LADY STRABOLGI AT U.N.A. MEETING
Starting Revelation by Mr. Norman Dodds
Munition Workers who Refused to Sign A Petition
Mr. Norman Dodds, M.P. for Dartford, startled a large audience at Dartford Grammar School on Friday, when he revealed that certain workers at a local factory would not sign a petition calling for the outlawing of weapons of mass destruction because “they could not support any moves which would injure their chances of employment.”
The meeting, convened by Dartford United Nations Association, had as its subject “The hydrogen bomb and atomic weapons.” The chief speakers were Lord Strabolgi, Labour Peer, and Miss K. D. Courtney.
Mr. Dodds said it was hoped that the efforts of members of Dartford U.N.A. would make some contribution to the education of people in the vital problem of taking an intelligent interest in the task of endeavouring to keep peace in the world. He had already heard of an incident in connection with the U.N.A. petition which emphasised the gravity of that task.
A petition form had been handed in to a department at Vickers-Armstrongs in Dartford. When a member went to collect the form there were no names on it.
“An astonishing explanation was given,” said Mr. Dodds. “It was to the effect that as their employment depended largely on producing weapons of war they could not support any moves which would injure their chances of employment.
“This is almost criminal foolishness. Do they not realise that it is because we spend so much in this way that we cannot get all the houses, schools, hospitals and such like that we need?”
“Do they not realise that if our need for weapons of war was less they would still be employed—making the things people want? Fortunately this state of affairs is not typical, at Vickers-Armstrongs. I am happy to say that another department has given in four pages of signatures.”
Abandon Hope. If … .
The president (Canon Elliott Mitchell), put forward what he called “two sombre and sinister facts.” The world to-day was very deeply divided—by belief, way of life, purpose, policy, and intention. Mankind was menaced by the possibility of physical destruction. In past wars, which had brought in their train calamity, sorrow and suffering, there had been hope for the future—one could always say “After the war, we will do this, or do that.” But with the emergence of the hydrogen bomb a message became clear; it was “Abandon hope, all you who use me.” Mankind, by means of its greatest triumph in science, would produce this bomb for the total destruction of the human race and to make this planet uninhabitable, anyway. It was up to all members of the Church to teach peace, love and brotherhood.
Miss K. D. Courtney, C.B.E., joint-president of U.N.A. in this country, said that the Americans, at one time the only people to have the bomb, had produced a plan for its control. The Soviet had a different plan. Could there be no compromise?
On behalf of the National Executive, Miss Courtney referred to “the splendid job that Dartford has done with regard to this question.”
Lady Strabolgi, who accompanied her husband, in a short speech drew attention to the fact that the League of Nations had failed because it was not supported by the governments. To-day they lived in an atmosphere of cold war. This seemed ridiculous, when all people desired peace. U.N.A. had to be supported.
Mr. Norman Dodds, appealing for members, spoke warmly of the Young Conservatives and the Labour League of Youth, who together were stewarding the meeting.
Lord Strabolgi spoke after the interval (during which a collection raised £16 10s.) He said he was not completely pessimistic about the situation to-day; there was (he thought) a better atmosphere in recent weeks.
He paid a tribute to M. Trygve Lie, who had been in Moscow with high hopes of finding a solution. He was trying to act as a catalyst between East and West. The leaders of both groups did not wish war and in that wish they were certainly echoing the opinions of their peoples. The speaker could not believe that a deliberate act of aggression would come from Russia for many years—at least until a great measure of reconstruction had been achieved; but with a war of nerves accidents could happen.
He had received encouraging reports from China, where the British were held in high esteem. There might be another approach to Moscow through China.
It was the job of the ordinary person to help to create a public opinion which would prevail in the end.
‘A Ship Called Amethyst’
Miss Margaret Roberts, prospective Conservative candidate for Dartford, said the question had to be faced realistically. She mentioned the reports from China, for instance. All had to be considered—and a ship called the Amethyst had also to be remembered.
The first aim with regard to the weapons was the maintenance of peace in the world. There had to be better relations, and one had to work for improvements all the time. If one were to approach a state of security the cold war had to take a turn for considerably warmer conditions. There was absolutely no chance of unilateral disarmament, there had to be disarmament on the part of the whole world. Among the ordinary people there was no desire for war.
Mr. R. L. Hudson, proposing a vote of thanks to the speakers, said he was proud to work for U.N.A. when he looked up over the stage and saw the school crest—a memorial to 60 old boys who did not come back. [end p5](2) Gravesend and Dartford Reporter, 27 May 1950
Britain may follow Dartford's A-bomb lead
Speaking of the lead Dartford has given to the remainder of the country in the effort to outlaw the atomic and hydrogen bombs, Lady Strabolgi, at a public meeting at the Grammar School on Friday, said: “Perhaps what Dartford does to-day the rest of Britain will do to-morrow.”
Evidence that the Borough's activities in this direction had already attracted overseas notice was proved in a message which the Mayor, Councillor Mrs. Flora Welch, J.P., had received from a lady in New Zealand. It read: “Good luck, Dartford; we are proud of you in New Zealand.”
The president of the Dartford Branch of the United Nations Association, Rev. Canon Elliott Mitchell, said: “The world to-day is deeply divided, more deeply divided than in all its tragic history.”
The H-bomb, he thought, held this message for mankind: “Abandon hope all you who use me.” Where the atom bomb had killed thousands, this new menace would obliterate millions and threatened the destruction of the whole human race.
Church must help U.N.O.
“That,” said Cannon Mitchell, “Is what modern man has come to. It is up to the Church to help U.N.O. face the facts.”
Peace, love and brotherhood, he considered, should constitute the main theme for teaching in both churches and schools.
Miss K. D. Courtney, C.B.E., who has worked most of her life for the cause of peace, said the efforts to ban the bombs could only be successful if there was a rigid system of control.
“It is certainly not a friendly little object.” she commented.
She outlined the approach of both east and west to the problem. Only America appeared to have the A-bomb, and Russia advocated therefore that the weapon should be destroyed. The West, however, believed international ownership, management and inspection to be the answer to the question. A compromise, she thought, would give some security, although she personally was a great believer in inspection.
Lord Strabolgi said that the situation did not leave him entirely pessimistic. Mr. Trygve Lie was in Moscow at that very moment and was not without hope of finding a solution. He was trying to act as a catalyst between East and West.
Within the previous 48 hours, Lord Strabolgi said, he had received news from missionaries and businessmen in China. They informed him that they were better treated under the new Communist Government than they had been under the National regime.
“I think,” he said, “there may be some means of approach to Moscow through Pekin because of the high esteem in which Britons are held in China.”
Lord Strabolgi said he could not believe that any deliberate act of aggression could come from Russia or China because of the tremendous amount of reconstruction work they had still to do as a result of the last war.
“International public opinion can prevail,” he declared, “and our job is to create that public opinion. If done sufficiently it will effect governments and good sense and good-heartedness among people will result.”
In a typically forceful speech, Mr. Norman Dodds, M.P., appealed for members for the United Nations' Association.
“It is hoped,” he said, “that by the efforts of members of the Dartford Branch of the Association some con [line missing] their responsibilities in the vital task of endeavouring to keep the peace.”
Although other departments of Vickers-Armstrong's had responded well, a petition list had been returned from one shop, according to Mr. Dodds, without any signatures having been appended. When asked for the reason the collector was informed that as the people in the department earned their living making weapons of war they could not support any moves which might injure their chances of employment.
“These foolish people, and I consider it a criminal form of foolishness,” said Mr. Dodds, “do not seem to realise that it is because we spend so much of the national income in this way that we cannot get all the houses, schools and hospitals we want. Do they not also realise that if our need for weapons of war was less, they would still be employed making things the nation needed?”
Miss Margaret Roberts said that although there might be, as Lord Strabolgi had stated, a way of approach to Moscow through Pekin, we must not forget a ship called the “Amethyst” nor fail to approach the question of the atom bomb realistically.
“We will never have peace,” she maintained, “by putting on blinkers.”