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Mr. Philip Snowden, M.P. at…


Mr. Philip Snowden, M.P. at Abertillery. Sunday, June 26th. The following report was unavoidably held over last week: — The Park, Abertillery, contaired a, huge audienoe to hear Mr Philip Snowden, M.P. Mr T. Mytton presided, and was supported by Mr George Baxter (miners' agent) and Mr George Dagger (Member of Executive, S.W.M.F.) The Chairman explained how the threat of the local police to hold the Palace Manage- ment responsible for anything that might be said on which action could be taken under the Defence of the Realm Act, had altered their arrangements, and sa.id that was not only a propaganda meeting, but a, fight for the right of free speech in this country. He referred to the boys at the front fighting for liberty in Flanders and elsewhere, and asked what would those boys on leave have thought of them if they at least could not put up a fight to retain the liberties they had now. They would have gone back to their comrades and said those at home were nothing but cowards. Mr George Barker said lie never expected to make a speech that evening, but when he found out that it was necessary to vindicate the rights of free speech in this country, he un- hesitatingly associated himself with that meet- ing. (Applause.) He was not going to complain of the action of the police, but he could not for the life of him see what justification the police had for following their friend 1\11- Snow- den and insulting him in the way they had. Mr Snowden was the spokesman for the working classes of this country. He had a record that' any man might envy and be proud of, and they as workers were very proud of him, and knew the work he was doing. (Applause.) They did not want men who were always playing the popular tune they wanted mea with convic- tions and men who were prepared to stand for those convictions: through stress and trial, whatever it might be. Therefore they honour- ed Mr Snowden for his uprightness and fear- lessness in this great crisis we were going through. (Applause.) Turning to the subject of industrial conscription, he warned them that unless they were very careful they would .find that the Military Service Act was only the pre- lude to industrial conscription. In his opinion they had no alternative as free men but to agi- tate to get tha.t Act repealed. It was a disg- race to this country to have an Act like that on the Statute Book after having over 5 mil- lion men volunteering. If they did not agitate for its repeal, it would be ver easy for the Government- to destroy their Trade Unions. They knew that it was very easy for the Prime Minister to get- up m the House of Commons and declare that the State was in danger. If they had a Labour question of the same pro- portion as when the great national strike took place, and the Government had a weapon like that m their hands, they knew well what would be done with the: leaders of the men and with the most prominent of the men them- selves They knew that the great majority of the -men would be called up under the Defence of the Realm Act, and that their liberties as Trade Unionists would be absolutely destroyed. The Military Service Act had been brought into operation on purpose to uphold the capi- talist- class of this country, and to destroy the rising Democracy and the Trade Unions of the country. He therefore hoped that meeting would focuss its mind up on that one point as well as the otherfpoints to be brought before it, and that they would have an agitation which would go right through the Trade Union world for the Repeal of the Act. (Applause.) MB. PHILIP SNOWDEN, M.P., who was received with applause, said he would refrain from any observations in regard to the circum- stances under which they were meeting that evening in the open-air, instead of the build- ing originally engaged, beyond saying that what action be would take in the matter would be takew on the floor of the House of Commons within the next few days. (Ap- plause.) Mr Barker had spoken of some in- sult to himself. Well he was not conscious of any insult. (Laughter.) There was one Biblical precept he had always, for his own comfort, en- deavoured to carry out, and that was to suffer fools gladly." (Laughter and ap- plause.) Passing on to the subject of the war, he said there might be differences of opinion, and they were well aware that there were great differences of opinion as to the causes of this war; but whatever their differences, at least this was common in the minds and hearts of the people of this nation—that they all de- plored the awful tragedy, and were all anxious to see the war brought to an end as soon as possible bv the realisation of those objects for which they were contending. He thought that within the last few weeks, particularly during the last two or three months, a remarkable psy- chological change had come over the minds of a large proportion of the population of this country. There were some things that we knew by instinct and intuition, a,nd, although a hireling press would continue to the last mo- ment to mislead and deceive the people, even that could not hide the fact that Peace was in the air, and that people were looking forward to it and recoiling with horror from the pros- pect of the continuation of this war for another period of 12 months or more. The simple Sact of the matter was that even this great powerful and wealthy nation, so much more powerful, so much more resourceful, so much more weal- thy than any of the nations with which we are allied in this war, that even this nation could not bear the strain of this war for an indefinite period. Trade, it was quite true, appeared to be good. The financial strain upon the nation was not yet quite apparent, but the fact remained that we had already piled up a national debt of nearly three thousand mil- lions of pounds, and if the war continued for another 12 months, this and succeeding gene- rations would have a burden of national debt of five thousand millions of pounds. We did not feel the strain yet, because we were in the position, as a nation of a man, who had mort- gaged his property, and was living riotously upon the proceeds of that transaction; but, like that man, even this nation would come to thA end of its financial resoumods, just as our Aiiies had already oome to theirs, and were being kept in the field now only by the finan- cial assistance that this country could give to them. But that was the least important of the costs of this war. Treasure might be re- placed human lives never. He referred-ito the awful losess of the whole of the nations engag- ed in the war, particularly of the Germans in the futile attack upon Verdun, and asked how long was it going to take the Allied forces, not merely to stop the German offensive, but to carry out a successful offensive under the conditions of modern warfare? Were they pre- pared to face that? Were they prepared to refuse to consider whether there could be any other means of settling those difficulties and differences than by the sacrifice of a million more lives? If this war continued it was per- fectly certain that few of the men who were now there and who would be sent there would come back unmaimed and in health and strength. He maintained that these were facts which appealed to all the Allies and to their enemies as well. Was European states- manship so bankrupt that it could not find a means of settling its questions without continu- ing to butcher the flower of the manhood of the various nations ? What did we want ? What did the other nations want? Why were they at war ? These were questions which re- quired a serious answer. Let them try to find out. Sir Edward Grey had repeatedly taken great credit to himself—and he thought that in a measure he was fully entitled to it-that in the week before the outbreak of war lie made great efforts to preserve peace, and he claimed that he was anxious that a conference of the Powers should be held to see whether it would be possible to settle their questions without a resort to arms. That failed, and after nearly two years of war the necessity for trying to settle those differences by other means was imperatively greater than before. They all wanted this to a wai- to end. war. (Ap- plause.) He thought the most satisfactory feature of this war had been the entire a b- sence in this country of that spirit which was called, for want of a better word. Jingoism. There had been no glorification of war. There had been—unlike the time of the Boer War- a soberness and seriousness which had been very impressive. We were all anxious to avoid war in the future. Democracy was a mockery so long as the people of this country, in Parliament, had no control over foreign affairs. He explained how near we had been to war on several occasions, and only three men knew. of it at the time, and said we had got to alter all that, and we had got to democratise our diplomatic service and our -Foreign Office, and no treaty in future no obligation—ought to be entered into with- out the full knowledge and control of Parlia- ment and the people. Militarism would fail to bring lasting peace. It had always failed. Mi- litarism had never won a victory in all its efforts. They could not kill an evil by the same evil; they could only exorcise evil with good. It might be difficult, when the time came to settle Peace, to forget many things that had happened during this war. There might be a desire for revenge, but for the sake of the future it would have to be sub- merged. They must remember that there were two Germanys-the Germany of Prussian Militarism and the Germany of Social Democ- racy, and before this war drove these two to- gether, owing to the German people, rightly or wrongly, believing it_to be a war of defence, those two nations in Germany had been in constant conflict with each other. The greatest mistake that could be made at the end of this war would be to keep those two nations in Germany united together, because they be- lieved there was a union of other European nations against them. What we bad to do and it was the old appeals which had been made from their platforms, but it was more true to-day than ever—we had to work for a, union of the workers of all nations. (Ap- plause.) He was not a pessimist, but he asked them did they think that the Munitions and Military Service Acts were going to be got rid of when the war was over ? The war was only an excuse for them. (Hear, hear.) They coiiid not have Democracy and militarism: the two could not live together, and the aristocra- tic and wealthy classes in every country knew that. They were out for Conscription long before this war broke out; they would fight to maintain it when these war drums throbbed no longer." He did not ask them to accept anything he had said; but he did ask them to think seriously about those matters. People they had trusted in the past had failed them; militarism had failed them; only the people could save themselves. (Hear, hear.) If they believed it was better to settle those differences by peaceful negotiations, he asked them to sign the Peace Memorial at that plat- form. They did not want a Peace which would not be just, honourable and conclusive. Owing to the fatigue of Mr. Snowdqn and the late hour, questions were not invited.



I 46 Nation's Finest Deed.…

Street Scenes at Penrhiwcelber.