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London, August 1st, 1895. portional representation to have converted what was The electors having got a chance, have a Liberal majority of forty in 1892 into a minority eral sent the Liberals packing. The General of five in 1895. If the Conservatives had been cursed Election.
Election, which opened on July 13th, with the burden of a granted prayer, and One Vote and is now virtually over, converted a Liberal One Value had really been conceded, the 2,370,000 majority of 28 at the Dissolution into a Conser- who voted Liberal would have returned 333 members, vative majority of 152. With the exception of while the 2,407,000 electors who voted Conservative Ireland, where the Home Rulers succeeded in would have been represented by 337 members. * slightly improving their
What has happened, thereposition, every part of the
fore, is that there has been United Kingdom showed
a small but decided swing that the pendulum was
of the pendulum in the swinging heavily in the
constituencies, which has direction of Conservatism.
produced a change in the The Liberals suffered a net
House of Commons loss of six seats in Wales,
altogether out of propor11 in Scotland, and 81 in
tion to the actual shifting England. The net Liberal
of force in the electorate. majority in Scotland has
The Liberals have to been pulled down to six,
account for a reverse ; while in England the Libe
they certainly have not rals are outnumbered three
to account for any catato one. The predominant
clysmal catastrophe. partner has put his foot
Why it has The moral down with emphasis, and,
been effect of the for the duration of
exaggerated. Conservative this Parliament, he will
victories has been strengthstand no nonsense ind
ened by the series of the shape of Home
disasters which befell the Rule. That the General
leaders of the Liberal army. Election would result in
At no previous General Liberal overthrow was from the Weslminster Gazette.]
Election have so many
[July 18, 1895. seen by every one before
officers been picked off.
THE UNION. the polls opened, and by “United we Stand, Divided we Fall.”
Sir William Harcourt was none more clearly than by
rejected at Derby, Mr. John the Liberals themselves. What no one expected, Morley at Newcastle, Mr. Shaw Lefevre at Bradford, least of all the Liberals, was that the result of the and Mr. Arnold Morley at Nottingham. Each of ballot could leave them in so woful a minority. the Cabinet Ministers had a subordinate member of The Extent of Even if the party managers could have the Administration not of the Cabinet dispatched to the Liberal accurately foreseen the number of electors keep him company, as the Ashantee kings when they
se. who would fill in their ballot papers die are provided with an escort into the invisible for the Liberals and Conservatives respectively, world by the slaughter of their wives and followers, that would have afforded them no clue whatever I as to the balance of parties in the House of Commons. It would indeed have been the most misleading factor in their calculations. The transfer of 100,000 votes, or a little over 2 per cent. of the total number voting, from the Liberals to the Conservatives, ought on strict principles of pro
* I take these figures from the Westminster Gazelte. It is extremely difficult to divide the number of electors between the parties fairly, but it would be impossible to adopt a fairer rule than that wbich Mr. Cook has laid down. Labour votes, except where the Labour candidate was the only Home Ruler in the field, have not been counted. In the case of the uncontested elections those of the last available contest have been substituted, except in a few constituencies which have not been contested at all of late years. In these constituencies two-thirds of 75 per cent. of the electorate have been given to the side in possession, and one-third to the other. According to the statistician of the Times the balance of voting strength in Great Britain is as follows:-Unionists, 2,267,000; Home Rulers, 2,012,000 ; representing a turn over of 110,000 votes from one side to the other in three years.,
Of the ex-Cabinet Ministers only two represent English constituencies. Mr. Campbell Bannerman, Mr. Asquith, and Sir George Trevelyan all sit for Scotch seats. The effect of the Ministerial hecatomb was increased by the tremendous defeats which the Liberals suffered in two such vital centres as Lancashire and London. In the capital of the Empire the Liberals had a net loss of fifteen seats. In Lancashire, a county of which it used to be said “what Lancashire thinks to-day England will think to-morrow," the Liberals lost eight seats net, converting a Liberal majority of three into a Conservative majority of thirteen. When the Liberals were reeling under such Thor-hammer blows of adversity, it is not so very surprising that many people should be talking as if the Liberal party had been swept off the slate altogether.
The Open Hence we have had an extraordinary Secret of the series of explanations to account for the
Elections. Liberal defeat, which would be sufficient to account, not merely for the transfer of 150,000
votes from one side to the other, but for the death and burial of all the Liberal rank and file. It is a pity that those politicians who have been so busy accounting for the Liberal defeat did not recall the familiar story of the thirty-four reasons which the governor of the city had prepared to excuse the omission of a royal salute on the arrival of his sovereign, but which were abruptly cut off after the first item, which set forth he had no guns. There was no necessity to go through the rest of the thirty-three reasons, and one feels much the same when listening to the current explanations of the Liberal defeat. The first reason is quite sufficient, and there is no need to go further in accounting for the very small change of the party vote than the fact which I stated in these pages some months ago, long before the ballot boxes were opened.
Writing on February 1st of this year, John Bull's I remarked that John Bull was pre
paring to take an after-dinner nap, and that it would not matter if the archangel
Gabriel were in Lord Rosebery's place, the results of decided upon, could not lead the Liberal forces for the General Election would not be materially a desperate attack upon the citadel of reaction. different. John Bull, I said, is
Fifth, the Indian Cotton Duties. going to take it easy for a short
These are said to have cost us a time, and he is absolutely imper
dozen seats. One of the two seats vious to the different accents of
which we won in Lancashire was those who want to disturb his
gained from a Unionist who supslumber. The more we fret and
ported the late Government on this fume the more he will settle him
question. Lancashire voted accordself into his armchair and forget
ing to what it believed to be its all about it. The sluggish and
commercial interests, the electors somewhat lethargic John Bull has
thinking much more of keeping been surfeited with the heroics
their trade with India than of of legislation for the last fifteen
thwarting the Nationalist aspirayears, and is now in the state
tions of Ireland. Sixth, the Indewhich I called the lethargy of the
pendent Labour Party. Some easy-chair. “It is not Conserva
30,000 men, a handful representing tism, or devotion to the Union, or from the Westminster Budget.] [July 19, 1895. less than one per cent. of the ing that can be dignified by THE ATTITUDE OF THE INDEPEN- voters. desiring to force the pace
DENT LABOUR PARTY. the name of principle. It is simply
at the time when John Bull wished
“Can't get in myself, but I can keep a few the natural longing for repose which there out, anyway."
to snooze, detached itself from the overtakes nations at irregular inter
Liberal ranks and occasioned the vals after spells of political experiment.” We need loss of several seats. In the absolutely unbroken no other explanation to account for what has series of disasters which attended the whole of the happened. It is a change of mood, not a change of Independent Labour Party's candidates, especially principle.
in the return for West Ham, the Liberal party The various secondary questions which had the only consolation which has befallen it Contributory have contributed to this change of mood
at this election.
In addition to these causes, some may be arranged thus in their order of which are general and other local, there may be of importance :—First, disunited Ireland, for while added some others which perhaps produced some the Irish are quarrelling among themselves you effect, such as the absence of Mr. Gladstone, the will never convince John Bull of the necessity lack of any palpable enthusiasm among the Liberal for Home Rule. Second, the Local Veto Bill. leaders for each other, the general feeling that as a The British electors, not one-third of whom are strong Liberal majority would be out of the question, teetotal, were not enthused' by the proposal to it would be better to put Lord Salisbury in with a give a two-thirds voting majority in any locality good backing, and so forth, and so forth. power to confiscate the property of the publican,
It is a curious thing that although all while the publicans naturally fought for their lives.
Results and these causes catalogued above were
Forecasts. Third, Disestablishment. The attack on the Welsh
known to be in existence before ParliaEstablishment attracted no enthusiasm outside Wales, ment was dissolved, there were many, including while it galvanised into hostility the latent election- some at the headquarters of the Liberal organisation, eering force of the English Church. The Liberation who absolutely refused to recognise that the election Society as a political force has been steadily going could only end in one way, and in both organisations, downhill since 1871, when the Education Act, as with the possible exception of Captain Middleton, accepted and administered by Nonconformists them- nobody expected they would result in a Tory majority selves, knocked the bottom out of the old Noncon- of 152. The general calculation was that the Tories formist contention that the State had nothing would have a majority of from thirty to fifty. Mr. to do with the teaching of religion. Fourth, the Chamberlain is said to have counted upon a Liberal leaders not having been able to make up ninimum of seventy. Before the polls were their minds as to whether to end, mend, or clip the opened the only prediction which gave Lord claws of, the Peers, or how to carry out any of Salisbury over a hundred majority was one obtained these projects, whichever of them was ultimately by no process of calculation, but by a communication