OUR LONDON LETTER. PAGE 2.
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Political Notes I By F. W. Jowett. I A TRIUMPH AND A LAPSE. Thp Trad es T'nion Congress that met at Glas-! gow answered the expectations of its I.L.P. tilembei-s regarding the decisions it came to oil the leading issues of the day. The reference hack of the portion of the report which referred to the refusal of the Parliamentary Committee to call a special conference to determine whether direct- action should be taken to enforce with- drawa l from Russia, the abolition of conscrip- tion and an amnesty to political prisoners, was 1n effect a vote of censure on the Parliamentary Committee. The resolutions adopted by the Conference relating to Nationalisation of mines and self-determination for the Irish people were as clear and emphatic as would have been the case if the Congress had contained only Socialist deie?at?s. What will appeal strange to out- ?ders. however, is the result of the ballot for places on the Parliamentary Committee. "Why," It will be asked, did the miners fail to secure the election of any of their members on the C()Ulm;tt,t,e', I" The Congress, Laving backed up i the miners on all substantia l issues, with Strange inconsistency elected a Committee \vhich. it is contains a majority of Members who are not in sympathy with the decisions of the Conference. What is the ex- planation of this inconsistency? THAT BLOCK VOTE! 11 I lie explanation is to be iound in tne block vote. Members were elected to the now Com- mittee not on account of their opi 11 ions, but be- cause a successful combination of the votes of a dumber of unions was arranged in their favour. Unions arrange to support each other's nominees In order to iobtain representation on the Com- mittee, and little or no regard is paid to the views of the person to whom the vote is given. fue negotiator for a particular union has a cer- tain number of votes to olfer, and he disposes of tbem to a large union in favour of his iety's n.onunee. It is stated that the Miners' Federa- tion an an exception to the rule in this matter, for the Miners' delegates meet and decide which of the candidates, in addition to their own, they will support, and take no account whatever of the support other unions give to their candi- da res On this occasion it bee; im-j know n the Miners' vot" was to be withheld from can- didates put forward hy a few of the large unions v-"hich for many years have been represented 011 the Parliamentary Committee, and consequently these unions, having nothing to lose because t-hev were sure that the Miners' vote would go Against them in any pase formed combinations *'hich excluded the Miners altogether. Henci the Miners' candidates failed at the election, not on account of the attitude of the miners on questions debated at the Conference, but-merely hecause the Miners' vote wa.s not offered in ex- change for other blocks of votes. I understand that the Parliamentary Committee will be elected on the Proportional Representation plan next year. It is consequently probable that the Pernicious custom of bartering blocks of votes, Xv'hicb has flourished for some years past under hl, present system, will be scotched for awhiie 1f not altogether destroyed. For this blessing tilost of us would be duly gratefii. THE REVOLUTION BOGEY. In the discussions relating to Direct Action, the effect of the jwilicy, if it were -adopted in this Country, is always cither misrepresented or over- looked. The opponents of Direct Action say, as ,thev did at the Trade Union Congress, that in the event of a general strike bringing industry to a standstill civil war would break out, in *vhich the Government and its armed forces would be on one side and the people, fighting Unarmed, would he on the other side. The, situa- tion would be quite different, for no government in this country would embark 011 a civil war without first appealing to the people. All that can be accomplished by a successful general strike for a political object is a, genera election. lilhc- danger which is associated with the policy of direct action is that a strike might only be Responded to partially, in which case there ivould P'obably be disturbance arising out of friction between the workers on strike and the workers who refused to strike. In this event the Govern- Olnt would use force against the strikers, and the worst possible results would follow. The obvious precaution against this danger is to t;'ke a, ballot before entering upon a strike, and the supporters of direct action agree that this should be done. [t is. however, most likely that if the result of a ballot in all branches of indus- tf,v-or in a group -of leading industries—were to result in all overwhelming majority in favour of dnect action, the Government would appeal to the country 4t mandate without waiting for the strike to place. BOLSHEVIK MINISTERS. Although the policy of Direct Action is not one to be lightly adopted for the settlement of political issues the working class cannot be ex- acted to leave the use of it to the capitalist class and iildii&uils who chance to be ministers. For it shouwPne remembered that every indi- vidual, clique, or class, that enforces a. policy behind the back of Parliament or in defiance of pledges given to electors to obtain votes, does in fact adopt direct action. Mr. Winston Churchill, for instance, who, at the very same time that he assured Parliament and the coun- try that the share of British forces in the opera- tions of Koltchak in Russia was nil so far as men are concerned was engaging the British forces in an extensive military campaign to transfer Koltchak's force from Siberia to Arch- angel-and for this purpose Hie British forces nere to fight their way from Archangel to Kotlas, a distance of three hundred miles in- land. It would be preposterous to admit that Mr. Winston Churchill, by taking direct action on his own account, should be allowed to sacri- fice the lives of sons and brothers of workers here at home, who must allow him to continue his direct action until it pleases him and his friends to dissolve Parliament and hold another general election. In the meantime, how many more of the sons and brothers of the workers would be sent to their deaths Are the workers patiently to wait and see, or to adopt the only means available for compelling him to cease his direct action or take the judgment of the people upon it. TRUTH LEAKS OUT. Lord Loreburn, in the book he has just issued to the public under the title How the war came," has vindicated the position of the I.L.P. in regard to the war. He challenges the pre- tence that the war was inevitable. We went to war in a Russian quarrel," he says, be- cause we were tied to France in the dark." He admits, as the I.L.P. has always done, that the issue between peace and w a) in the long run did not depend on the negotiations carried on in the twelve days immediately preceding the actual outbreak of war, but on what "The Nation" (September 13th) describes as eight years of journeying towards the goal." How familiar to those who have heard the position of the I.L.P. stated by its numerous speakers is the case pre- sented by Lord Loreburn in the following pas- sage :— Armaments depend on policy. If during the ten years which preceded the war the cabinet of 1906 and its successor had been drawn into an obligation of honour to fight Germany by France's side. it should have seen the consequences of its acts and provided for them. These were threefold. We should have rafised and equipped an army on the conti- nental scale. We should have had a definite agreement—a bargain if you please—with our partner in the enterprise. And as a result of these momentous decisions the Government should have gone to the public and secured their approval. THE NATION'S" VIEW. The strength of Lord Loreburn's case against the war and the Government is so admirable summarised and commented on by the "Nation" that I feel I cannot do anything more useful than quote it:- "But, after all," continues the Nation," tin pa:lit la to iii, of Lord Lore- burn's charge that while on August 3rd, in the House of Commons, and during the fevered course of the negotiations immediately before the war, Lord Grey maintained Eng- land's freedom from a binding engagement, he was in fact and in honour bound to France. This view cannot be dismissed, for it explains much in Lord Grey's conduct in the negotia- tions. Thus Iv was in no position to accept any tender that Germany might make as to the observance of Belgian neutrality. In fact, he did wave all such approaches away. And his whole position was compromised. Being committed to one iof the powers he could not frankly act as arbiter between both, and being a merely unavowed Al'ly he could not go to Germany and Austria and say If you go aggressively to war, you will have us against you, and you must clearly reckon with that rather formidable contingency." WARTIME TRUTH. That the commitments were specific can hardly he denied, fiord Grpy Lad gone bail for England's material support of France over Morroeco. The French demand for naval and military conversations had been conceded. The conversations had taken place, and ac- cording to a document found in Brussels, Col. Bridges had told General Jungbluth, the Bel- gian, two years before the war, that Great Britain had 160,000 men available for dis- patch to the Continent, and that we proposed to send them to Belgium with or without Bel- gian consent. As we had stood by France in shining armour in 1912, M. Poineare and M. Cambon clearly counted on our ranging ourselves on her side in 1911." I DIPLOMACY. I,oj*ki Lorebtij-ii HOt only gives his weighty and experienced judgment in suppoi-t of the I.L.P. view as to the responsibility of the Government for dragging the country into the European Avar, but he goes further and endorsed the I.L.P. view that the war might have been ended sooner, and a clean peace concluded .if the Government had not continued during the war the policy of dupli- city which led to the war. On this point The Nation states Lord Loreburn's case in the fol- lowing paSStlge:- Lord Loreburn's case is not merely the secret diplomacy which made or helped to make the war. The war was pursued as well as made behind a veil. To the peoples of the Allies its objects were declared to be moral and ideal, the rescue of nationalities, the right of self-government-, the overthrow of militar- lslii But these aims became subject to the arrangements .of the Secret Treaties whose aims were not spiritual at all, but intensely material. Thus the outer world conceived one idea of the war, whilst its direefcprs Ave re pri- vately committed to another. The treaties have involved these gentlemen in various schemes of conquest or aggrandisement, and the Allies being pledged to make peace to- gether, the war could not come to an end until all these ambitions had been gratified, or a division of the spoil had been agreed upon. For this reason, if for no other, a moderate or idealist peace was from the be- ginning impossible, and no response could be made to the enemies, overtures in 1916 and 1917. Thus the secrecy which was the bane of the war policy set the seal of ambition on the war, brought Europe to the verge of ruin, spoiled the conference of Paris, and doomed it to inflict on Europe a renewal of her old hatreds and discontents." RIGHT HONOURABLE GENTLEMEN. I And even yet the men who dragged the nation into war by the tortuous methods above dc- I (Continued at foot ?f next column).
I The Trade Union International. I WILL IT PARTICIPATE IN THE LEACUE OF I NATIONS LABOUR CONVENTION. When the International Trade Union Congress met at Amsterdam last month it was decided to participate in the Labour Convention of the League of Nations, at Washington this month, only on two conditions: (1) That all countries should be invited and admitted to Convention (2) That only trade union representatives designatpy by the national centres affiliated to the Trade Union International should be recog- nised as representatives of the trade union movement. This decision was communicated fro the committee appointed in Pa.ris by the Entente Governments to organise the Washington COII- A-ention, and the President and Vice-President of the Trade Union International (Mr. W. A. Appleton and M. Jouhaux) brought the matter before the British and French Governments. Members of the Bureau were invited to dis- cuss the question with Ir, George N. Barnes, Sir Malcolm DeleA'igne, and Mr. H. B. Butler, who have in hand the arrangements for the Washington Convention, and were told that the Germans and Austrians had not been invited to send representatives to Washington, and that the stipulations of the Peace Treaty made the invitation very difficult. It was made clear at this interview that participation of the trade unions depended largely upon the issue of invita- tions to all. Reuter's Agency circulated a statement last- week to the effect that M. Clemenceau had been persuaded by M. Jouhaux to bring the matter before the Supreme Council of the Allies in Paris, and had secured an assuraiice that the Germans and Austrians would be represented at Washington. But there has been no official con- firmatiflfl of this statement. On the contrary, a later message1 states that the Supreme Council of the Allies has been informed that the Ameri- can Government would allow labour delegates from the late enemy countries to enter the United States only as private individuals. The Supreme Council has accordingly decided to address no official invitation to Germany or any other enemy country to send representatives to the Convention. But if such delegates care to go to America they will be allowed to ent-er as private individuals and no difficullty will be placed in the way of their attending the Conven- tion, taking part in the discussions, and voting. It is difficult to believe that this ridiculous compromise will satisfy the Trade Union Inter- national, and still more difficult to believe Ger- many and Austria will send representatives to Washington on these terms.
I Food Office Appointments. I I TO THE EDITOR. I Sir,—At a general meeting held last week, the appointment of temporary clerks in the Merthyr Food Controller's office was considered. In view of the fact that these appointments were not advertised, and that discharged sol- diers were not appointed (young men in good positions "but not ex-soldiers" being appointed) it was decided to send a letter of protest to His Worship the Mayor, the Local Food Controller (Chief Constable Wilson) and the Central Food Controller, London, as well -as to insert this no- tice in your paper, to show the people of Mer- thyr how the "boys" are being treated by the men who stayed at home." We feel they should know these things, for then Ave shall have their sympathy in our fight for our rights as discharged men against these "back door" appointments. Meanwhile, our heroes go on drawing their out of work dole.-Yotirs, etc., B. WILLS, Chairman. W. E. THOMAS, Hon. Secretary. W.N.F.D.S. & S., 24 Mary-street, Twynyrodyn, Merthyr Tydfil, September 17th, 191 in-
Ex-Private Simmonds. 1 SPLENDID SPEECH IN MERTHYR. I Sunday brought to Merthyr for the first time Ex-Pte. Simmonds, of Birmingham, who since his arrest in Rochdale for propaganda work in the King's uniform—the wrong kind of propa- ganda, that is, from the official view-point—has been steadily making for himself a deserved place in the front rank of our popular platform workers in the I.L.P. It,was the last of the summer propaganda meetings, and was an- nounced for Thomastown Park, hut leaden skies drove us indoors to Bentley's Hall, and lit says much for the -ex-private's reputation that under those conditions the audience should have been so large. The next time lie comes it will be larger, for lie has the natural oratory and .sense of dramatic appeal that has made Dick Wall- head such a favourite here. Few men have moved a Merthyr audience as he did when a.t the close of an impassioned appeal for an unAvaver- ing fight against Conscription and the mili- tarising of our schools lie addressed himself to the mothers and fathers in the-se words: "Pic- ture that hoy in the future a bloody mass of ta ttered rags; visualise him hung upon the barbed wire of a battle-field, or crawling over a blood-sodden ground, crawling inch by inch to the dressing-station without legs, or arms, a mutilated man or—sightless." And then the eJimax-the antidote service in the cause that he had espoused, the cause of the I.L.P. and ,,oei,ili.,m--of Pacifism and anti-militarism with all the lofty idealism and noble spirit that service in that cause connoted. It was ,a pity that all the mothers in Merthyr did not hear that appeal. AN APPEAL TO TOMMY. It is equally regrettable that the number of silver-badge men present should have been such a small proportion of Merthyr's whole contin- gent of them to hear his explanation of his pre- sence, as a silver badge man, on our platform. He began by -reminding them of the ideals that had induced them to enlist—the rights of small nationalities, the right of self-determination and most of all the fact that the war was heralded as a "war-to-end-'Avar" for all time It was because those ideals, the ideals that had led him to don the khaki in August 1914, had not been realised and could not be realised so long as the sordid spirit of Commercia-lism, the maker of war, ruled in the State and rendered the realisation of those ideals impossible that he had deter- mined to carry on the fight for those ideals by active participation in ivhe propagation of Social- ism that alone could make those ideals practi- cal politics. He was to-day waging the fight that he had fought for on the hills of Gallipoli and the plains of France and Flanders, and he invited any silver-badge man who had been in- duced into khaki because of those ideals to realfcso as lie realised the need for fighting for those ideals until they were materialised, which meant, of course, active participation in the Socialist movement. And he had a warning for the men, too--a. warning to beware of the at- tempts on the part of reactionary politicians to use them as a means of dividing and sub- dividing the workers for the purpose of con- tinuing the Capitalist domination of the world's life and livelihood. If anyone were to reply to this that his appeal to the bit-badgers" was also an appeal to political alliance and use, he would reply that the Labour Movement was not a political party but a class movement, and the silver badgers" were, for the major part, of the class Avhose movement Labour represented. TRIBUTE FOR -C.O.I-s.-I It was a great piece of propaganda, full of generous appreciation of the work of the I.L.P. leaders, and of pacifists like Mr. E. D. Morel, and containing an ex-service man's ungrudging tribute to the C.O.'s He told his ex-comrades in arms that it was not until lie went to prison for three months that he had correctly appre- ciated the ,stuff the Conchies were made of, and he assured tlliem that the C.O.'s "were fighters even though they refused to take up rifle and bayonet." They were infinitely prefer- able to the cowardly profiteers who had starved the soldier's wife and children by their exactions, or the weeping Willies who NNiglied they were only a few years younger until the age limit was raised.
Retirement of Mr. J. Jenkins. I The retirement of Mr. J. Jenkins ¡rom the headmastership of Abermorlais Boys' School after 40 years of undivided attention to duty resulting in unique success was marked last Fri- day evening by a presentation meeting held at the school. Mr. Tom Thomas took the chair in place of the late Mr. Wm. Harris, to whom every speaker alluded in very feeling terms, Mr. Jen- kins himself having reduced his eulogium to writing, which he 'had to ask the chairman to read. Present and former pupils and members of the staff joined representatives of Education in the town, in the persons of Mr. W. Probert of the Education Office and Coun. D. W. Jones, in recounting some outstanding features in Mr. Jenkins's remarkable career, his up-to-date methods, his wliole-hearted devotion to his school, the attention he gave to backward pupils, encouragement to teachers working under diffi- culties, the abnormal proportion of scholarships won by his pupils, the restraint exercised in not blazoning forth his school's achievements, the tone of the school and the incalculable influence he must have exercised on the eight thousand boys that had passed through the school during Ins regime. The presents, a magnificent Ches- terfield and pair of divan chairs of C. W .S. manufacture, a beautifully inlaid mahogany escretoire, and a very heavy solid sih-er tea ser- vice of four pieces were handed over by Mr. H. Seymour Beny (the major portion of whose edu- cation had been received at Abermorlais) in a happy reminiscent speech joining all present in the very best wislies for Mr. Jenkins' enjoyment of a. long retirement. The recipient responded with itADr, emotion than words, and the proceed- ings concluded with the singing of "Auld Lang Syne."
Workmen's Examiners. BY "SCRANTON." This is a subject that does not receiAo the at- tention it deserves either from the miners' AA hole-time leaders, or from the miners them- selves. Permanent examiners have been ap- pointed in only about six districts in South Wa,les. This is due to the more or less silent antagonism of some of the leaders, but more often to their apathy and indifference. ft is also partly due to the apathy and indifference of the miners, which again in turn is due to the ignorance and petty jealousy of some of the part-time leaders. The whole-time leaders as a rule, seem to content themselves by writing or delivering diatribes against the owners for their sins of commission whilst ignoring the fact that their own sins of omission are just as deadly and appalling. There are several Acts of Parliament which govern procedure in the different phases of coal- mining in this country. But it is proposed here to deal only with those Acts and Regulations that cover the safe working of the mines. ACCIDENTS. As the coal-mining industry developed in this country, so did the list of accidents from various causes; until it dawned upon the people en- N gaged in the industry, and upon the general public outside, that some steps should be taken to preA-ent these accidents recurring. Accidents may be classified as avoidable, and unavoidable. A voidable accidents are those one knoAvs will occur under certain circumstances, but which may, with foresight and reasonable care be aAoided. It is to deal with this kind of aeeident. that the Coal Mines Act, and other re- gulations were designed and applied to the mines of this country. As an instance of how the coal Mines Act ha.s As an iiist4iiic-e of b o ii been developed to deal Avith avoidable accidents, the section dealing with the distance between shafts, forms an excellent example. I A.. EXAMPLE. At one time colliery companies were not com- pelled by law to sink more than one shaft to a coal-seam; one was considered sufficient. For the purposes of ventilation this shaft was divided into two by a partition, so that the air-current passed down one side of the partitiom, around the mine AUH'kiiig^: -tvhea back up the shaft the other side of the partition. Then one day an accident happened at one of these shafts: a cage fell down the shaft and smashed the partition in its downward career. There was now no means of ventilating the mine, or of raising the men. The result was that the men succunibed beforp assistance could be sent them from the surface. Since that time it has been compulsory by Act of Parliament to sink two shafts. Prior to 1865 the distance between the shafts could be less than 10ft., after 1865 they had to be 10ft. or more apart. Since 1888 they have been com- pelled to sink them at a distance of not less than 41ft. Of course, this distance may be exceeded. The same thing applied to all the other sections of the Act, they have been designed and de- veloped in the interests of safety. Now this is a point that does not seem to be fully appre- ciated, by either the examiners, or the men by whom they are appointed. Generally speakmg the examiners are selected from the committee, by the committee, and fre- quently know little or nothing of the work, they are expected to carry out. INCREDIBLE. Incredible as it may seem, there is a colliery in South Wales where the examiners are selected by the committee, at regular intervals, and are paid by the colliery company. In one instance they picked a man who was not a practical miner; but it is only fair to say that they dis- covered their error in time. There is one point that may be emphasised here, and that is the lack of system displayed in connection with the selection and qualifications of workmen examiners. It has been poiAted out above that the selection is frequently made from the committee by the committee. This is bad, and it is not much improved, when the selection is made at general meeting of the men. You have one advantage, that you have the voice of the men in the ev-e of the general meeting. But in all other respects the same objections hold good in both cases. The chief objection to this rough and ready method of selection is that you have no reliable method of ascertaining who are the men best qualified by temperament, experi- ence, and certificate to fill the position. To overcome) this the committee should draft a scheme something as follows:- (1) Two examiners to be selected by ballot, and (2) To hold office for 12 months, but to be open to re-election. (3) To possess the qualifications specified in the Coal-Mines Act and also a fireman's certi-' ficate in addition. (4) To risit parts of the mine at the instanoe of the committee. (5) To visit scenes of serious accidents, fatal or otherwise. (6) To report in the manner the men shall determine. By this method you ,,uld have men weil qualified to be examiners, by reason of the fact that they complied with the act, and also were on a, level with the colliery examiner by reason of their certificate. These men would become proficient in respect to the regulations by reason of their being elected for an extended period. It would be desirable, but not very practicable for candidates for this post, to be tested 6n their knowledge of the vanow,regulst-ions prior to their appointment. The scheme outlined above would owing to the reasons enumerated, ensure a systematic inspection at all times by a com- petent person, instead of the spasmodic, expen- I sive, inefficient inspections that are the rule at present.
scribed, delayed the peace, and, poisoned the settlement at the end by bhe same means, con- lh e same means, con- tinue in power and are bringing the peoples to further, woe and disaster. At present they pre- tend to be shocked by account s largely concocted by their own agents, of Bolshevik atrocities in Russia. Under this excuse they are blockading Russia, and at the same time denying there is Ribi.s i??, ade. One effect of the blockade is that Russia is without medicines of any kind, whilst in Petrograd the deaths from cholera alone are said to amount to 200 a day. Peace terms have been offered giving everything it is possible for the Russian Soviet Government to give short of giving the resources of the country away, and including an amnesty for all Russians who have assisted foreign armies to invade their country. A PRETTY INTRICUE. I Mr. Bullit, who brought the terms to Mr. Lloyd George, has told the whole story to?th?' Foreign Relations Committee of the American Sena.te. He was, in fact, sent to Russia with the approval of Mr. Lloyd George, and was en- trusted with an outline of the peace terms he Ava s told Great Britain would accept. The mis- sion succeeded, and Mr. Bullit returned with the Russian proposals, and they left no justification for continuing the war. In the meantime Mr. Lloyd George had changed his attitude because, as his private secretary explained to Mr. Bullit, Lord Northcliffe and Mr. Winston Churchill, the Direct Actionist, were prepared to oust the Prime Minister if he agreed | to recognise the Russian Soviet Government. To add insult to injury Mr. Lloyd George had the audacity to affect ignorance of the whole transaction in the British House of Commons. Mr. Bullit's com- ment on Mr. Lloyd George's repudiation in Par- liament is tha.t it Avas a mose egregious case of misrepresentation," And he has retaliated in the only effective way left, open to him, by dis- closing the whole of the facts, including the ex- cuse made to him privately for Mr. Lloyd George's backsliding.