8 SEPTEMBER 1939, Page 2

South Africa's Decision

The victory of General Smuts over General Hertzog in the House of Assembly at Capetown by 8o votes to 67 brings South Africa into line with the rest of the Dominions, for it means that the Union, like them, will immediately be at war with Germany. General Hertzog's policy of a neutrality benevolent to Great Britain was impossible. This country, said Abraham Lincoln, cannot live half-slave and half-free. Just as little could a British Dominion live half at peace and half at war. It is well that South Africa's decision should be thus clear-cut. The special circumstances prevailing in the Dominion, with its large Dutch population, its tendencies towards republicanism and its aggressive Nationalist Party, are well understood in this country, but there was never serious doubt that if the occasion arose South Africa would align itself with the Empire. Though the Governor General rightly refused General Hertzog's request for a dissolution and called on General Smuts to form a government, it is unlikely that the late Prime Minister will assume an attitude of active opposition. But at the best General Smuts' task will not be easy. His majority will be narrow, though he should be sure of the support of the Dominion and Labour parties. And while Natal, predominantly British, welcomes the vote of Parliament wholeheartedly, the Tranavaal and the Orange Free State may think differently. But General Smuts, to whom the whole Empire is under a special debt at this moment, is a skilled and experienced parliamentarian and should be able to hold the advantage he has gained.