From the August 1911 issue of the Socialist Standard
The tranquility of the city of Manchester has recently been disturbed, owing to the somewhat militant attitude adopted by its carters, to obtain the outrageous wage of 25s. per week.
The capitalist Press, ever ready to paint in livid colours the vices and shortcomings of the proletariat, has enjoyed itself immensely; the strike has given the smooth-tongued, facile penned journalist data sufficient to fill a thirty-two page liar chock full. Proprietors have revelled in the abundance and quality of the matter contained, and, of course, there is the increase of circulation.
But while they have deprecated the gluttony and greed of members of the working class demanding 25s. a week, they have poured vials of eulogy upon those patient and long-suffering individuals, the police. We read of them "doing their work admirably," and "under such great provocation," too.
There is, however, another side to this picture, a side hidden by our pure, non-partizan (!) Press.
We (by "we" I mean two Socialists) wended our way to the city's centre, really to study the psychology of the mob, and seeing a body of police patrolling a narrow street, we stood and awaited developments.
No one seemed inclined to bloodshed, and had not the facts been known one would have thought here was a coronation crowd waiting for the appearance of the King.
But presently a banana-skin hurtled through the air and alighted on a constable's helmet. It was enough. The policemen's nerves, strained to breaking-point by the terrible ordeal of having to stand scowling at a half-starved, unarmed mob, could stand no more. Their long-suffering patience collapsed, and at the command of an officer to "charge!" on came the myrmidons of the Law like a blue fury.
Waving their batons they swept the crowd before them, hitting right and left, one burly "slop" missing by a inch the head of a seven-year old boy.
The crowd rushed past, and as we were stationed against the wall we thought it advisable to stay there. Presently an old man, bent and unable to hurry, shuffled across the road. He gained the centre of the street when he was struck two severe blows on his sides by a couple of "patient" policemen, and fell to the ground.
My comrade was unable to restrain his sympathy upon witnessing this cowardly brutality, and he hurried to the old man's side, and turning to the constables, protested against such inhuman methods. No sooner had he spoken than he was struck down from behind, and lay bleeding in the road.
The following morning the Press reported that an old man had been trampled on by the crowd, and lay in a critical condition.
Another instance, "Where are you off to?" said an officer to a man with a work basket. "Home," was the reply. Then the uniformed brute took the poor fellow by the coat-collar and threw him back.
"I'm going home, sir" the victim of this rough treatment said, and for that he was dragged off to the police station, and next morning was fined 10s. 6d for disorderly conduct.
"Police Entertained to Luncheon at the Exchange Cafe by Chief Constable," ran a heading in a Manchester paper.
"One knew that they would uphold the traditions of the police force, and one could not help but be delighted that no complaint whatever had reached the Chief Constable of any man amongst them." — Councillor T. Lewis (Manchester Chronicle, 10.7.11).
My comrade a letter to the Press explaining the circumstances under which he was injured and uttering his protest, but that letter was never published. No wonder there are no complaints.
Occurrences such as these show plainly that the capitalist Press, like Law and the armed forces, is merely an instrument in the hands of the capitalist class to maintain their ascendancy, and shows once again the urgent need for, and the value of, the SOCIALIST STANDARD.
J. H. Lamb