THE TRUE STORY OF CITY EAST ELECTION.
A PEEP BEHIND TIIE SCENES
A coKKEsroxj)EXx, who prof esses to have reliable sources of information, sends us' a narrative of tlie secret history of the contest in City East,.which we give for what it is worth. We can only say that, judged by what transpired publicly,' the story told lias at least an air of probability about it. Our correspondent writes : — As the election contest in Auckland East lias been recognised as of Colonial importance, it will no doubt interest many to know the various hidden springs of action in connection with the t struggle; and being acquainted with the whole of these, I purpose contributing a short chapter to the secret history of politics in New Zealand. It Mas well known over the city that from the date of the dissolution Mr McCosh Clark steadfastly declared his resolution not to contest any constituency at this election. He repeatedly 'declined, the invitation of influential deputations to become a candidate for City East, and he also sent away similar deputations from suburban constituencies. [Mr Clark assured a gentlemen connected -with the OjjSejiveb that he would not stand for any seat in Parliament if elected Mayor, as he did not think he could do justice to both offices ; and on the strength of that assurance ii paragraph was inserted after his election to tho Mayoralty, stating that Mr Clark would not become a candidate for City East. Yet after being elm-ted Mayor, and after Sir Greorge Grey had announced himself a candidate for City East, Mr Chirk opposed him.] Mr Clark is undoubtedly ambitious of a seat in Parliament. That scat was secure for him had he accepted any of the invitations laid before him ; but there were private and business reasons sullicient to ovcrwoigli- his ambition, or to cause him to steadily decline the proffered honour. This was the aspect of affairs up to the moment when Sir Greorge Grey announced his candidature for City East, at which time a new light seemed to break upon Mr Clark. That gentleman himself has given a. Ilimsily-transparent reason for the change that came o'er the spirit of his dream. To anyone who knows, as T do, the sterling and unassuming character of the Mayor of Auckland, the excuse stamped itself as contradictory to his nature. But his profession of acting under a feeliu" of resentment, as well as his unwonted descent, to scurrility, the unworthy tactics employed on -his behalf, and many other puzzling features of his conduct at the present time, are all explained by the facts underlying his candidature.' These facts (generally stated, in order that I may not compromise myself) arc as follow : — The leaders of the Ministerial pavty, immediately on hearin«that Sir George Grey had declared himself a can° didatc for City East, set about bringing pressure to bear on Mr Clark in order to get him to oppose, and if possible defeat, the leader of the Opposition. jNTow, though ambition for the timebeing was dormant, and though resentment was quietly slumbering, Mr Clark's "spirit of partisanship was aroused, and the hope of being of service to his party, and the wish to gain the npproyal of its leaders, proved sufficiently strong incentives to cause him to reconsider his resolution. Many telegrams were interchanged between Mr Clark's agent and the leading Ministerialists; and ifwas while matters were in this unsettled 'state that Mr Clark gave the curious reply to ti don,, tation from Eden -"that if he stood „?" tlf t would be for City East." A curious replay niter Ins former repeated declarations T, 4at £ would not on any account contest City.East but easily explicable when tho $'. £• "wheels within wheels." is understodi: ' I neol not particularise negotiations furiW n,-« that it X finally aiged thatigXfeS-
attempt to give the death-blow to " Greyism," the whole expenses of his contest being guaranteed by about half-a-dozen Ministers — guaranteed, too, on a most liberal scale, so that there should be no doubt about the " dying " knight receiving the coup de grace. I believe there is also some ground for the statement that the offer of a seat in the Legislative Council was made in the event of a defeat ; but Mr Clark had sufficient sense of honour as to dechue this condition, and had enough of t\\n perferindnm ■in/jeniam Scotorum as to banish the probability of defeat at all. He went in, determined to win a victory for his party ; and if he had been left to fight the battle on his own merits and under the guidance of his own gentlemanly instincts, lie would have achieved his end.' It may seem a harsh thing to say, but it is only too sad a trutli, that when a man is hired to do' any piece of work, lie must do it in the manner prescribed by his employers. And unfortunately in the present case the Grovernment party had not only determined to give a doatllv stab to Greyisin, but hud also resolved to use a poisoned barb — they meant to add insult to injury, humiliation to defeat, obloquy and shame to a forced retirement to the Xawau. Hence the unfortunate ebullition against Sir Greorge Grey at the nomination meeting ; hence the mean trick adopted to force Sir George Grey to speak first ; hence the deliberate publication of the insulting phrases employed towards the Opposition leader, including the repetition of an accusation formerly withdrawn ■ — • all actions foreign to Mr Clark's nature, and (in justice be it added) to the feelings of main' of his supporters and committee. But Mr Clark and his leading supporters knew it was not a light yb;* McCosh Clark ; it was a fight ayainsl Grey — a struggle undertaken at the instigation of a powerful clique with the avowed object of extinguishing altogether a cause supposed to be dying. Therefore they struck out wildly in their efforts to destroy, and neglected to act on the defensive ; so that Mr Clark, '" wounded in the house of his friends," lost the battle which lie might have won, and only succeeded in demonstrating that the Liberal cause has a vitality which, though at times inactive, is not easily quenched. Mr Clark claims that lie is not downcast at the result. T have shown the sincerity of this statement, since he had no personal interest in the contest ; but on other grounds many will think that he ought to feel humbled and remorseful at having undertaken a struggle in -which the gains to himself were to be so barren, even had he achieved a victory, and in which his defeat does not represent an infinite.-imal part of what he lias lost. His elevation to the Upper House -will come, and no one will grudge him it— that is, if the I'ppor House isn't levelled down before lie could with grace accept the position.
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THE TRUE STORY OF CITY EAST ELECTION., Observer, Volume 3, Issue 66, 17 December 1881
THE TRUE STORY OF CITY EAST ELECTION. Observer, Volume 3, Issue 66, 17 December 1881
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