[To the Editor of the SPECTATOR.] Sm.,—In the last two
issues of your valuable and influential paper you seem to me to have departed from your usual attitude of sane and logical reasoning in treating of public questions. You argue that in the recent crisis, now happily relieved, the Government should either have broken off negotiations with the T.U.C. immediately on learning that notices for a general strike had been issued, or, not having done so, should have continued them despite the fact that a premature commencement of the strike had broken out on the Monday morning.
You rightly admit that it was possible that some basis of
settlement in the Coal Industry might have been found at the last moment in time to allow the strike to be called off before midnight, though it has since been shown that the miners' representatives had made that impossible. This possibility certainly justified the Government, under the exceptional circumstances, in continuing negotiations after they had been informed that the strike notices had been sent out. But as soon as they learned that a premature strike of a most obnoxious character had already broken out amongst the printers of the Daily Mail, the whole situation was altered ; the die had been cast, or the strike fire had been lighted, which ever simile you prefer, and thereby the very delicate and somewhat questionable position the Government had assumed in the desperate hope of securing peace, now became intolerable ; and, as it seems to me, there was left no justifiable alternative but to break off negotiations forthwith, and immedi- ately to divert all their energies to cope with the terribly serious situation with which the country was confronted by the strike becoming effective everywhere in a few hours' time.
Be this so or not, it is, in any case, easy to be wise after the event, and I am sure that many of your admiring readers, like myself, were disappointed that you should have had recourse to this expedient under circumstances of so exceptional and difficult a character, whereby the wholly laudable efforts of the Government to secure a settlement at the eleventh hour were discounted, and its prestige lowered in the country in the midst of the most serious internal crisis the British Government has ever had to control.
Thank God they were equal to the task, and this point of
dispute has now become but a matter of history. None the less, it deserves to be fairly judged by a paper wielding the influence of your journal, especially when the Spectator was one of the few papers appearing, to be eagerly devoured by a public hungry for news in print.—I am, Sir, &e., Beachamwell Rectory, Norfolk. W. S. UNwIN.