Rebuilding Britain eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 198 pages of information about Rebuilding Britain.

The whole subject of co-operation between different parts of the Empire in determining its policy and dealing with matters affecting the whole demands earnest and immediate attention.  The totally different question of the devolution of powers to any parts of the United Kingdom has yet to be settled.  The claims of national sentiment have to be recognised while the welfare and safety of the whole are secured.  What are the units to be on which powers can be conferred, and what should be their extent?  Who exactly are those whose national claims are being asserted, and how far are they at unity among themselves?  All these questions must be treated as matters for constructive statesmanship, not as pawns in party contests.  They must be dealt with as practical problems having regard to the special circumstances of each case, not as opportunities for embodying some general political theory.  There is a commendable opportunism which knows how to take “occasion by the hand,” to do the wisest thing under the conditions subsisting at the time, as well as a blameworthy one, which looks out how to use them for personal advantage.  There will be need, too, for the “trimmer on principle”—­the man who, when the boat is going over on one side, deliberately and quickly transfers his weight to the other, or the steers-man who tacks when the wind is contrary in order to bring his ship to the port where his passengers desire to land.  Such a man, as was said of Lord Halifax in the time of Charles II, “must not be confounded with the vulgar crowd of renegades, for though like them he passed from side to side, his transition was always in the direction opposite to theirs.  The party to which he belonged was the party which at that moment he liked least, because it was the party of which he had the nearest view.  He was, therefore, always severe upon his violent associates, and was always in friendly relation with his moderate opponents.”

It is obviously impossible to discuss all these questions in a volume, still less to propound in detail the steps to be taken in dealing with them.  Most of the more pressing ones will be touched upon and some suggestions made with regard to them; a few worked out rather more fully as examples.  In some cases the remedies are obvious, and could be applied without difficulty, in others they require great special knowledge and careful thought, and their application will involve serious risks unless very great care and skill are used.  To appear dogmatic in speaking of these subjects is inevitable if one would be definite; mistakes may be made, but “truth emerges from error more readily than from confusion.”


[Footnote 9:  The last report of the Select Committee on Expenditure shows some of the grounds why this is urgent, and that very strong resolution will be needed to effect reform.  The Prime Minister’s determined action in insisting on unity of command for the Allied forces has already saved the country from enormous losses and done more than any other action of the Government to bring victory nearer.  Any layman of average intelligence could see that the step was necessary; where did the opposition come from?  There are politicians who would use their country’s troubles to secure a party triumph.]

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Rebuilding Britain from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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