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MR. J. E. REDMONDS LETTER., New Zealand Tablet, Volume XVIII, Issue 21, 17 September 1886
MR. J. E. REDMONDS LETTER.
Wexford, July 22, 1886. The elections are over and they have gone heavily against Ireland The reasons for this are not difficult to find. First of all, the elections were held on a register nearly a year old. Though this may at first sight seem a small matter, it yet exercised a potent influence on the result. The main reliance of Mr. Gladstone was of course upon the votes of the working classes. But these classes are more or less migratory. "Working men shift about from one centre of industry to another, and in very many places it was found that fully 20 per cent, of the total number of electors bad left the district since last November. The entire of this loss fell upon the Liberals. The main reason, however, for our defeat is to be found in the suddenness with which the British people were called upon to sanction a policy which all their leading statesmen, until last April, had denounced as but little removed from treason. All the old prejudices against Ireland were carefully played upon by our opponents. Home Rule was represented as Rome Eule, and the old cry of no Popery was raised against us. Again, Mr. Gladstone had to contend against the loss of almost all the wealthier members of his party. It is estimated th^t a general election costs about half a million of money. Our opponents had no lack of funds, while it is notorious that many seats went [uncontested by the Liberals simply for want of money. At the last moment, too, Mr. John Bright declared against Home Rule> and his name is still a power in England. Under all these circunr stances no sensible man can regard the result of the elections as discouraging. Scotland declared unequivocally in favour of Home Bale. So also did the North of England and the great county of Yorkshire. Wales was almost unanimously on the side of Ireland, and bo large a proportion of the rest of Great Britain voted on our side, that the aggregate vote polled only shows a trifling majority against us. It may be interesting to give you some accurate details of the voting. As I write all the elections are over save one in Orkney and Shetland, the result of which will not be known for another week. A careful analysis of the returns shows that in the 423 contests in the whole of the United Kingdom, by which 444 of the total 669 members have been returned, there were close upon throe million votes recorded. The figures are as follows : Conservatives ... ... ... 1,106,651 Liberal Unionists .. ... ... 417,456 Gladstonians ... ... ... 1,347,983 Nationalists ... ... ... 99,669 Total ... ... ... 2,971,759 Conservatives and Liberal Unionists combined... 1,524,107 Gladstonians and Nationalists ... ... 1,447,652 Majority against Mr. Gladstone ... 76,455 So that on the number of votes actually polled Home Bule scored at the first trial very close upon one-half of the total. A majority against us of less than 100,000 out of 3,000,000 is surely nothing to discourage us. More remarkable still is the fact shown by the above figures that the Gladstonians polled very much more than the Tories. The Liberal Unionists turned the scale. Leaving them out, Mr. Gladstone would have had a majority of 341,002 votes. But these Liberal Unionists are most of them in favour of some measure of Home Bule. Mr. Chamberlain and his followers have always called themselves Home Rulers, and although they count as anti-Home Bulers so far aa Mr. Gladstone's particular Bill is concerned, they cannot fairly be looked upon as part of a permanent majority against the concession of self-government to Ireland. Analysing the figures still more closely, the results arc equally satisfactory. In the English counties the votes polled were as follows :—
Conservatives ... ... ... 370,512 Liberal Unionists ... ... ... 178,078 Gladstonians ... ... ... 536,721 In the Welsh counties the figures were :—: — Gladstonians ... ... ... 41,202 Conservatives ... ... ... 28,854 Liberal Unionists ... ... ... 9,603 In the Scotch counties the result was equally satisfactory . Gladstonians ... ... ... 101,647 Liberal Unionists ... ... ... 53,730 Conservatives ... ... ... 36,367 The total for Scotland, counties and boroughs together, was, as I have said, clearly in favour of Mr. Gladstone. The new House of Commoas is constituted as follows : — Conservatives ... ... ... 317 Liberal Unionists ... .... ... 75 Glad Etonians ... ... ... 191 Nationalists ... ... ... 85 The Speaker ... ... ... . 1 Total ... ... ... 668 Wales has returned, Gladstonians ... ... 23 Conservatives ... ... ... 4 Liberal Unionists ... ... ... 3 Scotland has returned, Gladstonians ... ... 42 Liberal Unionists ... ... ... 17 Conservatives ... ... ... 12 I now come to Ireland. The first thing to remark is that we have turned the tables on our opponents here in the matter of contest. At the last election they contested all our safe seats in the South and West, apparently with the object of wasting our funds. This policy was a miserable failure. The anti Home Bule candidates polled such a ridiculously small number of votes that their position was greatly weakened in the eyes of the English people, and as for wasting our funds, the more contests were provoked the more money came pouring in from our generous countrymen abroad. This time none of our safe-seats were contested, but we carried the war into the enemy's country with a vengeance and assaulted every stronghold of the enemy from Dublin University to Antrim. The result has been moat encouraging. Our candidates everywhere made unexpectedly large polls, and proved to the world how the National idea is working in the most Orange districts in Ireland . In Belfast we at last succeeded in planting the National standard, and in Derry city we won a virtual Tictory, for the majority of three against us is likely on petition to b e turned into a majority for us. Unfortunately we lost the seats in South Derry County and in South Tyrone. Both of these conßtituencies were at the last election fought by us aa forlorn hopes. In both the Catholics were in a considerable minority of several hundred, but owing to large abstentions on the part of the Presbyterian farmers Mr. Healey and Mr. W. O'Brien won the seats. This time the "No Popery " cry raised by Mr. Chamberlain and Lord Randolph Churchill roused the latent religion? bigotry of Ulster, and we lost the seats. The wonder is that we ever won them on the present register. These are the only reverses we have met ia Ireland. Of cuuraa Mr, Healey and Mr O'Brien will be provided with seats, and after the coming revision of votes we hope to win back the ground we have lost. There have been some changes elsewhere ia the Irish representation. To the great regret of us all, Dr. K. I. O'Doherty has been obliged to retura to Australia. Mr. Small and Mr. O'Mara have also resigned their seats for South Down, and Queen's County, and Captain O'Shea disappears from public life. Mr. Smithwick also resigns Kilkenny. For these five seats three Protestants ami two Catholics have been elected. Mr. Pinkerton, a Belfast man, has been elected in Galway, Mr. Mac Donald, an ex- Presbyterian minister, in Queen's County, and Mr Pierce Mahony, an ex-Land Commissioner, in Meath, all Protestants sent to Parliament by purely Catholic constituencies. Kilkenny has elected Mr Thoman Quin an old and tried Nationalist, and South Down has elected a local solicitor named McCartan. Mr. Gladstone has already resigned, and Lord Salisbury is about to take office. His Irish policy we do not yet know, but the universal impression here is that another dissolution may be looked for in six months. We are none of us disheartened by what has, happened bat look forward to aa early settlement of the question promoted by the Tories or the Liberals, or by both combined. J. E. Redmond.
MR. J. E. REDMONDS LETTER., New Zealand Tablet, Volume XVIII, Issue 21, 17 September 1886
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