2 MARCH 1929, Page 4

Political Salesmanship

'UTE have heard a great deal lately .about salesman- " ship ; but the Government, who appointed an excellent Committee on the subject, do not seem to have reflected that what is wanted for commending themselves to .the country at the General Election is precisely the equivalent of salesmanship. There are good and bad.

kinds of salesmanship. You can try to recommend your goods by disparaging those of your competitor ; you can try to foist inferior goods on gullible people by persuading them ; you can induce people to buy what they really do not want by pretending that luxuries are necessaries ; or you • can postpone the date of payment. so far that the gull does not measure the expense. But,. after all, the best salesmen deal only in articles of first- rate quality, and create markets by genuinely making.

known the excellence of what they have to sell.. Excel-. lence does not proclaim itself automatically ; the news has to be spread. The spreading of news which is found upon examination to be true is the great function of salesmanship.

What, judged from the angle of political salesmanship,. is the position of the Government in regard to the nation ? The public, we fear, has not been impressed— not nearly so much impressed as it ought to have been— by the goods sold and those displayed. It has not been told enough about them. The Labour and Liberal Parties have both been more active salesmen than the Unionists. What is required is that the Government should draw up and emphasize a full, clear, and positive statement of Unionist policy. What should be the nature of this statement ? To begin with, we are sure that nothing commended Mr. Baldwin to his countrymen more than his original declaration that he stood for 'a . " national " policy. His idea was that Unionists shoUld. work for comprehension, not for exclusiveness. He desired a policy which might be accepted by many men who had belonged to other parties, or who were, at lettat, not fixed in their allegiance. * His 'was a policy of general ameliciratiOn ; peace abroad ; peace in industry, and a higher standard of living for the wage-earner. This is the policy which is needed now as urgently as Mi. Baldwin has, in our judgment, done a great deal to make good his" wordS, but he might, to the adVantage of his own 'party and of the whole nation, show more zealously how all his schemes have had the right Motive, and how much there is of the same sort to come.

In foreign policy we &tee above everything else a goOd understanding with the United States. We are not among those who think that this is easy of attainment, or that it can be 'attained by • using phrases about- " brotherhood " or ccaisinship " or " hands across the sea." The habits of political' thought iii•'the• two countries are quite' different, yet nothing-seems more certain than that if the two great branches'of the English- speaking world fall out there will never be peace' in the world. Cannot this fact be *underlined 'persistently It is a vital fact. Everything depends upon it. Within the past feW years we have seen a series of disappoint- ments, due chiefly to clumsiness and want of imagination. Mr. Baldwin must have exercised great patienCe to' bear theni. It is unnecessary to recall them *all. The. result is what we are concerned" with; and-the result is that public opinion in America is rallying behind " navalism as never before.

We shall not dogmatize as' to whether we ought to concentrate upon a -rewriting of sea law—in regard 'to which many Aniericani theniselves say that no: Treaty - would ever pass the Senate—or as to whether we -shOuld be . more likely to succeed if we resumed the admittedly unpromising attempt to reach a common formula about cruisers. At present in America the one popular and significant question put to Englishmen is " What is your navy for ? It is vastly bigger than any European-navy: Against whom are you building ? It must be intended for use against us if, against, anybody." .

We are told that if we do not build up to a certain point . we are accepting a terrible " risk." From.. the point of view of the naval expert, whose job it is to consider risks, this may be admitted, but the expert argument leaves .aside the .argument of. statesmanship: There must always be a choice between, risks, and in this case we might avoid one risk only to accept -an infinitely greater. What could be worse than to make ourselves nearly bankrupt in order one day—as would.be inevitable —to bring down ,civilization in ruins, and to be ourselves permanently crippled or annihilated ? For, depend upon it,- in another .war ruin would. be. the common lot for both victors and vanquished. Mr. Baldwin, better- than any man we can think of, could. tell America how. determined the British nation isfor it is determined,. in spite of all the past fumbling—that this insanity shall not happen.

Negation is not enough. Mr. Churchill lately tried one of the forms of salesmanship which we have been condemning—abusing other people's goods instead of advertising his own. He tried to revive the Russian. bogy. That bogy will not do its work again, however alarmingly it may be dressed up, and however violently the strings may be pulled.. Disgust with the treacherous and shabby methods of the Soviet is common ground. We are all agreed about it. When everything has been admitted, however, there are may level-headed men- in this country who think that we cannot afford to forgo Russian trade„ and that the worst possible way of bring- ing fanatics to reason is to send them to Coventry: To take a minor instance of ineffectual ostracism, when the King of Serbia and Queen Draga were murdered we put a diplomatic ban upon Serbia. But it served no purpose ; it merely droVe the murderers to defiant introspection, and we found in' the end that the better way was to subject Serbia to the restraining contacts of the outer World. • • " • * As regards Germany, it cannot be doubted that the normal Englishnian ardently desires that the illogicality and the mischievous *nuisance of the continued occupation of the Rhineland' should be brought to an end. The Government are, we believe, hardly lesi eager thim-' selves. But has 'this ever been Made- sufficiently dear ? • .

In domestic affairs there are ample Opportunities' fOr the Goveininent, short of ' officious intervention, encourage • the. objects - which everybody Inowi Mr. Baldwin has at heart. Employers and the General' Council of the Trades Union Congress are at a critical juncture in their relations. Is it to be peace and fruitful co-operation, or the old masked enmity ? Unienisin stands or falls by Capitalisiii: Therefore. capitaliani must **. be made very positively attractive to the worker. The Unionist policy -Should be to prove to hini that there is a ladder -in every 'industry- which he sari 'scale by his • own efforts. The right motto is " Every man a capitalist." Has it' ever been made clear thz1-1' every Unionist Govern- ment mitSt necessarily act On that 'motto ? We fear that it has not. We -welcome" as a 'good omen, hOwever, the *, fact that Mr. G. Rowlands, ...fl • new 'Chairman of the National Union of COnseririttiVe' and -Unionist ASsoeia- tions, started life as a pit-boy. We trust that in the, next Parliament there will be many more Unionist working men.

It is good news that the Government intend, if they are returned to power, to introduce -a large Scheme of slum clearance. Mr. Neville Chamberlain's idea has.

always been that the ordinary housing shortage must be disposed of first. He must sap up gradually to the final stronghold of the housing question. So far he has been as good as his word. He has done wonders. Slums, however, are a gangrene which is poisoning the life of many great towns. If it is true that personal fecklessness creates slums, it is even more true that slums create every sort of demoralization, and a lethargic resignation to shocking conditions as though they were unchangeable. We hope that Mr. Chamberlain will compile a kind of Domesday Book of the slums in order that the nation may know—what it does not knOw now—the exact extent of the evil. It may be said that all the necessary informa-,. tion has already been supplied to the Ministry. If that be true we can only say.that here is a first-class example of bad political salesmanship. When once the public knows what has got to be done, it will trust the Party which. promises to do it and which includes the men who knows how to do it. Germany .in the days of her profoundest depression gave the whole world an example by setting her house in order. She freely scrapped old industrial plant, and set up modern industrial plant against the day when her trade should revive: What are the unemployed but a standing warning that we now have the same opportu- uity ? Trade seems to be slowly reviving, and there may never again be such a surplus of labour that could be turned on to put our house in order. There are 1,750,000 acres of sodden land, classed as agricultural, which are waiting to be drained. There are new roads to be built and innumerable old roads to be widened. Then there is emigration: Everybody says—and this is true so far as it goes.—that the difficulties are very great, and that the Dominions will not receive unsuitable men. Yet the fact remains that the old pioneering spirit has lost its force. It is almost inconceivable that young unattached men of spirit would rather -starve at home than make their fortunes overseas. Yet so it is. IS there not an opening here for Mr. Baldwin to preach the great truth, peculiarly appropriate to the " Unionist Party, that the British Conimonwealth of Nations is a family, that every place within its borders is " home " ? Will. not the Prime Minister clothe 'out -RS our Salesman-. i -Chief ?