MR. LLOYD GEORGE AND LABOUR.
[To THE EDITOR OF THE "SPECTATOR.") Sie,—Mr. Lloyd George's fulminations against Socialist prolate ganda emanate rather oddly from one who has done more than any other British statesman, past or present, to translate such fantastic theories into accomplished fact. How deplorable his experiments have been, and are likely still more to be, probably only business men can adequately determine. From the moment that the Government stepped outside its legitimate province and assumed powers of intervention in the arena of trade disputes, the industrial position has steadily deteriorated from bad to worse. For all its ill-advised and economically ignorant devices the unfortunate consumer has to pay. The net result Is that one particular class of the Commonwealth—the working class—are daily being encouraged by utterly indefensible increases in wages (accompanied by decreases in the hours of work) in the belief that their claims are paramount to the general interests of the nation as a whole—that they alone count. No more disastrous decision was ever made by any Administration than that which brought into existence the egregious "Board of Arbitration "—the " Bunco" Boys; and, In its pathetically ridiculous train, that monumental folly, the "Minimum Wage."
Professing ardently the doctrine of increased production, the Government deliberately creates a Frankenstein's monster, which logically can have but one effect—to strangle it. There is nothing to be said in favour of such an innovation, which is ethically, economically, and commercially unsound.
We have been told again and again by the Premier, as well as by other members of the Cabinet, of the great debt the nation owes to the men who saved their country, and the world, from the most intolerable menace with which civilization has ever been threatened. Indubitably the most indomitable "gasbag-" of the lot spoke truth there. Surely, then, the chief way of paying the debt is to ensure that these men shall at least be free to earn a living how and where they will, and not be hindered by artificial barriers which operate inimically against them.
This is, presumably, a country where the privilege of the subject to dispose of his own labour en his awn terms has been hitherto accounted .a inalienable right. Now it Ile longer obtains. The Government and the "Trade Unions" have together comhined to destroy the birthright of free labour in a free market. "Self-determination" of peoples—if you please; but self-determination in its best and wisest expression —to use the opportunities of life in your own way—" Why, no, Archibald. certainly not!"
The abominable tyranny practised by the "Trade Unions" in re-enacting in effect the spirit of the old monstrous "Religious Disabilities Act" is a standing disgrace to those who cant against "victimization," "Conscription." and the like; but a far greater ignominy and reproach attach to a Government which slinks from doing its plain duty, and feebly permits and condones such a gross infraction of personal liberty. I unhesitatingly affirm that the primary right of a free man has largely ceased to-exist; and that, to all intents and purposes, an unwritten Charter of compulsory confor- mation to a secular and industrial " shibboleth " has usurped its place.
Mr. Lloyd George's incursions into the fields of industry have been one long-continued series of bleak disaster, shameful Injustice, and prodigal extravagance. Blight and mildew descend wherever the dead hand of Government control can be traced. Yet the country is forced to the hurailiatipg conclusion that its only choice lies between being governed by flexible bureaucrats, or be intellectually " slack-baked " theorists; the latter of whom loudly profess themselves eager to govern in the general interests of the community, the while their every action, word, and deed luminously illustratea their determination to govern entirely in the interests of one class.
Meanwhile Mr. Asquith sits on the fence, giving the glad eye to Labour, and coquetting with the "wild cat" tribe, which (with a few honourable exceptions) does duty as its leaders. To say that the present Government is " unprincipled " would be to overstep the limits of just criticism; but to designate' it as "non-principled" is strictly true.—I am, Sir, !sc.,