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READY! AYE, READY THE TRUCE is ended. The trumpet call to arms is sounding in the land. Preparations are being made for one of the most decisive battles in the history of political warfare in our country. The great conflict between the rights of the people and the arrogant pretensions of the privileged few has come upon us with startling suddenness, but it must now be fought to a finish. It would have been decided, one way or another- and we think in the people's favour-some months ago but for the great calamity which befel the nation and the Empire. The lamented death of King Edward was util- ised as a reason for adopting a plan—pre- viously suggested in the Unionist Press- whereby representatives of the Government and of the Opposition should meet with a view to deciding how best to carry out the wishes of the people, so definitely expressed at the January election, on the Constitu- tional issue. The Conference is dead. Its end was peace. It came to an end with- out arriving at an agreement." What their eight representatives at the Conference failed to do the .nation themselves must now accomplish. They must decide whether they are prepared to maintain the bad system under which the Peers can flout the declared wishes of the great majority of the electorate, or whether they are prepared to stand by the sound old principle of "Government of the people by the people and for the people." In other words, Who shall rule—Peers or People? That was the battle-cry which rallied the majority of the electorate to the Liberal standard at the last General Elec- tion and we believe it is the battle-cry which will bring them flocking round the same standard at the election which now seems so imminent. We are, in fact, in ex- actly the same position as we were nearly a year ago, but this time we must make our demand for justice heard even more distinctly than ever before. For what is the position to-day? Here it is as described with characteristic clearness and force by the splendid Chancellor of the Exchequer — 'Having in vain used every endeavour through conciliatory methods to win equal political rights for all Britons, we are now driven to fight for fair play in our native land. We repudiate the claim put forward by, 600 peers that they were born to control the destinies of 45,000,000 of their fellow- citizens and to trample upon their wishes for the good government of their own country. Yes, it is a fight for fair play for the great b mass of the people that is about to be waged, and we are glad to be able to state that the Liberal Party are ready for the fray. Rarely has election-time found the Liberalism of Britain so firmly and so solidly welded together, one in aim and de- termination and rarely, on the other hand, has the Unionist Party showed itself so disunited, so weak and so vacillating in the face of a great national crisis. Needless to sav, our Party, the party who espouse the cause of the people, are looking forward with eagerness and quiet confidence to the prospect of at last being able to come to grips with the hereditary friends of reac- tion and enemies of popular rights. We are ready to fight. And we shall win. But why has the Conference failed? The answer to that important question is sup- plied, not by a Liberal authority, but by a Tory journal. According to that responsible paper, the plan for securing peace which had been discussed by the Conference of Eight was shown by Mr. Balfour to a caucus of Unionist Peers, and—they rejected it! That is the aggressive and contemptuous spirit which continues to animate our lordly masters, who have learnt nothing from the lessons given them by the electors. That is the spirit which killed the Licensing Bill at a private meeting in Lord Lansdowne's mansion. That is the spirit which en. deavoured to kill the Budget, and which would have succeeded if it were not that in January last they were made to fear the voice of the people. That is the spirit in which they will continue, if permitted by the nation, to mutilate or utterly destroy every piece of legislation passed by a Lib- eral Government for the welfare of the poorer and weaker classes. But we hope and believe that at last a check is about to be placed upon their evil course. A great opportunity is now going to be afforded the people to show how real and sincere is their demand to be permitted to govern them. selves in accordance with the principles of our great Constitution. And when tliev speak, it will be in the words of the late Premier—" The will of the people must pre- vail." That the principles which guided the late Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman still guides our leaders is amply shown by their utterances since the breaking down of the Conference. Mr. Lloyd George's words we have already quoted, and with much satisfaction. Mr. Haldane and Mr. Birrell have spoken in the same way. And after their words has come the inspiring message of Mr. Winston Churchill to the electors of Dundee, in which he states the case for the People and against the Peers so succinctly and so convincingly, closing with these striking passages his rousing battle-cry: — We have long claimed equal political rights in the Constitution of our country. Now we are going to take them. Tell our friends in Dundee and through- out Scotland to be ready. As the nation settles it, so shall it be. And the nation is just in the mood to tackle the great problem which confronts it, and will insist upon a settlement both fair and final. They want nothing but what is fair to all classes, rich and poor alike, but they will accept nothing less. That minimum is expressed in the Veto Resolutions passed by the House of Commons in March last, dis- abling the Lords from rejecting or amend- ing a Budget and limiting their powers with respect to other legislation. Those Resolu- tions admittedly are more favourable to the Lords than to the Commons, to the Tories than to the Liberals, but at any rate they represent the smallest concession of reform that will satisfy the democratic views of a free people. Many efforts have been made by the dis- comfited Tories to distort the Resolutions and to show that they must result in "Single Chamber 'Government." They know better, and the people know better by this time. The Liberals believe in Two Chamber Government," and it is they, not their opponents, who are standing up for the Constitution. The Lords smashed the Constitution when they rejected the Budget, and the Liberal Government are determined that such a thing shall not occur again, but that it shall be respected and kept intact. We have devoted so much space to the Constitutional question because that will, and must in the nature of things, be the main issue at the approaching General Elec- tion. For lack of a definite constructive pro- gramme of their own, the Tories will en- deavour to confuse the issue, to blind the electorate, to frighten them with those bogeys which they are so clever at raising. But an intelligent body of electors will quickly see behind such a policy of sham and makebelieve, and will pierce through to the true heart of things. And the more strenuous the endeavours of the Constitu- tion-wreckers to deceive them, the more de- termined will they be to support only those who desire to restore the Constitution—the grand old Liberal Party which has ever been the friend of freedom and of democratic in- stitutions. There are, of course, other ques- tions which of necessity will have to be considered at the same time. Disestablish- ment, Devolution, Licensing Reform, Elec- toral Reform—all these have their place in the public mind and demand earnest atten- tion. But no reform can be effected until the question of the House of Lords and its unlimited licence has been finally disposed of. When that has been accomplished- and the time is not far off—the nation will be able to carry into effect its settled con- victions on the social and other reforms which it so ardently desires.






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