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Prime Minister's Cailj to…


Prime Minister's Cailj to British Democracy. I The People Must Either Go On or Go Under." Mr. Lloyd George attended the full conference of the Labour delegates, which was resumed at Central Hall, Westminster, following the sectional meetings that have taken place during the 1 ast fortnight between Sir Auck- land Geddes and members of the trade I unions, on the subject of the Govern- ments' man-power proposals. Mr. G. N. Barnes presided. MR. LLOYD GEORGE'S SPEECH. Mr. Lloyd George said:- I am. sure you will be very pleased to hear,that I do not propose to make n loug speech, but I have come- hero to thank you on behalf of the Govern- ment, and, I venture t.(i say, to thank you on ••behalf of the country for the spirit in which you have met the Gov- ernment and its representatives-a spirit1 of complete frankness on both sides. 1 shall be very happy w hen I sit down to answer any question which you choose to put to me on any matter of general policy. I had rather 'questions of detail in re- ference to the Bill should be left in the much more competent hands of my colleague, Sir Auckland Geddes. I un- derstand the procedure with regard to the constitution of groups in these conferences was adopted by the con- ference itself; and the procedure was a fair, a rational and an equitable one, and we have adhered to it strictly without any deviation. With regard to the proposals of the Government let me say this at the out- set as to the method. There are no other alternatives for raising men ex- cept either raising the military ago as they have done in Austria, where it is 55 or sending wounded men back and back again juto the battle line. Xhosa-v. alternatives. Now I want to deal with the question of ur- gency. As to the urgency of the need, no man standing, like my colleagues and myself, on the watch-tower, can deny it. Unless the need had been ur- gent we shpuld not have brought forward this demand now. There are tten in this country who honestly be- lieve we ought to have done it months ago. There are men in this country who honestly believe we ought to do it on a much more sweeping scale. There are a few who say we ought not to do it all, and there are some who eay both things simultaneously. (Laugh- ter.) TREASON TO THE STATE. T. The Government view is tins: it would he folly to withdraw men from industries one hour sooner than the taeed arose. On the other hand it would be treason to the State, treason to our Country, treason to democracy. treason to the cause of freedom if when the need did arise we had not made the demand. (Cheers.) What is the posi- tion ? I assume that you all here in your hearts believe that the war aims /declared by the great Labwur confer- < enoe represent the minimum of justice which you can possibly accept as a settlement of this terri'«le dispute—the minimum. If we are not able to defeat the German forces, if we are not ablo to resist the military power of Prussia, is there any man here in possession of his wits who believes that one of your terms—the least of them —would be enforced ? (ChcAers.) I am not talking about the demands of imperialists. 1 am not talking about the demands of extreme war men who want to grab everything and annex the earth and all the heavenly firma- ment. I am talking of the moderate; demands of the most pacifist soul in this assembly. Go to von Hindenburg with them. Try to cash that cheque at the Hindenburg Bank. It will be returned dishonoured. Whatever terms arc set forward by any pacifist orator in these lands you will not get them cashed by Luden- dorff or the Kaiser or any of these great magnates—not one of them—un- less you have got the power to enforce them. (Cheers.) I felt strongly tli-'t the time had come for restating our war aims, and for restating them in a way that would carry with us all the moderate, rational opinion of this land and of all other laudf. And almost simultane- ously the same idea came to President Wilson, and without any opportunity of previous consultation — l>e^ause there was none President Wilson and myself laid down what was sub- stantially the same programme of de- mands for the termination of tllis war. How has that programme been re- <v» ived. GERMANY'S RESPONSE. I Throughout the whole of the Allied I countries it has been received with acclaim. There has hardly been the I voioe of criticism except from a. few men who wish I had made more ex- I treme demands. The Socialists of • France, the Socialists of. Italy, as well 1 as the Socialists of this country have, | in the main, accepted Hiem as very fair cnf'ra¡ demands to put forward. What has been the reception in Ger- I many? I b<\? of you to consider thm, especiaiiy those who think that we are responsible for perpetuating this hor- ror. I would not have this war for a second on my soul if I could stop it honourabl y. What has been the re- ception in Germany ? The only com- ment has been "Behold how England is weakening! Go (HI and they will eome down igain." Th(r(' has been no response from any man in any position in Germany that indicates a desire on the part of the ruling powers in that land to ap- proach the problem in a spirit of equity. We demanded the restoration rff &,¡r-iun1. Is there one man here who would make peace without the com- plete rest-oration of Belgium and re- paration for it. wrongs? ("No.") Is there one man? ("No.") I would like to see him stand up. Is there one man who would do it? What Í-3 the answer from Germany ? There has been but one answer, ant} it came from von Tirpitz's soul—"Never." There was a demand for a reconsideration of the wrong of Alsace-Lorraine. What is the answer from Germany? "Never!" When I suggested that Mesopotamia and Palestine should never be restored to the tyranny of the Turk, whatever else happened to it. what was the I answer of Germany? "W& will go on until they are restored." NO CIVILIAN ANSWER. Is there a sinde condition laid down by you in your trade union aims to which ytni have had any response from anybody in Germany who has got any authority to speak ? Not one. I will tell you another fact which is very significant. There has been no civilian answer at all. (Hear, hear.) I spoko here a fortnight ago. Presi- dent m,,is delivered a few days after that. Both speeches have been thoroughly discussed in the Ger- man papers. But no civilian Minister has said a word. There have been con- ferences hurriedly called together. Generals Hindenburg and Ludendorff were brought back from their armies in a great hurry to Berlin, but Herr Ku<fhlma.nn has not been allowed to speak. Why? If it means anything it means this: that the Prussian military power is dominant. The answer which is to be given to civilisation is an answer which will be given from the cannon's mouth. Do not let us harbouranydelusions. It would be a mi-stake to do it. Let us talk quite freely here amongst our- selves. You might as well stop fighting-, un- less you are going to do it well. If you are not going to do it with all your might, it is real murder of gallant fellows who have stood there for three years. (Hear, hear.) Unless we are go- ing to do it-well, let us sbop it. There is no alternative. You have either got to put your whole strength into it, or just do what is done in the Russian army and teil those brave fellows that they can go home whenever they like, and that no one will stop them. There is no other alternative. Believe me if there aro men who say that they will not go into the trenches, then the men who arc in the trenches have a right to say "Neither will we remain here." (Hear, hear.) WHAT SORT OF AN END? I Supposing that they did it, would that bring the wa.r to an end? Yes, it would. But what sort of an end ? IN-L,cit the Russian soldiers ceased fighting and fraternised and simply talked great ideals and principles to the German army, what did the Ger- mans do? Did they retreat? No, they took Riga and the islands. The frater- nisation did not prevent them from marching forward, and if Pctrograd h:iel been nearer they would have had that too.. The Channel ports arc not far from the fighting line, and unless we are prepared to stand up to the whole might of tlie people who are. dominating Germany now, and will dominate the world to-tn^rrow, if we a now them, you will find that Bri tRin and the British democracy and French democracy and the democracy of Europe will be at the mercy of the cruellest military autocracy that the world has ever 11. Now. I should like to ask you thin. I have suggested it before. If we were not prepared to fight, what sort of terms do you think we would get from General Hindenburg? If yon sent a delegation to him I know the answer. If you said to him, "We want you to clear out of Belgium, I know his answer. He would just mock you. He would say in his heart. "Yon cannot turn me out of Belgium with trade, union resolutions." No. but I w;!l tell you the answer which you can give him. "We can and will turn you I out of Belgium with trade union guns I and trade unionists behind l them."  (Cheers.)  I THE SPIRIT OF OUR FATHERS. They have broken his line already, and if we endure with the spirit of our fathers and the spirit that has made the greatness of this land, that has made its power, its prestige, and its honour, that has made it great in the past and that will make it greater in the future—if we do that, we shall yet be able to carry to conviction, carry to triumph, carry to reality, carry as an essential part of the story of this world, the great aims that you in your own language, that the Gov- ernment in their language, and that President 'Wilson in his noble lan- guage has been proclaiming m the last few days. But let us harbour no delusions. We must take the world as it is, and the story of democracy is this. No democ- racy has ever long survived the failure of its adherents to he ready to die for it—(hear, hear)—and my appeal to you is this. Last night this measure was carried in the House of Commons with- out a dissentient voice. (Hear, hear.) TAhat is democracy ? Democracy, put in plain terms, is government bv the majority of the people. (Hear, h, r.) If one profession, one trade, on,, sec- tion, or one class in a community claims to be immune from obligations which are imposed upon the rest. that is a fundamental travesty of the prin- ciples of democracy. (Cheers.) That is setting up a new aristocracy. You and I in the past have been fighting against privilege. I liope that we shall be fighting; on the same side again. We arc fighting now against the privilege, claimed by a military caste. Democracy, if it means any- thing, must mean that the people of all classes, all sections, all trades, and all professions, mnst merge their privi- leges and their rights in the common stock. ("And wealth 1") Certainly. Now gentlemen, what I want to say, in conclusion, is this:— If any man sliding in my place can find an honourable, equitable, • just way out of this conflict without fight- ing it through, for Heaven's sake let him tall me. My own conviction is this, the people must either go on or go under. (Cheeks.) -—— J.



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