Newspaper Page Text
TH3E BEA3RBOII2H nSOTEPEMiBlEETO
Mr. Asquith Fights for New Political Life Manchester, England, Feb., 1920. ABOUT the time that this letter reaches America polling will take place in a by-election in the paisley division of Scotland. Hitherto Paisley I , lesi distinguished for politics than for cotton tobbins it the seat of Messrs. J. & P. Coats, Ltd., the lain - manufacturers of sewing-thread. But at the moment Paisley is the center of our political world. jK I,, action that is being fought out there is, so lar her mind can forecast its consequences, the 0011 lentOW of our time. Hi QUlthj formerly Liberal Prime Minister and stjjf fnctal Liberal leader, was defeated in the eecti December, 1918, after he had sat for East pjfe : iboul thirty years. Since then he has made no atti t to re-enter Parliament although he has re tained the Liberal leadership which some think he ought t,, ha -mned. Now he is in the field again as Liberal miniate for Paisley. 1 ; ill of the election will affect enormously not onlv M asquith! personal career but the future also 0 B politic, not only the future of the Liberal pgft but that of the Coalition and the Coalition (l ,, and in some measure therefore also that 0 i Unionist and Labor parties. Mr isquith was succeeded or, as some prefer to say. - muted by Mr. Lloyd George at the end of 1916, I m that time to the armistice he was in Parli ament the leader of the Liberal Opposition. But in opposit n in time of war Mr. Asquith has never been effective A good patriot, he is always determined to Und all reasonable support to the government of the day; but whether from lethargy or from fear of being thoughl inpatriotic he fails to exercise the function of legitimate, if unsparing, criticism, which may be not less but even more needed in war than in peace. Tlu ii came the general election of December, 1918. The bulk of the Liberal members returned were Coali tionists, ( 1 1 lowers of Mr. Lloyd George. Mr. Asquith and his lieutenants were without exception rejected by the electorate and only a bare handful of "Free" Li berals were sent back to the House of Commons. They have been led with some success by Sir Donald Mac lean, while Mr. Asquith has restricted himself to making Speeches. He has been severely criticised for his failure, as leader, to give a lead. Week after week and month after month the fortunes of his party have gone Readily downhill. There have been many signs that the old Liberal party which he represents is des tined t be crushed out of being between the twin mill stones of the Labor party and the Coalition. Labor Party a Strong Factor FOR both these are political forces which know what they do or do not want. The Labor party have def initely arrived." If they have not yet a clear-cut, de tailed program on every important question of the day. they have yet so many positive proposals and work with io much system and energy that they reap the reward which a democracy gives to courage and d c si H. The Labor party are for the nationalization of the mines of the country, and in finance, which is like i be the decisive issue in our politics, they at ! finitely for a levy on capital. These things be right or wrong but there is no nnst.t at they mean. On the other hand the Coalition or, as it my time call itself, the Moderate or Center National party is against nationaliza tion ii j against the capital levy. Mr d George not long ago declared that the grea issue of the age now opening lay be tween . ulual enterprise and the socialism of the Lab party. He was wrong, no doubt, for in one pe or other we are "all Socialist now adays' d all parties are tinged with some neasui f state socialism. Hut the Coalition ('" i t ut the "moderates," the interest, all those w think that they have anything to lose and an rfy to lose it through a Labor Govern ment. But Liberal party has recently had no policy el against these two positive forces excqn ,,f amiable generalities and negative entice hich rouse no enthusiasm at a time u'Un reckage of the war demands a bold, constructi policy. This is true of home and loreipn tirs. There are, for instance, the questi. (he peace treaty and the wretched state oi Central Europe and of Russia at the wew : ment The 1 alition forces, roughly speaking, ap lJrove t' -ace treaties without qualifications, support : continuance of the war in Russia and aye ino proposition! to make for the revival of rickt-n I fne La5or partv are outspoken , 1!lcs pi many clauses in the peace treaties, they nand tlu cessation of Allied help to the White ussian armies and the making of the peace with 1s,a ,and they have recently put forward an Srr proSrtin Earned with a view to put S Central Eur opt on its feet. B His Great Personal Battle ..." Wthouffh there i in the ranks of the lf tl ial 1arty witlcsPreacl ana ,ive,y sympathy Ultra i r ,t&dpoml OH these questions, the ttith 1 an(1 cniet among mem xur. Pressif i,VCn iX no clcar and vKrous cx bten , ,s onjy lately, when it had already ould t,lat ritisn intervention in Russia quith's CmC defmitely to an end, that Mr. As lutiun fci tok a note of decision and reso- himsclf a 1S only now tnat hc nas announced as a cntic of the weaknesses of the Peace By W. P. CROZIER Treaty or that he shows himself awake to the need of orginating an international policy of succor if Central Kurope is not to pass at the best into stagnation and de cline, at the worst into revolution and anarchy. The electorate at the by-elections has shown its sense of the timidity of the Liberal party and Liberal leadership by putting Liberal candidates many of them excellent and devoted men at the bottom of the poll. So impartial Liberal can say that the fate was undeserved. Mr. Asquith in the first place is fighting a great personal battle. His career turns on the result. It suf fered the first great blow when he. the War Premier of the day, was dispossessed by his chief lieutenant and not only the Unionists but a great part of his own followers joined forces with the usurpers. It suffered a still greater blow when at the general election it was discovered that on the whole the country approved of what had been done and had no use for Mr. Asquith. It suffered again when the months went by and Mr. As quith neither retired from the leadership of the partv which he had led to disaster nor made any effort to return to Parliament in order to restore its fortunes in the House of Commons. Such a situation could not continue. Mr. Asquith cannot lead a once-great Parliamentary party from outside Parliament. He must get back into Parliament if not now at Paisley, then very quickly somewhere else or else he must resign the leadership of the party and leave it to the hands of those whom the electorate will accept. There are many who hold that, as he should have resigned after the general election, so he should certainly resign now if Paisley refuses to elect him. The writer finds it dif ficult to see how he can continue with any dignity to retain his position if he is now rejected. Asquith Success Peril to Lloyd George TO SPEAK frankly, the grounds on which a con vinced British Liberal can desire Mr. Asquith's re turn to Parliament are personal rather than political. He is an honorable and high-minded man, who is thor oughly straight in all his personal dealings. Xo one has ever accused him of crookedness or intrigue. He is our most distinguished orator, now that Lord Rosebery is in retirement, and probably the greatest parliamentarian since the days of Mr. Gladstone. He is a real authority on finance and such authorities are few and far be tween today, when finance is the most immediate, the most important and the most neglected of our domestic problems. But as a political leader Mr. Asquith has seri ous weaknesses a man of words rather than of action, concealing irresolution or resolute inaction beneath his dignified, sonorous English. His return to Parliament, The New Ambassador to Rome m i i iiji a i et V (C) KtyitMt ROBERT UNDERWOOD JOHNSON ROME is becoming the diplomatic berth of some of America! most celebrated authors, and not in re cent times has the literary man had so good a chance in diplomatic affairs as under President Wilson. The latest appointee to the embassy at Rome is Robert Underwood Johnson, who is to succeed Thomas Nelson Page, another writer. Mr. Johnson is 67 years old and was connected with the Century Magazine for 40 years. He has written some creditable poetry. He is well known in Italy and has written of Italian matters with commendable skill. sealing his leadership of the Liberal party, would be no unmixed blessing to Liberalism. At the same time it would have a derided effect on our party politics. The Coalition at present has the support of more than one hundred Liberal mem bers of Parliament, but these figures exaggerate its strength among the Liberal rank and file in the countrv. Even among the faithful hundred much discontent has recently been caused by the tendency of Mr. Lloyd Oeorge and his government, in the Ami-Dumping Bill, to forsake Free Trade in favor of a Protectionist policy. The present intention of Mr. Llovd George, with Mr. Churchill, the Lord Chancellor. Lord Birken head (formerly Sir F. E. Smith) a his pioneers, is undoubtedly to appeal to all the "moderate" elements in the country to perpetuate the Coalition as a barrier against the advent of a Labor Government. Mr. Lloyd George's contribution to the triumph ought to be the delivery of the general mass of Liberal rotes and. in the absence of Mr. Asquith from effective Parliamen tary leadership, he might be able to i mplish his part. But if Mr. Asquith returns to Parliament, the bal ances will be weighed down againt Mr. George The Liberal party will tend to gather again round its old leader. The Liberal Coalition members will tend to move away from a Government which is predominantly Unionist in character toward a leadership of the old Liberal tradition. Most of them have little confidence in Mr. Asquith but they have to keep a wary eye on the constituencies which have returned them "to Parli ament and there is little doubt that mott of the local Liberal associations will desire their members to sup port Mr. Asquith rather than the present Coalition Government. The probable result of Mr. Asquith's return for Paisley, therefore, would be a strengthening of the 'Tree" Liberal party and a corresponding weakening of the phalanx on which Mr. Lloyd George can rely. But if he be deprived of any large support in the Lib eral ranks Mr. Lloyd George's weight in the Coalition forces is equally diminished and he will be driven back upon his personal prestige, which is indeed verv great but which will count less in the eyes of his Unionist colleagues unless he can "deliver the goods" in the shape of the Liberal support in the country which they need. We reach, thus, a further speculation. If Mr. As quith, returned to Parliament, rallies the Liberal party to himself and takes away some of the Liberal support at present granted to Mr. George, what line of action will Mr. George pursue? Some think that in despite of his popular sympathies, which are unquestioned, he will be driven to throw in his lot completely with the Unionists and will emerge at the finish, like Mr. Joseph Chamberlain, as a Protectionist Tory democrat. The alternative is that he should revert to his traditional Radicalism and, coming to an agreement with Mr. As quith, join with him in the leadership of a new Liberal party which might conceivably co-operate with Labor, if Labor will permit, in a new Parliament. There are, indeed, no signs that Mr. George at present contemplates any such manoeuvre. But then until the last few days no one has contem plated the return of Mr. Asquith to the House of Commons. At the moment Mr. George certainly proposes a continuance of the Coalition and a sweeping campaign against Labor. If Mr. As quith be returned, he might conceivably seek to avert discomfiture by dissolving Parliament and forcing another election before he had lost ground with a reorganized Labor party. No one can say with confidence, except that the Paisley re sult, whatever it be. will open a new stage in English politics. Notes From Australia Both as to the quality of the coal and the quantity available, the State coalfield in Queens land is proving an immense success ; and recently the Premier, Mr. Theodore, announced that the government will at once proceed with the laying out and erection of a model township for the miners, officials and their families. Queensland is the only state in which the policy of the up lifting of the masses has been pursued ever since the formation of the Ryan Government. Queens land, for progressiveness, presents a remarkable contrast with the want of enterprise which is shown in Victoria, the most conservative state in the Australian Commonwealth. The state of New South Wales has passed an act for the reduction of hotels, compensation being provided for owners of licensed houses, licensees, brewers and wine and spirit merchants whose interests are affected, when hotels, as such, are closed up. The Licensing Reduction Board, from time to time, will decide the questions of closure and compensation. Dr. Duhig, Catholic Archbishop of Brisbane, has concluded arrangements for introducing into Queensland a religious community who specialize in agriculture. He has secured about 500 acres of land, where they will establish themselves. The Order of Brothers is coming from America, and they are experienced in both the theory and practice of dry farming and irrigation. They will be a most valuable acquisition to the great island continent Down Under. By this combina tion of religion and agriculture Australia, after several centuries, will be linked up with the advanced farming of Europe conducted by re ligious orders in the Middle Ages.