Friday, 23 August 2013

His King and Country Need Him!

Britain's wartime coalition Government, circled is Herbert Morrison, Minister of Supply. Following the July 1945 election when the British electorate kicked Winston Churchill out of office, Morrison was appointed Deputy Prime Minister in the new Labour Government.
In 1920, the year Morrison was elected Mayor of Hackney, he wrote:

"All the governments of all the warring nations deliberately deceived their citizens and their fighting men. They founded propaganda departments for this special purpose, paying men out of public funds to deceive their fellows by the spoken and written word. The government suppressed truth, newspapers, books and organisations, and imprisoned good men and true."
"Never again shall leaders of [the] Labour [Party] or their rank and file be so ill-informed and so lacking in a sense of responsibility as to accept without critical analysis the statements of Governments (of whatever Party) who desire to lead this country into war.
Quoted in: "Never Again!", The New Leader, Saturday, November 29, 1941, pp. 4-5.

Much like his famous grandson Peter Mandleson, Morrison was propagandist of considerable repute. Throughout his political career, on first the local and later national level; he would write the election manifestos, coin the slogans, chose the posters. He is credited as the man who masterminded the successful 1945 election campaign by the Labour party. His talent is clearly evident in the following piece that he wrote in 1914 (he was a conscientious objector in the First World War):

Your King and Country Need You!

Ah! Men of the Country, you are remembered. Neither the King, nor the Country, nor the picture papers had really forgotten you.

When your master tried to cut your wages down—did you think he knew of your beautiful brave heart? When you were unemployed—did you think your Country had forgotten you? When the military were used aginst you in the strike—did you wonder if your King was quite in love with you?

Did you? .... Ah! foolish one.

Your King and Country Need You.

Need hundreds of thousands of you to go to hell and to do the work of hell. The Commandment says: "Thou shalt not hill." Pooh! What does it matter? Commandments, like treaties, were made to be broken. Ask your parson: he will explain.

Your King and Country Need You!

Go forth, little soldier! Though you know not what you fight for—go forth! Though you have no grievance against your German brother—go forth and kill him! Though you may know he has a wife and family dependant upon him—go forth and slay him; he is only a German dog. Will he not kill you if he gets the chance? Of course, he will. HE IS BEING TOLD THE SAME STORY! His King and Country Need Him!

Morrison's contrasting positions in the First and Second World Wars did not go unnoticed by his political opponents on the far-left. Both the quotations presented here I found in The New Leader, "the paper of the Independent Labour Party", which clearly found great amusement in republishing numerous articles Morrison had written decades earlier.

1 comment:

  1. The Independent Labour Party is now a footnote of history; it actively opposed the Jingoists and militarists of all the other parties . Men of honour like James Maxton , now forgotten and from a different era.


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