FATAL ITCH FOR PLANNING
By STANLEY B. JAMES
The Land and the National Planning of Agriculture. 2d.
What Labour has done for Agriculture. By George Dallas. Id.
Labour's Policy for our Countryside. By Lord Addison. id.
Labour's Policy of Food for All. By Thomas Johnson, M.P. Id.
(Published by the Labour Party, Transport House, Smith Square, London, S.W.I.) When a Party with such marked urban traditions as that of Labour champions agriculture, suspicions are aroused that the condition of the countryside is being explaited for political purposes.
The rural voter may be pardoned for asking what it is that makes a Party whose strength is found in the great industrial centres issue a programme of agricultural reform. Even if the sincerity of those concerned be granted he may still hesitate to commit his case to men the bulk of whom have no experience of farming.
The suspicion as to political motives may or may not be justifiable but the pamphlets under review suggest an even stronger motive. The Socialist itch for planning welcomes any opportunity for drawing up paper schemes. It would plan medical services, reorganisation of the army or a revolution in education with equal impartiality.
Artists and Foot-and-Mouth
The fact that the attention of the Party has been turned to problems connected with the land gives no more guarantee that it can deal with them adequately than an artist's fondness for painting cattle assures us of his ability to deal with an outbreak of footand-mouth disease. As the latter's interest in cattle is only in their artistic possibilities, so Labour's interest in agriculture is chiefly in the fact that it affords scope for applying the principle of Nationalisation.
The pamphlets in question leave the impression that the writers are more concerned with exemplifying their panacea than with agriculture as agriculture. This impression is strengthened when the arguments used on behalf of Nationalisation are reviewed. Their weakness is seen in the fact that they confuse national ownership and national control. A large measure of control through vocational bodies is quite consistent with private ownership but this difference is overlooked and arguments based on the undoubted advantage of national control are used to support national ownership.
A more sympathetic approach to agriculture would have made the writers aware of the difficulties inherent in any plan for the creation of State farms. Russia's experience should have served as a warning on this Nine Labour Widens its Outlook Nevertheless, these publications enable us to do justice to the considerable share the Party has had in bringing about those changes. Ti is quite true to say, as Mr. George Dallas says, that "the Agricultural Marketing Act was the first revolutionary step to putting the marketing of British agricultural produce on a sound business basis." The Party's advocacy of the standard price is to its credit, nor is this the only case in which Labour took the initiative in reforms that have since gained wide support among all interested in agricul ture.
One of the most striking features of poli
LConvent of the Presentation WOKINGHAM (BERKS). Boarding and Day School for Girls. Preparatory Scheel for Boys. Pupils prepared for London friatricula.tion, Oxford Locals, Music, Art, Elocution Exams. Entire charge taken of pupils from abroad. Prospectus from the Rev. Mother. tical life is the way in which Labour politicians are widening their outlook. Though we may disagree with their foreign policy we cannot deny that they are showing an interest in foreign affairs that is new and which, developed along realistic tines, will make the Party more eligible for office.
Similarly, an increasing perception of the importance of the land and realisation of the way in which the countryside has been sacrificed to the development of urban industries and overseas financial interests puts Labour in a better position to control our destinies wisely than when it seemed exclusively concerned with urban matters. Any Party which claims to guide the country through the difficulties of the coming years must have a just appreciation of the claims urged on behalf of a self-sufficiency policy.