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Newspaper Page Text
SATURDAY, OCT. 16th, 1020
The Councils of Action
By Max Worth.
European Correspondent for the Federated Press.
"How strong are the Councils of Action?"
I asked George Lansbury, Editor of the Daily
Herald and one of the members of the Central
"Strong enough to stop the war with Rus
sia," he answered. "Strong enough to tie up every
important British industry within forty-eight
hours. And let me tell you, the Councils are not
going out of business until this country has made
peace with the Government of the Soviets."
Mi. Lansbury then explained how the Central
Council had come into being at the criticalhour
when it seemed certain that the Government was
about to declare open warfare against the Rus
sians; when indeed, it was supposed that the
Government had sent a drastic ultimatum to Rus
sia. The Parliamentary Committee of the Trade
Union Congress, the Executive Committee of the
Labor Party and the Parliamentary Labor Party
each selected five members of the total of fifteen.
'The Council, so constituted, was called the
"Labor and Russia Council of Action." Later,
nine other men were added to the Council making
its present membership twenty-four. A special
Labor Congress, summoned to consider the emer
gency, endorsed the Council and gave it full power
to take such action as might seem necessary to
prevent the war with Russia.
Local Councils Spring Up.
"Meanwhile local Councils of Action have
been organized in some four hundred of the prin
cipal industrial centres of the United Kingdom.
The movement has grown like wild-fire and has
behind it the unanimous support of practically
every branch of the working class movement in
"The British people do not want to fight a
war with the workers of Russia. They are firmly
convinced that the Russians have the right to set
up the kind of government that suits them. The
Council of Action was organized at the psycholog
ical moment when it rounded up all of that tidal
wave of intense, feeling.
'The real strength of the Council lies in the
fact that it holds an economic mandate. It has
power to cause direct and immediate action on
the field of production."
The Position Of The Government.
"What is the position of the Government with
regard to the Council ?" I asked.
"The Government holds that it is unconstitu
tional", answered Mr. Lansbury "that it is in fact
a Soviet. Consequently they have launched a sav
age attack against the Council and everyone con
nected with it. And that is exactly what we need
ed to make our ground sure. The more the Gov
ernment attacks the Council as a workingman's
soviet, the more the workers will feel that they
have to support it. The best service the capital
ists can do it to go on with the attack.
"Take the case of the Herald. Before they
printed that story about our having been sub
sidized by the Russians with Chinese bonds, our
circulation was around three hundred thousand.
On that attack, we went up thirty thousand. Dur
ing the last few days, we have been attacked
again this time by the leader of the press.
Yesterday we printed close on to three hundred
and seventy-five thousand."
The Next Step Forward
"Organized labor must form a general staff,
or must delegate to some other authority the pow
er to organize and to act in all matters concern
ing the welfare of labor. Capital is organised to
day as it never was before, locked and interlock
ed together, regimented, ready for mobilization
at a moments notice. Our forces must be in as
great a state of preparadness and must never be
"At the present time we are in the throes
of tremendous industrial difficulties. I believe
that Lloyd George and British capital have de
liberately organized and schemed Us into the pres
ent position. They want a big fight with our forc
es, and they are choosing their own ground. Th
present Council of Action is authorized to deal on
ly with the Russian crisis. What British Labor
needs is a Council of Action that is on the job all
of the time and ready to deal with any emergency."