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Political Notes By F. W. Jowett. BACKSTAIRS POLITICS. I Sir Auckland Geddes is at present chief custo- didan of the big business interest in the Government. He functions in the said capacity through the Board of Trade, which never meets. The Board includes among its members the Archbishop of Canterbury, as well as the Speaker of the House of Commons. Sir Auck- land Geddes is the present chairman of this phantom Board, but he is real, he is earnest, ;fnd being uncontrolled, he is in a favoura ble posi- tion to make the life of the Big Business Man sublime and this he is expected to do by the majority of the members of this Parliament. Scarcely a day passes without some claim being I put forward for better protection of the profiteer in one line of goods or another. The members of the Capitalists' Labour Party put forward a considerable number of these claims on behalf of their patrons. A PARLIAMENT FOR PREVENTION OF I CRUELTY TO CAPITALISTS. I I Tinplate goods being so plentiful and cheap, Seddon (Capitalists' Labour Party) invites Sir Auckland Geddes (House of Commons, May 28) to prevent the importation of tinplate and gal- vanised iron from America., because prices are too low. Sir F. Hall (House of Commons, May 26), a Conservative and a protectionist, is equally concerned about the cheapness of steel products. Manufactured steel can be imported from America to sell at t4 10s. a ton lera than the British manufacturer is receiving. The bal- ance-sheets of the British steel manufacturing firms show that the prices are all riht from the point of view of the capitalist profiteer, and in the opinion of Sir Frederick Hall it would be a shame to give the British public an opportun- ity to buy cheaper products in the steel line, even if they are offered from America where wages are higher, and if the demand for iron and steel products in this country exceeds the sup- ply, as is the case at present. Halias (Capi- talists' Labour Party) wants to maintain the price of leather gloves. Leather gloves which before the war could be bought freely for 3/G per pair have been selling at about 12/6 per tair, 1) nt he complains that Sir Auckland Geddes has not maintained the restrictions on the im- port of leather gloves. In the circumstances Halias recommends the imposition of a. high tax on imported gloves, on the ground that they are produced by cheap Foreign labour. Halias offered no proof that cheap labour, and not ex- pensive |>ctit< erisig is the (actor w hich makes the difference. THE CAPITALISTS' JANITOR. ThplI there arc gas mantles. Manularturers of gal-mantln want to exclude imports in their line for the next two years. Sir Auckland says, however, that no undertaking has been given to rc-.sti,i(-t imports after September 1st next. Pre- sumably the question of continuing the present restrictions after the date mentioned will be de- cided in the meantime. [Evidently the makers of these goods have confidence that Sir Auckland Geddes will see them through all right, for Colonel Wedgwood reminded the President (May 26th) that the shares of the. principal com-j pany concerned had risen 20/ each during tlie j previous week. The shares in question are now1 thirty-four times the value that they were in i 191- fn i-'l I gas mantles sold hy the Company to which Colonel Wedgwood referred were 1-Jd. and 2d. each. At present they are 8d. and 9d. each. Welsbaeh's Company's shares stood at 2/- before the war. They a re now 7 6. The questions in Parliament on these matters are but the outward manifestations of the pull which Big Business is exercising over the pre- sent Government.. It is on the backstairs of the Board of Trade that the transactions are nego- tiated. When the negotiations hang lire, or Big Business is kept waiting too long on the back- stairs, its representatives and hacks in Parlia- ment oblige with a iittle Parliamentary heckling to ginger up tlwir janitor at the Board of Trade. FARMINC OUT TRADE PERMITS. Occasionally the Big Business clashes, with the interest* of the .smaller fry of profiteers, and a 'little more light is shed on the proceedings on the backstairs As for instance, in Parliament on May 2^th a Mr. Lambert sought information from Sir Auckland Geddes as to how and why the P.oard of Trade allowed the British Electrical and Allied Manufacturers' Association to freeze out a certain electrical equipment for factories which the lion, member named. The janitor of capitalism in charge of the Board of Trade m)swr<'dMt. Lambert in terms which a)'? i!)u- minating. it appears that an arrangement has been made between the Board of Trade and the British Electrical and Allied Manufacturers' As- sociation—the hitter hody repi esenting the Big Business interest in this line-for import licences to he issued in bulk to the Association. Tlw Association is allowed to distribute permits to import under licence to individual firms ac- cording to its own discretion. By this process the Association is enabled to kill two birds "it h one stone (although Sir Auckland Geddes did not call attention to this fact) for it can favour the firms belonging to the Association, and. in addition, it. can restrict supplies to maintain high prices. WHAT CEDDES MICHT HAVE SAID. Of course, Sir Auckland Geddes does not ad- k mit there is anv connection between the policy of the Board of, tile War Office and other Government departments, of working in collu- sion with the Big Business in restricting sup- plies on the one hand, and on the other pro- moting high prices. He was asked iMay 2tll) to say if he had observed the excessive prices of hoots and clothing and the iiifei-ioi- qutlity of the sambas compared with pre-war supplies, and. if he would take steps to reduce prices and improve the quality. He did not reply, as he should have done, that in regard to clothing and hoots his colleague at the War Office ever since the war began has allowed the profiteer to plun- der the civilian wearer of boots and clothing by charging the public; uncontrolled prices for gar- ments and boots made from raw materials pre- viously purchased from the Government at con- trolled prices. Hence, there has been, all along, two sets of prices for clothing and boots, one for the army and another for civilians, even when manufactured from the same quality of materials charged to the manufacturer at the same price. Sir Auckland Geddes could have informed s his questioner, if he had wished, how much more a I memlwr of the public has to pay for a yard of cloth, a garment, or a pair of boots, than the army is charged for the same weight and quality of finished product made from raw materials bought by the manufacturer from the Govern- nwnt at the same price. It he had furnished this desira ble information, the public would then have been made aware of the fact that the civilian population ig (tlizii-ged prices for clothing and boots w hieh range from 50 per cent. to 100 per cent, over and above the prices paid by the Government. And. let it be understood, tiie Government has been made to pay a good working profit on its purchases. THE RiCHT TO PLUNDER. I Sir Auckland Geddes responded to Mr. Lam- bert's request for information and assurances, above referred to, with the usual kind of eye- wash" which had been carefully concocted in the office beforehand. This was to the effect that the excessive prices complained of were due to the fact that demand exceeded supply (which, if it -fs true, does not justify Sir Auckland Geddes in giving unlimited licence to profiteers to plun- der the public), and, to the inhcreased cost of labour and fuel. He is, however, fully aware that the cost of labour has but moved upwards to follow roughly, and by belated advances, the cost of living for which profiteering and inflation of the currency are responsible. As to the cost of fuel, the Government- is itself responsible for setting aside the Coal Prices Limitation Act. The Coalowners reaped a harvest of many mil- lions from the public by this action on the part of the Government, which the coalowners had secretly instigated, and the Government shared the plunder. THE TRUTH ABOUT HIGH PRICES. I It is not only the case that this Government of capitalists and their serving men plays into the hands of the profiteers and enables titem to plunder the public with their high prices as a resul t of secretly arranged restrictions on iin- p jrts, and of privileges negotiated on the hack stairs of the (ioverument departments. Scarcity and high prices a re also fostered by its refusal to commandeer available supplies of raw ma- terial and plant to enable the worker to work. Theava i lable stores of wood, iron, and steel, supplemented by imported supplies if restrictions were removed, are sufficient to set the unem- ployed working in their respective trades. Of bricks the Government has repeatedly stated that there are ample supplies. Yet in the course of the debate on unemployment (with special re- ference to discharged soldiers—May 28th) it transpired that there are over 60.000 men un- employed in the building trade, and no fewer than 150,000 general labourers are workless. In the engineering trade there are 140,000 out of work. 120,000 transport workers and 72,000 textile workers are also unemployed. During the war, when the main purpose of production was to supply tilings for immediate destruction, nothing was allowed to stand in the way of PIll- ployment. All available materials, to whomso- ever they belonged, had to be put to some use, and nobody who had l-een accustomed to do work such as was required by the State was ali. lowed to be idle. But now. though houses, ma- chinery, motors and engines for transport are urgently required, there are over 1.000,000 un- employed workers, including 400,000 discharged soldiers. It is almost impossible to buy machin- ery, and yet, costly plffnt and premises are de- voted to the production of expensive private motor cars, and the luxury trades are nourish- ing because the profiteers and notably the war profiteers have the first can on production, for with tliein price is a i datively unimportant con- sideration. I HUSH MONEY FOR THE UNEMPLOYED. I ..1 1. I to keep the unemployed workers quiet during their enforced idleness the Government has paid already £:W.()OO,OOO in unemployment- doles. This amount would have sufficed to get work started to increase the supply of houses and all other useful things urgently required, but for this policy it would have been necessary also to command all materials and allocate them to Ra- tional purposes in the order of their usefulness. This the Government, being, as it is, the custo- dian of capitalist interests, have refused to do. ( 1 .111 of lli t t,)*(" For a captialist war they did this thing. To re-construct the wreck that they have made tlie world, they refuse to interfere. Men and women must now, and until they see more clearly, wait for work until it profits the masters of the world (whose Government they, the common people, have elected) to employ them. Doles they may have, but not to enable them to work, for to grant so much in time of peace would undermine the present social ord er. THE WORLD SAFE FOR DEMOCRACY. Tlie re is going to be- no interference with the present social order either in this country or in any other if Churchill and the men of the Paris Thieves' Kitchen have the ii- way. Churchill's defence of the secret circular sent from the War OfTicp to Commanding Officers gives a glimpse of the rod in pickle here for working people who are so unruly as to refuse to work for their masters, if they should happen to re- fuse in large numbers. In other countries mur- derous forms of repression are already in force to repress self-determination of peoples which goes so far as to threaten the existing social (Continued at foot of next column).
The Aristocrats of Labour. I BY M.S." I The mining occupation was not an unhealthy one. He had been mining for 20 years and he was not an unhealthy individual. 11-Leoiiald Llewellyn at a bogus death-wail meeting of the Cambrian Combine. One might expect from some of the witnesses at the Coal Commission that collieries will soon be advertised as health resorts. The following, drawn from actual experience, attempts to give another side to the picture. The summer day is shading into night. Into the hillside, the tram line of the coal level leads downwards, and soon only the smoking oil lamps in the caps of the miners show the water and the ankle-deep slush of the tunnel roadway. A walk of half-an-hour and the face of the seam and the working places are reach.. Good I heavens! especially to tllvl straiiger' what a place for men to work it is. The roadway through which the pony pulls the trams is hardly five feet high, but the coal section and the work- ing space is barely twenty inches. To the right and left of the roadway stretches on each side for 15 to 20 yards the working length. From the low roof fall constant water droppers which accumulate in pools or run along the floor. Two men of the niglii shift are working. There is not room for them to kneel even with breast pressed close to knees. A broad-backed man could hardly in some places find shoulder width. WliTle one man loosens the coal and fills the iron scoops or boxes, another worms his way to and from the tram with them. Working at full length here, surely a place more suitable for water rats, both are sooi: soaked to the skin from water above and behw, and they only keep" warm by working as quickly as their cramped positions will allow. Besides the tale of trams must be filled before a harried walk homewards in dripping clothes is made, to make for the housewife endless dirt and labour in the drying of the sodden dotllng redy for the next shift. (Alas! that the miner and his mate have not before now insisted on baths and changing- rooms upon the pit premises). The men know they are sore and stiff and that sooner or later their work' will inevitably produce deformity, rheumatism and premature old age that day is not turned into night and sleep disturbed and lost with impunity. But what can they do? Often work is hard to find, and work somewhere they must. Other indus- tries also have their drawbacks and diseases. Additional attractions of these colliery health- resorts might be named "hich give variety to the life of the miner., Sometimes the ventila- tion is poor and the air barely sufficient to keep a light. Fumes from explosives are often un- avoidably breathed. Firedamp or coaldust ex- plosions are not unknown. A post may fail or a hidden slip mav release a fall to maim or kill. Haulage accidents increase the casualty list. But, of course, the gentlemen who meet quar- terly to declare and'distribute tlie dividends— these are they who bear the risks of industry so bravely and find tlwir occupation such a dan- gerous one. But the miner is not in the position of a sweated worker depending on an appeal to sen- timent rather than to strength of organisation. He only wants a remembrance of the other side when colliery directors describe his easy lot. If the Coal Commission does not end in propaganda and talk if parasites are cut away from the tree of industry if control and production for use are instituted then lie and his fellows will be able fo apply inventive power to avoid much risk and sacrifice of human life so truly pre- cious though now so cheaply held.
The Peace Treaty. I I FRENCH LABOUR'S DECLARATION. I The clear declaration of the British Labour Party executive on the Peace Treaty has been followed by an equally clear declaration of the National Committee of the French General Con- federation of Labour. They object to the Peace Treaty, that it is a negation of the rights of peoples to dispose of themselves, that it contains disguised annexations of territories, that it marks a return to the old system of alliances, that it makes general disarmament impossible, that it continues colonialism, and that it gives o real international charter.
PAYMENT FOR COUNCILLORS. I The Executive of the London Labour Party has raised the question of payment of members of the London County Council, and has sought an interview with the President of the Local Government Board to discuss this and otliet, questions. The Party points out. that the time and expense incurred by L.C.C. members in their work for the public is a rea l burden and tends to restrict the number of people who feel able to stand for election to the Council. T here is quite as strong a case for the payment of L.C.C. members as there is for the payment of members of Parliament, and Dr. Addison is re- minded by the secretary of the London Labour Party that Paris is already paying its Municipal 'Counci llors. I
More Dilly-Dally. I MERTHYR CORPORATION PROVOKES ANOTHER STRIKE. MOURNERS BURY THEIR DEAD. The dilatoriness of the Merthyr Town Council in dealing with wages applications resulted in another industrial impasse, and as the Corpora- tion clerks moliated. with promises of arbitration on their demands by a joint-committee were re- turning to duty the municipal employees on Thursday morning ceased work. The strike was constitutional, notices having been tendered a fortnight previously, but anti- cipating an amicable settlement of the matters in dispute between them and the Corporation they had suspended operation of the notices from day to day. Satisfaction not being accorded strike action was deemed the only effective re- medy. It appears that about 36 of the Merthyr work- men did not come within the provisions of the recent Stoker" wages award, and for these I was claimed increases proportionate to those granted to men covered by that agreement. The executive of the joint board of the South Wales municipal authorities subsequently dealt with grades affecting 20 of the Merthyr men, and on the day of the strike 16 cases were still un- graded On Thursday there were 200 workmen out, and they were joined by 50 scavengers employed by the Corporation scavenging contractors. For these was asked 1/3! an hour, the rate paid ac- cording to the Stoker" award to scavengers directly employed by municipal authorities. The av, rage wage appertaining to such men in Mer- thyr is stated to be t2. The scavengers' case is dealt with in another column. CLEANERS DOWN DUSTERS. I Next day io of the women cleaners struck in sympathy. I The public works departments were wholly disorganised at once. The grave-diggers and sextons being among the strikers, funerals on Thursday were conducted under difficulty. There were two burials at the Cefn Coed and two at the Pant cemeteries, and the mourners found themselves obliged to bury their dead, the work- men having picketed the burial grounds and vetoed the employment of outside labour to do the work of the gravediggers. All four graves, however, had been prepared the day previous, and the relatives and friends of the dead thus were spared the painful duty of cutting open the trenches. The Doivl&i- a-nd Gettifoelag school** to 1 3 closed on Thursday, and the closing of most of the other schools and the parks came as inevit- able on Friday owing to the withdrawal of the necessary labour. A gratifying feature of the strike is that the fight was waged solely on behalf of the "bottom dog" and the "outstanding cases" were those of the park-attendants, library men, caretakers, dustmen and the like-people whose wages are at best always on the poverty line. Happily its duration was short, for on Friday it was an- nounced that the corporation would consider the grievances on Tuesday, and on the advice of Mr. R. Llewellyn (their organiser) the men agreed to return to work the next morning.
Labour Leaders and Russia I TO THE EDITOR. I Sir,—I was amazed to read that Tillet, Sex- ton, Havelock Wilson and other trade union officials" have now agreed to assist the Anti- Bolshevik R ussians. It is stated that "Mr. Tillet and Mr. Sexton will use their influence with British dock-labourers to get food-ships loaded for nothing, and that Mr. Havelock Wil- son will use his influence with the seamen to se- cure a free voyage for the cargo." Is it possible that these Labour leaders know What they are doing We have now sufficient evidence t-o show that the Soviet or Bolshevik Government is the very finest form of Govern- ment ever established in the history of mankind. The tales of their atrocities are now proven to be lies. All the slaughter committed by them, they have been driven to, in sheer self- defence. They have executed several of their own officials for corrupt ion. They have done all they can to establish a clean, honest, govern- ment of the people in Russia. And all the signs of the times point to the suggestion that they would succeed gloriously, were it not for the in- terference of Britain, France and America. And now we hear of these Labour leaders! ?) joining the gangs of Capitalism against their own class! What are these men out for In my inno- cence, I had thought they were out to assist the working-classes to obtain their rights. I admit they do talk of higher wages, shorter hours and better conditions for work and homo. But do they not understand that these rights are im- possible under present conditions of society P C.,ii)itali,,Pi-if Ni-,iges are increased, hours of work shortened—these will only mean an in- crease in the price of commodities. Capitalism will have its lion's share of all productions, and the lot of the consumer remains the same, or falls from bad to worse. This is the vioious circle "—raising the prices of goods in order to increase wages. What better will Tillet-Sexton- Wilson be in the face of continuous rises in the price of commodities, even if their own salaries are increased? Well, to cure society of this evil-tliel-e is only one remedy—destroy Capitalism. But you can- not destroy Capitalism anywhere, if you assist it in Russia. Capitalism means the exploitation of the many by the few. And we know now that the Soviet or sole control by the people is the only way to destroy Capitalism. And the Soviet in Russia is the nearest approach to perfection ever attempted in the long story of mankind. As Arthur Ran.some says "They have written a page of history more daring than any other wliic h can remember in the story of the human race. And that page will remain as white as the snows of Russia." Yet Tillet-Sexton-Wilson are out to destroy these people—the murderers! I have no other name for them! N I I). V. WAJjlfJW.
r- Germany and The Peace Terms. CERMAN SOCIALISTS AND PEACE. The Executive of the German Social Democra- tic Party has asked for the immediate convoca- tion of the permanent commission of the Berne International Conference. The German Socialist majority want the commission to determine the attitude to be adopted towards the draft peace treaty. The majority representatives from Ger- many, Herren Wels and Mtiller, did not reach Amsterdam for the meetings of the Commission recently held there in time to take part in any of the discussions. As already reported, the Commission dealt antieipatively with the pro- posals of the Paris Peace Congress and defined afresh the working-class view of territorial, poli- tical, and economic problems of the peace. The acting Committee appointed by Berne met later in Paris, after the publication of the peace treaty, and issued a manifesto on the same lines as the declaration of the national executive of the British Labour Party. No decision has yet been taken as to the request of the German Socialists. CERMAN TRADE UNIONS AND PEACE. The Executive of the German Trade Unions has addressed a manifesto against the brutal throttling of the German nation by the peace terms." The protest (according to Reuter), says the German nation has long since declared its willingness to undertake reconstruction in Belgium and Northern France. It refers to the promise of a peace of justice that should bring with it the reconciliation of the nations and the end of all sanguinary wars." In reference to the indemnity demands, the manifesto points out that their effect will be to render German workmen the wage-slaves of capitalists for at lease 50 years, and it also protests against the section of-the treaty relating to international labour legislation. The peace treaty is de- scribed at a blow at the world's proletariat, and it a plot of international capitalism against Socialism and the Social Revolution. The Ger- man Trade Unions claim they have never been backward in testifying to the international soli- darity of the working classes, and therefore think they may appeal to the workers of all countries to join in a protest against oppression by international capital. CERMAN INDEPENDENTS AND PEACE. The leader of the Independent Socialists in Germany, Haase, in an interview with a repre- sentative of the Agence Central, defined the at- titml-. of hi- Party in relation to the interna- tional political situation, and the question of peace. His party were in agi-t-ement with the German Government, lie Says, so long as the latter tried to negotiate with Paris on the ques- tion of peace. Their opposition to the Govern- ment started only when nationalist circles in Germany introduced a war-like spirit into criti- cism of the peace terms. The Independents do not want any return of militarism, not even as protection against an unjust peace. If the In- dependents, Haase argued, really felt inclined to oppose the Government they would also op- pose the signing of the peace treaty, because the failure to sign would be unavoidably followed by catastrophe and bring about a new revolution. He regarded such political manoeuvres, however, as irresponsible. He denied that the Indepen- dents meant to form a uew Government and sign the peace, pointing out that the majority of the national assembly being against them, or with them only as long as it pleases, at the first op- portunitv would push the Independents aside. But the Independents did not accept the peace as final, believing that the international proletariat would force a revision of the terms. It was in any case deeply regrettable that some parts of the treaty meant, not peace, but an armistice; this was so, for example, in the provisions re- lating to the Eastern frontier, and with refer- ence to Danzig, which he thought might he made a free port, remaining with Germany, but con- ceding eoonomic rights to Poland. Haase ad- mitted that it was impossible to say whether such a policy would have been successful, but it had not even been tried, and he was afraid that it was now too late to try it. He regretted the separation of Prussia as a catastrophe for the country, because it militated against the econo- mic welfare of the countrv. the connection' with the sea being quite inadequate. He hoped that an accommodation would be possible in regard to the Saar Region, many powerful representatives of the French bourgeoisie not being satisfied with the policy and he thought that interna- tional Capitalism might be contented with a dif- ferent regulation of the question. France, he said, must realise that it is impossible, consider- ing the general decrease in cattle-breeding throughout the world, that she alone should be re-stocked and placed in the position she occu- pied before tlie war. He expected the peace to be signed. Discussing the international situation, Haase said that reports from Russia made it clear that the Bolsheviks, menaced from the North, were retiring into the Ukraine, and further South. In Kief the leader of the Roumanian Socialist Party, Rokovski, was head of the Government, and Haase thought the storm might break out there abruptly. In Bulgaria also, affair" were very unsettled. and the peasant movement was steadily grow- ing, without connection, however, with the Rus- sian movement. Haase added that the Hun- garian Revolution was not dead, but could only be kept in being by the merey of the Entente, connection with Russia having proved unsuccess- ful. He thought social revolution was unavoid- able also in Poland, which remains the only country in Euroge (except Roumai ia) with a feudal economic foundation.
LIPTON'S SHOP ASSISTANTS. The National Amalgamated Union of Shop As- sistants, Warehousemen and Clerks have been asked to open negotiations for the adoption of the Union's National Minimum Wage Scale oy the Staff of Messrs. Liptons, Ltd., in the fol- lowing towns: Ammanford, Pontardulais, tilanelly, Aberavon, Aberystwyth. Carmarthen, Swansea, Pembroke Dock, Neath.
order. Colonel Wedgwood gave1 a few illustra- tions of the policy at work in Russia and Fin- land. The White Guards of the latter country suppressed a revolution which aimed at the de- struction of the present social order. When they got the upper hand over the revolutionists the White Guard. arrested, in the first weeks of 191K about 00,000 persons, and of these they shot 15,000 to 20,000 our of hand, without trial. And the total population is said to lie under a million. There is also Koltchak, anot,her of the tyrants we are assisting, who imprisoned the members of the Constituent As- sembly, and shot some of them. His noble army, including troops who hang and flog young men who refuse to be forced into their masters' army, are to be clad d thp uniforms of British soldiers. It is the King's uniform, fortunately, not the people's.