Fitosi the standpoints of true temperance and commoneenee the DoNational minion is to be congratu- | Prohibition, lated on the result of the prohibition of the importation, manufacture, sale, and therefore consumption of alcoholic liquor ref«rendum. It was, as we have previously said, an outrageous proposal, and a reflection upon the intelligence and reputation of the community. Nor was it put before the electors in a manner that could or did carry conviction. The Rev. Mr Gray, in our Monday's issue, replying to Mr W. C. MacGregor, made it appear that what he and others—quite erroneously, as yesterday's vote' proves—call " the trade" had taken up an aggressive attitudo, and therefore the Prohibitionists were bound to ar.6wer back. His words were: I will leave your readers to judge whether " the outstanding fact is thai the Prohibitionists are making dosperate efforts to snatch a party victory at the polls, regardless of the gallant British soldiere," etc, etc. The advertising columns of the paper would hardly seem to indicate so. The simple fact 13 that since the election is to take place, and electors must vote, and since the t.vido from the first, nnd latterly assisted hy the Moderate League, havo pursued their customary tactics, the Prohibition party have no option hut to urg« that the people vote to emancipate tlic-ni selves from what Mr Asquith in 1903 dascribed as " the thraldom of this dominating and paralysing interest." "The simple fact" rather is that the Prohihitkmists " pursued their customary tactics." They imported an able and wellknown English parliamentary social re- j former and his accomplished wife, they hired halls, they held Sunday-meetings and rallies, their orators spoke nonsense at street corners, they supplied " copy'' to the Press, and generally behaved as, though the fate of the Empire were of secondary moment compared wtih the necessity ot* forcibly preventing a small minority of the community from degrading themselves by the abuse of an article that, rightly used, is as much the gift of God as any other article of diet. Naturally,
“ tho trado”—or what, we are afraid, is even worse, “ the moderate "—answered back; and ho did so, as far as we had time to judge, soberly and fairly. He .lid not mount the platform, and to a chorus of loud applause issuo challenges to all and sundry to stand up and debate the question—the most fatuors proposal, perhaps, that could be made if truth and sound argument were tho objects sought but through what Mr Gray calls the advertising columns ” of the Press he endeavored to make clear that there were two sides to tho liquor question as to other problems. There is no purpose, save a misleading one, to drag in Mr Asquith. Tho Prime Minister of Great Britain is not an abstainer individually nor a Prohibitionist politically. In the quotation furnished by Mr Gray, Mr Asquith was speaking on his Government’s Licensing Bill (which was thrown out by the Lords), and he was rlgfitly condemning the tactics of the great brewing and distilling interests to defeat it. There is neither connection nor parallel with the liquor traffic in New Zealand and that of tho United Kingdom. The too prevalent social conditions in the Mather Land have no analogy here—happily for us, unhappily for her—and it is nob playing tho game to imply that they have. We can appreciate the state of mind of such a man as Mr Snowden, who spends his leisure hours among tho myriads of helpless and seemingly hopeless dwellers in great industrial centres, when in his impatience he cries; “Let us get “ rid of this ever-present barrier to rc“form”; but we have nothing in these temperate islands that justifies so revolutionary and unjust an interference with individual responsibility. And to this conclusion at least one-half of the voters in New Zealand have apparently arrived. Yesterday’s vote marks a distinct advance. There is a difference of some 60,000 between tho Prohibition veto of 1911 and that of 1914, and we are fain to hope that it is due largely to a closer andi more rational study of tho issues involved in tho Prohibitionists’ demand. When Mr Snowden publicly stated that the abolition of the traffic in intoxicating drink would not usher in a social millennium, and that the problems of human poverty and misery and sin would still have to be faced, he gave away his party’s case, and .stated that of the moderate section as far as the people of New Zealand arc concerned. But in so speaking, in our judgment he did more for the cause of temperance than had he abused every brewer and hotelkeeper aa rascals fattening on the vices of the unfortunate. The poll of yesterday is significant, though doubtless its significance will bo interpreted in more ways than one, and on this occasion it is tho Prohibitionists, not “the trade,” who have been warned. For our own part, wo hope to see the Government of New Zealand during tho next three years toko the bull by tho horns and have the courage to remove both the Licensing and tho Biblc-in-Schools Questions out of politics. This can be done most effectually by taking referenda thereon on another day than that, on which tho General Election is held.
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Evening Star, Evening Star, Issue 15673, 11 December 1914