The Press. FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 14, 1896. YESTERDAY'S ELECTION.
Wβ need hardly say that we are deeply gratified at the result of the Christchurch election. It was on all sides a well-fought battle. Indeed, we question if any election in Christchurch has ever been more keenly contested, and certainly none has been watched with more interest by ihe public outside the confines of the electorate. The prohibitionists, with their splendid organisation, worked with a. self-denying zeal and energy which must win the admiration even of their opponents. Their candidate, Mr. T. E. Taylok, as we have admitted all through the contest, is a fluent, vigorous speaker, and is a man of considerable ability as well as of great earnestness in the particular cause he has espoused., His worst faults have been his intemperance of speech and his inability to admit that the motives of people who differ from him may be as good as his own. Although they have been defeated, the prohibitionists undoubtedly have reason to claim that their cause has made progress since the last general election in 1898. Then the Eev. J. 08. Hoake, who we suppose may be taken to represent the prohibitionist vote at that time, polled 8016. Mr. T. E. Taylob yesterday scored 1286 votes in excess of this number, and although this probably includes many who voted for him in spite of his extreme views on the liquor question, because they believed in him on other pointg, the prohibitionist party may fairly claim that they have not goce back, but have gained in strength during the last three* years. No doubt, they will at once redouble their exertions to secure new converts with a view of still further improving their position at the next general election.
In addition to the solid and resolute organisation of the prohibitionist party, Mr. Lewis had to contend against the most determined Ministerial influence ever brought to bear upon any election in New Zealand. Never before do ye remember an instance in this colony of three Ministers leaving their duties in Wellington to throw themselves with all their might and main into a by-election, leaving no effort untried to secure the return of their nominee. No doubt they realised how much depended upon the result of this particular contest. They knew that public confidence in their policy and administration, once so
strong in Chrisfechurch, was fast slipping away, and they felfc that if they were defeated here they were in eftecfc losing a very citadel of their party, and that, throughout the length and breadth of New Zealand the cry would go up that at length the tide of victory had turned against them. The Premier, the Minister of Lands, and the Colonial Treasurer, therefore, in turns came down and used all their arts of eloquence and personal influence to force their nominee, Mr. K. M. Taylor, upon the electors. The result showed that the bulk of the people of Christchurch, men and women, were not to be coerced. They still cherished the British desire for fair play and freedom, and they determined to show that they were tired of "fads" and tired of the professions of a Government that continually promised a prosparity which never came. The result was the crushing defeat which the Government sustained yesterday at the polls. '
That defeat is remarkable in two ways. In the first place Mr. Charles Lewis entered upon the contest a young, untried, and practically unknown man. A small circle of his friends knew his abilities and his worth, but to the vast bulk of the electors he was absolutely a stranger. In the second place it must be remembered that Mr. T. E. Taylor, the second candidate on the poll, although a supporter of most of the Eadical measures of the Government, has never concealed his utter distrust of their administration, and has, indeed, both on the platform and in the Press, shown himself one of the most uncompromising opponents that the Premier possesses. Bearing these facts in mind, the result of the election seems fairly to show that while 4714 Christchurch electors who voted for Mr. Lewis declared themselves out and out opponents of the Government, both as regards policy and administration, no fewer than 9016 electors declared themselves dissatisfied with the Ministry, either on the ground of its policy or administration or both, and the " Government, with all their cajolery and coercion, were only able to scrape together 8196 out-and-out supporters. The significance of these figures can hardly be over-estimated. We have said that Mr. Chakles Lewis may justly feel proud of the victory he has achieved — auother victory for " Young New Zealand," we may remark, in passing. He commenced the fight with what seemed at first almost overwhelming odds against him. He entered on the contest cheerily, however, and his pluck, gentlemanly bearing, and evident "grip" of the subjects he handled soon made a most favourable impression. He is especially to be commended, we think, for the chivalry and good humour with which he carried on the struggle from the first, and if he continues to be guided in the House by the same principles as those which have distinguished him iv the election, as we believe he will, he will soon make his influence felt, and Christchurch will have every reason to feel proud of having returned him as her member.
Mr. Lewis himself, we believe, would be the first 'to acknowledge how much he owes to the enthusiasm, devotion and energy of his supporters. The National Association has completely justified its existence and shown the value of organisation, and we have no doubt the result of this victory will be to give the movement a great impetus throughout the colony. Its officers and members worked loyally and well, and outside its ranks Mr. Lewis had many earnest supporters, who exerted themselves to the utmost to secure the victory for the man and the principles they believed in. A special word of praise is due to the ladies. Many who before had taken no active part in an election threw themselves heart and = soul into this contest, and there is no doubt that to them very largely is due the deeply gratifying result we have to record. Last, but not least,.we venture, to congratulate the great body of voters who came forward on this occasion in support of the cause of freedom, of economical administration, and of sound government. At the same time we trust that even many of those who voted against Mr.' Lewis yesterday will yet see reason to approve the choice that has been made. Mr. Lewis is not an extremist. He entered the contest with the avowed aim to " bridge over the gulf" which has too long existed, and to help to restore the confidence whioh has too long been lacking. In both these laudable objects we hope he will,meet with a very large measure of success.
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The Press. FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 14, 1896. YESTERDAY'S ELECTION., Press, Volume LIII, Issue 9340, 14 February 1896
The Press. FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 14, 1896. YESTERDAY'S ELECTION. Press, Volume LIII, Issue 9340, 14 February 1896
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