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Full text of "The Egyptian Problem"

XV
THE MILKER COMMISSION

lest ^ it should dispel the atmosphere of entirely artificial suspicion they had so laboriously created ? If the Nationalists are justified in claiming that they speak for the nine 01; ten millions of inarticulate peasantry as well as for the small minority who form the politically-minded classes, why should they have done their utmost to prevent members of the Commission, who have been accustomed in their own country to move amongst the masses, from seeing with their own eyes and hearing with their own ears svhat is the life and what are the needs and wishes of the Egyptian masses ? What other conclusion can the Commission have drawn than that there are ugly skeletons in the Egyptian political cupboard which the Nationalists are interested in concealing ? One of the most urgent questions of the present day is that of the relations between rackrenting landlords and tenants, and of the wages of agricultural labourers, which, with the enormous rise in the price of foodstuffs, have ceased to be living wages. But the Nationalist propaganda depends largely for the sinews of war upon the contributions of the great landowners, who are also the great profiteers, whether they open their purses willingly or, perhaps more often, under a pressure that savours of blackmail. Now these are questions in which some members of the Commission were particularly interested. What conclusions can they have drawn from the elaborate precautions taken by the Nationalists to head them off the inquiries they wished to make for themselves ? What opinion are they likely to have formed as to the real purpose of a movement which professes to be essentially democratic and makes a special appeal to the democratic element in England, when its leaders are afraid to allow the humble folk, of whom they pretend to be the spokesmen, to have word for themselves with a democratic member of the British Parliament ? If the Nationalists wished to estrange the sympathies and excite the distrust of men who were most disposed to believe in their cause, they could not have done so more