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LABOUR AND FREEDOM.

(To the Editor.) Dear Sir, — The Labour party — the party that has a good cause and many friends in all classes of society—lias just lost a great opportunity of putting the welfare of the Empire before class considerations, and of showing that it possessed the knowledge that patriotism is indispensable to freedom, and that without freedom the redress of wrongs is impossible. The challenge tacitly issued by Germany to Britain on the question of naval supremacy had. to be met one way or the other. It was a challenge so imminent that Britain had no choice but to pick up the gauntlet, or throw up the sponge, to do or to die. The crisis proved that the British character had not de-. generated; that "that tired feeling" has not taken hold of it; that the faith, courage, and tenacity that won Trafalgar ttnd Waterloo, that made India what it is, that brought into being the selfgoverning dominions of the (Empire, are still alive and kicking—so very much alive that, though under the necessity of undertaking the heroic task of rebuilding her navy, Britain is still calm, cheerful, and undaunted—worthy to be the Mother of Nations and the Mistress of the Seas. It was a question of to be or not to be, not only to Britain, but to the Empire. Any Six Standard boy or girl knows we cannot defend our own promising Dominion against any ' victorious sea Power. What would be the value to us of our Liberal land laws, our pet labour legislation, our eight hours a day, our numerous holidays, our darling sports, and our aristocratic Ideas of less work and more pay, if Britain had decided to be shepherded by Keir Hardie and his supporters * Here was a great show for the Dominion Labour party—ithe party that talks so loudly of its nationalism. It wants to nationalise the shipping, the banking, the land and everything, and a lot can be said in favour of their views; and yet when the very existence of our national ideals depended upon the pluck and the patriotism of Britain, then the advocates of nationalisation dena tionalised themselves, failed to rise to the occasion, to show any statemanship, or any national sense and sensibility, and did nothing but parade its degeneracy. The Labour party's ideals of the abolition of poverty, better housing, the right to live and to live under the best possible conditions, are not their ideals alone: they are the ideals of all patriotic people of the EmpirCj and. are, therefore, Imperial ideals. A party, therefore, which, has Imperial and national sentiment on its eide, should have shown some national pride and sentiment in the crisis. When Britain decided at all costs to undertake the prodigious labour of rebuilding her navy, for the preservation of herself and lter oversea dominions, then Labour, in duty bound, should have fallen in line with the racial sentiment, and should have shown a proud and liberal patriotism. But no! Labour, to its ehame and self-damage, let the golden opportunity slip, sulkily tletaeh-ed itself from all national and Imperial sentiment, and said in effect, '"Let the navy rip!" One Weary Willie in our midet, declared he would not fire a shot for his country, that the •country -would 'be as v»-ell- off under German rule as at present. Well, if this gentleman becomes- a German subject, he will oe granted the right to work, he will come under compulsory military eerviee and be made to shoulder arms, quick march, and fire shots for his conqueror's benefit. But the Germans ai e patriotic themselves, and it is doubtful if they would have him, unless it were to black their military boots, an occupation for which he should be eminently .suitable. The greatest good of the greatest numfcer is the irresistible ideal that is capturing the heart and mind of the British race, and Britain and her daughters are endowed with the talent to diffuse this id?al by example and precept through the world. ° This racial ideal, when upheld by Britain at the great cost of rebuilding her- entire navy, is the ideal that .should make patriots of us all, but the Labour party as a whole has shown its incapacity to -think nationally and to act liberally, has isolated itself from public sentiment and discredited its right to be called the "voice of the people." The labourers, in common with all citizens of the Dominion, owe their past.eafety, their present advantages and their rosy hopes for the future, to the existence of that great peacemaker—the British: navy; tut when the 'hour came to show gratitude and honour for that splendid'protection, the Labour party <w*a the only

party dead to the noble sense of patriot-ism;-and, were-"agin the Government" for putting the Dominion's patriotism into shape and form. 'Labour is protesting against the arrival of the modest number of immigrants of their own fleeh and blood, -who hava come here to swell our small population, because they derange -the Labour market ; but if the Labouritee abide by their jelly-fish principles, if they will not fire a ehot in -defence -of the Empire, and on behalf of society as it is, if they speak with" the voice of the people —('which they do not) —then they will open the. door wide in the near future for a, Japanese immigration, -which would turn the Labour market topsy-turvy, would provide cheap labour galore, and would establish the Labourites in life-billets- as ■badly-paid rouseabouts and choc-blacks to their Jap. masters. But in spite of their degenerate talk, we must believe that the Labourites — if foreign guns ever roar upon our coast —will shoulder arms in defence of their wives and families, "but it seems they have not yet learnt that patriotism is indispensable to freedom, and freedom is indispensable to social progress.—l am, etc., F.W.

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LABOUR AND FREEDOM. Auckland Star, Volume XL, Issue 88, 14 April 1909

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