7 MARCH 1931, Page 5

The Week in Parliament THE present situation is extraordinary, and

certainly -I- unparalleled in British politics.. A minority Government, clinging desperately to office, is maintained there with the utmost difficulty by a small and divided opposition group, which sees in the avoidance of an early general election the sole condition of its own survival.

In the circumstances one might have anticipated a growing stability on the part of the administration, complete homogeniety at least amongst those who nominally support it, and something in the nature of an alliance between Labour and the Liberal party. Nothing of the kind has happened. Mr. MacDonald continues to shed ministers and back-benchers right and left. With the notable exception of foreign affairs, his policy has broken . down at every point and to-day commands the approval of no section of the community.

Two of his principal legislative measures this session have already been withdrawn, to the satisfaction of all but Sir Charles -Trevelyan and the TALC., and the third is doomed: • Yet -he goes on. And the explanation of this pheno- menon would appear to be in the fact that there is visibt. at the moment no very satisfactory alternative.

Sir Oswald Mosley—malignly struck down by Mum at a critical moment—would have difficulty in forming a cabinet out of his four supporters.

Mr. Lloyd George's little band is under the constant threat of final disruption at the hands of Sir John Simon, and he does not yet command sufficient confidence amongst the Labour rank and file to make him acceptable as leader of a " cartel des gauchos."

And the Conservative party, although far more solid than the other two, is upset about India, disturbed by Lord Beaverbrook, uncertain about policy, and uneasy about its own leadership.

Mr. Baldwin's position is one of peculiar difficulty, but it is clear that if he wishes to retain it, he will have to fight harder than he has done of late.

MeanWhile the bitter truth remains—that there is no single man in this country sufficiently sure of himself to give the lead for. which we arc all waiting.

. This makes the electorate impatient with Parliament and politicians—a feeling which Sir Oswald Mosley will assiduously foster,. for it is the strongest card in his hand. But arc we really worse served by our politicians than any other country ? It is greatly to be doubted.

We are now in the depths of a world economic crisis unprecedented in length and intensity. Yet there is less actual distress amongst the poorer classes of the com- munity than ever before, and no starvation. In addition, more people are maintained at a higher standard of living than before the War, when we were at the zenith of our prosperity ; and it is generally conceded that when the tide turns we shall be in a better position to take advantage of it than any of our rivals.

We have been alternately assured that the only hope of salvation lies in economy, a development loan of at least two hundred millions, tariffs, free trade, savings on the part of the community, personal expenditure, no interference with industry, the reorganization of industry by the State, currency inflation, and the strictest fulfilment of all our obligations.

It is perhaps better that Mr. MacDonald should carry on for a bit, and be permitted to do nothing. He is no Napoleon. But he likes being Prithe Minister and he likes doing-nothing., It makes the House of Commons rather ridiculous--; the debate last Tuesday on a guillotine motion for a Bill which everyone knew had not the slightest chance of reaching the statute book was too hollow a sham to attract any attention.