William Gallacher, The Worker, January 1916

German Gold on the Clyde

Source: The Worker, No. 2, 15 January 1916, p. 1;
Transcribed: by Ted Crawford.

German Gold on the Clyde! This is the metallic melody that is being shriekingly sounded by the Glasgow organ of the pure-souled patriot, Lord Northcliffe.

Once upon a time, as the story books go, it was Tory Gold. Who among the working class agitators could escape its foul contamination. Tory Gold was showered upon us, as was manna on the children of Israel.

Tory Gold sowed the seeds of damnation from one end of the country to the other. Tory Gold was the spectre that haunted the fever-stricken brain of the editorial inkspiller of the Daily Record. But its evil day is done, and the dear old bogey has been laid to rest – till our brazen liars of the Northcliffe Press find it convenient to have a “glorious resurrection.”

But there must be gold of some kind. To these men who sell themselves at a penny-a-line to yellow journalism it is inconceivable. that anyone should give service without receiving payment for it. “The pro-German press of Greece and Roumania,” wails our sensitive (?) editor, “writes with one hand in the German war-fund box.” Might we suggest that the editor of the Daily Record writes with one hand in the conscription-cum-smash the Trade Union Fund box of Northcliffe.

But if German Gold has found its way over here, who has become possessed of it? Envious eyes fix themselves on our pockets as we move about the workshops, and the bulge of a tobacco box almost draws them from their sockets. But, alas, it isn’t here. Perchance there is some of it in Paisley. This Provost of that ancient: and stratified borough, one Robertson of “Golden Shred” fame, dilating on the need for economy to a more or less distinguished company in the Municipal Chambers, delivered himself of the following heartrending and breath-bereaving story.

A young minister was going around the town soliciting subscriptions for a new church hall. In the course of his wanderings, he arrived at the door of a humble maker of munitions. In answer to his knock the housewife appeared to whom he related his business. “Weel,” she said, “You're a nice young man, and its for a guid object, sae I'll gie ye something.” She went to a drawer, brought forth a handful of notes and passed them to the dear brother in the Lord. “But my dear woman,” he protested on finding she had given him thirty pounds, “this is too much, it is only a nominal subscription I want.” “It’s aw’ richt,” answered the dame, “tak it, tak it. It’s only wan week’s pay” Can that poor fellow have been the victim of German Gold? One shudders to think of the devout Paisley workers foregathering in a hall built by the tarnished gold of the Satanic Hun.

Or again, what if the Rt. Hon. David Lloyd George got besmirched with it when he was peregrinating around the Clyde? The Record has for a sub-heading, “Authoritative Opinions.” In reading down the column we learn that the “Authorities” are reduced to “some persons who command the respect of a very wide and important circle of artisans, but whose names for obvious reasons are not given.” The only obvious reason we can think of is that the “Authoritative persons” exist only in the imagination of the writer. But in the case of the Hon. David our “Authorities” are ready to hand. The Manchester Guardian and New Statesman, both newspapers of some standing, have expressed the opinion that that gentleman has been responsible more than any other for the unrest that is so prevalent on the Clyde. It is for Lloyd George to disprove that he has been contaminated with the yellow curse. At least that is the new reading of the Law by the Record schreecher. It was wont to be a fundamental principle of British Law that a man was innocent until he was proved guilty. That isn’t good enough for the Harmsworth gang. They throw out libellous charges against the workers of the Clyde, and then invite the accused to disprove their assertion.

If there is a spark of manhood in the editor of the Record (and we know there isn’t), let him put the matter to the proof. Will he accuse any member of the C.W.C. of having a share in this shower of gold – say Davie Kirkwood or J.M. Messer, we will then be in a position to take this creature into the court, and allow his shadowy “Authorities” to take their place and submit their opinions in the witness box. We will be able to clear the Clyde workers, but we are inclined to think that the pressmen would find themselves in difficulties. Wherever corruption has been spread the channel used has ever been the Press. “Roumania and Greece writing with one hand in the German War Fund,” “American Press suborned.” Always the Press. Surely in the circumstances our sensitive (?) friend might remain humble, very humble if he does not, he is asking for trouble, and he will get it.