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Evening Post MONDAY, JUNE 5, 1939. A STRAW VOTE

By-elections have never, been regarded as indicating the trend of political feeling in New Zealand to the same extent as the contests between General Elections do in England. But so much political heavy artillery was trained on Christchurch South ( by the Labour Party that attention has been directed to the result. The seat Was con sidered safe for Labour, and the intensive bombardment conducted in

the campaign was not necessary to retain it. The purpose, therefore, can have been only to maintain Labour's/majority and disprove any allegations that the Government had slipped in popular favour since October. In these circumstances the Government has little reason to be gratified with the voting. It asked for a renewed vote of confidence, and it has received it, but with an endorsement on the back. Instead of the majority of 5995 recorded for the late Mr. Howard in October, the Labour candidate has retained the seat by 3713 votes. This is, of 'course, much better than a loss; but it is not what the Government sought.

Personal considerations, naturally, cannot be overlooked. Mr. Howard was one of the most popular and likeable Labour members in New Zealand. But Mr, Macfarlane, the Labour candidate on this occasion, must also have a large personal following or he would not be Mayor of Christchurch. Yet he polled 2393 fewer votes than Mr. Howard, whereas Mr. Lyons, the National candidate, came within 111 of the total polled by Mr. Gladstone Ward at the General Election. The explanation offered by Mr. Macfarlane that apathy reduced the Labour vote is not convincing. Apathy is not given much scope when the Labour organisation is at work, and it was at work this time with as many picked Labour speakers as could be crowded into the electorate without their actually competing with one another for support. Mr. Lyons is more likely to have suffered from apathy, as even the most optimistic of his supporters could not have expected him to win. His performance, lone-handed, in \ effecting a relative improvement in the National position (for that is what it amounts to) is all the more creditable.

j The Government asked for a test ,and has had it. Is it now preI pared to learn from the result? This is not. the only indication the Government has had of the need for a stronger leaven df prudence in ! its policy. The whole financial position ' is a warning, and particularly one may see a sigh in the result of the recent internal loan. The oversubscription of this loan is gratifying, but only in a. moderate degree. If the results are analysed it. is seen that success was assured only through the great support given by the larger financial institutions. There was an over-subscription of £204,000, and this is being returned by a, 10 per cent, reduction of applications over £30,000. This means that such applications accounted for approximately £2,000,000. Applicants for amounts up to £30,000 (including, we may assume, all the subscriptions except those from the larger institutions) therefore provided some £2,700,000. The loan had a good backing from the Stock Exchange, the financial institutions, arid the Press. In view of this the result is not such that the Government can take it as a mandate to go ahead without caution. To meet the position there is a call for more than contradictions such as the Prime Minister has given. "There has been a lot of talk about the big bad wolf just around the corner and about the country being bankrupt," said Mr. Savage at Christchurch. "When you people [manufacturers and factory workers] think you are bankrupt, then we are bankrupt, but the factories I have seen certainly don't look like it." Of course, the talk of bankruptcy is careless exaggeration. It is not that we need to worry about ..just now. What does give cause for uneasiness is the underlying cause for the factory prosperity in which the Prime Minister finds such satisfaction. Were this a natural growth, due to an improved (and permanent) demand for New Zealand goods, based upon the capacity of manufacturers to meet competition, there would be every reason for gratification. But everyone knows th,at this is not the whole explanation. The factories are facing a demand beyond their present capacity largely because imported goods are being arbitrarily excluded, owing to New Zealand's inability to pay in sterling for all the country wishes to import. The success of manufacturing industry in meeting .this emergency cannot blind us to the undoubted fact that it is an emergency, -not a normal -j development

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Permanent link to this item

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Bibliographic details

Evening Post MONDAY, JUNE 5, 1939. A STRAW VOTE, Evening Post, Volume CXXVII, Issue 130, 5 June 1939

Word Count
771

Evening Post MONDAY, JUNE 5, 1939. A STRAW VOTE Evening Post, Volume CXXVII, Issue 130, 5 June 1939

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