RMS TITANIC had just put to sea, when, on 11th April 1912 THE TIMES carried an Editorial on Labour Leader Keir Hardie, for proposing, in the Commons that soldiers be excused the breaking up of the Trade Unions in Industrial Disputes. The idea that soldiers could choose which orders they were to obey, the “Thunderer” laughed to scorn.
In March 1914 when Lancer Officers at the Curragh threatened to resign their Commissions rather than to proceed to Ulster to protect Government arms and property from Ulster Unionists, THE TIMES was not quite so scornful. For The British Government buckled under the mutinous Mounted Gentlemen and commentators including THE MORNING POST in London and Lenin in Switzerland pronounced Home Rule dead. It was an era when “Officers’ Wives got Puddings and Pies, and Soldiers’ Wives got Skilly.”
In the 1930s when Pandit Nehru was in a British prison cell in India, he recalled the Curragh Mutiny in a letter to his daughter , denouncing the Conservatives for hypocrisy and “the Orangemen for unabated treason”, and summed up the situation : “Thus the very foundations of democracy were attacked and the old boast of the English people that they believed in the reign of law and in constitutional activity was set at nought.”
Sir Keir Starmer may plead that his support of Military Immunity for Criminal Offences echoes Keir Hardie’s concern for the common Squaddie but that won’t wash.
The learned Knight’s stance owes more to the tradition of the Curragh Mutineers and their friends in THE TIMES and THE MORNING POST.
Back to RMS TITANIC.
Three days after the Editorial in THE TIMES, on 14th April 1912 RMS TITANIC hit an iceberg with great loss of life. Most of the crew and the Steerage (Lower Class) Passengers perished. First Class Passengers, for the most part, survived for they were given first access to lifeboats and life rafts. Steerage passengers were locked away from those craft, and threatened by armed officers to take their turn. There were not enough lifeboats or lifeboats allocated for steerage passengers, by order of J.BRUCE ISMAY, in the interests of speed. Ismay was Chairman of the White Star Line, the ship’s owners.
Speed was an obsession with J.BRUCE ISMAY, and he showed a clean pair of heels to get on a lifeboat and survived for another twenty-five years.
When he died THE TIMES published an Obituary which made no mention of RMS TITANIC nor THE WHITE STAR LINE.
The normally excellent DICTIONARY OF NATIONAL BIOGRAPHY copied the Obituary word for word, without adding the only things about his long life which would illuminate it.
I mentioned a clean pair of heels. Ismay was a heel. So was Sir Harold Evans, and all who peddled lies in THE TIMES, other media and Parliament. (See my last Blog). So is Sir Keir Starmer who poses as a disciple of Keir Hardie.