Sir James Sexton, now an octogenarian, was interviewed by our special representative at Margate on Wednesday. Sir James disclaimed ability to make any further useful contribution to the solution of social or industrial problems.
When he seconded the vote of thanks to the Mayor of Margate for the civic welcome extended on Monday to the delegates attending the congress, Sir James said that he was singing his "swan song." but one has only to talk with him to be. persuaded that, though he is in his eightyfirst year, he will see other congresses ■ et, and play a prominent part in them.
Speaking of the earnest efforts to seCOM a peaceful settlement of the haloAbyssinian dispute, Sir James said: "I rejoice at Mr. Lansbury's broad-mindedness in approaching his Holiness the Pope on this grave subject. All reasonable men must of necessity admit that in view of all the existing circumstances the recent statement of his Holiness was the most satisfactory that could possibly be 4:erected. The expressions of the various religious bodies, especially the admirable capositions given by his Grace the Archbishop of Westminster, meet with my heartfelt approval; for in my opinion the threatened invasion of Abyssinia by Mussolini is a criminally aggressive act, no matter what the faults of that country may be. It is a flagrant outrage on common decency, particularly when having enslaved Italian democracy Mussolini makes one of his excuses that his intention is to abolish slavery in that part of A frica.
Has Met Mussolini
"I know Mussolini," went on Sir James. "t met him in Stuttgart at the Trade Unionist Socialist International conference in 1907 where, as I understood from the interpretation of the speech he then made, he was a 'physical force anarchist.' On that occasion he bitterly condemned constitutional government and democracy. He furthermore attacked the British Labour movement as being far too tame, but he was clearly vanquished in debate by Keir Hardie and others who replied
It) him. Rising later, Mussolini almost apologised for the outburst of which he had been guilty. Mr. Ramsay MacDonald was also at that conference. In fact, Mussolini was chairman of one of the sessions. He was a young fellow then. probably in his early twenties.
"lt is indeed highly regrettable," said Sir James, "that in this sad old world of ours, where there is so much teaching of Christian principles. we should be faced with she possibility of another Armageddon. It is to be sincerely hoped that influence of Catholics and other C'hristians will prevail and prevent repetition of 1914.
"If the League of Nations is not influential in this case then its efficacy for good will be inevitably destroyed."
Sir James Sexton has written his autobiogri !thy. It will shortly be published under the tide of "The Evolution of an Agitator." It promises to be an interesting oory.
"I was reared and bred in tha slums of it. Helens," Ile told our representative, "which I later represented in the House al' Commons continuously for fifteen sears. I left school at the age of nine to help my widowed mother to pay the rent. My earnings were 2s. 6d. a week. For that I laboured in a glass works day and night. I was discharged later, probably because I agitated for better conditions. I then stowed away in a boat and went to
sea. I was ten years at sea. I then became a Liverpool dock labourer and met with an accident at the docks which rendered me unconscious for six weeks. Years later, I managed to secure the appointment of a Royal Commission to enquire into the pievention of accidents and safety of life at the nation's docks, and as a result of that enquiry regulations were framed to fulfil the purposes for which the Commission had been set up. The regulations were not only adopted at every port in England but have been accepted internationally."
io).unr the Independent Labour Party in 1893. Sit James became parliamentary candidate for Ashton-under-Lyne twa years later and lost by 400 votes in 14,000. Eventually he was returned for St. Helens in 1918.
In 1927 he was presented by the King with the C.B.E., and received the Order of Knighthood in 1930 for his public scrVices.
Last November he was elected a Freeman of the City of Liverpool on the proposal of his political opponent.
He adopted a resolute stand for years against the principle in the Labour programme which supported the abolition of religious teaching in voluntary schools and favoured the establishing of a national s)stem of secular education. He succeeded in having that principle expunged from the Labour Party's programme in 1906. Formerly, he had been expelled from two trade unionist conferences for proposing this amendment.