The Evening Star WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 9, 1914.
Ix would require more time and space than possibly the whole A Solid and business is worth at thU Strong juncture to disentangle Government the essential actions and Wanted. aims of the rival political parties who are nowjostling each, other vigorously for administrative power in the Parliament of New Zealand. One fact, however, stands out most clearly from the tangle of personalities, trivialities, and the welter of words which pas 3 as democratic politics viz., that the country requires more than aught else a solid and stable Government. It is folly to expect within the next parliamentary term a long programme of progressive administrative activities. The clash of warring Empires is still far from complete and honorable decision, and the people of New Zealand must be prepared and willing to accept a careful maintenance of their present prosperity; and xea-
eonablo progress rather • than feverish "popular" experiments in legislative enterprise. The Dominion needs above all things a Parliament of strong men, solid of character, broad of outlook, true to principle, and alert to national and Imperial requirements. The interests of squabbling political parties should be left to the flat days of peace.
It is for electors to decide to-morrow which one of tho two main parties in Dominion politics contains the greater number of strong, courageous, dependable men. There i 3 no room for doubt as to the justice of either party in claiming possession of creditable achievements and commendable aims, and it is equally beyond doubt that each party have a fair load of administrative weaknesses and embarrassing memories. The Liberal party, as an organised political body, have the greater record of splendid achievements and the greater load of defects, for one must achieve and fail more in 20 years than in two and a-half years. To avoid achievement and failure would be to remain stagnant, like a swamp. Judged by the manifesto issued by each of the rival Leaders, impartial critics must admit, we think, that the Prime Minister, who has both achieved and failed to a considerable extent in two and a-half years of administrative offico, show 6 the clearer conception of tho immediate needs ol tho Dominion, and demonstrates more temperately tho political position. It is quite true that Mr Massey exaggerates tho political "arrangement" between Liberals and Labor, and daubs too much " Red " on tho Opposition. Doubtless Sir Joseph Ward is embarrassed by tho "arrangement," but he surely cannot have forgotten the howls that were hurled at him three years ago by an extreme section of Labor, and must recognise that even a thin streak of Red Federationalism in the Libera] policy would not , be tolerated by the majority of the people. Too much stress need not bo laid on the so-called Liberal-Labor alliance. Separately tho Liberal party and tho Labor ! party cannot succeed ; and the only chance of securing administrative power and exercising it with safety to tho State was to combine discreetly for the common purpose of thrusting the Massey Government back into the political wilderness. Mr ! Massey himself adopted similar tactics throe years ago, and will not forget the result for a long time. And Sir Joseph Ward will have a similar experience if he philanders with the extreme Social Democrats. The mistake he appears to have made on this occasion is hie neglect to announce publicly how far the Liberals aro pledged to accept the programme of Labor. Labor' 6 support has not boon given gratuitously, and tho Libera! party, if power bo regained, will have to compensate the Labor party for their lost independence. The true goal of Labor is J not to be a sort of attenuated shadow of Liberalism. Tho electors know that quite well, and will possibly refuse to support the temporary combination of Liberals and Labor. No ono really objects to a distinct Labor party with a clear-cut | policy, which enables the public to see ! and understand the purposes of moderate i and sane Labor; but suspicion is bound i to be created by an alliance for merely j giving a coup do grace to tho Reform • party. I
The Leader of tho Opposition, in his manifesto, states definitely that Mr Massey failed to observo his promise to promote industrial peace, but imposed upon the workers conditions that have provoked only industrial unrest. If Sir Joseph Ward refers to the conditions imposed upon tho hot-headed strike leaders last year, he will win no sympathy from the majority of the electors. 'ihe Governments method of breaking tho strike last year was the only one that could possibly kiil sabotage in New Zealand, and it : s indisputable that Mr Massey tried every other means to effect a satisfactory settlement. It was unfortunate that the baton had to be employed, but there arc times when the baton is the only convincing argument. The action of the Prime Minister, the Hon. Mr Ilerdman, and tho Hon. Mr Fisher in respect to quelling the riotous section of the Federation of Labor last year must obtain tho unqualified support of all right-thinking people It was not condemned at the time by the leaders of Moderate Labor. If Sir Joseph Ward refers to tho conditions in the Government's Labor Disputes Investigation Act, he should read the manly criticism given it by that veteran Labor champion, Hon. J. A. Millar, who said that the Bill provided the missing link in our legislation, and congratulated Mr Massey upon its introduction.
Let it be clearly understood that the Massey Government have failed in many directions, but against that failure must in justice be set the numerous creditable aspects of their administration and legislation. Their chief weakness, to our mind, has been their hesitation to deal thoroughly with any one- of the' complex affairs of State. They sacrificed thorough ness for wide and somewhat shallow operations, but almost always their efforts have been in the right direction. And it is certainly permissible to assert that if the same activity were maintained for 20 years, even the Liberals' venerable past would bo excelled. A great deal of tho irritating weakness of the Reform Government's methods was possibly due to lack of experience as administrators, "and certainly much of it was directly attributable to external difficulties of an extraordinary nature.
The electors' duty to-morrow is not involved or difficult. Let each voter ignore the ravings of bitter partisans, and vote for the candidate whose qualifications, in the individual voter's estimation, offer a reasonable guarantee of a parliamentary exercise of honest principlo and shrewd activity in the true interests of New Zealand at a time when courageous, cautions government is the essential need of all British countries.
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The Evening Star WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 9, 1914., Evening Star, Issue 15671, 9 December 1914