16 MAY 1931, Page 12

Now the Plunkett Foundation which he endowed with rare generosity

and statesmanlike aim, is fathering this week a meet- ing which may make history. The English societies (which number well over a hundred and have a turnover of some 17,000,000) are seeking some machinery by which they may consult together, and achieve the solidarity of feeling and unity of aim which alone can give them their due influence. The bigger farmers and leading members of the National Farmers Union are votaries of Mr. Smiles ; and it was virtually agreed at a preliminary meeting of the co-operative societies that this Union—in the very mild language of the chief speaker- " is not quite the body to represent the Co-operative Move- ment." The formation of such a body is an urgent practical necessity. It would not, of course, in any degree run counter to the N.F.U. but would work with it where possible. Its task would be to supply the energy and the good will that are lacking. After all, Sir Horace Plunkett with his assessors (who include the mystic but most practical painter-poet A.E.) remade rural Ireland as rural Denmark was remade ; and we may see as effective a new birth in England, if we can develop the good sense of the Irish or the Danes. All who care for the progress of country life in England should pay heed to the results of the London meeting on May 14th.

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