The Ashburton Guardian. COUNTY AGRICULTURAL & SPORTING RECORDER SATURDAY, APRIL 10, 1880.
There are few indeed of the colonists of New Zealand who have left their old associations so very far behind as not to feel interested in the general election now going on in Great Britain—the kernel of that great empire of which we are all subjects, and which claims and receives our fullest and most loyal devotion. The electorates of Great Britain have been called upon to decide the grave question of which political party is to be the ruling power of the empire, and to the surprise of a great many they have pronounced with no muffled voice in favor of the Liberals. The septennial duration of the
Legislative clockwork of the Old Country had almost run down, and Parliament was dissolved that the constituencies, who hold the keys of the mechanism should again wind it up for another se\ en years’ spoil. When the Parliament that has just bid good-bye to St. Stephen’s was elected, Mr. Gladstone held the reins. But when he saw that the voice of the country was against him, as evinced by the majority of the members that ranged themselves in opposition, without waiting for an adverse vote in the House he at once gave place to the great Conservative leader, and Mr. Disraeli came into power. Mr. Gladstone then announced that he had fought his last battle, and that thenceforth another and younger champion must head the Liberal forces. For a lengthened period he maintained the position —comparatively speaking—of an onlooker. He was silent in the party debates of the House of Commons, and his grand oratory was only heard in advice and good consel. But it was impossible that a soul like his, set as it is in a golden wreath of the highest talents and the soblimest gifts, could rest inactive. The terrible atrocities in Bulgaria in the Russo-Turkish war, fired his noble and philanthropic spirit, and the old Gladstone came forth brilliant and eloquent as of yore. His telling periods have ever since rung out against the foreign policy of the Government. He has been stintless in his denunciation of every step of the Government in its foreign relations. He never forgave the countenance given to Turkey; his criticism of the occupation of Cyprus was severe, and the language he used was scathing ; Ids laugh at the attempt to curb Russia in her fancied lust for Asia Minor was keenly cynical ; and his bitterness against the war with the Zulus was only equalled bv that which he showed against the step which led our armies against the fastness of Afghanistan. Honest William Ewart Gladstone is no warrior statesman, and his only Conservatism is that the skins of his countrymen should remain untouched by the impact of foreign bullets, and their blood saved from being wasted on the land of a stranger. He believes in the prestige of Great Britain, and in sustaining her influence at foreign Courts,but ho has no idea that she should become a sort of universal bruiser, and take part in every qu vrrol in the world, no matter how pretty: With all the power of his splendid oratory he was denounced the flow of blood that has continually kept on during the time the Tories have been in power ; and though every division of the House was against his ideas on the foreign policy of the Government, the people, who are ever ready to listen to him, and who have come to look upon him as honest and sincere to a fault in his statesmanship—failings they do not generally attribute to the leader of the other side—the people have not been blind to his doings nor deaf to his sayings. So we find that those who so confidently predicted a victory in the general election for the advocates of “ a spirited foreign policy ” are astonished when they read the cablegrams announcing as thorough a scattering of the Conservatives as that party has suffered since Benjamin Disraeli first ranged himself on their side. The victory has evidently been won upon the soil of Enland and Scotland, for we are assured that the Liberal party will secure a majority independent of the Home Rulers, so we feel justified in believing that it is the foreign policy alone of the Government that is their weakness —a policy that was too “spirited” and costly at a time when the heaviest depression Great Britain has suffered for many years was hanging over her trade and commerce, and clogging the wheels of her factories. A starving nation has little heart to fight, and when hungry men look abroad and see millions of money wasted in wars that after all bring nothing to the country’s coffers, but entail additional taxation to make good the expenditure, the sight is not calculated to raise enthusiasm for the legislators who so actively flourish the hatchet. Of course we on this side of the water see events only through the indistinctness of distance — but there can be no question whatever about the figures our telegrams give us, and the thorough collapse of the Conservative cause for the time being that they indicate. In every part of the Kingdom the results are in favor of the Liberals, and they have been harvesting seats wherever they have set up a contest. Up to last returns that have reached us, some 90 seats that last session were held by Tory members will now give votes to the other side, and doubtless the rush of success that has attended the Liberal cause will gather impetus as it goes on. Mr. Gladstone’s career as a leader has ceased. He has voluntarily laid it down, and another will wear the honors in the Parliament to come, but notwithstanding he is the best card in the Liberal pack, and there can be little doubt that, whoever holds the reins has no one else to thank for the triumph of the Liberal cause but the genius of William Ewart Gladstone.
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