11 SEPTEMBER 1920, Page 1


THE Trades Union Congress opened at Portsmouth on Monday. Mr. J. H. Thomas performed the feat of deliver. ing his presidential address without mentioning the word " coal." The address as a whole was a skilful piece of balancing. Phiases were distributed through it which could be used later as a justifi- cation for whatever course Mr. Thomas chose to take. For our part we have no doubt that Mr. Thomas is a constitutionalist at heart. When he gives hostages to those who are not constitutionalists he probably deceives himself with the seoret argument that it is necessary to hasten slowly, and that he must appear to agree with the extremists more or less in order to coax them towards better convictions. Apart from this, however, Mr. Thomas, much too sensitively and perhaps quite unconsciously, responds to the enthusiasm or dissatisfaction of his audience. A man who in the excitement of his oratory can be steered this way or that, according to the popularity which he seems to be winning at the moment, must be judged not so much by political tests as by tests which are racial or temperamental or pathological.