Reading the Press from day to day we are kept fally informed of the plots that are hourly discovered and which are intended—so we are usually told—to undermine the edifice of the British Constitution and to bring to ruin and decay the civilisation upon which rests our “glorious Empire.” Full details have been collected of Sinn Fein plots in England, Irish plots in Russia, German plots in Palestine, Jewish plots in Germany, Communist plots in Timbuctoo, and so on without end.
Lord Birkenhead (famous for his connection with the Ulster plot) was telling the Cotton Conference at Manchester the other day what he knew about the plot of the Bolsheviks to extend the coal strike in England to a general stoppage. After referring to the source of information as “detected intercepted documents,” he went on to pay a tribute to the “traditional commonsense of the British people,” and to say that owing to the “sanity and sobriety of the British working man” the sinister plot had been shattered, and, he hoped, shattered beyond recall. “However misguided the miners may have been, their loyalty to their leaders and endurance typified the spirit of loyalty and determination which enabled Great Britain to make such a special contribution to the winning of the war.” (“Manchester Guardian,” June 23, 1921.)
The reader will at once conclude that this sounds fishy, and that there must be something behind it all. Of course there is. Turning to another part of the same paper we find in the political correspondent’s report that a conspiracy had been revealed which was led by Lord Birkenhead and included Churchill, Lord Beaverbrook, and others, the purpose of which was the overthrow of the Prime Minister in order to alter the basis of the Coalition. In this case also the plot was shattered—not because of the “traditional common sense of the British people,” but because Churchill did not see his way clear to success.
The connection between the two instances is obvious. Everything depends upon being able to secure the support of the working-class population of the country by means of their votes, hence the talk at Manchester and the Press reports.
Which is bluff, purely and simply. For their own purposes they have other methods, also, which are not supposed to be the concern of those outside. The British workers may possess those qualities attributed to them by Lord Birkenhead, but they will certainly have to be applied in a different direction if they are ever going to come into their own.
The dishing of the Communists by the Labour Party over the question of affiliation to that body will certainly rile them. In seeking affiliation they not only prove that, stripped of all their pseudo-revolutionary trappings, they are nothing but a party of opportunist reformers, but also that they haven’t a platform strong enough to stand on. Their understanding of Socialism is certainly in need of a tonic when they claim that by joining forces with the anti-Socialist left wing of Liberalism they can better serve the interests of the workers. That exhortation to the trade unionists to “watch your leaders” is really funny.
Lever Brothers, Ltd. report a profit of £3,270,091 in 1920, after providing for depreciation, insurance, etc. This compares with £2,439,067 in 1919. The fixed dividends on the preference and the prefered ordinary shares are to be paid, and the ordinary, held by the Lever family, will have 20 per cent. paid on them, absorbing £456,000. This is 2¼ more than in 1919. Not very bad considering these rotten times.
Some little time ago the Editor of “John o’ London” invited well-known people to state in his journal what particular book they would place in the hands of a young man of 21 in the belief that it would tend to form both his mind and character to his life-long advantage. Lord Leverhulme was one of those who was invited to have a shot. He replied—you’ve guessed it—Smiles’s “Self Help“!