What Stand Will the British Premier Take After the War?
Labor and Capital---and Lloyd George
What Stand Will the British Premier Take After the War?
AT present time Lloyd George has the support of the British Conservatives, but what about after the war? Will the Labor David who in the past so successfully challenged the Goliath of privilege return to his radical propaganda that the war interrupted? In such a contingency will the Conservatives who now call him the new Pitt go back to their old hatred of him and again fight the “little Wefsh Attorney?" Writing in the New York Sun, Judson C. Welliver asserts his belief that U>oyd George will enter on the period of post-war reconstruction with as keen an enthusiasm for reform as ever b^ fore, but with a broadened viewpoint. He says:
As long ago as March 6 the Premier in receiving a deputation of representatives of the Labor party made a speech in private setting forth his ideas about reconstruction after the war. At the time this speech was not given out for publication, though it was understood to have beert a remarkable utterance. So much discussion about it ensued and so many differing constructions were placed upon it that more than two months after its de-^ liveranee the Premier gave his consent that it be published in f«IL * ’
Mr. Lloyd George very plainly told the deputation that the woyld was going to be made ever after this war and that if he were
appointed as adviser to the working classes he would recommend them to adopt a programme of audacities. He begged them to break away from all thought of returning to prewar conditions, urged that they give their best thought to devising new means of accomplishing ends in the conditions which will prevail after peace returns.
Mr. Lloyd George is not generally counted a "Teat master of the art of generalization. He deals best with various specific propositions in a specific way. But in this instance he did venture to generalize, with the result that the labor union people believe he is going to favor a programme of industrial reorganization which will be highly satisfactory -to their most radical elements: while on
the other hand the Conservatives think they can find in the speech the grounds for hope that Mr. Lloyd George is pretty well disaffected with the present methods of organized labor, and prepared to undertake sweeping and very difficult reforms in the relations between labor and capital.
As a matter of fact people with the best opportunities for understanding the Premier’s mind believe that both the Laborites and the Conservatives are correct. The Premier has in mind that he is going to reform both. The ideal of industrial democracy almost always comes early into the conversations of those men who are credited with most ’influencing the Premier and most accurately understanding what is going on in hisveryactive brain.
While he waa Minister of Munitions Mr. Lloyd George learned a lot of things about the narrowness, the unreasonableness and the bigotry of trade unionism as it is organized to-day. It is a common observation that
the two most illiberal forces in England are the Tory capitalists and the extreme labor elements. Yet if England is to be restored to its industrial and commercial predominance the restoration must be accomplished through an intelligent and mutual advantageous c«> operation of these two forces.
Mr. Lloyd George, while ut the Ministry n Munitions indicated rapidly that he had become imbued with a perception ¡of exactly this situation. He is as anxious as any man that the condition of the working classes should be improved. He has no more sympathy for the Tory capitalists, than he had when as the “little Welsh lawyer” he prepared, introduced. slaked his political career upon and fought to victorious acceptance his now famous budget. Likewise he has no less sympathy for the nu-n who work with their hand* and brains, and when occasion demands likewise fight with their hands and brains, to main: -in British leadership in the world. But he has become convinced, seemingly, that neither of the&e classes has all the right on its side; that neither of them is capable of organizing a programme of reconstruction for the long future must be to a considerable extent forced upon both these groups of ^rreconcilables.
The best analysis of the Premier’s speech of March f*. which has recently been made public, is that which assumes tnat the Premier is warning all elements of the need for mutual concessions and for a very liberal disposition. He wants them all to realize' that the national interest is superior oven in peace times to the interest of any cllass; just as everybody has recognized it to be in war times. The Premier seems to have in mind a good deal of readjustment that is going to shock Radicals and Tories about equally. He believes that it is going to b« good for both-
This speech of March 6 has a ring in it that is reminiscent of the Llovd George of budget times, defying all critics, insisting unon his own experiment, demanding a fair chance to trv new’ thines even though these may not entirely satisfy any particular faction.
Mr. Lloyd George does noj intend to turn the country over to th«* capitalists, nor. to put its enterprises too far under the control of the Laborites. Just as in America the interest of the public has come to b" regarded as superior to that of either the “orodu—’r r»r thn “consumer.” so Mr. Lloyd George has h-en formulating a theory -that In England the interest of the nation and the emnire must precedence over th-»t of either caoi-
t-l or labor. His scheme of reorganization after the war. which h» franklv characterizes .as an “audacity.” is likelv to he regarded as "'idaeious from the standpoint of either of the elements he i« trving to reconcile
Her" is what Mr. Lloyd George has permitted to b" published as the text of Kis addr"« to the l-bor deputation:
“There is no doubt at all that the present war some of us may think it is a; go.od war ansi some of us may think it is a very iniquitous one. but for better or for worse I think we are all agreed that it presents ian opportunity for the reconstruction of the industrial and economic conditions of this country such as has never been presented in the life t;if probably the world.
"The whole state of society is mqre or less molten, and you can stamp upon that moltep mass almost anything, so long as you do si> with firmness and determination. It is. therefore. very important that the imprint which is left is a clear one,.and one which we shall be able to read in the future with some mea^ sure of pleasure and inspiration. | That in why you are doing wisely if I' may say so. as representatives of the party which hat very largely in its custody the future of thu land, in taking thought months jcertainlv months beforehand for what thç future of the country ought to be when the war is over.
“There is no time to lose. I am not here to prophesy when the war will be over. T saw that very competent persons yesterday in the House of Commons indicated the improbability of the war coming to an end this year. I do not challenge their judgment. But whether it comes to an end this yeat or even if it does not come to an end this year, every minute of the time will be spent well which is devoted to thinking out the conditions under which tu.c millions of lives which will survive
the war ure to be spent in this land for generations to come. For 1 firmly believe that what is known as the after the war settlement is the settlement that will direct the destinies of all clases for some generations to come.
“The country will be prepared for bigger things immediately after the war than it will be when it begins to resume the normal sort of clash of selfish interests which always comes with the ordinary workaday business affairs and concerns of the world. I believe the country will be in a* more enthusiastic mood, in a more exalted mood, for the time being—in a greater mood for doing big things: and unless the opportunity is seiz'd immediately after the war I believe it will pass away, I will not say forever, but it will pass away far beyond either your ken or mine, and perhaps beyond ouf children’s. Therefore, you are doing well in giving your time and thought to considering, and considering deeply, and considering on a bold scale, on a daring scale, what you are going to do after the war.
“I am not afraid of the audacity of these proposals. I believe the settlement after the war will succeed in proportion to its audacity. The readier we are to cut away from ♦he past, the better are we likely to succeed -and I recommend this even to Mr. Hutchinson. I hope that every class will not be hankering back to pre-yrar conditions. I just dron that as a hint, and I hope the working class will not he the class that will set such an example, because if every class insists on getting back to pre-war conditions, then God help this country! I say so in all solemnity.
“Therefore what I should be looking forward to. I pm certain, if I could have presumed to haVe been the adviser of the working classes, would be this: I should say to them audacitv is the thing for you. Think out new ways: think out new methodsthink out even new ways of dealing with old problems. Don’t always be thinkim» of getting back to where you were before the war: get a really new World”
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