Editorial: David Lloyd George and “dastardly” conduct

Every age has its representative types, and the type of our time is that sinister figure in politics known as the Right Hon. David Lloyd George, the Chancellor of the Exchequer.

He perfectly reflects the cant and hypocrisy of the psalm singing sweaters who own and control the means of life in this auspicious and happy era.

He comes into the glare of present publicity by his dealings in “Marconis.” Part of the story has been told before the capitalist committee now sitting, but a short survey of the affair will be useful.

Sir Rufus Daniel Isaacs, K.C., the Attorney-General, has a brother, Godfrey Isaacs, who is Managing Director of the Marconi Company. Having made himself responsible for selling 100,000 shares in the company, Godfrey offered Rufus 10,000 shares at £2 each, which the latter bought. Thereby Godfrey Isaacs netted about £9,000 profit, but as Rufus had plenty of money he did not mind this.

Sir Rufus then approached Mr. David Lloyd Oeorge, telling him it was “a very good investment,” and that “these shares would undoubtedly rise in value.” The “poor but honest” Chancellor, of course, could not resist the bait of “ninepence for fourpence”—not the mythical ninepence he promised working men under the Insurance Act, but a real, live “ninepence.”

On April 17th, therefore, Mr. Lloyd George “bought” 1,000 shares at £2 each from Sir Rufus, although the issue of these shares was not authorised by the company until the 18th (Attorney General’s evidence, March 25th, 1913). He did not pay for the shares, but within two days he sold 357 of them, and by the third day 500 more, Therefore he sold all but 143 of them and in three days netted a profit of £743 !

Unearned increment ! How the words used to trip from the lips of the “Welsh tribune” at Limehouse and elsewhere in his campaigns up and down the country ! Listen to his denunciation of the wicked, idle landlord : —

“He doesn’t even take the trouble to receive his wealth. He has a host of agents and clerks to receive it for him. He does not even take the trouble to spend his wealth. He has a host of people around him to spend it for him. He never sees it until he comes to enjoy it. His sole function is stately consumption of wealth produced by others.” (Limehouse, 30.7.09.)

What difference is there between the idler drawing a rent-roll from land he doesn’t make or till land Lloyd George ? The latter buys through a broker or a friend shares in a concern 3,000 miles away. He doesn’t operate the plant, in fact he hasn’t seen it. His chief point is that the company is in far-away America. “He is not concerned with the work or how it is done”—or paid for. His chief concern was expressed by him in his evidence before the Marconi Committee ia the statement: “I wanted to know whether it was likely to turn out an investment that would give a fair dividend” (31.3.13). And again on March 23rd of the current year, when he confessed that “I thought it would be a thoroughly good investment.”

Men from East to West, from San Francisco to St. Louis, will toil, building stations, operating instruments, sending messages ; men will be sweated and risk their lives as operators in ocean liners, and all the time David Lloyd George will wait at Downing Street to see the “divi” come rolling in. He can’t always wait for “divi,” and so he gambles on “Change”—but please don’t call it gambling : it is simply investment !

On both grounds he is condemned as a canting hypocrite. He spends his time denouncing unearned increment when it takes the form of the plunder collared by the absentee landlord, but never a word against the swag filched by the absentee shareholder. While he is rousing the workers against the parasite landlord, the equally parasitic industrial capitalist is left in peace to continue his sweating system.

Lloyd George has, indeed, done good work—for the factory owners.

When he sat in “opposition” he bitterly denounced monopoly. The American ones came in for his special condemnation. Yet the wily Welshman readily invests his money in one of the latest American monopolist concerns, and one that has already started fighting its competitors in the courts and buying out the most dangerous, just as Pierpont Morgan fought Carnegie in the Steel Trust.

Lloyd George lives in a nice house in Downing Street, full of the comforts associated with a capitalist Minister’s lot. He has another house at Criccieth in Wales, and, still not satisfied, he looks around for further quarters, and negotiates for yet another house, at Walton Heath, in Surrey, where golf links and other luxuries of an expensive kind can be revelled in. But with tears in his voice he pleads before the Committee, “Cannot a man fifty years of age have one house to call his own ?”

A man of fifty ! Pity the working man who reaches that age ! What bitter disappointment awaits the toiler who looks forward to having a house to call his own worth £2,000 (like Lloyd George’s) when he reaches fifty !

What does Lloyd George care about the aged worker ? Should a toiler be so unfortunate as to reach fifty, then, under David’s Insurance swindle, he suffers to the extent of 3s. each week for his misfortune in living so long !

A little insight into George’s past will show how callous he is to the lot of the workers in the December of their days.

During the life of the last Tory Government a Commission was appointed to investigate the cost of Old Age Pensions. Lloyd George was chosen from the “Opposition” to sit upon it. What did he say ? Listen to his confession made at Newcastle, April 14th, 1903, and quoted in his own book, “Better Times” (p. 6).

“I sat as a member of an old age pensions Committee—appointed by a Unionist Government. … In the evidence we heard we found a greater difficulty than giving old age pensions. We found amongst the workmen, especially in the unskilled trades, that men rarely even approached the confines of old age. They are exhausted by the way, still in the prime of life. When we came to fix our pensions at sixty-five we found that large masses of the workmen would, never live to benefit by it.”

Seven years after that startling confession Lloyd George became Chancellor of the Exchequer, and he brought in an Old Age Pensions Bill. No longer on the Opposition side, but occupying now a seat in the Government, he was faced with his own statement that it was no good giving pensions to men at sixty-five because most men are crushed out whilst still in the prime of life. So this oily-tongued time-server brought in a Bill fixing the age for pensions, not at sixty-five—that was too high—but at seventy, as there would be more dead by that time, and less money to pay out !

In spite of this fine example of the mean and contemptible actions of this lawyer advance agent of his party, workingmen still follow at his call.

The man who, at the desire of the exploiters, framed an Insurance Bill which, in his own words, “is framed in a way to completely protect them” (the employers); the man who, in in the interest of the wealthy ship-owners, raised the load-line for cargo and thereby sends seamen to their death ; the man who, for his actions during the “All Grades” railwaymen’s dispute earned the praise of the employers—this man is he who complains of “dastardly” conduct against him ! Who has really been guilty of “dastardly” conduct ? With the hollow and mocking results of nearly seven years power before them it should be no difficult task, in spite of Lloyd George’s oily tongue and Stock Exchange cunning, for the smitten and spat-upon working class to decide. Will they ? We shall see.

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