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Book Title:

The Good Old Days: Then and Now


The Good Old Days: Then and Now by S. Box

Published by: S. Box, The Firs, Marden, Hereford

Printed by: Reliance Printing Works, Halesowen, Worcs.

Chapter 8.




It is remarkable that when a man allows ambition to overcome his better qualities, he stoops to methods to attain his objective which at other times he despises, consoling himself and trying to ease his conscience, that it may be wrong but that the end justifies the means. I have seen much of this in the political world: Falsehoods, half-truths, a cynical disregard for justice, often creating a false impression in the minds of thousands and damaging the lives of those who are sincere in their action and work. Such happened in connection with our effort to organise the workers in the Herefordshire districts of the Workers' Unions, causing the dismissal of its organiser, and its lamentable results. During the first Bye-Election at the Wrekin, Charles Duncan was the Labour Candidate—Tory, Liberal and Labour contesting the seat. The three candidates promised to give £10 each to a miners' fund; the Liberal and Tory gave their's, but Duncan did not. A second election was about eight months afterwards, due to the death of the M.P. I was sub-agent for Duncan at both elections. In getting my committee together I met serious opposition from the miners at Oaken-gates owing to the action of Duncan in not giving the £10. He called a meeting of Workers' Union organisers at Wellington and asked if any had met with any difficulties? I questioned him whether the £10 promised to the miners was paid, thinking it might have been a Tory rumour; Mr. Duncan said it was paid. I asked when, and he replied, about ten days ago, but it was not his fault that it was not paid at the election time. He had given his agent orders to pay it. I told him I was satisfied, otherwise I was returning to Hereford.  I saw the agent a fortnight later in Hereford and asked him about the £10. He stated that this was the first he had heard about it. I wrote to Mr. Duncan immediately, telling him not to ask for my services at any election he was contesting.


During the first World War Messrs. Duncan and Beard called me into a private room during a conference. They asked me if I was doing any recruiting for the Army. No, I replied. They can do as they please, but I will not have the blood of any mother's son on my conscience through any influence of mine. Duncan hotly replied: Suppose I order you to do so. Order if you wish, I said, but my reply would be " Go to Hell." You are not my boss. I am a servant of the E.C. (PS. Executive Committee) and members. I am a member of the Union, and you are our servant. Mr. Beard said: Alright, Sid, you have done splendid work—Carry on.


At the Labour Party Conference, when it was decided to take over the " Daily Herald," the Workers' Union delegates were called together to discuss the matter. Duncan stated it would be a block vote, but I demanded my voting card as the District Committee of my area had given me a mandate to vote in favour. Duncan was against it and insisted on it being a block vote! When I got my card, and another of the E.C. joining me, Duncan was furious. At another Conference of Workers' Union organisers I was the only one out of upwards of one hundred delegates who spoke against rising the organisers' wages, as well as the President and General Secretaries, again offending Duncan.

This does not mean, or is intended to create, mistrust in the leaders of any movement. But in relating facts, the writer is not responsible for those facts, and must be honest and truthful, as a half truth is more dangerous and misleading than false­hood. I mention this so that the rule of justice should be employed in all cases of employment. The fact was, I was stopped in my work because I had offended the General Secretary of the Union. They stated in Hereford that the district income was not sufficient to keep on an Organiser. This was entirely due to their own folly, as they took 29 branches from the Hereford district; as a result, these were not given proper attention and ceased to exist, causing disaster in the Hereford district.  We kept the Trade Union flag flying; the National Union of General and Municipal Workers' Union taking up the work here with great success.



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