By the Way

Mr. Will Thome, the member for South West Ham, appears to have received something like a shock, owing to the local Trades and Labour Council not re-adopting him as their candidate for the next election. Consequently Bill hurries along to address his constituents and reassure them. A Press cutting informs me that

“Mr. Thorne stated he had aroused the enmity of some people owing to his attitude to the war, and. chiefly because he had voted for Conscription. Until the war he had never been in favour of it, and after the war he would vote for the withdrawal of the Military Service Act within six months of the declaration of peace. If peace were planned, on democratic lines and the German military machine smashed the armies could be reduced in all countries, and men and women taken from the making of destructive machines to useful work. It would be a terrible thing for organised labour all over the country if men like himself, who had stood for trade unionist and Socialist principles, were to-suffer as a result of differences arising out of the war.
He was not going to accept such a decision as that made at the recent meeting, but would fight the Plaistow division, subject to the backing of his own union (the Genera! Workers), which he was sure would not be wanting.”—”Daily News,” Jan. 14th, 1918

Now one can quite understand that this type of individual is “not going to accept such a decision,” for £400 a year, trips to Russia, plus a fur coat, and a place in the limelight are considerations which appeal to the present-day labour “fakir.” His frank confession of having voted for Conscription is an instalment to go on with ; but the observation that he would vote for the withdrawal of the Military Service Act within six months of the declaration of peace is mere eye-wash—the chains are more easily attached to than removed from us. However, it is refreshing to note that a large number of our fellow wage-slaves are gradually beginning to see the need for class-conscious action, and, that the attempt on the part of the labour mis-leaders to serve both the workers and the capitalist class is highly incongruous.

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The “Herald” (19.1.18), commenting on the above says “. . . it is high time for men and women who hold progressive and Socialist views to come together prepared to fight the industrial and social evils here at home. It will suit the capitalists and landlords to divide us into warring sections, and by so doing prevent labour coming into its own. We trust the West Ham example will not be followed on either side and that our comrades in the East End will call another meeting, and by an unanimous choice once more select Will Thorne to be the standard-bearer for labour in the Plaistow division of that borough.”

Here again is the typical example of that blind leadership of the blind policy. The trade unionists, the progressivists, and the Labour Party have from the very commencement of the war been hopelessly divided on their line oi action. How, then, can Socialists join with them ? To do so would be to inflict the gravest injury on their cause. These men—Thome, Henderson, Thomas. Hill, Lansbury, Parker, to mention just a few—are entirely lacking in understanding of the essentials of Socialist action. They confuse social reform with Socialism and appear to believe that an attempt to patch up or make more bearable capitalist Society is the acme of working-class existence. Therefore we are opposed to them, and whilst we recognise the desire of the master class to “divide and conquer,” we realise also that when the workers as a body understand the conflict of interest between capitalist and labourer, in a word become class-conscious, the day of the charlatan will be over.

The task which lies before us is to help clear the ground of the obstacles which are in our pathway. This can only be accomplished by the workers themselves understanding what Socialist action is. Having prepared the ground we can sow the seed and in due time reap the harvest.

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The war seems of late to have developed into a show to judge by the invitations which have recently been given to various individuals and bodies of workmen (of official variety). It is indeed refreshing to note that there are still some men left who have no desire to participate in these picnic tours and who can summon sufficient imagination to grasp what war means without being in the immediate vicinity. One refusal would, perhaps, not be amiss—

“The West Hartlepool No. I Branch of the National Union of Railwaymen, whose refusal to be represented on a deputation of their trade union to the Western front was not taken seriously by the authorities at Trinity House, point out that their protest, which contained such expressions as “joy-ride” and “glorified Cook’s tour,” was meant in no jocular spirit.”—”Daily News,” Jan. 16th, 1918.

One is tempted to hope that those who accept might be retained at the front until the suspension of hostilities.

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We have read a lot of hypocritical cant during the last three years regarding the position of women in the war area and their treatment by the “enemy.” But what have our masters to say to the following ?

“Commander Wedgwood asked the Under-Secretary of State for War whether he is aware that at Cayeux-sur-Mer a public brothel was opened on the main promenade in August last, and that since its opening clandestine prostitution as well as public vice has greatly increased ; that when the townspeople sought to obtain the closure of the establishment the Mayor in reply to their memorial, while disclaiming responsibility, alleged the presence of a large British convalescent camp as a justification of the existence of such a house ; that the French military authorities, writing through General Dubois, told the memorialists that it was at the request of the English military authorities that this brothel was opened ; that Colonel Moriarty, the head of the British camp, wrote that the English military authorities had nothing to say to the creation of this establishment, and that the responsibility rested with the French military authorities ; whether he will ascertain who is responsible ; and whether the British authorities will assist the inhabitants in doing away with this public nuisance?
Mr. Macpherson : I am inquiring into this matter, and will inform my hon. and gallant Friend of the result.—Official Report, 5th Dec., 1917, Col. 431.”

As usual, one has to “wait and see.” Doubtless it is not in the public interest to convey the information !

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With the advent of the new year we once again find ourselves being regaled by the war prophets. It is almost inconceivable that some of them should again try their skill (?) in this direction, seeing how hopelessly inaccurate have been their previous endeavours, but, of course, some effort must be made to buoy up a large section of the public who are slowly but surely getting fed up with war conditions. In his connection I read that Windy Churchill delivered himself of the following :

“We are now entering that period of the war when the strain will be more severely felt and the powers of endurance of every member of the community will be tested. Such is always the case towards the end of a great struggle. The courage and devotion of our men in the field must be supported by the spirit of the nation at home in order to carry us through to final victory, and it is the duty of all that have influence to use it to develop and to sustain the national spirit. . . . I trust that this new year may bring to all that happiness which will result from victory and the beginning of the great era of peace.—”Daily News,” Jan. 10th, 1918.

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The same gentleman in a previous speech informed his hearers at a meeting at Dundee, June 5th, 1915, that—

“The army of Sir Ian Hamilton, the fleet of Admiral de Robeck, are separated only by a few miles from a victory such as this war has not yet seen. When I speak of victory, I am not referring to those victories which crowd the daily placards of any newspapers, I am speaking of victory in the sense of a brilliant and formidable fact, shaping the destinies of nations and shortening the duration of the war.”

Words, words, words ! Two years and seven months have passed and we who live to tell the tale know what a fiasco the Dardanelles campaign proved itself to be.

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One other quotation from the same source would, perhaps, not be amiss. Speaking at Liverpool, September 21st, 1914, Windy stated—

“Our men . . . hoped they would have a chance to settle the question with the German Fleet, and if they did not come out and fight they would be dug out like rats in a hole. Under the shield of our Navy you can raise an army in this country which will settle the war within six or seven months.”

From 1914 to 1918 most people will, I think, agree is a fairly decent period for the “digging out” and the “army raising” process. Not so our prophet. He forgets the past, and now informs us that the testing time which precedes the end of the struggle is fast approaching. Our masters have raised an army of “volunteers,” of conscripts, endeavoured to recruit the unfit, and are now “combing out” the remainder of the workers.

The international master class will have to get a move on quickly or their aims may be defeated by “Little Mary.”

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“It must be remembered that the Russian revolution to-day is very much more obnoxious to the propertied and privileged classes than was the kindly administrative revolution of last March.”—”Daily News,” Jan. 14th, 1918.

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The Allies’ noble ideals. The following is illuminating. “From the latest editorials, it is apparent the Italian Press generally is less and less favourably disposed towards the peace terms of Mr. Lloyd George and President Wilson, especially those relating to Italy. However, the more authoritative sections of the Press express the belief that the two speakers’ generic conditions coincide with Baron Sonnino’s well-known plank, including not merely the Trentino and Trieste, but also Italy’s Adriatic claims. The indefinite statements made by the speakers are not, however, calculated to cement Italy’s internal and divided politics and but serve to aid military and popular resistance.” — “Reynolds’s,” Jan. loth, 1918. Small wonder, then, there is an ever-increasing demand for a restatement of war aims.

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Recently Lord Rhondda made the wonderful discovery that queues are “centres of discontent.” I congratulate him. Also I have read that the aforementioned person is interested in what is termed a “Ministry of Health.” Seeing that this is so one hopes that he will soon make the discovery that queues are bad from a health point of view as well as from that of temper. After the recent Baby week campaign (Save our sucklings) the folloying is interesting

“In Edmonton and Tottenham food queues were proportionately longer than in any other district. Yet only a day or so ago Dr. Kirkhope, the Medical Officer oi Health for Tottenham, had written to the Tottenham Food Control Committee drawing attention to the fact that a large number of infants in that district were suffering from bronchitis and pneumonia caused by nothing else than the fact that they had been brought by their mothers to wait in the food queues.
“This queue system must be stopped and stopped quickly,” said Dr. Kirkhope to “Reynolds’s” repre­sentative. “In this district we have realised its effect in an abnormal number of infant inquests. To-day we have had three inquests dealing with children who have died with bronchial pneumonia.”—”Reynolds’s,” Jan. I3th, 1918.

Such are the glories of war !

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The Ministry of Food, in the words of the hymn, “moves in a mysterious way its wonders to perform.” After the bleeding profiteers have reaped a rich harvest by the sale of rabbits at the exorbitant price of from 4s. to 5s. each, the Ministry really moves. At long last the price of this (sometimes) succulent rodent has been fixed at 1s. 9d. without the overcoat, 2s. with same, and lo and behold they become extinct in our market places.

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“What a man soweth that shall he also reap.” The indiscriminate policy of “all into the Army” looks as though it will be a very expensive experiment. The following is yet another instance of the criminal folly of our rulers.

“The Pensions Appeal Tribunal at Manchester yesterday allowed the appeal of a man who was discharged from the Army after 60 days’ service on account of heart disease.
Judge Parry said it was obvious that the man was not fit to join the Army. The recruiting authorities, in taking him, did a foolish thing, and for that folly that Tribunal thought the State should pay.—”Daily News,” Jan. 10th, 1918.

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In reading again Lloyd George’s speeches published in his book “Better Times,” one is somewhat amazed at his action in taking into his war Cabinet such persons as the Rt. Hon. Earl Curzon and the Rt. Hon. Viscount Milner. Speaking at the National Liberal Club, December 3rd, 1909, the Rt. Hon. David Lloyd George spoke of these two gentlemen thus : “Now, Lord Gurzon is not a very wise or tactful person. All I would say about him would be this : I think he is less dangerous as a ruler of the House of Lords than as a ruler of India. For further particulars apply to Lord Kitchener. And if you want any more information you might apply to Lord Middleton. I will say no more of him. Then there is Lord Milner. There is one thing in common between Lord Milner and Lord Curzon. They are both very clever men with every gift except the gift of common sense.” (Page 184.) Strange, is it not, that he should seek out just those void and empty of this last-mentioned quality for his “win-the-war” Cabinet ? But the passage explains a multitude of muddles.


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