AUGUST 13, 1945
NEW YORK, Sunday—A great many people in and out of Washington have spoken and written about the results of the last election in Great Britain in completely contradictory ways. Some of our conservatives seem deeply disturbed and wonder "whether we will not have to reconsider our foreign policy as regards Great Britain." In view of the fact that the people of Great Britain have expressed themselves in unmistakable terms as to the general line of government and economic policy which they wish to pursue, now that the war in Europe is over, it would seem that we would have to cooperate. Their objectives, in some ways, are not very different from ours.
Harold Laski's use of the word "revolutionary" frightened a great many people, I think. They seemed not to take note of the fact that Laski, in naming the ultimate objectives of the Labor party, was very careful to say that they realized these objectives could not be attained overnight. Anyone knowing the British people and their character would know that reforms may move steadily forward, but they do not move with undue speed in Great Britain.
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On the other hand, it is quite natural for the Russians to feel that a Labor government in Great Britain will cooperate more easily with them. Both in Palestine and in India new hope is stirring. What the Labor government will be able to do about the problems of these two countries—which are so difficult to solve and so little understood outside of the countries themselves—it is hard to say. At least, this new group coming into office will bring fresh minds and new interests to the handling of public affairs.
Labor in Great Britain, it seems to me, has a great advantage over labor in this country. It has no such division as we struggle with here between the AFL and the CIO. Unity makes for greater strength. Frequently, in Great Britain, the leaders of the party are not men who toiled with their hands, but intellectuals—teachers, economists, leaders in scientific fields; and they are not afraid of this leadership. Labor has long been more mature in Great Britain largely because it has more often carried responsibility.
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The rift in the ranks of labor in this country is weakening and destructive of influence in the economic and political field. Labor may say that in spite of their differences they intend to back certain policies; but there is no certainty that they will act together. A group is just as apt to have its vote determined by some purely personal reason as by a matter of national policy that will be affected by their attitude.
It may be the youth of our labor movement which makes it so difficult for leaders within the ranks to submerge personalities and to stick to the principles for which they want to fight. Nevertheless, it will be better for labor itself and for the nation when the division comes to an end.