2 DECEMBER 1911, Page 32



Sin,—I was disappointed not to find in your issue of Nov. 25th any reference to a series of articles that have been appearing in the Morning' Post on" Socialism and Trades Unions." The concluding article published in last Thursday's paper, if correct in its statements—and so far they remain unchallenged—shows clearly the tyranny of the system and the utter helplessness of the rank and file of its members. The chief points empha. sized by " X " in Thursday's article are :—That there is no independent auditing of accounts ; that balance-sheets either are not published at all or are inadequate; that the cost of administration is enormous as compared with the total receipts; and that the men who are dissatisfied or too curious suffer persecution. The helplessness of the men to rectify any of these abuses is explained when it is remembered that, according to "X," there is no such thing as a secret ballot, and that the men have to sign their names to the ballot-papers. Any man voting contrary to the expressed wishes of the leaders feels that he may be ejected from the union. The remedy lies with the Govern- ment. They alone can deal with the evil. If, however, they should decline I am writing to suggest that the matter ought to be taken up by our party. If the Conservative leaders would tell the electorate that one of the first acts of legislation they would undertake when returned to power would be to provide for the proper auditing and publishing of trade-union accounts and for secret balloting I believe that a vast number of trade unionists would vote Conservative. I am persuaded that at the present time no other declaration would bring us so many votes at the polls. But it would be vital to success that a promise should also be made that in no other respect will trade unions be interfered with. If the men thought that the unions were likely to be crippled in any way they would not accept a proposal which by itself would strengthen rather than weaken the unions. This step I firmly believe to be sound party tactics ; yet I am not writing to advocate it on those grounds, but as an act of justice which, by whatever political party it was introduced, would be welcomed by the great majority of trade unionists as well as by non-unionists like myself, who detest tyranny above all

[Prima facie we should say that if men like to be so foolish as to pay money to societies which do not have a proper audit of their accounts the State has no call to interfere with them. There can be no liberty if we forcibly restrain men from all action which we consider ill-judged. They must learn by experience. When, however, the State gives certain far- i reaching and potent privileges to particular societies and organizations the matter is different. In these cases it is quite arguable that the State should insist upon the favoured bodies submitting to an audit and acting as trustees are forced to act in the case of their funds. The Trade Disputes Act gave a special recognition to trade unions, and therefore the bodies affected by it might, we admit, be justly placed under financial supervision.—En. Spectator.]