THE CITY ELECTION.
The bye-election for the City, which takes place on the 13th hist., is invested by circumstances with very particular iutcrest. : The Ministerial party met with.a crush-' ' ing defeat at the General Election in December last, when they succeeded in' carrying only one seat out of the three, and Dunedin was rescued from the position which it had so long occupied of being a Government pocket borough. That every effort will be made to return the candidate who is avowedly the nominee of the Prime Minister there can bo no question and it behoves those who believe that the couutry has had about enough of Seddon autocracy, a spurious Liberalism, and class despotism to strain every nerve to preserve the scat for the Opposition, who gained it after a tough fight nine months ago. "We are disposed to regret that the battle is not to be fought on the plain issue, but that, owing to the action of Ministers and of the organisations who affect to control the local Labor vote, in throwing over Mr William Hutchison, there will bo somewhat of complication, which may render the result of the polling not so decisive as an expression of public opinion as might be desirable.
The three gentlemen who have been nominated are all familiarly known in the community, and as regards personality and character are entirely unexceptionable. Their candidature has therefore to be regarded entirely from a political standpoint, and their respective claims to support should be judged solely from a political point of view. The Opposition have, we think, displayed good judgment in selecting Mr Sligo, and we cannot too highly commend the conduct of Mr A. C. Begg and Mr C. Haynes for their patriotism and self-abnegation in withdrawing in that gentleman's favor, when recognising that he had a better chance than either of them of securing election. Such a signal service as tbey have thus rendered should not be forgotten by the party at a fitting opportunity. Had a not inconsiderable number of Opposition candidates at the General Election taken the same course, instead of dividing votes, several seats would undoubtedly have been won, which, owing to such divisions, were gained by Ministerialists. Mr Sligo, although a novice in active politics, is well versed in the questions of the day, and has exhibited marked ability in dealing with them in the comparatively restricted sphere of election committees. He has essentially the courage of his opinions, which have ever been well formed and well considered. A fluent and somewhat forcible speaker, he is able to give intelligent expression to his thoughts. If elected, he is sure to be a strength to his party in the House, and will neither join the pack of dumb dogs nor subordinate his individuality to partisan purposes. Although, as we have indicated, he has not been directly concerned in colonial, provincial, or municipal administration, Mr Sligo has been for more than a quarter of a century engaged in public affairs of great moment to the people, and has demonstrated well-directed energy and conspicuous capacity ; but, more than all, a very high standard of principle and a conscientiousness carried almost to extremes, which, if occasionally found inconvenient by those with whom he has been working, has gained for him universal respect and esteem. We may point more particularly to his long and continuous service on school committees, where, from the passing of the Education Act, he has been a firm upholder of the spirit and letter of the established system, which he thoroughly understands and approves a qualification we consider of some importance, in view of the desirability of certain reforms in matters of detail which should receive the attention of Parliament without much farther delay. As a member of the Manchester Unity, to the interests of which he has for years devoted himself with assiduity, he is to be credited with thoroughly understanding the position and prospects of the friendly societies generally, and would prove most useful in the very probable event of legislation being introduced to improve the conditions under which these societies are carrying on their beneficent work. On the whole it may with truth he affirmed that Mr Sligo has had a long and honorable career in this City, and deserves well of his fellow-citizens. It is, however, by his political opinions that he must stand or fall at the ensuing election. He declares himself as distinctly opposed to the Government, and condemns alike their policy, their administration, and their methods, considering that these are inimical to the true interests of the people of the Colony. That, if elected, he will be staunch to these opinions his character leaves no doubt, and we venture to predict that he would soon be heard with effect from the Opposition benches. Mr Gourley is a man deservedly popular among all classes, who has filled the highest offices in the City with credit to himself and advantage to the citizens. He is largely endowed with oommon sense, and has displayed in the discharge of multifarious duties business ability and some capacity for administration. He has for a long period been before the public, and his conduct has been' without offence and beyond suspicion. Ho might well, therefore, promote a claim to have his career crowned with parliamentary honors. Unfortunately, however, ho does not present himself aa a candidate on individual merits, nor upon his individual opinions based upon any political principles. He is the nominee of Mr Seddon, pledged to "support the prosent Government," according to his own words, "to the utmost." Further than this, he has accepted in full the platform of the Workers' Political Committee, and thus delivered himself tied and bound into the hands of the Socialistic Radicals. He would therefore go into the House not as the representative of a free and enlightened community, but as the delegate of, class organisations. The electors must know that this is the case, and those who vote for him will do so with their eyes opeu. As to the side issues attempted to be raised as to Mr Gourlex's views on the education question and the liquor traffic we regard these of no moment and in a manner contemptible. In respect to public education he has declared in plain language his approval of the existing system, and as to the liquor traffic he has consistently taken the oommon sense view that it should bo properly controlled, and has objected to total abstinence being forced upon the people by I fanatical enthusiasts.
Mr William Hutchison has been sq long in Parliament that it ia not necessary to refer to his political conduct or opinions. Why ho has been
dropped by the- ' Government- and the local Labor party it is difficult to understand, siucc he has if we may use a vulgar expression, "gone the entire animal" in support of Ministeis and of Radical and Socialistic measures ; whilst his expressed sentiments in the House and on the platform hi relation to labor questions have out-Seddoned even the Prime Minister'himself.. What reasonable justification can'- there be for the ungrateful treatment, to which he has been subjected? He was „ chosen Ministerial and Labor candidate at the General Election hi December last; and now, after years of. docile service, he is literally thrown over for an untried man who has parliamentary experience yet to gain: It is au illustration of "Put not your trust in princes." Mr Hutchison has our sympathy, but hot to the extent of desiring to see. him returned.
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THE CITY ELECTION., Evening Star, Issue 10438, 6 October 1897
THE CITY ELECTION. Evening Star, Issue 10438, 6 October 1897
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