Members of Parliament are complaining that they can’t keep up appearances on the present scale of payment. In spite of this Mr. Clynes manages to turn up at the House in evening dress. This has been commented on in the Press, but I see no reason why a Labour leader should feel any embarrassment, as they are quite used by now to hobnobbing with the “most distinguished” of company. Moving in the highest circles as they do, they doubtless find it an easy matter to conform. Clynes lent his patronage to the Warriors’ Day ball along with the Duke of York, Beatty, Methuen, and a host of others whose interests are certainly not those of the workers, but among whom Clynes and his colleagues find no difficulty in making themselves at home.
Appeals are being made by Trade Union officials to their members to stand fast in the present crisis of the arbitrary reduction of wages, and to maintain their faith in the Labour Party. A glance at Hansard shows that Stanton, who was elected on a Labour ticket, opposed the increase of wages to Civil Servants and demanded to be informed on what grounds an increase could be claimed !
Some so-called Labour leaders make no effort to conceal their contempt for the class to which they belong, and whose votes placed them where they are. Others prefer to dope their followers, either by bluffing them with false information, or dosing them with religion. I notice that a call is being made again this year for all Trade Unionists to attend Special Services to be held on May 1st throughout the country. As might be expected, this come-to-Jesus stunt has received the blessing of Messrs. Henderson, Clynes, and the rest. Whilst prayers are being offered for a way out of the present industrial difficulties, Lloyd George, Foch, and Briand will be smashing through Germany to inflict the final blow. They don’t leave too much to God.
Some disappointment was caused amongst the racing fraternity by the announcement that in consequence of the strike the Government had decided to prohibit the holding of the Newmarket Spring Meeting. It is thought that this ought not to be considered a sufficient reason for curtailing the sport of kings, it is pointed out that even in the grimmest days of the war it was found possible to provide horse boxes for the Newmarket meetings. This is quite true. What is not pointed out is that first class trains were provided as well, so that the class that follows the sport should be attended with every comfort, what time workers who were busily engaged in winning their war for them, travelled to and from work in rolling stock that had been dug up out of yards and sidings somewhere, and which would have put the occupants of the horse boxes to shame. In order that the pleasures of the rich shall not be interfered with owners are being encouraged to extend the use of motor horse boxes and thus make them independent in case of any disturbance in the usual facilities.
Anatole France has been giving his views of the present condition of the world in the “New York American.” He has been sadly disillusioned. His point of view now is certainly not that which he had in 1914.
The present writer remembers the frantic outburst of M. France in 1914 when he literally foamed at the mouth against the “iniquities” of Germany. So great was his sense of wrong that nothing would reconcile him but military service. “Had they not allowed me,” he said, “to serve my country in the uniform of a soldier, I think I should have died of chagrin.” When asked his opinion of the manifesto issued by the German “Intellectuals” he said : “The only reply is to fire on the mass without scruple.” He now admits that militarism has grown instead of having shrunk. He sees in his own beloved France, even among the mass of the people, that militarism is rampant. The war spirit is still in its bones. He believes that the present unemployment and financial crisis are not so much natural as artificial, that they are but another manoeuvre of capitalism to strengthen itself, to wear down and destroy its enemies, to rivet the chains of the workers yet more securely upon them. “Unemployment, one can see, is not hurting the rich, secure and living at ease on the immense profits they have made out of the war. But it is a clever weapon to employ against the poor, to grind them down into the dust, to drive them in despair into a premature revolt, the plans to combat and destroy which are already fully prepared.” M. France certainly writes with a clearer vision now than he did a few years ago, and I think the above is worth quoting if only for the large measure of truth it contains, and because it supports the good old saw to the effect that one is never too old to learn.