1920s >> 1921 >> no-197-january-1921

A Look Round

On the same day that the papers described the wholesale occupation of public buildings by the starving workless, there was also announced what will probably be accepted as the satisfaction—relatively speaking—of the postal workers with their conditions of service ; that is to say, the result of a ballot was published in which the members of the Union of Post Office Workers had been asked to express their feelings on the question of the adoption of a strike policy. This involved the setting up of a strike fund, but also carried with it the proviso that no strike should be resorted to without consulting the membership by means of a ballot.


Ballot papers to the number of 107,049 were issued, with the result that 48,157 voted for a strike policy ; 35,411 voted against; and 23,481 refrained from voting. This result was acclaimed by their General Secretary, (J. W. Bowen) as a decisive victory for the forces of progress ! To the present writer the impression conveyed is that they are simply in the cart. This is proved by the analysis, which shows that so uncertain is their knowledge that nearly one-third of the membership voted against, whilst almost a fourth refrained from voting. And then for one of their officials (Mr. Ammon) to go and say that another official of the N.U.R. had referred to postal unions as having made greater strides during the past ten years than any other trade union, and as being the most advanced politically, is sublimely ridiculous.


It is a well known fact that postal servants generally are amongst the most reactionary of organised workers, being very old-fashioned in their views. It cannot be said, therefore, that very many of the thousands who did or did not participate in the ballot were actuated by any conviction resulting from an analysis of their position as wage slaves.


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Colonel Amery, as Under Secretary for the Colonies, has received the congratulations of the House for his economic handling of the situation in Somaliland, he having disposed of the “enemy” at the trifling cost of about £100,000, A “gratifying” feature of his report was the confidence expressed that within a reasonable number of years Somaliland will pay the cost of its administration. The economy has been effected by the use of the aeroplane, a method, Major General Seeley states, which is far more preferable than the old-fashioned way of advancing small bodies of infantry “to extend British influence.” He considers the use of aeroplanes cheaper, more effective, and more humane than any other method. Its effectiveness is not in doubt, as the people of Amritsar and of Mesopotamia can testify, but as to its being humane, that is open to question.


Capitalist ethics, however, do not stand in the way when “extending British influence,” or that of any other nationality, whether against white workers or merely “niggers.” The use of aeroplanes as a method of settling disputes is coming more and more into favour, and the adoption of this “humane” method as a cure for industrial unrest can be looked forward to with certainty.


By the way, it is interesting to note that it has been established beyond doubt that the first bombs dropped on any town were dropped by the British on Cologne and Dusseldorf. This represents the initiation of this form of “extending British influence.” (See “Manchester Guardian,” Nov. 1, 1920)


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At one stage of the present war when the fighting was on a larger scale and men died at the rate of some thousands a day, it was usual to describe them as having been “killed in action.” Now that one phase has shifted round to Ireland, it is the fashion of certain newspapers to speak of those killed in the fighting on the Government side as having been ‘”murdered,” in spite of the fact that the country is under martial law and the army held to be on active service. It is as if Spain, for political reasons had protested in 1914 that the British and French were murdering Germans. All bluff, of course.


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In the appeal made to the British people this Chriatmastide for help toward relieving the women and children of the late “enemy” countries, it was stated that “the whole truth about the appalling sufferings of the famine-stricken little ones is so dreadful that no newspaper would publish it.” I can quite believe they wouldn’t; and it is quite easily understood —by those who care to understand—why they wouldn’t. It isn’t out of any regard for our feelings. The very same Press which will now print an appeal (like an advert.—to other people) without disclosing too much formerly printed miles and miles of rubbish and lies when it suited their purpose to do so, in order to make men go out and bring about the conditions they now deplore (perhaps). Men have suffered imprisonment and degradation of all sorts for saying that these conditions would be the result. Only a short time ago men were acclaimed as heroes who succeeded in their allotted task of making orphans. Now the men of peace step forward out of their five years of lethargy, pull a long face and implore us in the lowly Jesus of Nazareth, to save the little ones.


The swine! As if ours were the responsibility! One has only to pick up any newspaper to read of the millions that have been squandered on the very machinery responsible for the conditions referred to.


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The same people used to teach us that charity began at home. Meanwhile—

  On December 11th the Wigan borough magistrates committed a poor widow, aged 75, to prison for three months for stealing a piece of celery value 4½d from a stall in the market. (News item.)


Tom Sala