In the early days of the European War there were quite a number of people who ascribed that horror to “secret diplomacy.” Among this number were to be found members of the Labour Party. Now, one would therefore imagine that those who were aforesaid so great in their denunciation of this evil thing would shun like the plague contact with anything approaching secret diplomacy. Yet what do we find happens? During Mr. A. Henderson’s election campaign
at Widnes he let fall a most significant admission, and one that even up to the present moment has not been denied by those those in authority. I reproduce it here.
“I will let you into another secret. When I went to Russia I went possessing the power to send the then Ambassador home at the end of the fortnight and take his job at £8,000 a year. I made up my mind that that decision was taken on altogether wrong grounds, and that it would be altogether unfair for me to ask the Ambassador to return home. I wired back to London to suggest that I should return and that he should remain at his post.” —”Daily News,” 25th August, 1919.
Strange, indeed, that this piece of secret diplomacy should have been carefully hidden for two years by one who is an alleged opponent of of such devices.
The disposal of army paraphernalia which has recently been taking place throws a little light on the extravagance indulged in by the master class and their agents. At the very time when the whole country has been exhorted to practice a rigid economy our rulers have been flitting about in luxurious motor cars, and wholesale waste has been the order of the day. We read, for instance, that the famous “Red Rolls”—the car used by Mr. Churchill, as Sec. of State for War, has recently been sold for £3,727 10s., and the announcement goes on to state how economy had been the paramount idea in its construction. Lest there might be a doubt about it let me quote—
“The last word in luxury” was the description of the auctioneer. The silver plate flashed in the sunlight and the rich red panels were without a scratch. The interior is inlaid with silver in quartered mahogany. —”Daily Express,” Sept. 11th, 1919.
This is how the government of economy campaigners harmonise precept with practice!
I often wonder whether those heroes who went to the war to make the world safe for democracy and who were promised that on their return a new England would await them—that the old England of the past, with its squalor, anxiety, and wretchedness would have vanished for ever. I recall the poster — the beautiful production of the lithographer — where, in theory, the hard-headed son of toil has a house on the hillside, and he was asked the question : “Isn’t this worth fighting for?”
That is the picture. The following, one of many such cases, portrays the facts :
“I have spent my gratuity money in unsuccessful searches for another house, and now I am turned out of this cottage, and my wife and three children are without a home,” complains the ex-service man.
This man, whose furniture was piled up in the roadway, was demobilised from the R.M.L.I. and had served in the Gallipoli campaign. In his possession is a document which states :
“It is owing to men like him that our country owes its safety after passing through the trials and hardships of the last four-and-a-half years of war unprecedented in the history of the world.” — ”Daily News,” August 25th, 1919.
This is the reward of faithful service rendered to the capitalist class.
At the British Association Conference at Bournemouth one of the speakers, Professor W. D. Haliburton, declared — “If we wish children to be rickety we should feed them on vegetable margarine. The Government have accumulated large quantities of lanoline, intended originally for lubricating purposes,” he continued, “and they sent round to see whether it could be used for margarine. It is not poisonous, but it is absolutely indigestible.” (“Daily Express,” 11.9.19.)
This new “margarine” should prove a twofold blessing to the capitalist class, for in disposing it to their slaves the latter will be able to apply it internally or externally as occasion requires. It should prove a good speeder-up.
To those members of the working class who support capitalism the following should be of interest, and one would hope give them cause to halt and think. Mr. Basil Mathews, speaking at the International Conference on Religion and Labour in Browning Hall a short time since said —
“In the cotton mills of Japan women worked on an indentured system of four years. Out of every hundred women who entered those mills only twenty got back to their homes. The large majority died because of the conditions in which they worked, or were living immoral lives in order to escape from the mills. The cotton goods thus produced were drenched in the blood of Japanese women.” — “Daily News,” Sept. 4th, 1919.
In another journal the same gentleman writes of the conditions under which these women labour and he says :
” . . . few can stand the strain for more than one year; disease, especially consumption, is rife among them, and many seek escape from the miseries of factory life by becoming prostitutes or maids in dubious tea houses. -“Reynolds’s,” Sept. 14th, 1919.
The same old story of the capitalists’ greed for profit the world over. Fellow worker, are you assisting the master class by supporting their system of slavery, which means hellish conditions for those of your class, or are you joining up with your fellows to abolish it ? Think it over.