Is Labour Divided?

Mauritius Times – 60 Years Ago

By Somduth Bhuckory

Hon Chadien, former General Secretary of the Labour Party, has resigned from the Party. But it is not his resignation that has prompted us to put the question whether there is any division in the ranks of Labour.

It has not been made public up to now why Hon Chadien has resigned. Until Hon Chadien himself or the Labour Party gives us the reason or reasons for the resignation we prefer not to comment on it. All we can say now is that the resignation has given rise to much speculative thinking.

We fear that a division of Labour is taking place because the London agreement to which the Labour delegates have adhered has produced widespread discontent.

Now the uneasy public is eager to know what the Labour Party as a whole thinks of the agreement. The delegates met the people before leaving. The people are rightly expecting them at Plaine Verte once more. Let us hope that it’s only the return of Hon Dr Ramgoolam that is delaying the meeting.

It is hard to imagine how the Labour Party as a whole can back what their delegates have done. And we wonder if party discipline can be invoked to deal with unruly members once it is shown that the delegates have exceeded their mandate.

Leaving the Labour Party aside, we have to see whether the London agreement has not created division in the rank and file of Labourites.

Those who go about meeting people can tell you how frustrated the people feel about our political future. Labour leaders can become aware of this blatant fact by talking to a cross-section of the population. It would be dangerous to ignore this unfavourable reaction of the people. If leaders want to exist as leaders, they have to see to it that they have followers.

Already staunch supporters of Labour are talking of remaining at home on election day than go and vote the Labour list. They wouldn’t have the heart to vote non-Labour but their boycott would be sufficient to lead to the downfall of Labour.

It will be a sad day indeed the day Labour is defeated at the polls. But lack of foresight on the part of Labour leaders can be responsible for anything: it can alienate the sympathy of the masses as well as strike a death blow at the very root of the Party itself.

“United we stand, divided we fall”, is a trite saying. Everybody interested in trade unionism, co-operative movements and political parties knows it. And so does Mr Lennox-Boyd, the Secretary of State for the Colonies. What will he not give — eve Rs 27,000 per head! — to provoke division? How simple-minded were were to think that the days of Divide and Rule were over.

* * *

Progress Report on M.B.S.

Football commentaries will be broadcast but with a difference: the Indo-Mauritian Programme will get its one and a half hours. That is what in substance Indo-Mauritian listeners were told last Monday and after.

The arrangement is going to be quite simple. The Indo-Mauritian Programme will be divided into two parts: the first part will be broadcast from 3.45 p.m. to 4.15 p.m., and the second part from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m.

We had rightly foreseen that the whole series of the Desportivo matches would be broadcast. But we were perhaps a bit hasty in proclaiming that the Mauritius Broadcasting Service (M.B.S.) was without a conscience. Now we can say that the conscience was there all right but it was lying in a deep slumber.

The visit of the Desportivo team will be remembered by fans of the Indo-Mauritian Programme as the beginning of a new era at the M.B.S. Whatever the merit of the new arrangement, it surely shows that the Manager of the M.B.S. has recognised that the rights and privileges of Indo-Mauritians have to be appreciated and respected.

Everything looks so simple today that one wonders why this solution was not found earlier to put a stop to such a long-standing grievance. Was the M.B.S. unaware of the indignation prevalent among Indo-Mauritians? Was it waiting for an upsurge of public opinion to act?

We appreciate the goodwill shown by Mr de Chazal at this stage. Our stand has always been to change the status of the Cinderella-like Indo-Mauritian Programme. What cannot Mr De Chazal do with the magic wand which he holds in his capacity of Manager of the M.B.S.?

It’s a good beginning we say. We like to look upon this arrangement as a make-shift. The best solution to our mind would be to find a means of broadcasting simultaneously. The Indo-Mauritian Programme could then be broadcast at its usual time without any hitch and football commentaries could then rent the air without any hindrance.

We think that simultaneous broadcasting will have to come at the M.B.S. sooner or later, not only because football commentaries have to go over the air but also because the time allotted to the Indo-Mauritian Programme has to be increased.

When a community asks that its language should find a proper place at the M.B.S., there should be nothing alarming about it. It is a just request that requires sympathetic consideration. Wherever there is a plural society there must also be unity in diversity. Neither Mauritius nor the M.B.S. can escape it.

Now that the conscience of the M.B.S. is roused, Mr de Chazal must be careful to prevent it from relapsing into a slumbering state. And we hope that under his magic wand Cinderella will soon be on her way to becoming a dazzling Princess!

4th Year – No 138
riday 29th March 1957 

* Published in print edition on 14 February 2020

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