A Look Round

The “Holloway and Hornsey Press” of Sept. 3rd says “Messrs. J. Keith and Blackham, Ltd., whose works are at the rear of Holloway Hall, advertised for some gas-fitters. They were told to apply at 11 o’clock, but at an early hour crowds began to assemble. They lined each side of Holloway Road and blocked the whole roadway leading to the works. So great was the pressure that the gates leading to the works were forced in, and one man had to be taken to the hospital. As a last resort the police had to be fetched and taken into the works by a side entrance, and the men driven away by the arm of the law.
“Now the great majority of these men were trained workmen, masters of their trade, yet over a thousand turned up when only twenty places were vacant ! Some of these men had been works managers, and they possessed the highest testimonials, and yet they were willing to take a job as an ordinary gas-fitter.”

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The same journal naturally asks “What is the use of repeating the parrot cry that the cause of unemployment is that our lads do not learn a trade, when the fact stares us in the face that over a thousand men fight with one another for work for twenty ?”

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Speaking at Wallsall Wood on Sunday, Aug. 8th, Mr. J. Keir Hardie, M.P. said “They had thirty-four men in the House of Commons, returned there without thanks to the Liberal and Tory parties (cries of ‘Question’ and ‘No’). Those thirty-four Labour Members had been, returned to the House of Commons often in opposition to both Liberal and Tory, and in those constituencies where either one or the other parties did not oppose the Labour Party it was because they knew it was hopeless to do so, and so made a virtue of necessity. (Laughter.)” Labour Leader, Angust 13th.

What an ungrateful lot to be sure : “returned without thanks to the Liberal and Tory parties” indeed ! What will the seven thousand Liberals think who voted for Keir Hardie at the last general election ?

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But the Liberals have the thanks of Keir Hardie after all. At the same meeting he stated that “The present Liberal Government was granting reforms—Old Age Pensions, the Budget, the Miners’ Eight Hours Act and measures of that kind. Credit was due to the Government for these measures.” (Italics ours.)

And why did the Government pass these bills ?: “It was the presence of the Labour Party.”

We leave Keir Hardie to explain the advantages to be derived by the working class from any of the above bills.

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Speaking of the Eight Hours Bill the Sunday Times (August 1st) says “The miners have recently gained the advantages of the Eight Hours Act and ever since the coalfields have been seething with discontent. Prompted, no doubt,, by the consideration arising out of the changed condition established by the Act, the Scottish coalowners sought a reduction of wages, and the dispute which followed assumed national dimensions.”

Apart from this there has also been an attempt by the masters to compel the men to work the eight hours right off without a stoppage for meals, while we know from past experience that a reduction of hours usually results in an even greater speeding up of the worker, a greater expenditure of energy in the shorter period leaving him at the end of the day in a worse condition, physically and mentally, than when working under the old conditions.

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The Commission in Lunacy in their annual report, show that the number of insane persons has increased from 30,762 in 1849 to 128,787 on January 1st of this year, and recognise the significance of the increase of insanity by their suggestion for the accommodation of a further 15,000 for whom there is no room at present.
Fifty years of progress !


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