MARCH 25TH , 1916
at a Tribunal
INCIDENTS AT HUDDERSFIELD
BY A WELL-KNOWN SOCIALIST
IMPRESSED AND POLICY CHANGED
was a dramatic episode in the proceedings of the Huddersfield
Military Service Tribunal on Monday afternoon. A large
number of cases of conscientious objection to military
service were down for hearing, and the public attended
in large numbers to watch the proceedings. So large was
the attendance that scores had to stand through the afternoon,
and the crowd extended into the corridors. A policemen
was sent for to regulate the crowd.. An air of excitement
was noticeable from the outset, but the hearing of several
cases took place without any special incident. When the
name of Arthur Gardiner was celled, however, and this
popular Socialist protagonist made his way to the table,
the excitement found expression in a startling outburst
of cheering. What followed is reported below. It is worthy
of notice that though exemption was refused in every case
of conscientious objection prior to this demonstration,
nearly all of the subsequent cases, including that of
Arthur Gardiner, were given temporary exemption.
the cheering which greeted Gardiner's appearance had subsided,
the Mayor (Ald. Blamires), who was in the chair, said
that after that demonstration he would clear the court,
and they would hear the case in private.
This caused resentment, and members of the public shouted
that the applicant could have the case heard in public.
Amid the hubbub Mr. Pickles, the Labour member of the
Tribunal, rose and said: "I desire to say that we
are trying the case of Mr. Arthur Gardiner, and Arthur
Gardiner perhaps has had no part or parcel in the demonstrations
we have just listened to. Therefore, it is only justice
that we should try the case like others and that this
should be a warning to demonstrators in the future."
The Mayor: But though Arthur Gardiner had no connection
with these people, they have come with some definite intention
of making a demonstration.
Mr. A. P. Crosland (military representative): I
should clear the room sir.
Applicant: May I object? Have I leave to speak
The Mayor: One moment, please. It is the feeling
of the Tribunal we should hear this case in private and
have the Press present. (Turning to the public) I must
ask you to leave the room.
A Voice: He does not want it in private.
Applicant: I am quite prepared to have this taken
in private on condition that I can have witnesses to stay
The Mayor: If we require witnesses
Applicant: I shall require witnesses.
The Mayor: We will meet that when we come to it.
Mr. Armitage: You will have the right to appeal
against this decision.
A Voice: Let's clear out. They're only a lot of
was now much excitement among the public and the members
of the Tribunal sat helpless. The Rev. E. E. Lark of the
United Methodist Church, Paddock, stepped forward and
addressed the Mayor. He said there was pre-arrangement,
so far as he knew, to applaud Arthur Gardiner, who was
a very popular man in the Socialist movement. He (the
speaker) hoped that in the public interest the Mayor would
overlook the applause and reverse the decision.
Applicant: To remove any doubt the Tribunal may
have, personally I was more surprised than the members
of the Tribunal. There has been nothing whatever arranged.
Perhaps I can account for the applause and the demonstration
because I have taken up a definite anti-war attitude in
times of peace as well as war. (Hear, hear)
Mr. Crosland: It has nothing to do with Mr. Gardiner.
The crowd are misbehaving themselves.
The Rev. E. E. Lark: It is not misbehaviour Mr.
Mayor, but a case of very strong feeling, which should
not prejudice the applicant.
The Mayor: We are here in a very difficult position
doing our best. (Laughter)
Mr. T. H. Beaumont (from the audience): We have
not taken up any antagonism to you or the Tribunal. We
want to hear the case. As citizens we have a right to
The Mayor: I will not have any further discussion.
A Voice: We will be here all night then.
Another Voice: It is not a fair trial if it is
in private. (Shouts of "Free Speech!")
A Voice: Can you throw us out without any help?
A woman questioned the right of the Tribunal to turn out
the public against the Applicant's wishes.
A Voice: It is against the law.
Right of Public Hearing
Mayor: He has the right for this case to be heard
in private. (Applicant: I don't want it). I have the right
also. And after the demonstration I shall certainly have
this case heard in private. The Press will be present
and you will have a report.
Voices: I would not have it Gardiner (Hear, hear).
A young man stepped forward and asked, as the leader of
the demonstration, would his apology be accepted.
The Mayor: You are out of order, sir, and I don't
want to hear you. (Loud laughter)
After further suspense, the Mayor said he would adjourn
to another room presently if the people did not leave
Applicant: Can we have pointed out to us the clause
in the instructions to local Tribunals or in the Act under
which the chairman has the right to clear the court? You
can only hear cases in private if the applicant asks for
The Clerk (Mr. J. H. Field): I advise the Tribunal
that they have full power and discretion as to whether
they hear any case in private or not, independently altogether
of whether an application is made by any particular applicant.
Applicant: That is in opposition to my request
that the case should be heard in public?
The Clerk: Yes.
There is no clause in the procedure or in the Act
which gives one to understand that such is the case.
The Clerk: You are insisting on the proceedings
being in public?
Applicant: Yes, I have seen something to that effect.
After a further pause, Mr. Armitage asked: Well, Mr. Mayor,
what are we going to do?
The Mayor said it was impossible to hear the case with
a lot of people prepared to make an exhibition.
A Voice: If this meeting undertakes to make no
Another Voice: Don't give them any concessions.
Yet Another: I understood the Tribunal was a court
of justice and not an autocratic assembly. (Applause)
As we boast so much of British Liberty, why not give fair
play? You say you are going against German methods, and
yet you are adopting them.
The Mayor: I wanted to give this man fair play,
and I could not hear a word he said.
A Voice: Get a fresh chairman. (Laughter)
The Mayor: I don't think, friends, you are acting
fair at all. ("Oh, oh!")
A member of the public mounted a stand at the back of
the crowd and addressed the Tribunal. He asked on what
ground, except a show of appreciation of Mr. Gardiner,
did they deny the right of the public hearing in a public
Makes a Bargain
Mayor: This is not a public tribunal. The public have
the right to be present so long as they behave themselves.
A Voice: Have we misbehaved?
Applicant: If I appeal to the audience that no
further demonstration should take place during the hearing
of my case will that satisfy you?
The Mayor: Can you answer for these people?
Applicant said that if he appealed he believed they would
Mr. Crosland: They won't take your word.
A Voice: We think more of Gardiner than of the
The Mayor: You think a great deal of Gardiner?
Voices: More than we do of you.
Mr. Pickles: I should not interject like that.
Applicant: I can't answer for the conduct of these
people, but I am prepared to make an appeal which I believe
would be listened to. If any further demonstration takes
place after I have appealed, I shall be prepared for the
case to go in private.
The Mayor: I have made my appeal for these people
to retire. Now you shall make yours. On the first interruption
I shall refuse to go on with the case, and you agree to
go into another room to hear the case.
of the Police
then addressed the public. While he was speaking the Chief
Constable entered the room. Police officers filed into
"Women and men," said the Applicant, "
I appeal to you that no further demonstration shall take
place during the hearing of my case. If justice is not
meted out to me and my comrades, I put it to you as an
individual, that I do not count. I am simply here as the
trustee of the opinions and conscientious convictions
of the men of different parties and organisations who
have principles like I have and hold the international
solidarity of the workers should be placed before anything
else. Because I want fair play and no favours, I ask you
that no interjections of interruptions of any kind whatever
shall take place while I am on my trial." (Cheers)
The Mayor: You are not on your trial.
Applicant: I think I am.
The hearing was then proceeded with.
have no country."
his application Gardiner said he was 26 years of age and
was employed as a wool and cotton dyer. He could not conscientiously
undertake combatant or non-combatant military service.
For a number of years he had devoted his time and energy,
both publicly and privately, to the economic and moral
upliftment of humanity. He was opposed to all forms of
militarism. Believing it to be detrimental to the welfare
of all nations.
Ms. Crosland: Can you produce any evidence to show
that this belief is not of recent date?
Applicant: Yes, I can produce sufficient evidence to convince
this Tribunal. I could produce women and men to show that
for many years I have advocated anti-militarist views
and the sacredness of human life.
You are against militarism. I am against it too, and always
have been. That is no reason why you should not go to
fight or your country. - I have no country.
What are you doing here, having no country? Why are you
receiving all the benefits of a citizen when you have
no country? - Whatever benefits I am receiving have only
been got by the organised workers wringing them from the
master class. I am here this afternoon defending one of
the liberties we at present enjoy, the liberty of conscience.
Mr. Crosland suggested non-combatant service.
The Mayor: He objects to combatant and to non-combatant,
and he objects on conscientious grounds.
Applicant: My objection is not only to killing
another man, but also to taking ammunition.
to Leave the Country
Mayor: You don't object to shelter here behind the
brave men who are fighting? - I am quite prepared to leave
the country if you allow me to do so.
Mr. Crosland: There are people who would be very
glad to get rid of you if you would pay your own expenses.
- I am prepared to pay my own expenses if you will allow
me to leave the country.
The Mayor: You might be getting "out of the
frying pan and into the fire". What country would
you go to? - I don't think I should tell the Tribunal.
It is immaterial which country I would go to.
Go to Germany perhaps? - Perhaps so. I might not be any
worse off than I am here.
I think you are talking through your hat.- That is a matter
This conscientious objection is an unsubstantial thing.
- No, conscience is a material thing. You might not be
able to understand it, other people perhaps can.
"The economic and moral upliftment of humanity",
mused the Mayor. - That is so; German as well as Britisher,
Armitage: I don't know what you are going to do.
Applicant: The Tribunal agrees with me, it is a
noble ideal and I ask to be allowed to do it and go into
the highways and byways and get the people to my opinion.
That is the way to settle wars.
The Mayor: You can convince the people in time
of peace, but when their blood is up you will have to
do something to stop it, and only by physical means can
you do it.
Applicant: You can never kill militarism by militarism.
Your movement is in a minority. - All movements start
from minorities. Minorities are going to settle the war;
the people are not going to settle the war. If you would
leave it to them it would have been settled long since.
The people of this country are acting through the Government.
- Yes, and the Government are a minority.
And you are a minority who are opposing the considered
action of your own representatives. - That action does
not settle that the minority is wrong.
But it is a fact. There is a minority in Germany probably.
It is all dependant on physical force. - I cannot accept
that. If Germany licks us by physical force, do you think
the militarists in this country will be content?
There was a pause, and the applicant added: I realise
the interests of the workers of Germany are identical
with those of the workers of England, and for that reason
I cannot march against them and will not.
Named in the Reichstag
Crosland: And you will not do non-combatant service?
- Certainly not.
The Mayor: They are fighting against England! -
No, they are not fighting against me.
Well, you are a unit in this empire. - No; I don't think
my name has been brought up at all in the German Reichstag.
It would have been absurd to do so. - Certainly it would.
It is not my fault that I was born here. I am neither
to be praised nor blamed for it.
But you are fortunate that you were born here.
- That may be.
Well, I am glad you admit so much.
Turning to the other members of the Tribunal the Mayor
asked whether they were satisfied.
Mr. Armitage: He objects to one as well as the
other, and I should refuse it sir.
Mr. Pickles: I think Mr. Gardiner has made a splendid
Mr. Armitage: But he has such curious ideas; they
can't be worked.
Mr. Pickles: I should like to Ask the Town Clerk
if this Tribunal has the power to grant him exemption
on conscientious grounds.
Applicant: Mr. Armitage says I have curious views.
Because you do not agree with them does not mean I do
not hold those views.
Crosland said this case was not different from the other
The Mayor: I think he has proved consistency in
his experience. That is rather different from the others.
I have a feeling we might
Mr. Crosland: What sect do you belong to?
Applicant: I am an atheist.
The Mayor: Have atheists consciences do you think?
- Oh yes! I am a member of the British Socialist Party
and a member of the Socialist Sunday School.
Mr. Crosland: I should refuse it. Whatever you
do I shall oppose your decision.
The Mayor: That won't make the slightest difference.
Mr. Crosland: It seems so foreign to have a man
talk as he does.
The Mayor: I think I should like to retire.
The Tribunal retired and sat in private for twenty minutes.
During the interval, the Rev. Mr. Lark expressed the hope
that when the Tribunal returned and announced its verdict
there would be no demonstration. There were many other
cases in which they were interested, and they did not
want to break the compact they had made in the presence
of the Mayor with Mr. Gardiner.
the return of the Tribunal the Mayor said they had had
some difficulty in coming to a decision, but they had
decided by a majority, and the decision was that they
believed that the applicant was entitled to call himself
a conscientious objector. They were very sorry that a
man of his attainments and ability could not see the interests
of this country at the present time were in an opposite
direction, but in view of the fact that they believed
in the sincerity of his convictions, they were disposed
to grant temporary exemption for two months. Which would
carry to four months.
Applicant: I cannot accept the decision. I suppose
I shall have the right of appeal.
The Mayor said that was what he wanted. They wanted the