22 MAY 1926, Page 12



[To the Editor of the SPECTATOR.] Sni,—Now that our nation has reached the end of its immediate peril, a stock-taking of our gains and losses may not be un- fruitful.

Primarily, we have made the discovery that the Constitution; hammered out by our forefathers through centuries of experience, is an asset infinitely precious, worth fighting for, and, if need be, worth dying for. Our young citizens who have volunteered so splendidly to protect it will have realized through their experience that they have a real stake in the Empire and will have learned to become more useful citizens because of this testing time. We have discovered also the wonderful spirit of altruism that permeates the organized Labour movement. Men in their thousands, I think mistaken- ly, but none the less sincerely, have risked their whole future in the effort to protect what they conceived to be the best interests of their fellows, and this at a great sacrifice to themselves. The Communistic element, though dangerous, has been shown to be small, and has suffered a signal defeat. Trades unionism will repudiate it finally with advantage to itself.

We have an increased respect for our statesmen, who patiently and in excellent spirit have endeavoured to discover a way out from our distress, and have renewed within us the conviction that never in her history were we governed by men who were more wholeheartedly willing to serve the country in her time of extremity. We have had confirmed the fidelity of our Army, Navy and Police, all of whom have assisted to preserve our essential services and good order, in some cases at considerable peril to themselves. We have demonstrated again the extraordinary tenacity, determination and good will of the " man in the street," who in the face of difficulty and danger has readily stepped in to do what he conceived to be his duty when the nation's rights and liberties were challenged. All of this is clear gain.

On the other side, we have realized afresh that organized Labour may under some conditions set up a tyranny of its own, and that in so doing some at least of its leaders are prepared, if necessary, to defy the country's laws ; to ignore the moral sanctity of contract, and to replace reason with weapons of coercion. These men have yet to learn that power is a dangerous weapon to place in the hands of citizens not fitted to use it, and without doubt the ranks of organized Labour will replace some of its extremist leaders with men more capable of discharging faithfully the trust that they have given to them. We have learned that the general strike will never succeed permanently, and can secure nothing for the well-being of the community in any direction. We have seen the release of, the dangerous forces of an undisciplined minority, who always use periods of unsettlement for their own criminal purposes, and have learned again that when the reins of order and law are slackened, elements which are a peril to the community immediately come to the surface.

We have had emphasized anew that any section of society, be it Capitalist or Labour, which attempts-to settle its differ- ences by an appeal to brute force can bring the whole order of society into jeopardy, and finally, unless controlled, may bring about the industrial and moral destruction of the whole conununity.

The moral of all this appears to be that society will resist with all the forces at its command any sectional attack on its national well-being ; that while the legitimate rights of the trades unions must be strictly preserved, illegitimate combina- tions to coerce the community are immoral and illegal, and that legislation, if not already sufficiently powerful to deal with the situation, will receive from a united Parliament what- ever added powers are necessary. The interests of the nation are not divided, but are indivisible. Capital and Labour have each their own contribution to make to the well-being of society. The spirit of " live and let live " is not only excellent morals, but sound common sense, and the illegitimate exercise of free speech' which preaches sedition and extremism to the community will be no longer tolerated, but must be suppressed with a firm hand where that may be necessary. Brute force can destroy the fair fruits of civiliza- tion, but offers nothing to replace them, and men and women - of good will in every section of the community are determined that our just heritage shall be preserved whatever the sacrifice necessary to secure this may be.

Is it too much to hope that all sections of our population may take these lessons to heart, and learn in the future to compose their differences in a spirit of mutual good will and fair play ? If not, we do not deserve to reap the good fruits of the struggle which has just ended.—I am, Sir, &c., Newcastle-upon-Tyne.