Page:Britain's Deadly Peril.djvu/47

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41
THE PERIL OF EXPLOITING THE POOR

words, the expeditious handling of London's sorely needed food is being jeopardised by a ridiculous squabble which one would think half a dozen capable business men could settle in five minutes. But here, as usual, the poorest are the victims of their own class.

In spite of the well-meaning but idiotic young women who have gone about distributing white feathers to men who, in their opinion, ought to have joined the Army, common-sense people will recognise that the skilled workers in many trades are just as truly fighting the battles of their country as if they were serving with the troops in Belgium or France. If every able-bodied man joined the Army to-day the nation would collapse for want of supplies to feed the fighting lines. It is not my purpose here to discuss whether the men or the masters are right in the disputes in the engineering trades. Probably the authorities have not done enough to bring home to the men the knowledge that, in executing Government work, they are in fact helping to fight the country's battles. None the less the men who strike at the present moment delay work which is absolutely essential to the safety of our country. We know from Lord Kitchener's own lips that they have done so.

Our war organisation to-day may be divided into three parts—the Navy fighting on the sea, the Army fighting on land, and the industrial army providing supplies for the other two. It must be brought home to the last named, by every device in our power, that their duties are just as important to our success as the work of their brothers on the storm-swept North Sea, or in the mud and slush and peril of the trenches in Flanders. This war is very largely a war of supplies, and our fighting