ο»Ώ MR. LEATHAM ON THE LIBERAL PARTY.|1873-10-10|The Merthyr Telegraph and General Advertiser for the Iron Districts of South Wales - Welsh Newspapers Online
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MR. LEATHAM ON THE LIBERAL…

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MR. LEATHAM ON THE LIBERAL PARTY. Mr. E. A. Leatham, M.P., in speaking at the inau- fural meeting of a Libera,! Working Men's Club, at iuddersfield, said they had been so frequently tola of late that a Conservative reaction was upon them that possibly even some of those who were not Conser- vatives—and who were, therefore, not bound to be. lieve it—might begin to wonder whether there might not be some truth in the statement after all. Now, with every desire to look the truth in the face—for there was no greater mistake than to shut their eye. to facts—he must say that he was unable to see any symptoms of a Conservative re-action whatever. What he did see was something which, although he was by no means an aged politician, he had seen on more than one Occasion before—something which oc- curred periodieally in the history of their party, and, when it did occur, immediately preceded a great march forward in the policy, and a great triumph for the principles which they professed. The hope of the Conservatives was the breaking up of the Liberal party. They said, The Liberal party is going to pieces, and when it is gone Mr. Disraeli will dome to restore all things." Whenever the Liberal party was going Ito achieve something Igreat, it always firet^went to pieces. It did before it achieved household suf- frage, before it repealed the corn laws, ftnd the party was nearly as well used to goinj to pieces as a. Dutch clock, and, like a Dutch clOck, it kept bad time unless it was unfastened pretty frequently. It was being taken to pieces at this moment, and this is why it does not go. The party was now being taken to pieces—not in order that it might be put by upon the shelf, but that it might become more effective, or, as the Tories would Say, more destructive, in or ,i that it might record upon a dial which never looki backwards, hour after hour of defeat and disorder ;ti. dismay for the time. He didn't, as some croakers might, think that involved a. change of leaders; but if it should/what then ? There never was a political party since the world began less dependent upon its leaders than tho Liberal party in England. Its greatest victories had been when its reputed leaders were nowhere to be found. In regard to the disesta- blishment of the Church of England, Mr. Leatham went on to say that he did not despair of seeing Mr. Gladstone in his right place, and devoting his energies, which tiixie only seemed to, augment and re- kindle, to the work of abolishing a monopoly which he was of opinion was more revolting, more full of in- justice, and more pernicious to our social life than any of those he had hitherto removed. It was quite truo that for the moment he appeared to cling to the last rags of a system of which he was the champion in his youth—he meant the supremacy of one creed at the ex- pense and to the disparagementof tho other. lIe thought that in Mr. Gladstone's recent utterances, in tho midst of an apparently dogged resistance, no one could help observing that he had taken care to leave himself a way open for retreat; but whether that were 80 or not, the course of the Literal party at least was clear—with their leaden or without them they must advance. He had no doubt that Whig histo- rians would, with all the advantage of glowing pe- riods and pointed antitheses, record the disesta- blishment of the Church of England as the tip- top achievement of Whig policy. They were getting among real questions now—a free church, a free school, free labour, and free land. Depend upon it, everything that was obsolete and antiquated,, which smacked of exclusiveness and monopoly, which .as- serted the right of one man to domineer over another man, whether spiritually or temporally, nevef stood injsuch peril as it now did, and this was the time at which the rival leaders of the-party were scrambling who should have the credit to give household suffrage to the remaining householders of England. This Was the time, forsooth, which was selected to prate about Conservative reaction! Some would say that tbt Liberal Administration was going down; if it were so it was because it had not been true to the principles with which it started, because it had stopped to parley^ and compromise with the enemy; DI» the principles the Liberal party professed were inde- pendent of the fall of Administrations. They gathered strength in opposition it was in opposition that tBA seed was sown' which bore such splendid fruit vehen the party came back to reap it. Whig Administrators had never initiated reforms; they had alwayli been initiated below the gangway. It was there the sgad had been sown broadcast, on the increase of which in due time the Whigs gathered and flourished, ;i

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