LORD ADDISON PLANS NATIONALISED AGRICULTURE BUT FAILS TO SATISFY THE FARMER
Front Our Agricultural Correspondent.
AGRICULTL RE IS ACTUALLY IN THE NEWS. FEARS OF WAR AND NATIONAL STARVATION, COUPLED WITH THE INHERENT JUSTICE OF THE FARMERS' CASH, HAVE BROUGHT THIS CINDERELLA J-kiNIONG THE I NDUSTRIES INTO THE LI M ELIGHT.
CATHOLIC VARSITY WOMEN Oxford and
Politicians make love to her, or, at. least, fake steps to prevent the " other feller " possessing er. By playing them off against one another, as in the Norwich episode, it is possible that she may at last come into her own. One of her most persistent wooers of late is the Labour Party, which, though city-bred, is not without claims on the countryman's vote, dedicated by a long tradition to the Conservative interest.
Anybody who wants to know what those claims are and all about the Labour progTamme for Agriculture would do well to get a book just published !)y the Left Book Club at the price (to the general public) of 7s. 6d. It is entitled A Policy for British Agriculture an is by the Rt. Hon. Lc rd Addison of Stalling. borough, who was Minister of Agriculture in rie last 1 Jabour Administrat ion.
Grasp of the ,Difficulties Lord Addi• .41 has some personal acquaintaace with farming which enables him to t. . on the subject more realistically than .1_ the case with others of his school.
I sense in his pages a genuine love for the land and a real knowledge of its needs.
Moreover, his experience in office has given him an appreciation of the difficulties which lie in the path of the reformer; he has the moderation of the practical administrat, He wastes no time. in destructive criticism ; his book, after describing th present state of affairs, makes an honest attempt at reconstruction. From such a one much might be expected. Ile has many of the qualities of the man for whom the situation is crying out. As the representative of a party which may one day be in a position to carry out his suggestions, he r has a great oppo tiity.
Party Policy at Fault
.lad yet h. fails to satisfy, and his failure, of course, is that of the party he represents. He goes wrong where so many of his generation go wrong. As one who belongs to that generation, let me try to explain.
We who were young at the end of the last century were made terribly away'hut, as regards social and economic matters, the world was in a sad meas. We excelled in picturing the middle and castigating those who appeared to think that it would somehow right itself. We admired Crane's drawings of the husbandman in a ruralised civilisation and talked vaguely of the "Merrie England " that was to be under a Socialist Government..
When asked for our remedy, we replied glibly, " Nationalisation." The panacea was simply stated and the word saved us a lot of mental labour. Moreover, the programme had obvious advantages over the alternative of muddling through. It served, at any rate, to register our discontent and to give revolt a flag around which to rally.
More Realistic To-day
But since then things have happened. Nationalisation in the Socialist sense is no longer the only alternative to muddling through. Another philosophy, another system has come into the field. It is less simple because it is synthetic, but it is more realistic, and what is more, It is found to work—in Portugal, for Instance.
It does not propose to make the State the supreme landlord, and therefore avoids all those troublesome questions. about compensation which used to agitate us and still agitate Lord Addison.
It postulates a Government that does govern, a system which conceives of Industry as demanding control, and of seems able to create a patriotic spirit applied to industry that serves as a dynamic capable of changing the national organisation into an organism.
It is this philosophy and this 8:118tOM of which Lord Addison, like so many whose social enthusiasm was horn at the same time as his, appears Co be quite ignorant.
In a Different Way
The evidence of that ignorance is found in the fact that the very desirable results, which Lord Addison believes are to be secured only by nationalising the land, have been already obtained merely by national control.
A considerable part of his book is devoted, for instance, to the need of stabilising prices, restricting imports, creating marketing-boards, providing ameliorations for rural life and so on. But all the things he mentions as needing to be done are being effected by Governments which have left the original owners in possession and have, while regulating industry and coordinating its various branches, managed to stimulate individual effort. It is even being done, to some extent, with a maximum of friction, in this country.
And the trUly funny thing is that the initiative in inaugurating the new system was taken by the party to which Lord Addison himself belongs.
If that party will proceed along the path indicated by the Agricultural Marketing Act and other measures of the same kind (due largely to the writer of this book) and forget its nineteenthcentury slogan (which served its purpose but is now out of date), the accession to power of a Labour Government might be hailed by the agricultural community with joy.