16 APRIL 1921, Page 4


THE LESSONS OF THE STRIKE. THE first lesson of the strike for the Government and for those who, like the mine-owners, are bound to resist the demands of the Labour organizations made, not on economic grounds, but in accordance apparently with orders from the Third International of Moscow, or at any rate with revolutionary intent, is that their case has been very badly placed not only before the men, but before the general public. It was once said by a great financier that figures were no good to anyone unless they would go on a half-sheet of notepaper. They certainly are no good in a trade dispute unless they comply with this condition. It is of no use to tell the miners that they are to have a minimum wage less seventeen or some such percentage ; and then to add, in the spirit of Alice in Wonderland, that this deduction is only a matter of bookkeeping, and that it would not be taken off except under conditions which could not occur, and so on and so on. What the miners want, and what the public balancing as to whom to give their moral support want, is net figures. After much reading and investigation we were ourselves able to see that what the mine-owners were offering was not only sound and reasonable, but in all the cir- cumstances not ungenerous. The wages had to be cut as soon as the Government subsidy was withdrawn because the various " rises " had been paid out of that and not out of the sales. At the same time, however, the mine- owners offered to put the average miner in a position in which, by working harder and more efficiently, though by no means for excessive hours, he could win more coal, and so more wages. He could, that is, work himself back into almost as good an economic condition as during the war. This was the kind of exposition that was wanted. We are not exaggerating when we say that, owing to an anaemic publicity, it was not brought home to five per cent. of the nation.

The next lesson of the strike is that we ought not to trust to improvised and hugger-mugger schemes either for preserving law and order, or for the maintenance of essential services such as the running of the railways and other means of transport, or for the protection of men carry- ing on other " necessary work." The ordinary loyal citizen ought not at the crisis of a strike to be running about to find out which is the best work for him to do. Long before he ought to have been sorted out and had his duties assigned to him. When the strike bell sounds, i.e., when an emergency proclamation is made, he should be able to go to quarters automatically and fill his post on a lorry, in the engine room, or in a coal-yard, or in doing whatever else he had been registered to perform.

The Government when they did act no doubt acted with energy and sense, and the response made to the call for the National Defence Force has been magnificent. That force, it is to be hoped, will become a permanent part of our organization to prevent the State being ruled by a minority under the threat of Direct Action. We want, however, in addition to this, the organizing of civilian emergency services of all kinds. And here we may say in parenthesis that it was a national humiliation to see the Government unable to prevent mobs coercing the men who were pre- venting the mines from being flooded, because flooding was part cf the Macchiavellian policy of a section of the Labour Party. The Government knew, or at least ought to have known, that part of the scheme for holding the country to ransom was Direct Action against the pumps. That is part of the terror which Lenin permits to his disciples when appropriate. (See the instructions* to Russian Trade Commissions noticed by us last week.) At the very first declaration of the strike adequate and mobile forces of police and soldiery should have been embodied in the mining districts, and mobs and rioters who were trying to flood the mines by threatening death to the pumpers should have been instantly dispersedin the sternest fashion, and their leaders arrested. There should have been no conferences as to whether pumping • We am aware that the authenticity of these Instructions has been officially denied, but we must confess that Soviet denials leave us cold. Credai Judaeus Apollo is an appropriate guiding principle in the case of Dementis made in should or should not be permitted by the unions. The Government, in a word, should have dealt with illegal acts without asking anyone's leave. Force, not talk, is the answer to lawlessness, whether in mobs or tyrants. Surely it is not too much to ask our Government to remember that their first duty—a duty even" as important as imposing taxes—is to preserve law and order, i.e., to protect every man in his right to work at any task he likes, or not to work, i.e., to strike according as he himself deems best. In a nation properly organized to resist minority Direct Action and revolutionary proletarian rule, the forces of law and order ought to come out as automatically as do the union men in a lightning strike. As the men leave the pits the pump-guards should march in not by ones or twos but in full strength, and should take up their stations under the protection of armed guards. The destruction of the £10,000 turbine stated to have taken place in one of the collieries was a national disgrace. The occurrence of such an outrage should have been, and could have been, made impossible. Another lesson is that the law must at once be altered, or rather strengthened, in the matter of sedition and of the use of violence and Direct Action for destroying the constitution. Those who seek by threats, by coercion, or by any processes other than those provided by the Constitution of the Realm—that is, by the votes of the citizens acting through a representative system—to annul our method of government are guilty of a crime against the community, and should be made liable to punish- ment. Students of our law would have supposed that the Statutes, supplemented by the principles of the Common Law, were in the case of treason, felony, and conspiracy already sufficiently strong. It is said, however, that they are not. For example, it is declared that there is no way of preventing foreign money being used either directly by the Soviet Government or by its agents, the Third International of Moscow, to subsidize seditious organs of the Press in this country, for establishing the machinery of schemes for Direct Action, or for forming that illegal Government side by side with the legal Govern- ment which is Lenin's pet revolutionary device.

The actual gold and possibly the diamonds may be detained at the ports if and when they can be discovered, but those who bring in or use the money ear-marked for revolutionary and subversive purposes, and so for pro- ducing Russian conditions in this country, are not guilty of any illegal act and cannot be punished. That is a matter which ought to be set right, and at once. The task may be a difficult one for the Parliamentary draftsmen, but they must be told to mend their pens and go ahead. We are not going to lose our country and the British Empire on a legal punctilio. Legislation should be immediately introduced and passed. Further, it would appear that the law of sedition wants strengthening. Obviously, this must be so when we see a Member of Parlia- ment who advocates in so public a place as the Albert Hall the hanging of certain of his Parliamentary colleagues on the lamp-posts if political contingencies which he, the speaker, considered desirable do not materialize. If that is not high treason, or treason-felony, we have clearly got a legal system which is utterly defective in the matter of protecting the fabric of the Constitution. That we are not exaggerating has, in fact, been admitted by the Govern- ment. It will be remembered that they did not prosecute Mr. Malone for treason of any sort, but merely brought him before a wondering police magistrate, who expressed his very natural amazement that a crime so heinous should come before a tribunal only able to inflict six months' imprisonment—a tribunal usually concerned with petty larceny, ordinary " drunks " and " diserderlies," minor assaults, and the driving of motors to the peril of the public!

If the explanation of this strange piece of feebleness on the part of the Government is, as we have heard stated, that it would not have done to bring a Member of Parlia- ment and an Irishman before a jury, as they might have disagreed, we can only say that those who argue thus must know singularly little about the British people or about a British jury. The essential sanity of the British people can surely be still relied on by the Government. If not, we had better at once proclaim the rule of a Proletarian minority. But this is not the whole of the matter. By not bringing Mr. Malone before the Central Criminal Court and a Middlesex jury the Government lost the best possible opportunity of doing what it is their essential duty to do ; that is, to make the British • public really understand the existing situation, and to force them to realize that they are face to face with a great and very dangerous revolu- tionary conspiracy organized by able, unscrupulous, and ruthless men, supported by sums of money such as have never before been at the disposal of revolutionaries. Forty or fifty millions sterling still remain in the gold hoard at Moscow.

There is no sounding-board in the world like that of a State trial held in London before three judges of the High Court. There are sections of the British public who will follow the evidences and read the speeches in a trial when they will read nothing else. We venture to say that a State trial in which our Secret Service officials put down their trump cards and did not hoard them up " for another time " would have an effect in the country which would astonish the world. The trial would instruct the country as nothing else could. After it even our most timid statesmen would give up their present cowardly habit of approaching the British people. They would no longer treat that noble steed, the State, as a kind of dangerous wild beast which, if it cocked its ear, or swished its tail, or stamped one of its feet, would send its so-called masters scuttling off to be out of the way of the ferocious monster. The noble creature is in reality neither a monster nor ferocious, but only too anxious to have a worthy rider on his back, capable of riding him with good understanding to water, pasture, or to an honest day's work on the farm.

The last lesson of the strike is allied to what we have said in regard to a trial at Bar. We want more publicity of every sort. The Government must not be afraid of telling us the truth, and the whole truth, and, in fact, all they know about the attempts to overthrow the present democratic majority government of this country and to substitute a proletarian minority tyranny. They have plenty of facts ; and we, the taxpayers of this country, who pay for their gathering, have the right to know them. This information should not be kept like a guilty secret, but should be blazoned abroad. The only limitations, but these must not be exaggerated, are when premature disclosure might • prevent further information being accumulated, and, again, when disclosure might bring death and ruin, or tor- ture worse than death, upon some informant who had relied upon the faith of our agents. There are, however, not nearly as many cases of this sort as the public suppose or the Government is apt to imagine. What our Govern- ment ought to do is to refuse to give any proofs at all for their statements. The public would be perfectly willing to take from the Prime Minister, or indeed any Cabinet Minister, a statement that he had satisfied himself that the information was true, but that no proofs could be given without injury to the public. He would ask his countrymen, that is, to take it on trust from him that the facts were as stated. Every day in the world of business action of the most important character is taken upon such statements ; and so it should be here. If we cannot trust the Government in such a matter, the nation must change its Government. But there is no need to do anything of the kind. If the present Government would tell us that they had convinced themselves of the truth of certain statements, not ten per cent. of the people of this country would ask for further proof.