Editorial: The “Titanic” and after

On August 1st the Report of the Commission of enquiry into the “Titanic” disaster was made public. As was to be expected from this lawyer job, the verdict is that really nobody is to blame. The Board of Trade, itself deeply involved, arranged and dominated the enquiry. The Commission was presided over by Lord Mersey—of whom, of course, little could be expected. The whitewasher of the Jameson raid, the man who “fined” a rich woman who was guilty of the most villainous and inhuman acts against a little child—this “Penruddock” hero, who for many years was lawyer to some of the largest Liverpool shipowners, what could be expected of him but a colourless report, without prejudice to capitalist welfare ?

The facts shown by the enquiry were obviously these : That the “Titanic” was driven through a very dangerous ice-field at the highest speed attained—twenty three knots. That when the fateful collision occurred the boats on board were woefully insufficient to carry even the passengers, to say nothing of the crew. That, in the words of Mr. Bruce Ismay’s millionaire fellow traveller, Mr. Carter, the first class passengers were given the preference in getting into the boats. That deck gardens and swimming baths for first class passengers occupied those places where other boats might have been. That no boat drill or skilled men to handle the boats were provided. That 139 out of 144 first class women and every first class child were rescued, while 81 third class women and 53 third class children went down. That 1,503 human beings perished.

What does Lord Mersey say ? “The third class passengers were not unfairly treated.” That Bruce Ismay, Sir Cosmo Gordon, and other lights of the master class are innocent of the charges brought against them. Did Lord Mersey indict those who run both the White Star Line and the Board of Trade ? Did he point out that most of the members of the Advisory Committee of the Board were shipowners ? Did he return a verdict of murder, or even of manslaughter against the capitalists who, with their “organising ability,” own and control the world’s resources ? All these must be answered in the negative. Since the disaster the White Star Line has declared a dividend of 60 per cent., Mrs. John Jacob Astor has brought into the world a baby worth millions, and above all, the working class have forgotten all about it.

The most definite result of the enquiry is that £17,500 has been shared among the lawyers and Labour leaders on the Commission.

The Socialist Party, however, will keep green the memory of those fellow workers murdered for profits, in the only way that can be worthy of them—in an unremitting struggle to advance the day when these things shall be done no more.

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