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Newspaper Page Text
FRIDAY, SEPT. 24, 1920
The British Council of Action
By Felix Morley
European Correspondent for the Federated Press,
Formation of the Council of Action by
British labor is conceded by friends and foes
alike to be the most important single occurence
in England since the declaration of war in 1914.
It has achieved its primary aim 1;hat of pro
venting further agression by the British gov
ernment against Soviet Russia. Now it stands
ready to assert its power in other directions.
The war scare has gone. Manifestly, the wish
of labor to keep out of the threatened new im
perialistic war was the wish of 'the 'great mass
of England's people. "When the Council of Ac
tion was formed, the atmosphere in London (so
friends tell me) was like that attending the de
claration of war against Germany except that
all the feverish utterances in the streets were
anti- and not pro-war.
Open declaration that six million British
wage earners would cease production rather
than see another war has had tremendous in
fluence on the Continent. It has insured maint
enance of strict neutrality in Germany; it is
hastening formal recognition of Soviet Russia
by Italy; it is even driving breaches in the
strongholds of French reaction which are so
largely responsble for the contnued chaos of
"Machinery For Revolution."
Tho great fact which stands in relief against
the turbulent welter of events is that organized
labor, and not Parliament, is directing the out
come of political issues. Local Councils are
springing up spontaneously all over England.
Their functions at the present time arc limit
ed to "collecting information" and preparing
to make protest on the Russian issue effective,
if tho parent council deems drastic ncccssaiy.
But it requires no gift of vision to see what
these local councils might become. They are
being denounced as "machinery for revolu
tion" and "British Soviets" by the conserva
tive press, although their power is specifically
limited to thfone issue of Russia. Another fact
which brings no consolation to opponents of the
Boviet idea ia that tho local councils of action
in the larger cities arc being built on a much
broader basis than the trades union councils
which they may in time supplant.
For instance, in the Council of Action for the
Greater London area, are represented the Lon
don Labor Party, the members of the London
County Council, the co-operative organizations,
the Womens' Co-operative Guild and the Lon
don Trades Council as a whole, as well afe re
presentatives from - the principal unions and
federations here. Jt is an injustice to the states
manlike development of the British Labor
movement to suppose that in the recent crisis
is found the origin of the- councils of action.
So fai-as a development of this sort can be said
to hare a definitive origin it is found in the
lesson of consolidated strength provided by
the Triple Alliance of inkers, railwaymcn and
Have Three 'Present Objects.
The National Council, and the local ones, are
empowered to remain in existence only until
they have obtained these things:
1 Absolute guarantee that the armed forces
of Great Britain shall not be used in support
of Poland, Baron Wrangel, nor any other mili
tary or naval effort against the Soviet govern
ment. 2 Withdrawal of all British naval forces
operating directly or indirectly as a blockad
ing influence against Russia.
3 Recognition of the Russian soviet govern
ment and establishment of unrestricted trad
ing and commercial relationships between
Great Britain and Russia.
So far only the first of these demands has
been conceded by the Lloyd George govern
ment, and the presence of the third insures that
the councils will continue to function for some
lnoriths at least, although a prominent English
labor lender tells me that "we have private
information that Lloyd George intends to re
cognize the Soviet republic m soon as possible."