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THE BY-ELECTION

LABOUR'S BIG EFFORT

TO HOLD MAJORITY

BIG GUNS IN ACTION

(Special to tha "Evening Post.") CHRISTCHURCH, This Day. Christchurch South must give its decision tomorrow in the Parliamentary by-election caused by the death of Mr. E. J. Howard, who was Chairman of Committees in the last Parliament. Its choice lies between the National candidate, Mr. M. E. Lyons, and the Labour candidate, Mr. R. M. Macfarlane. The general opinion in the city is that the seat will remain true to its radical tradition and that victory for Mr. Macfarlane is assured, though there is considerable speculation as to whether or not Mr. Lyons will succeed in increasing the vote cast for his party at the General Election last October. Christchurch South first returned a Labour candidate in 1919, the year when Mr. Howard first entered Parliament. Mr. Howard was returned at successive elections from that time onwards, and, in the last election he contested secured 9885 votes out of a total poll of 13,945. His opponent then was Mr. Gladstone Ward, a son of the late Sir Joseph Ward. Mr. Ward's vote was 3890, and it is the hope of the National Party that the present candidate, Mr. Lyons, will be able to improve on those figures. On the eve of the by-election the city is philosophically awaiting the announcement of a result which will settle the keenly-discussed question whether there has been any swing in' public opinion. The meetings that have been held do not provide any reliable guide as to how the electorate intends to vote. Both candidates can claim that they have been favoured with crowded attendances at all their meetings, but close observers have noted that it. has been the same crowd that has crowded each meeting. As was the case in the General Election the silent voter will be the predominating factor in tomorrow's poll. A SINGLE-HANDED FIGHT. Both candidates have been before the public for many years. Mr. M&":----farlane is Mayor of Christchurch and has twice contested the Christchurch North seat against the sitting National member, Mr. S. G. Holland. His opponent, Mr. Lyons, made his first attempt to enter Parliament in 1925, when he contested the Lyttelton seat against the late Mr. J. McCombs. In that respect he made political history, for, on the declaration of the Returning Officer, he was elected to the House and for a short period drew the salary of a member of Parliament, only to find himself unseated by the decision of an Electoral Court which upheld a petition placed before it by Mr. McCombs. The Court found that certain electors who had voted for Mr. Lyons were resident in an adjoining electorate and therefore their votes were invalid. Last year Mr. Lyons was selected to contest the Mid-Can-terbury seat for the National Party, but had the unusual experience of finding his selection upset and Mr. A. N. Grigg chosen as the official candidate. Mr. Grigg won the seat from the Labour member, Mr. H. E. Herring. Mr. Lyons was again willing to stand when the call was made by the National Party for a candidate to contest the Christchurch by-election. The single-handed fight he has made against the full forces of Labour during the campaign in the past three weeks is one of the most spectacular as well as one of the most ambitious efforts by a candidate in a Parliamentary election for many years. Declining all offers of. assistance, Mr. Lyons has put up a most creditable showing, and he will have the satisfaction of knowing that the votes cast in his favour in tomorrow's poll were won by him, and him alone. LABOUR FORCES ASSEMBLED. One of the most remarkable features of the campaign has been the concentration in the electorate of the Labour Party's most forceful and influential speakers. From the outset the Labour Party made no secret of its intentions. It was not concerned so much with the actual victory as with the size of the majority it might obtain. Realising that the result of the by-election might easily become one of the strong talking points in the coming Address-in-Reply debate in the House, the Labour Party was prepared to spare neither its own expense nor that of the country to obtain a clear-cut result. The Deputy Leader of the House of Representatives (the Hon. P. Fraser) was chosen to open the campaign, and to close it the party selected the Prime Minister. Following Mr. Fraser and preceding Mr. Savage were the Minister of Public Works (the Hon. R. Semple), the Minister of Housing (the Hon. H. T. Armstrong), the Minister of Industries and Commerce (the Hon. D. G. Sullivan), and the Minister of Labour (the Hon. P. C. Webb). Some observers take the view that the Labour Party, which generally handles its campaign organising with considerable skill, has rather overdone things on this occasion. The effect of the importation of five members of the Cabinet, and three able members of Parliament, Messrs. J. A. Lee, J. Thorn, and Dr. D. G. McMillan, has been to obliterate the candidate more or less completely. Mr. Macfarlane, instead of being the most prominent figure in the campaign, has actually become its most inconspicuous identity. Certainly on this occasion party interests have been studied before those of the individual. The National Party entered the byelection on the assumption that big changes had been made in the politi!cal situation of the country since the General Election last October, and also because it believed that the time had come for a review of the situation generally. Labour took a different view and contested the issue on precisely the same lines as those placed before the electors in October. Social security was again a basis of the Labour policy, while criticism of the Act now on the Statute Book was the main theme of the National Party candidate.

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Permanent link to this item

https://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/newspapers/EP19390602.2.60

Bibliographic details

THE BY-ELECTION, Evening Post, Volume CXXVII, Issue 128, 2 June 1939

Word Count
981

THE BY-ELECTION Evening Post, Volume CXXVII, Issue 128, 2 June 1939

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