By the Way
An echo of the recent L.C.C. tramway strike was to be heard in a case which came before the court recently, when we were treated to a specimen of magisterial wisdom. Two tramway men were summoned for keeping dogs without a licence ; one of the men was on strike whilst the other remained at work. The punishment in the case of the former was 10s. plus a lecture on the enormity in being on strike at the present time, while the latter was discharged. Obviously the question of the dogs was of secondary importance with the learned cadi.
We might, however, point out in passing that, to our mind, the drivers and conductors over¬looked a very important factor, namely, the men who supplied the current for propelling the cars. To leave these men out of their consideration was to court failure. At the same time it should be borne in mind that the masters held the trump card in the shape of the military, whose services might have been requisitioned while capital’s royal reserves, the unemployed, were being trained for the work.
As a result of the order issued by the L.C.C. not to take back men who are eligible for the army, doubtless our masters will have been able to rope in a few more recruits for their “voluntary” army.
In this connection I notice that :
“The proposal to give no war bonus to men of military age was unanimously adopted by the City Corporation to-day. . . , No encouragement would be given to the able-bodied to stay at home when they were needed at the front.” —” Star,” 17.6.15.
There you are again. Hurrah ! for the land of the free. So far the “voluntary” system has absolutely vindicated itself, say one section of the capitalist Press.
Once or twice lately reference has been made to Ben Tillett, of the Dock Labourers’ and Riverside Workers’ Union, and in doing so again we have no desire to assist in the booming of this individual, who at the present time seems to be more valuable than ever to the master class. My object is to draw attention to the acrobatic performances of Mr. Tillett, who, at one time is loud in his denunciation of the master class and now is offering his services to them in order to further cement their hold on the working class.
A year or two since Mr. Tillett was speaking at the London Opera House when he said: “The other side had tried to fool the people, and so far had done better than we had,” He has now undoubtedly overtaken the “other side,” for we read :
“Many people with no obvious concern in the firing line have been allowed to visit France and Flanders . . . But there have been cases when this licence has been justified by the facts, and one of them is Ben Tillett. Ben Tillett has been allowed a pretty free hand over there. He has ferreted about as he pleased, and he has come back, as he says, to preach ‘bloody murder.’ . . . Ben Tillett, fired with the knowledge of what this war really means, is going to be worth a whole munition factory to Mr. L. George. Is there not a post at Armaments House for Ben Tillett ?”— “Daily Dispatch,” 18.6.15.
Doubtless the masters have long since recognised the “fooling” propensity of this betrayer of working-class interests. How faithfully and well he served them in 1912 at the time of the Dock Strike, when he and those other “leaders” ordered the men back to work after ten weeks of bitter struggle! Moreover, be it remembered that this strike was not one for fresh demands, but merely asking the masters to “honour a scrap of paper” containing awards made to the dockers a year previously.
It is to be hoped that many of those dockers, who in 1912, at the meeting in Southwark Park, voted against returning to work and tore down the notices ordering them to do so, and further told their “leaders” that they were traitors, will remember the murder of their children and wives by the capitalist class in the year of disgrace 1912.
In the midst of the hubbub generated by the campaign of frightfulness, upon which many yards of type and a large amount of printer’s ink have been used, I have, as it were, been favoured by the gods, for in my travels I have come across an item of interest from a leading paper which speaks of the arming of passenger ships. In a report of the Royal Mail Packet Co. for 1914, which is referred to as disappointing, we are informed that :
“The company has had two steamers sunk by the enemy, but its passenger ships have escaped. This immunity from attack, the directors say, has been in a large measure due to the fact that, a year or two before the war broke out, nearly all the “A” and “D” steamers were armed with guns for the purpose of self defence. It is quite clear that the step has been fully justified by later events, and the company has been complimented upon its public spirit in taking the initiative in this matter, on the suggestion of the Admiralty and at a time when the desirability of arming merchant vessels was less obvious than it is now.”—” Manchester Guardian,” 4.5.15.
Then it is marvelled at why passenger steamers are torpedoed !
As a result of the large number of coal miners who have enlisted there is a consequent diminution in the output of coal, which is becoming a serious matter to the bosses, whose attention is now being directed to the question of increased production. Of course, as usual, they do not suggest tackling the job themselves—the “dignity” of labour is all very well for their slaves, but they, the possessors of directive ability, do not want any of it. So now they are busying themselves as how best to speed up their slaves who remain at home. They might even requisition the services of the Bishop of London, who, a short time ago, was ready to break stones if necessary.
A meeting between the owners’ and workmen’s representatives has been recommended by a Departmental Committee to consider how far the Eight-Hours Act should be suspended. In this connection Mr. Stephen Walsh says :
“Paradoxical as it may sound, a real Eight-Hours Act has never been passed. At many of the newer and larger pits the time allowed by the mines inspectors for the lowering and raising of the men, added to the coal-winding period, makes each shift one more nearly approaching ten hours than eight, and it is certain that an extension of the present working time would not result in anything like an equal increase in production.”—”Manchester Guardian,” 17.6.15.
Certain suggestions—so dear to the heart of the capitalist—have been made in respect of a more extended use of female labour and the employment of boys at an earlier age. Says King Coal: “Suffer little children to come unto me.”
Mr. A. Henderson, speaking at a Labour and Progressive Association meeting at Bishop Aukland in connection with his having joined the new War Ministry, said :
“They [the Labour Party] were asked to join in order to maintain the fullest standard of unity until the war «as completed …. when they would be free to revert to the original position without having compromised in the slightest degree.”
The speaker went on to say that :
“The invitation placed him in a very difficult position. … It was decided that the invitation be accepted. … He readily admitted that it was against the constitution of the Party, but the constitution was made for normal conditions.”—” Manchester Guardian,” 31.5.15.
This latest move of the Labour Party is consistent with their usual tactics of acting as a kind of special fire brigade to the late Government, moving amendments and voting against them, &c. The phrase “placed him in a difficult position,” suggests the falsity of the previous suggestion of reverting to the original position “without having compromised.” This latest evidence of compromising with the enemies of the working class should suffice to prove the utter worthlessness of the muddle-headed Labour Party.