The General Election in UK

 MT 60 Years Ago – 2nd YEAR NO. 40 – 13th May 1955

Labour Promises Prosperity and Peace

Very soon after the announcement of the General Election, the News-Chronicle published the result of the Gallup Poll which, on April 22, showed that 48% of the electorate would vote Conservative against 44% for Labour. On April 28, a later poll was published, which showed 47.5% for the Tories against 47 for Labour. In the past the findings of the poll have been accurate, with if anything a tendency to underestimate Labour’s vote; so this early figure gives the Tories no cause for encouragement. On the other hand, Labour has to beware of apathy; and the Tories may yet pull out of the bag some electoral stunt or “scare” comparable to the 1924 Zinoviev Letter fraud or the 1931 Post Office Savings Bank scare – a scare which was used effectively by the opponents of the PPP before the constitutional crisis in British Guiana.

Both major parties have now published their manifestoes, and informed opinion in political circles is that the Labour manifesto is more concrete about the future, and offers more to more people. The Tories harp on their past record and offer no firm promises for future performance. In view of the fact that past election promises by the Tories have been jettisoned as soon as they have fulfilled their purpose, this is not surprising. On the other hand, the Labour manifesto makes specific promises which have been widely hailed as good especially for the housewife and the less well-off sections of the population; and after all, the less well-off are the major section of the people.

Labour promises to make the National Health Service really free by abolishing the charges for prescriptions, wigs, teeth and other appliances. Secondary education is to be reformed in comprehensive schools and the selection examination for grammar schools abolished. Vital industries are to be renationalised: steel and road haulage. The interests of consumers will be protected by a Consumer’s Advisory Service (the Observer has singled this out for special commendation) and by the adoption of Labour’s comprehensive plan for marketing farm and market garden produce. Monopolies and price rings will be broken.

At home, the Labour manifesto is clearly based on the slogan “Fair shares in prosperity”. The workers and consumers are promised a fair deal. The Tories on the other hand make no mention of protecting consumer interests; one can assume that they wish things to go on as they have done for the past three years. In 1954, for example, which was a prosperous year according to the Economic Survey wages rose by an average of 5% but profits rose by 10%, distributed dividends by 20% and and the value of shares by 40%. Prices have outstripped wages. Under the Tories, we are entitled to assume – since no action against prices soaring beyond wages is adumbrated – that this unfair sharing of increased productivity will continue.

In the field of foreign affairs, there are signs that the battle will be waged on the alternative of the policies Peace through Strength or Peace through Negotiation. The Tories are content to have Britain as the junior partner in an Anglo-American alliance, with all the loss of status and economic independence that this entails; they are content to have us squander material resources on armaments and horrible instruments of warfare such as H-bombs, while the slums and slum schools and inadequate hospitals call aloud for a bigger share of the national resources.

The Labour Party on the other hand bases its foreign policy on top-level talks without preliminary time-wasting discussions at lower levels. Reynolds News reminds its readers (May 1st) that over two years have passed since Churchill proclaimed his belief in top-level talks between Britain and the USSR; and nothing has been done. The Tory Party jettisoned Churchill as Prime Minister and had him replaced by Eden because Churchill wanted – and kept saying so – these top-level talks; the Sunday Dispatch (a Conservative newspaper) has revealed this. But it is Attlee who has been to China and the USSR, and has talked with Mao-Tse-Tung and Chou-En-Lai, Bulganin and Molotov and (though he is now no longer at the top) to Malenkov. Labour’s imaginative manifesto calls for the cessation of all H-bomb tests; this shows Labour’s determination to build a peaceful as well as a prosperous Britain.

For the colonies, Labour promises progress to self-government which is in striking contrast to the Tory record of suppressing the popular government of Cheddi Jagan and procrastinating over discussing the political and constitutional advance of Mauritius.

May 26th will see the outcome; we will then know whether we are committed to a programme of peaceful prosperity or whether we are to see further inroads into social justice in Britain and the colonies, with a dangerous international policy, tagging along after an irresponsible American State Department. But the People of Britain will decide; and the People of Britain are peace-loving.

(M.Times – 13th May 1955)

* * *

Readers’ Forum

Revelations about the 1945 Regrading of Teachers

The Editor
Mauritius Times

Dear Sir,

We wonder what has really prompted your correspondent Ex-Serviceman-Teacher to enquire about the attitude of the two Primary Teachers’ Unions to the 1945 regrading. We shall not however disappoint him.

Ever since the anomalies of the 1945 regrading were known, the stand of our Union has been unequivocal. Advised by the Executive Committee, we immediately laid a protest against the seniority list according to that regrading and asked that it be rescinded. A delegation including interested parties called on the Director of Education and, after a clear exposé of the adverse bearing it is bound to have on future promotions, notified the Union’s intention to memorialize the Rt. Hon the Secretary of State for the Colonies. Could the Govt. Teachers’ Union have then been undeceived with regard to its negative attitude, this question would have long been a thing of the past.

Indeed, we cannot make it out how in the world the Government Teachers’ Union could have been in favour of such a haphazard regrading by which (to quote only a few instances) Miss B appointed in 1928 was graded 3rd class while Misses C and D appointed in 1940 and 1942 respectively were graded 2nd class; Mr M. appointed in 1940 was graded 3rd class while Mr N appointed in the same year was graded 2nd class; and that ex-Serviceman-Teacher, appointed in 1942, who was graded 3rd class while he was smelling gunpowder elsewhere, whereas others appointed later were graded 2nd class; a regrading which, hardly a year after, was shuffled to grade with no more ado all 2nd class teachers.

At long last, the Government Teachers’ Union, whose original suggestion to the Whitley Council was that holders of the old Second Class Teacher’s Certificate be given priority in the matter of promotion over holders of the Training College Grade “A” Certificate, has joined hands with our Union in asking that the anomaly created by the 1945 regrading be corrected; and there is every hope of reaching a satisfactory conclusion.

Meanwhile our sympathy goes to those many colleagues who have been subjected to uncalled for humiliation by this regrading and let us hope that the staff side of the Departmental Whitley Council will be successful in its endeavour to undo the harm caused to them.

Yours truly,

Ramoo Sooriamoorty

General Secretary
Union of Primary School Teachers

(M.Times – 13th May 1955)

* * *

Labour’s Apathy!

On the 6th November last reviewing the ‘Short History of Mauritius’ by Barnwell and Toussaint, we pointed out that the book was prejudicial to the workers. We supported our contention by facts. Even some journalists in London think that it should not have been adopted as a textbook. We have already reproduced the comment of the Editor of the Colonial World on it.

We expected the Labour Party or any of the two Labourers’ Unions – the president of one of which is Hon Dr Ramgoolam who is also the Liaison Office of the Education Department – or any Labour MLC to take this matter into their hands. So far they have not done anything. Probably they think this matter is too insignificant. Was not the anti-Labour and anti-Indian campaign of Le Cernéen brushed aside as being the dwaddle of an old man? Are we not witnessing the harm it has done? Besides what about the dignity and the self-respect of the workers?

What are Labour leaders waiting to act?

(M.Times – 13th May 1955)


*  Published in print edition on 26 June 2015

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