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The Joint Industrial Conference.I

Our London Letter.I


Our London Letter. I By Our Special London Correspondent— A FNER BROCKWAY. THE DEFEAT. The less said about the part the Labour Party played in defeating the Government last week the better. I admit that the Gov- ernment is so hateful that it may seem al- most a virtue to help to defeat it under any circumstances, but the sequel has shown how dangerous it is to play with principles. The grounds which led the Labour Party to take common action with the alien haters in voting for the exclusion of Frenchmen from the pilotage service to British ports were (i) Objection on the part of the Bri- tish pilots' organisation to French competi- tion; and (2) Objection to any foreigner gaining a knowledge of our ports which might be used against the country in time of war. I need not pause to argue that neither of these objections justify a denial of our International principles. The first might be argued in the case of all trades—it is by the Carson-Bottomley clique,—the second accepts the view that war is inevit- able a position which the International La- I)otir and Socialist Movement exists to chal- lenge all the time. THE SEQUEL. The sequel to which I have referred is a gr<:at justification of the policy advocated for so long by F. W. Jowett, that the La- bour Party ought to vote on every question on its merits. What happened ? The Gov- ernment ignored the Labour Party and con- ferred behind closed doors with representa- tives of the alien-haters. A bargain was there reached that the discounted Coalition- ists would withdraw their opposition on condition the Government accepted an amendment, which it had previously op- posed, authorising the deportation of all alien enemies, with a few specified excep- tions. With this agreement in his pocket, Mr. Bonar Law came to the House on Mon- day, and the Labour Party had to acquiesce. It has simply assisted Carson, Bottomlev, Billing and Co. to get their way, and, having served that purpose, is ignored. The position has been humiliating for the Gov. ernment, but scarcely less so for the Labour Party. Let us hope it has learned a lesson. WEDGWOOD S PROTEST. The speech of Tuesday's debate came from Colonel Wedgwood. He exposed the unclean bargain which the Government had secretly made, and passionately pro- tested against the whole principle of the Bill..At one or two points he w inter- rupted by the angry Coalitionists, but at the end of his speech his earnestness gripped evenone, and he was heard in profound silence. I wish the whole party had taken his attitude. THE ALIENS BILL. I am quite sure that the rank and file of the Labour Movement have little idea of the nature of some of the clauses of the Aliens' Bill. The defeat of the Government on Thursday and the discussion arising from it has diverted attention from pro- posals, the danger of which can scarcely he exaggerated. The part the Labour Party played in bringing about the Government's defeat on the issue of the exclusion of French and Belgian pilots from British ports—a very unfortunate part, I consider —must not cause us to overlook the splen- did fight it put up for our international principles on other issues. Coloned Wedg- wood and Mr. Jack Jones led the fight, but they were supported by Mr. Adamson, Mr. Hartshorn, Mr. Neil Maclean, and, at one point, even by Mr. John Hodge. When the character of the Government's proposals are realised my readers will not be surprised that the Labour Party should have rallied in this way. DANGEROUS CLAUSES. I One of the clauses prohibits any alien, under a penalty of ten years penal servi- tude, from attempting to cause disaffection among, not only the forces of the Crown, but the civilian population As the Labour spokesman pointed out, this provision would endanger all Socialists who came to this country from foreign countries to at- tend an International Socialist Conference. Hartshorn reminded C. B. Stanton that. at an International Miners' Conference in Germany which they both attended, nearly 20 years ago, one of the delegates was es- corted across the frontier because of the speech he delivered. I can imagine how in- dignant Stanton then was against such tv- rany, but last week he supported this clause in the Aliens' Bill, which would have ren- dered the excluded miners' delegate liable to a sentence of ten years penal servitude WHAT IT MEANS. J Another clause prohibits any alien from attempting to cause any unrest unless he has been employed in this country for two years, and even then he must not attempt to cause unrest in any industry outside his own. Neil Maclean showed how this clause would work out in practice, by taking the example of the recent 40 hours' strike in Glasgow. The chairman of the Strike Com- mittee was a Jew, and the strike affected other industries than his own. Under this clause he would have been liable to a sen- tence of three months' hard labour. In answer to a question, Mr. Shortt, the Home Secretary, stated quite clearly that a miner who was not a British citizen would be af- fected by the provision if he took an active part in any movement of the Triple Al- liance SINN FEIN ESCAPE. The series of escapes of Sinn Feiners from prisoll-LÜlcoln. Dublin, and now Man- chester—is making the Government look very ridiculous. I was in Lincoln Prison when De Yalera and his two colleagues es- j caped, and the next morning I had the full story from one of the Sinn Feiners who re- mained. The Press published many ex- planations of the escape, but none of them was correct. The actual plan, carried through without a single hitch, was as clever, exciting and romantic as any con- tained in the novels of mediaeval days—but 1 must not reveal it in case the Sinn Feiners want to repeat it elsewhere I never once saw the Sinn Fein prisoners at Lincoln, though I communicated with them, with- out the knowledge of any official, every day And this was despite the fact that we were at different ends of the prison and that I was kept in strict solitary confinement. I see that Mr. Alex McCabe, M.P., one of my best Lincoln friends, has just been sen- tenced to another term of three months' hard labour for a patriotic—I mean, sedi- tious speech. A SOCIALIST VETERAN. Travelling to fulfill a speaking engage- ment on Sunday, I had the fortune to jour- ney part of the way with Mrs. Dcspard. What a wonderful old woman she is On the crowded platform at King's Cross Sta- tion she stood out from all the men and women around her—a veritable Prophet of the Revolution Despite her age, she walked erect and with supreme dignity. In her face one could read the resolution of which martyrs are made, the fire of the re bel, the idealism of the mystic, the refine- ment of the artist. I have not met her for four years, and she appears somewhat older and more frail than she was, hut in conver- sation she immediately revealed that she is as young in mind and spirit as ever. She could not sufficiently express her t:l1thl1-I' siasm for the concluct dtiriiig,? the recent strike. Wasn't it a wonderful strike? she exclaimed. "The solidarity of the men Their refusal to be led into violence Their willingness to sacrifice for the lower-paid men Mrs. Despart lent one of her rooms at Battersea to the strikers. You may judge the strength of our men," she said, when I tell you that the secre- tary sat there from ten in the mcraing until six-thirty at night on the day the strike-pay was distributed, and there was a continual stream of men through the room." Mrs. Despard recounted to me some of her ex- periences in prison in the days of the women's suffrage agitation. Her whole body shook with indignation as she described the deteriorating effects of prison upon young girls.

Mr. Hodges Explains.

Referendum on Nationalisation

I Football at Merthyr.

I Reduction of Armaments.