THE latest news about India is not
encouraging. It is not very easy for most of us at this moment of crisis to sympathise with Indian leaders who continue to put obstacles in the way of a generous interim wartime settlement. Yet on their side it must he said that there is something rather ludicrous about the hasty change of front (under pressure of events) from an outlook which involved so recently the gaoling of Indian leaders and the new outlook which can envisage that art ex-prisoner should become Indian Defence Minister, What are Indians to say of a British rule whieti was sincerely convinced such a short time ago that the right place for Indian patriots (not wholly devoted to the British cause) was prison? It is scarcely any wonder that they are not easily satisfied by a nervous spate of promises and pledges, described by Lord Halifax as " proving the sincerity of the British Government." How far our governing classes have really changed their point of view about non-British races may fairly be tested by the automatic reaction to the Burmese who are consistently described as " traitors " and " quislings" in radio and press because they do not take our side. All the concessions in the world are elot worth a real change of heart and mind. What we have to learn is that other countries—and, not least, countries of the East—have a perfect right to make up their own minds as to where their own interests lie. It is for us to prove to them that their future welfare is dependent upon voluntary alliance with us. If we fail, this does not make them traitors; it is our misfortune. If the Indians as a whole could be convinced that this was our real mind, the whole problem would be smoothed. And there is something to be said for Gandhi's view that we ought openly to acknowledge our errors of the past.
STRASSER AND GERMANY THE name of Otto Strasser is evidently A not popular among German circles in this country. Our interest in him. we must repeat, is founded on his seven-point programme which seems to us a very reasonable and sensible basis upon which to think out the proper position of Germany in the modern world; it is in no way founded upon either his past career or his present character—as reported al twentieth hand. We think it useless to go on for ever with vague generalities and never to get down to something like a plan within the framework of which one can begin to think ahead. At the same time it is our view that a plan for Getmany must come from Germans who are fundamentally in sympathy with the Christian outlook. Probably only the best Germans in Germany itself, Men and women who have tasted the evil of Hitlerism and discovered for themselves whether there is any good at all in some of his ideas and actions, are in a position to plan for the best in the future. But meanwhile if there are Germans in this country who are able to offer a comprehensive and sound plan, let them give it to us.
Our attention has also been drawn to a new pamphlet by Strasser entitled The Gangsters Around Hitler. We egree that it is not a very pleasant piece of writing, evincing personal spite and playing to a morbid sensation-loving public ,rather than tackling the constructive questions
of the hour. It falls very far short of previous more serious books.
WARSHIPS WEEK WITH the end of London's warship week—as with the end of warship weeks elsewhere—the citizen is surprised and indeed mystified to learn that his contribution per head amounts to a substantial figure, while the tender of cheques for astronomical figures by insurance companies and the like, which are presumably supposed to have been handed over out of pure patriotism, have probably merely increased his bewilderment. But it is improbable that the absurd and dangerous aspects of the whole business have been apparent to him, and there has been little criticism of the costly ballyhoo in' which the authorities thought fit to indulge in a time of desperate scarcity of resources. The tragedy of it is that, if the powers concerned had only had the sense to see it, there really was a possible line of propaganda which might have been extremely effective. It would have run something like this: " These vast and fantastic sums which we are now able to mobilise are built up out of innumerable induced and enforced acts of abstinence by ordinary men like yourself. They all derive from the margin between total costs and total selling price and it is you that have called them Into being. We now call upon you as free men to increase these sums by further voluntary sacrifice." That would have been a line free from all implication of intellectual dishonesty. But apart from this, there were practices which no sort of propaganda could justify. Thus during the course of March the banks appear to, have withdrawn nearly £100 millions of low interest bearing Treasury deposit receipts and to have bought war loan with the proceeds of which they lent the money to their custo mers to buy back from them. The result of this is merely to increase the interest charge against the taxpayer without exacting any further real abstinence front anybody. Cannot an end be put to this preposterous game of make-believe? After all we are no longer the complete greenhorns in these matters that we were twenty-five years ago.
FALSE PROSPERITY WE sincerely hope that the so-called buoyancy of the revenue will this time not induce the orgy of self-congratulation which is usually associated with such a development. It is true that revenue has exceeded last April's estimates by £287 millions. This is to some extent connected with a mere matter of book-keeping related to the War Damage Act, by which expenditure under this bead is automatically balanced by a similar entry under receipts. E.P.T. has brought in much more than was anticipated, which merely proves that prices in general, particularly for war supplies, have bccn fixed somewhat higher than the ideal figure. The harm clone by this is not very great, though it probably involves an undesirable swelling in bankcreated funds, The most serious item is the unexpectedly large figure in the receipts from Customs and Excise. This can only mean that the consumption of goods liable to duty has been much higher than was anticipated, and that constitutes a ground not for complacency but for the reverse. There is no excuse at the present juncture for looking upon such duties as revenue producing. Their object must he restrictive pure and simple. The fact that the Treasury has received this money simply means that our expenditure on spirits, tobacce, petrol and the like has been much too high, and there is no more reason 'to be pleased about this than about the swelling of public funds by fines imposed on racketeers.
SATIRE OR FACT ?
READING in last Sunday's Observer " that it is right that steps should be taken to make it easier for married women to take employment " and learning from the same source that " the National Health Insurance encourages women to stay at work until too shortly before their babies are born and to return to work too soon after," it occurred to us to make a suggestion. Since babies interfere so seriously with industry, why not penalise motherhood'? It has been remarked that our descent into the abyss is in these days so rapid that satire is soon overtaken by fact, and so it proved in this case. A Times correspondent actually advances the argument that, as children born now can be of no military use for at least eighteen years, it is needless to safeguard motherhood. " Before rejecting this," she says, " let us consider the effect in womanpower. If births were temporarily cut by one-third, there would be nearly 200,000 fewer in a year. This saving would include approximately the equivalent of the full-time services of 33,000 would-be mothers (two weeks before confinement and six weeks after); plus 25,000 midwives or nurses (at 80 confinements a year); plus 40,000 nursery or other helpers (one to each five children). The last figure is cumulative during the next few years, but even ignoring this, the total saving in full-time service is that of not fewer than 92,000, or approximately one per two births." In other words, the fewer births, the more women freed for warwork. The arithmetic seems to be correct, but as to the wisdom of this proposal, comment is superfluous.
JOURNALISTS MISS A CHANCE APROPOS of Mr. Herbert Morrison's actions in regard to the Daily Mirror and the Daily Worker, the executive of the National Union of Journalists, meeting in Leeds, submitted a resolution stating that they had carefully examined the Home Secretary's statement on March 26, promising most sympathetic consideration of a proposal to establish some body representative of the newspaper profession, including newspaper proprietors and the two organisations of journalists, to ensure the maintenance of a proper sense of responsibility in the press and control irresponsible newspapers and journalists." The weak point in the scheme lies in the fact that -the appointments were to be made by the Home Secretary himself and not by the profession. But in rejecting the idea this was not what the resolution mentioned. The opposition to the proposal was based on the grounds that it would inevitably lead to a still further invasion of the freedom of the press." A further resolution asked that Mr. Morrison would remove the ban on the Daily Worker.
It should be observed that the proposal was to make journalists themselves and the proprietors of newspapers responsible for the decencies of the press. If carried out it would exemplify that decentralisation of responsibility and that endowment of each profession with authority to safeguard its own moral prestige which is so much needed, The National Union of Iournalists has lost a magnificent opportunity.