The Evening Star TUESDAY JANUARY 12, 1915.
With a looseness of logic rather characteristic of men whose adLabor ar.tl niirable enthusiasm for Dunedin GsntraF. a "oau.se" to which they have pledged their minds, hearts, and activities distorts their vision and judgment, several representatives of Labor, as a political organisation in Dunedin—an organisation which deserves and probably obtains support according to the real value of its policy and programme—have made several charges against this journal, and made them, too, with a heartiness which invites thorough reciprocity. Mr A. Walker, Labor member for Dunedin Xorth, when flushed with liis decisive success on election night, said in the course of a harangue to a number of electors that, the 'Star' had always been opposed to the interests of Labor. Then our genial friend, the Hon. •1. T. Paul, who never gets hysterical, assured a great audience that the ' Star' had descended to the level of German tactics, or some sort of catch-phrase oi the sort.. Xow we have Mr R. Brean crying in our correspondence columns like a voire in the wilderness against the 'Star's' attitude towards Labor and the progressive forces in politics. One can see plainly that Mr Breen would have pcopla to believe that the ' Star ' has been I a sort of agile clown in the political arena, and has " somersaulted " with the changing fortune of political partios. Mr Breen docs not say so in these words, but his meaning is quite plain. " In common with, the weak type of ' sport,' " ho says, " we were apparently most anxious to back the winning side." Furthermore, that in the late election we used all the power of our editorial pen to stifle the progressive aspirations of the people. lie and his friends had hoped that wo would have dealt more fairly with the issues and personalities engaged in the recent political conflict. It would seem, however, from Mr Breen's plaint that in the Dunedin Central election they found further and more, ample evidence of our unfairness. They had looked for a constellation of fairness, but only saw "a fallen star." Let us say definitely, and with the same honesty of spirit- e:-:ercised by Mr Breen, that his assertions and arguments are sheer nonsense. There was a time when the ' Star ' unhesitatingly gave the Liberal-Labor coalition strong support. That time was when the Liberal-Labor forces stood for a Progressive policy, when they were the accredited and dependable stewards of the people's estate, when thoy had the courage to propound and give effect to progressive and humanitarian legislation, and when they had a leader who commanded loyalty and co-operative service—the late Mr R. .L Scddon. Times and political jjartioa changed, i a.ml when ti'.'.'.t. pariy became falsa to their pledges oil the Land Question, showed themselves to be practically spineless, and heaped blunders upon blunder, it was inevitable thatj the 'Star,' eager as it lias always been to secure, real legislative, and executive unity of purpose, and definite, &ane progress in the interests of all classes of the community, should consider its position in relation to the then dominant- political party. The "progressive aspirations of the people''" have never been stifled by the 'Star'; on tho contrary, they have ever been encouraged and promoted by this journal. But we absolutely refuse to accept- at the value assessed by tho Labor, Liberal, or Reform parties tho candidates and creeds put forward. The crux of our displeasing attitude to the Labor organisation in Dunedin has been nothing more than our deliberate refusal to shapo our sympathy with Labor to the political strategy of the party. As regards our .sympathy with and support of Mr C E. Statham, it can be explained easily and briefly i wo believed, and still believe, that as a parliamentary representative, oi Dunedin Central Mr Statham is the better man, apart altogether from his association with "a group •' of reactionary politicians masquerading "under tho name of Re-formers." And wo say again that if tho electors in Dunedin Central be well advised, they will return Mr Statha-ni to Parliament. It may be unfortunate- if our attitude clashes with the aims and objects of a political party; but that must to accepted. Mr Breen says that Mr Munro was declared elected on jolting day by one vote. There was no such official declaration, and could be none on that day. As for the "act of stupidity" on the part- of a deputy returning officer, which robbed Mr Munro and the Labor party of their coveted success and desires, Mr Statham cannot be hold responsible for the law which rendered invalid and therefore threw out a certain number of stupidly-handled ballot papers, tho majority of which were cast for Mr Munro, That, as we have already jsa-idj. -was . the Jatiter's mi*fortujje, - Mr_
Statham has adopted the only means open to him to counteract thrt stupidity of an electoral officer. As a " truo sport" he announced his intention to resign and to again, test tho will of the electors, and if he had been left to givo effect to his own inclination he would have taken that course tho moment he knew that his election was assured. It is a pity that chagrin should lead Mr Breen to convey the sneer that Mr Statham resigned a seat which ho, as a lawyer, knew could nob he held. If Mr Breen is confident that an election petition will succeed in upsetting the election and will provide a chance of giving the seat to Mr Munro, nobody would censure action in that particular direction. But is he so cocksure? If Mr Munro elects to suffer uncomplainingly ihe "stupid act" of the deputy returning officer, and to go in good heart to another contest, he is to be. commended for his attitude and spirit. In any case, however, the resignation of Mr Statham is, to quote the opinion of a dispassionate journal overseas, "a. rare act of chivalry." We still trust that a clear "ring" will be kept for the forthcoming contest in Thmedist Central; and tho 'Star' will do all in its power to give a " square deal" electorally as between these two gentle-
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The Evening Star TUESDAY JANUARY 12, 1915., Evening Star, Issue 15698, 12 January 1915