TOWN EDITION. [lssued at 5 p. m.] The Ashburton Guardian. SATURDAY, JANUARY 29, 1881. An Leader Wanted.
The political atmosphere just now is very quiet. Mr. Bryce has vacated his seat in the Cabinet, and with a stern loyalty to his colleagues declines to give the slightest indication of his reason for resigning, lest he should create for them difficulty in dealing with some delicate Maori question His portfolio has been taken up by Mr. Rolleston, and no addition has yet been made to the’ Ministry, but we assume —though Ministers appear in no hurry—that this will shortly be done. There is really no need forhurry,for neverwas theirhold on office more secure than it is at (this moment. This, perhaps, is unfortunate, both for themselves and the country, for when a Government believes that it cannot be replaced, it is apt to lose its discretion, as did the administration of Sir George Grey, and the country is likely to materially suffer in consequence. We say the hold on office of the present Government is exceptionally secure, for the simple reason that the Opposition is thoroughly disorganised, and has no head whatever. In the ranks of the anti-Ministerialists there is not one man who could command the confidence of the House, or could bring together a compact party. Mr. Macandrew’s name has only to be mentioned as a probable leader to evoke antagonism to the Opposition in its own household, and . all the other men who, during the last and previous sessions appeared as followers of Sir George Grey, would individually fail to win the confidence of a party of any strength, so that actually the only man we can look to with any expectancy is Sir George Grey himself. How the ex-Premier would succeed again at the head of affairs we can readily conjecture, and think it would be a melancholy day for the colony should he ever again be at the head of a majority. It is with regret that we observe this weakness in the Opposition, a weakness which is apt to make Ministers less watchful than they might be, and less careful of their conduct. Far rather would we see an Opposition composed of men capable of keen and discriminating criticism of the doings of the Administration, which criticism the Administration would be forced to do their best to disarm and defy. Instead, however, of such an Opposition, it was truly remarked last session that the Government members had nothing to which to reply. Streams of talk certainly flowed, filling up the pages of Hansard , but the* artillery was weak at best, and in most cases the guns were light and altogether unshotted. The impotency of the Opposition has told already on the conduct of the Government, for had their doings during the recess been liable to a searching dissection when Parliament re assembles, it is highly improbable that such an enormity of the railway tariff would have agitated Canterbury during this summer. On this question probably Government will receive its severest criticisms from its own side of the House, and it was the fear of this doubtless that brought about the modifications that have been conceded. One thing is evident, it cannot be said of the Government that they have been over Conservative of the interests of their friends, but in their cutting-down policy they have mercilessly "wielded a two-edged sword, that cut wherever there was anything to cut, regardless of who suffered in the interests of the country.
Possibly the very weakness of the Opposition, showing that while they are dissenting among themselves, the one jealous of the other, and a dozen men wanting to lead, may prove their strength.- They may realise that the party in power is daily gaining a firmer foothold, and if anything is to be effected the disunited ranks must be reorganised and brought together during the session that is drawing near. This session will more than likely be the end of the present Parliament, and one last effort may be made, but it will require to be a very powerful one, to unseat the present holders of office. Of what another appeal to the constituencies may evolve it is difficult to speak with any certainty; some new blood introduced may perhaps add strength to the opposing party, and it is much needed, for its power was never at a lower ebb than at this moment.