So very orthodox !

So we are to have a Labour daily newspaper in London—in fact, and to be more exact, at the time of writing these words we have got it.

Fate, and kindly Fortune, spare the face of the present writer ! —who is quite innocent of wilful falsification in this connection. But inasmuch as “In the midst of life we are in debt,” mine will increase by the accretion of a two horse load of gratitude if the newcomer survives to prove me true, until these lines come before the eyes of my expectant multitude of intelligent and gentle readers. But even should Fate decide otherwise, at the time of writing we have got it.

Many things born into this world announce their arrival with sound, but few so understandably as the “Daily Herald,” which cries on the day of its birth : “We have arrived.”

Epoch-marking announcement ! An astonished world raises its cap in reverence.

“If,” the new-born pressling goes on, “we differ at all from the orthodox daily press, it will be in the fact that we shall give the correct position of affairs from day to day.” (The italics are not mine.)

There is something very refreshing about the modesty of that “If.” In these days of blatant self-assertion it does one good to meet with a little bashful diffidence. It has been charged against the SOCIALIST STANDARD (and, candour compels me to confess, not without grounds) that it somewhat aggressively flaunts the fact of its difference, in every respect possible to collingual printed matter, from the “orthodox daily press.” But the “Daily Herald” aspires to no such distinction of character—which the unkind call eccentricity. Not, of course, that it is an “Herald” angel, fearing to tread where we fools rush in.

The only point of difference, if any, between the “Daily Herald” and the “orthodox daily press,” we are forewarned, is in the matter of the presentment of “the correct position.” We know well enough what the “orthodox daily press” is, and, since we are left in doubt as to whether the newcomer is to differ therefrom, we will go together, gentle reader, in search of the “correct position,” in order to discover if the “Daily Herald” differs from the “orthodox daily press” even to the extent hinted at.

To begin at the beginning, we read, immediately under the first caption, the following :

What is this—the sound and rumour?
What is this that all men hear,
Like the sound in hollow valleys
When the storm is drawing near ;
Like the rolling on of ocean
In the eventide of fear ?—
‘Tis the people marching on.

And at the end of the address “To ‘One and All'” thus poetically introduced, the “Herald” scribe soars to this Olympic altitude :

On we march, then—we, the workers,
And the rumour that ye hear
Is the blended soul of battle
And deliverance drawing near.
For the hope of every creature
Is the banner that we bear:


Shade of William Morris ! To think that his verses should have been rescued from oblivion and enshrined in such a climax as that ! “The banner that we bear: 50—48.” How sublime ! Who of us would not have made that deathless effort and have died ? With that heroic banner: 50—48, the people are marching on indeed, and it is well within the truth to describe it as “the hope of every creature”—though of course there are creatures and creatures. And how happily is the “sound and rumour” of it likened to “the wind in hollow valleys” and the “rolling on of ocean.” ! The simile is perfect. The empty windiness (or is it windy emptiness ?) is a real presence, and one can almost hear the “slop—slop —slop ” of the waves upon a slimy beach. “Deliverance drawing near : 50—48.” Ye gods, yes !

Between the pathos of the beginning and the bathos—-pardon, the swelling paean of the close, optimism runs riot. “If it is to be war,” it is declared, “well—
We don’t want to fight
But, by jingo, if we do,
We’ve got the men, we’ve got the spunk,
And we’ll get the money, too ! ”

And later we read: “‘Ask and ye shall receive.’ Ye have asked—to be rejected. Very well, then, in the name of Christ, ‘KNOCK and it shall be opened unto you.'”

Here I would remind the reader again how like it is unto “the wind in hollow valleys” and “the rolling on of ocean.” Slop—slop—slop.

But this is clear : If the exhortation quoted above “differs at all from the orthodox” advice of the orthodox Press and Pulpit provided for us by a considerate and disinterested masterclass, it must be in the “capitalised” importance of the first word and the italicised emphasis of the fourth—for the rest is very orthodox.

So “KNOCK, in the name of Christ, and it shall be opened unto you” is the “correct position,” on the showing of the “Daily Herald” ; and the only difference between that paper and the “orthodox daily press,” after all, is a matter of a few “caps” and italics. We shall see.

Before we leave the introductory address we may note that it is said : “There is a Labour Party in the House, and it holds supreme power.” That, perhaps, is why, in this year of grace, those for whom the “Daily Herald” speaks have “got the spunk” to carry that glorious banner, the “hope of every creature,” the “deliverance drawing near : 50—48.”

In the 7th issue occurs this illuminating passage : “. . . belittle the effect of Trade Unionism upon character as you may, . . . the one great outstanding fact remains—it provides you [the masters] with men of stirling worth, disciplined with regard to certain rules of conduct, and ever ready, through their officials, to deal honestly and fairly with employers who are prepared to meet them on equal terms.”

That has the true, respectable ring about it. It is as orthodox as the blooming Prayer Book. And on the same page we read: “The interests of both employer and employee are so entwined that to rend asunder those interests means disaster for the dissenting party.” We can recognise here the old, old “Capital and Labour are brothers” axiom of the “orthodox daily press,” so it seems that even the latter can sometimes present the “correct position”—unless (perish the thought!) the “Daily Herald” is so far orthodox as to give a position which is not correct.

They make orthodox humour in the “Daily Herald,” as here followeth :

Imported “Weary Willie” (a machine minder) to layer on after the first week : —
“I eats well, I drinks well, I sleeps well, but when I sees a job of work coming along, I’m all of a tremble.”

A very neat little take-off of the lazy blackleg (who has committed the amazing error of taking on a job) on the part of those who love work so much that, as they say in another burst of boisterous merriment, they want to work 50 hours a week and the masters won’t let them. Again :

Man entering printing office to answer an advertisement ; he is dressed somewhat slouchy, with a choker round his neck. Inside he is met by a man in the warehouse, when the following query and answer ensue:
Warehouseman : “Empties ?”
Applicant’ “Empties be—— ! I’m not a ——carman ! ! I’m a machine minder ! ! ! ”

Note the subtle humour of this. The machine minder isn’t a union man, hence he is dressed “a bit slouchy.” Had he been a union man he would probably have supported the “dignity of sich” in a stove-pipe hat and spats, and have been mistaken for one of the masters. But the disreputable, not to say “slouchy,” blackleg—oh dear ! the excruciating humour of the wag ! —-was mistaken for a carman—perhaps a trade union carman ! And notice the indignation of the “imported” machine minder. Even he, in the depths of his degradation, and the miserable and hopeless apathy of his benighted, non-union condition, was not so bereft of all sense of what is due to the ancient and honourable profession of the machine manager (I must mildly protest against the gross familiarity of our humorist’s term, machine minder) but that he could find “langwidge” to resent the insult. I hope, for the sake of the “Daily Herald’s” aspiration to become a permanent “general Labour daily,” that the carmen will also appreciate the point.

It may be true—and probably is—that if the “Daily Herald” “differs at all from the orthodox daily press,” it is in the matter of the position presented ; or it may be that it does not differ even that much, (as would appear from the statement that the strikers do not want to stand in the way of the masters making fortunes : they want to help them !) but, for my part, I prefer the good old orthodox. Because, after all, if I must have all the vices of orthodoxy, at least let me have its virtues too.

Besides, in the “orthodox daily press” there is not quite so much of the “wind in hollow valleys” and rolling ocean’s “slop—slop—slop.”

A. E. J.

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