HC Deb 18 August 1919 vol 119 cc1989-90

Everybody is suffering from the terrible strain of the War. Nerves are jagged and sore. I am not sure that we make sufficient allowance for that and for the nervous reaction. There is no surer sign of ruffled nerves than the general disposition to grumble and grouse about everything and everybody. Everybody is complaining of everybody else. Everybody is complaining of the management, whether of the country or of business, and trade unionists complain of their leaders.

Lieut.-Colonel THORNE

We will get over our troubles.


We will get over all our troubles if we only face them as cheerfully as my hon. Friend.


And people are complaining of the Government.


I quite agree. They complain of Governments; they complain of the existing order of things; they complain of Providence. Men do not pull their full weight when the harness frets. Gradually we shall pass away from that state of things if we exercise common sense and forbearance—forbearance not merely on the part of the grumblers, tout also on the part of those who are grumbled at. If they have the good sense and the humour to appreciate the situation, and not to get too upset, but to realise that it is the sort of passing mood which you get on board ship when you have a week's sickness, and when everybody grumbles, it will pass away. But we must exercise forbearance. In time most will have forgotten their fretfulness. Those who remember at all will be a trifle ashamed, and there will be only a few, a wretched remnant, who will be always disappointed that they were unable to take advantage of the discontent either to upset the Government or the existing order and institutions of the country. All that will pass away. It is prevalent through out the world. It is not merely here; it is in France, it is in Germany; and to a less extent in the United States of America. The world is suffering from shell-shock on a great scale, and the habitude of industry has not been quite recovered. We do not make enough allowance for that. This is one of the most important contributory causes to the slackness manifest in the workshops of the world. When you have led a different life, a good deal of it wasted, it is difficult in two, three, or four years after that quite to get into the frame of mind to make you stand by a machine for eight or nine hours a day.