Mexborough & Swinton Times – Saturday 25 January 1941
Calling All Classes
Mr. Churchill and Mr. Bevin shed light on the great man power problem this week. Although the numbers engaged on war production already exceed the peak reached in this country towards the close of the last war, we need not look far for reasons why our industrial mobilisation should be much more rapid and exhaustive. Mechanised warfare demands a far higher ratio of the industrial to the military.
The industrial resources of France (outside the war zone) were used for us in the last war, and are now being used against us. The industrial and economic resources of Holland, Belgium, Norway and Sweden, denied to Germany in the last war except in the way of Trade, conditioned by the British blockade, are now dominated and controlled by Germany. Italy was our ally in the last war, and her industries, for what they are worth, were at our disposal. Turkey was against us then, and is now nominally our ally, but industrially negligible. Russia until the third year of the last war was on our side, and though in material rather a lability than an asset, was of no value to Germany at any time, even after Brest Litovsk ; to-day the Bolsheviks are rendering important aid to the Axis, though with purpose to add fuel to flame which the Soviet hopes will consume all the belligerents.
Japan, formerly for us, is now against us, waiting for the opportunity to repeat the fell assassin stroke of Italy. The United States, our ultimate arsenal, may at last supply munitions in decisive amount, but we must pass through great tribulations before that stage is reached, and meanwhile must continue to rely in the main on the resources, not even of the Empire but of these tiny islands. That is why there must soon be a great new mobilisation of industrial man-power that will bring into service every useful man and woman. It appears that recruitment to the Forces is proceeding to a known limit, that reserved occupations will be drastically revised, and a boundary between the essential and non-essential, more sharply defined.
Mr. Bevin tells us that although there are still more than half a million men unemployed in this country the reservoir of labour from this source is dry, a state of things that defies comprehension. The labour for the great new war factories, now coming into production, must be furnished very largely from misused or unused reserves. Industries and businesses judged to be non-essential will be drastically denuded and women will be encouraged if not compelled to come forward in their thousands and play the part that women played in the munitions crisis of the last war.
The Services will be asked to “comb and scrape” to avoid using fighting men on jobs that can be done by men and women unfit for fighting. Fit men up to 60 will be expected to register, without distinction of industrial or professional rank—and may find themselves allotted to war work. These are the grim facts mildly conveyed by Mr. Bevin and it is a harsh prospect. The necessity for full, swift, and vigorous use of the whole of our available manpower (man for this purpose including woman) is fairly obvious to every citizen, and whatever sacrifices the State may demand there will be the same staunch response with which the civilians of this country have met the direct assaults of the enemy, who have slain as many of them as of our warriors.
We wish we were as confident in the power of Mr. Bevin to organise and lead the latent force of unyoked manpower as we are of the readiness of the citizens of this country to do their duty wherever it lies, during our progress through Mr. Churchill’s “dark and dangerous valley.” The bold measures hinted at by Mr Bevin have been dangerously delayed for it has long been apparent that the last ounce of our strength will be taken up in the struggle which lies immediately ahead.