The Fruit of ‘Victory’
Last month comment was made in these columns on the persuasion by the miners’ leaders of the men to return to work too early, as well as on the impossibility of the “impartial ” chairman being impartial. Within the short span of a month both points of criticism are borne out by the development of events.
Lord St. Aldwyn, better known when Tory Chancellor as Sir Michael Hicks-Beach, was the “impartial” chairman for the South Welsh District Board set up by the Bill that settled the recent coal strike. He is reported by the miners’ leader, Mr. C. B. Stanton, to have surrendered the men to the coal-owners.
Says Mr. Stanton : ” Mr. Asquith, Mr. Lloyd George, Sir. E. Grey and others, told our National Executive they considered 5s.per day very reasonable for any man who worked in the mine as a minimum wage. Lord St. Aldwyn has given us a 3s. minimum. This is not a living wage, but a measly, wretched surrender to the Welsh coal-owners, whose profits, greed, and obstinacy at all times are notorious. How any man could, upon the evidence, give such a verdict I cannot understand.”
But Mr. Stanton ought to know that the “independent” chairman, even with the collusion of the Government as he suggests, is quite capable of betraying the men and converting a promised increase of wages into a decrease. When did Mr. Stanton put any value upon a Liberal promise to the workers, or trust the “impartiality” of a Tory politician? Why, exactly when it was least justified—when the strike had driven the master class and the political wire-pullers, Liberal and Tory alike, to an extremity.
It was easy for the Liberals to promise the “5 and 2” and to sympathise with the men in their “reasonable” demands. And very convenient to leave to the “impartiality” of a retired Tory politician, the execution of the premise.
Says Mr. Stanton further : “The rank and file know where the mistake was made before ; we shall not repeat that mistake again.” But it seems to us that the mistake need never have been made at all. Mr. Stanton was among the leaders who advised the men to accept the Bill, with its machinery of “impartial” boards and “independent” chairmen, even against the better judgment of the men. It was the leaders who should have known what the masters and their political servants were likely to do once the men were back again at work.
We of course, can draw no satisfaction from the turn events have taken, except from the fact that in bearing out our prognostications they have given further proof of the existence of the class struggle and the solidarity of the capitalist class against the workers. Had the miners’ actions been guided by this knowledge they would not now be lamenting that they have been tricked by the masters and sold by—but the law of libel holds us dumb.