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.A Busy Night. I


A Busy Night. I MERTHYR TRADES COUNCIL'S I IMPORTANT MEETINC. INDUSTRIAL COMMITTEE, MILITARISM IN SCHOOLS AND MUNICIPAL BUREAU CONSIDERED. Last Thursday's meeting of the Trades Council proved one of the most important, from the workers' point of view, that has been held this year. Condemnation of the military training of school children was voiced with vigour; the need for a more thorough co-ordination of the indus- trial forces thai the Trades Council represents, and the part it would play in a national crisis was recognised, and the first step in the direc- tion of providing proper machinery taken and in addition an information and discussion bureau to be formed of Trades Council delegates. Town councillors and Labour Guardians was inaugu- rated. The question of the military training of school children was introduced on a resolution from the Troedyrhiw I.L.P. that read: "That this Coun- cil consider the question of Militarism in the schools, as we consider it a menace to real education." MILITARISINC THE YOUNC IDEA. I Mr. D. J. Lewis, who was Troedyrhiw spokes- man on the matter, declared that the matter had been raised by the Troedyrhiw r.L.P. at the re- quest of a number of families in Troedyrhiw which were deeply concerned at the amount of time that was spent in the Troedyrhiw schools in training boys in military drill. During the last couple of days it had come to his knowledge that during the solemn two minutes of the an- niversary of Armistice day in one of the lower schools of the borough a teacher was sent out to salute the flag. Mr. Lewis also took objec- tion to other methods of inculcating the Jingo idea into the youngsters. He had, for instance, been .surprised a week before to find himself, as chairman of the Plymouth Waixl Committee meeting in Abercanaid School, seated below the Union Jack draping an ornate portrait of the late King Edward VII. He had made some em- phatic remarks. These things were important to the working-class who on a glance round the world could see what militarism was doing for the world. In the United Jtates machine guns and troops to man them occupied cities, towns and villages because the workers were demand- ing an amelioration of their conditions. In France militarism was conjured against the workers, and her,- at home the chief concern of those in authority was to curb the liberties of the people. So called educationists of repute to- day wrote books not alone teaching ohidlren mili- tary drill, but even, as in the case of the work of one Leicester educationist, instructing them in the use of the bayonet. It was one of the most terrible things that could happen in a town like Merthyr, which had had the honour of representation by such men as Henry Richards, and, especially, Keir Hardie, that such a doctrine should be taught in its schools. Little children should be taught the higher things of life and not instructed to be- come cannoij fodder. If they allowed these things to dominate the child minds the nation would develop into a second France or Germany —merely fodder for ibe cannon, serfs and slaves of Capitalism and Militarism! Lords Curzon and Milner were chiefly responsible for the de- velopment of this chauvinistic spirit in educa- tion, having worked unremittingly to secure it for years. It was time that the workers, if they were to be free men of this land, should take this matter in hand. Mr. E. Slvadbolt seconded because lie saw much of the Jingo spirit in the schools, and being a- class-conscious Socialist what he saw was discordant on (his nature. He had seen aiuemic boys and girls singing Rule Britannia, Britannia rules tlie waves." It was a travesty! Children taught that and then, going home to see their fathers hand over the proceeds of their wage-slavery to their mothers—a pittance insuffi- cient to feed and clothe them well. Britons never shall be slaves "—a Union Jack in one hand and bread and margarine in the other! He too depreciated the ostentatious display of gilded sovereignty in the scthools, and looked for the day when the children should be taught to revere such men as Ruskin, Marx, Hardie and others who in service had given their lives to mould the greater and better Empire of human brotherhood. A WORD OF CAUTION. I Mr .Hugh Williams sounded a word of warn- ing against being too hasty in denouncing mili- tary training in schools. The Red Army of Rus- sia would never have been able to hold its own, as it had, if it had not been for the training of its manhood to arms as conscripts—a system he agreed they disliked and condemned, but one which had prepared them for the defence of their own. Mr. Barr followed in similar strain. Ul- timately the clash of classes would come, and in preparation for that day the task of Labour was not so much to prevent the people receiving training to arms, but one of making them class- conscious Socialists. Mr. Bert Brobyn said it was not physical train- ing that was objected to as such. But experts had declared that the military training of chil- dren, far from proving physically beneficial for children, actually did them harm. Military ti-rill did not seek to develop tlie body beautifully, but to bring about perfect uniformity of action and movement such as militarism wanted. He paid a high tribute to the new instructor at the Se- condary School, who, lIe understood, was a man conscious of the importance of hi,s good work, and who spent his time striving to perfect the bodies of those under his care. What ought to be aimed at was more of that physical culture, and there need be no trouble in getting it done without inculcating anything of a military char- acter. HISTORY NOT DRILL. I Mr. W. J. Davies, speaking as an elementary I teacher, challenged the .statement that the pre- sent system in the elementary schools ignored physical training and inculeated militarisim as a system. To his mind this danger in the elemen- tary school was exaggerated. The danger oaime later when the child was a little older and it passed into continuation schools. Many teachers had been induced to remain in the army, and a month ago the Board of Education issued a cir- cular to the Army authorities regarding these men wJho were to be incorporated into the con- tinuation schools. There lay the danger. In the elementary schools the danger did not lay so much in physical training as in the blatant drum-and-trumpet, battle-and-flag histories that were used to the harm of the child mind. The Rliondda Education Committer bad given a fine lead recently by calling in many of their histori- cal readers for inspection, and in the event of their proving unfitted for the child mind it was advocated to have new historical readers suit- aNy written by experts to take theirr place. In the elementaiy schools it was physical develop- ment that was aimed for. By only one dissentient vote it was decided that steps should be taken to discourage the militarising of the elementary schools of the Borough. THE WHITE ELEPHANT. Councillor Francis presented the report of the Labour activities on the Borough Council—point- ing out that with two exceptions the Labour Party had captured all the principal seats on the Council. Those two exceptions were the Taf Feclian Committee, which was regarded as a white elephant, and the Museum Committee, which was also left to the other side to stable it ill. (Laughter.) Some interesting figures with respect to housing in tlie district were given by the Councillor, as well as some others treat- ing of the strange appreciation of land for build- ing purposes when the Council wanted it. He also dealt with the somewhat peculiar position that has arisen respecting the application by the Director of Education for an increase in salary. Mr. Elias' work lie eulogised to the sky, and then pointed out that the Labour Group were fighting against big increments to large salary holders on the ground that the lower paid had not sufficient to live a proper life upon—with the consequence that now they were somewhat puzzled about the situation. He inferred that a further discussion would probably result in an increment being granted without prejudice to the principle of "no man to have cake whilst another lacks bre.ad" that the group had adopted, and the Council seemed to expect that that course wouhX^e fc.'lowed when they learned that directors of adjacent areas with fewer ohil- dren under their aegis were receiving more taian the Merthyr director. Guardian D. G. Morgan presented a brief but interesting account of the Guardians work for the month. THE INDUSTRIAL COMMITTEE. '11"1" men jMT. John Barr, as delegate for the Mer- thyr I.L.P. moved: That in view of the com- plicated developments that may arise in times of industrial crises, and the absence of any ma- chinery to deal with the same, this branch calls upon the Trades Council to immediately instruct their Executive Committee to make arrange- ments to deal with any industrial situation that may arise." This motion, said Mr. Barr, resulted from deliberations arising out of the railway /strike. If that strike had continued but a few days longer the Labour Party would have required to have met to set up the machinery that the reso- lution sought to construct. TIle basic idea was that under the industrial conditions of to-day disturbances might arise and spread with rapidity to all the industries of the land, and to meet such a. contingency it was felt that a per- manent industrial committee should be estab- lished, the function of which would be to get into touch with the strike bodies, of which, after all, the Trades Council should be the parent body locally. Further the committee should be- come the supreme Labour body should the need arise. Mr. Bert Brobyn (A.S.L.E. and F.), the framer of'the resolution, seconding, said that at the time when the recent railway strike was set- tled the rail way men had called a special Execu- tive meeting of the Trades Council to get them to take over the whole business failing a satis- factory settlement in London, for in that event the wheels of industry in the country would have been stopped. There would then have been only one body which could function in the locality— and that the Trades Council. He emphasised the fact that the proposal was not to take sec- tional disputes out of the hands of the trades engaged, but. pointed out how in that case the committee could offer its assistance and advice, reminding his fellow delegates that the recent protracted steel-works strike was ultimately set- tled thanks, to the activity of the Ebbw Vale Trades Council. He condemned the policy of regarding Trades Councils as primarily political bodies, and contended that their first function was industrial ,and their political activities only secondary to these. He felt that in the future the Labour world was going to witness acute conditions and declared that the Council could not afford to disregard the urgent need to have an industrial committee continually in touch with the industrial movement, and in a position to take over the reins of government local and national if necessary in the event of a national stoppage. NON-INTERFERENCE. Councillor T. J. Evans and other delegates feared that the resolution meant intolerable in- terference between a union engaged in a sec- tional strike and the masters, and for that rea- son, though in perfect sympathy with the resolu- tion, they were inclined to look upon it with some degree of scepticism, but it was again pointed out that that was not the intention. Mr. Hugh Williamis was in favour. In one aspect alone, he pointed the advantage of such a commi ttee. The great problem in the event of a national stoppage of all industry would be to secure the supply of food for the people, and there the Co-operative societies should prove the people's commissariate. The Co operative societies of which every trades unionist should be a member—were linked into the Trades Coun- cil to which all the industrial units also belonged and which, therefore, became the correct medium for the performance of this important function. (Continued on Page 4, Column 5).

Political Notes

Merthyr N.U.T. Meetingi


.Mainly About Strikes. . Mainly…