Discussions are underway between the Jersey Mechanics’ Institute and military authorities over plans to send a representative group to visit the front. The expectation is that Britain will cover the costs, in line with similar arrangements offered to UK workers’ representatives. The question being asked locally, however, is whether the Jersey Mechanics’ Institute represents workers, or is merely a club for working men.
The basis for the discussion is a British Government scheme that sends workers’ representatives on organised visits to the front in France and Belgium. Its aim is underlining the connection between Britain’s industry and war effort, and hopefully inspire the labour force to even greater efforts.
The challenge raised by many in Jersey is that the island’s Mechanics’ Institute is not the local equivalent of a workers’ representative body, but a recreational club frequented mostly by working class men. As such, any visit would simply be an indulgence and waste of public money during wartime.
The visit is going ahead, nevertheless, with five representatives already chosen. One wit has suggested an alternative would be for them to volunteer for the army and see first-hand what war is all about.
A/A2/20 contains correspondence and newspaper cuttings on the matter of an organised Jersey Mechanics’ Institute visit to the front.