Mexborough & Swinton Times – Saturday 21 May 1921
There is a gentle spirit of optimism abroad. All the gossip is of unofficial discussions and private conversations. All sorts of eminent people are trotting to the nearest newspaper offices with panaceas for the coal trouble.
Labour leaders have been seen at Chequers. Mr. Frank Hodges is in Yorkshire. The railway and transport workers are “marking time.” Peace is in the air.
We have no very definite evidence to support this wish which is father to the thought; this pathetic hope that some way may be found of releasing these millions of men now in the bonds of idleness, and permitting them to go to the work and wages that are waiting for them. But we may be excused, after seven weeks of the coal dispute for catching eagerly at the slightest straw.
Mr. Lloyd George has made it clear that he will call a conference the moment he is satisfied that the parties are sincerely ready to settle. The conference has not vet been called, and it is not all plain sailing. We have Mr. Roebuck, at Wath, talking about York shire “fighting alone” rather than submit to a system of district bargaining. We do not quite take the point, but it sounds like rhetoric, for the miners have been offered a national wages board. On the other banal, we hear of mutinous owners declaring that they will not be bound by terms the Mining Association may choose to offer, and will reserve the right to make their own terms.
Well, God tend them all a better mind. If anybody had any idea that there is anything glorious or noble in industrial warfare, he is surely by now disillusioned. The terrible misfortune of this dispute will have its bright aide if that disillusionment is general. We hope that employers have learned that trade problems are not to be solved by crude hacking at wages. We hope that trade union leaders have learned that nothing is to be gained by epileptic antics. And we hope—and believe – that the public has learned invaluable lessons of patience and self-reliance in the face of industrial disturbance and dislocation.
Vast numbers of defeated and impoverished peoples as well as vast numbers who are triumphant but almost equally impoverished, have learned finally that war does not pay. Those who own, control, and use the machinery of production must surely by now have learned the same vital lesson. If this thunderstorm has really cleared and sweetened the atmosphere, we may look for genial weather yet.