisfied the trade iiiiIoiis, ;Ph take thi; view that the pledges are a matter between them and the Government, and that Mr. Lloyd George has no right to bring the employers into discussions on th, matter. The attempt to confuse the bv v<|iring up the discussion of the fn r of ? ?ges with the pledges wa.s re?en? ;■> td i??. 1 that the trade unions which to tb? ? g up of the Committee are ? ,wt- thd'-fc. tha.t there shall be no tampering with the pledges which have been given.
Political Truce Ended. I REPRESENTATION OF LABOUR AT PEACE I CONFERENCE. By an enormous majority the national confer- ence of the Labour Party on Thursday decided on immediate resumption of complete political independenc and the withdrawal of members of the Labour Party from the Coalition Govern- ment. The conference was held at the Central Hall, Westminster, and was presided over by Mr. John McGurk. Other than Mr. J. R. Clynes, M.P., the food controller, there were no Labour members of the ministry present. The tone of the meeting was such that the conference decision was obvious from the com- mencement. r Mr. Robert Williams (Transport Workers) moved the following resolution from the Execu- tive Committee:— In the new Parliament following the coming general election the Labour Party should be free to promote its reconstruction policy in the most effective manner Ahat the Parliamentary situation will peripit- It meantime declares that a general elec- tion, held for the purpose of choosing a Parlia- ment to carry on the buginess of the country after the war terminates the conditions under which the party entered the Coalition, and it determines that the Party shall resume its in- dependence and withdraw its members from the Government at the close of the present Parlia- ment. On behalf of the Parliamentary Party Mr. Clynes moved an amendment:— That, in accordance with the agreement en- tered into, the Coalition Government should be supported until the end of the war, and upon peace being signed the party should resume its freedom of action." On a card vote the resolution was carried bv 2,117,000 votes to 810,000. Mr. Robert Williams, moving the resolution, said: "We want to be assured that orgaJtised Labour in the country and in Parliament shall not remain longer under the muzzle of con- straint and restraint by participation in the Coalition Government." It would be impossible for the Labour movement to carry out its pro- gramme of social reconstruction unless it was free from being tie l to the tail of the reaction- ary forces whien ddfirifttated tlie Government. If Mr. Lloyd George was so anxious to maintain friendly relations between employers and em- ployed, why did he insist on destroying such re- lations by forcing a general election on the country? The answer was that Mr. George ima- gined that he was at the zenith of his power. "He is determined that your adversity shall be the measure of the opportunity of the reaction- aries. That we will not tolerate." Mr. Williams added a warning to the effect that if Independent Labour in the House of Com- mons could not get grievanoes remedied consti- tutionally the working classes, would resort to "action of an extra-constitutional character." The Government might precipitate such a revo- lutionary movement as they would regret for the rest of their lives. We saw on the Continent the destruction of Imperialistic institutions everywhere. While kings and emperors were abdicating was democracy in this country to ab- dicate ? Mr. Ammon, Postal Association, expressed similar views. Mr. Clynes, in reply, declared that the mo- ment is inopportune for a general election. I see no rea.son for an appeal to the country. The Government has behind it the wholehearted sup- port of the great majority in the House of Com- mons, and, I believe in the country." There were cries of protest' when he said that the La- bour Party had no ground of complaint because they had been the first to break the political truce and preparing for i general election at a time when the pier pt ties were taking no action. The .arl- on the Government," he said, "to whid we committed ourselves, 4s given us now no right to whine at a general elec- tion being undertaken." He went on to urge as the chief reason for Labour remaining in the Government the fact that this would give them a claim to be repre- sented at the Peace Conference, but the work for which Labour joined the Coalition would not be completed until peace was signed, and La- bour Mil n iters could usefully remain in the Govert t-nt until that time came. This would be t1 middle course which would secure unity untii ..he time for independent action. We are pledged to the country to stand by the Gov- ernment till this thing is seen through, and that will not be until Labour at the Peace Confer- ence has finished the job." He accused the La- bour Movement of shirking the responsibility in- volved in having their own Ministers in the Government. It was very important that Labour should oontinue to share in tht1 settlement of great economic questions like that of food, on which, as he said, "I have tried to utter a Labour and I believe a human voice." Was not Labour to have a hand in the great task of feeding our beaten foe and in the organised buying and dis- tribution of the world supply of food? Oould these things be better done by capitalists than by a La bour man ? Meeting a good desll of hostility, Mr. Clynes proceeded to defend the Government on its war record, and urged that if the Coalition was de- stroyed Labour candidates at the election would be seriously handicapped and would meet with the resentment of the people who supported the Government which had won the war. Mr. Will Thorne, M.P., seconded the amend- ment. Mr. J. H. Thomas rose amidst cheers to op- pose the amendment. If the representation of Labour at the Peace Conference was conditional on its support of the Coalition Government, did that mean that the leader of the Opposition, Mr. Asquith, was ruled out as well? If Labour was not represented at the Peace Conference we should have the interesting situation that, while we went to war in the interests of demo- cracy, every other class and interest would have a voice in the peace terms except democracy. "We have a claim on merit, as a right, as a recognition of what Labour has done to help to make the terms of peace without any bargain- ing whatever." If the Coalition continued the Labour candi- dates at the election would be under a moral obligation to support Coalition Liberals or I Tories as against a Labour ma.n. I want our party," he added, "to give no countenance to Bolshevism or anything of that kind. No coun- try would suffer more than this would suffer from a bloody revolution. The best way to meet that danger is to have a strong and independent Labour Party in Parliament, which would act as a safety valve, and to which the people would be able to look up and trust." Mr. George Bernard Shaw said that he had expected Mr. Clynes to tell the conference what Mr. Lloyd George was prepared to offer Labour for continuing in the Coalition, but Mr. Clynes had come with his hands empty. Mr. Lloyd George, in view of the general election, was now forced to make some sort of bargain with the other parties, as Mr. Asquith did with the Unionist when the first Coalition Government was formed. Mr. Lloyd George had offered the Unionists to give up Free Trade, and he had surrendered on the Irish question, and he had even bought them" off on Welsh disestablishment. He did not blame Mr Llovd George for making his bargain, but the liabour Party ought to have driven just as hard a bargain for them- selves. Mr. Lloyd George had not pledged him- self to Labour in any way. He simply offered them trader boards ard a minimum wage, which they had got already. He had offered Labour svmpa-th,otic -nvide,-ation. The governing classes were quite willing to give Labour tips, graduated from a shilling to a railway porter to posts in the Board of Trade. At the moment when Mr. Henderson left the Cabinet affcw being subjected to deliberate and int-entioml insolence the Labour Party was really born for the first time, and the man who bad succeeded him had no chance of being re- garded as a leader or the movement. Was La- bour to deliver itselt bound hand )H1.1 ioot until the governing classe,- had made Jie after-war arrangements We knew already from Mr. Churchill that the ii'tfiitiou was to give the la- bour that had been engaged J:1 the tvar a little tip and fling it back into the labour market. How could Mr. Clynes criticise Mr. Churchill and his friends if he remained in the Govern- ment P We want the Peace Conference to carry out the conclusions of a Parliament in which Labour has a voice. It matters little who are the members of the Peaoe Conference, but it mat- ters enormously what mandate they have from the Parliament of the people. A party in & Coalition without a majority is a mockery." Mr. Clynes has come from Mr. Lloyd George and done the best he can. I ask you to send Mr. Clynes back to him with the message nothing doing.' Another sharp protest against rushing an elec- tion was made by Mr. Twist, of the miners, and Mr. Gallagher told the conference that the Clyde workers would laugh at them if they went into the Coalition again. I am a Bolshevik, and I am out for a revolution," said Mr. Gal- lagher, and he was also out for meeting the capitalistic policy by reviving the International Socialist movement. This led to a spirited attack on Bolshevism from Mr. Tom Shaw, of the Textile Workers, who said that the Bolshevik was as big a tyrant as the Kaiser. He protested strenuously against insinuations against the honour of men like Mr. Barnes for entering the Government. There was an uproar when he said that Mr. Clynes had been accused of having been bought by the Meat Trust. The Conference insisted on knowing who had said it, and Mr. Tom Shaw gave the name of a well-known Lancashire trade, unionist, who had said at a meeting that he had heard that this, was the case. Mr. Clynes: The Meat Trust has not got enough money. Mr. Crump, president of the National Union of Railwaymen, replied to Mr. Clynes, and raised another little storm by suggesting that Mr. Clynes had cancelled an engagement to support a Labour candidate because the sitting member, Sir Fortescue Flannery. was a sup- porter of the Coalition. Mr. Clynes denied that he bad made an en- gagement. Mr. Crump: lfill Mr. Clynes deny that he sent a letter saying that before he would speak he would have regard to the views of the Labour candidate as to the Coalition Government ? Mr. Clynes: Exactly. Mr. Crump: Then f say that Mr. Clvnes's whole case has gone. The voting was diversified by the proceedings of a man in the gallery, who insisted on address- i ng the conference on the case of the Clyde leader John McLean, who, he said, is dying in prison. He denounced the conference as a lot of respectable, sleek humbugs and damnable cowards. He evidently had sympathisers on the lfoor of the hall, for later on a resolution was carried demanding the release of Mr. McLean, and also that of all political prisoners in the country, in eluding the conscientious objectors. In a powerful speech, Mr. Ramsay Macdonald reiterated the demand that there should be a Labour representative at the Peace Conference and also an International Labour Conference sitting concurrently. This demand, he said, ik-as made equally by the Labour parties of France, America, and Italy, and Mr. Lloyd George him- self had spoken sympathetically when urged allow Labour to be represented. Mr. Macdonald announced that a committee representing the La bour movements of the Allied countries had been formed to press -)on 'Governments the granting of fa,- current conference. Mr. Robert Smillie, whom f the Conference was anxious Labour demand much high thought that Labour should of the peace delegation. He worthy of Labour to go beggi talist enemies for the opporti part in the settlement.