Skip to main content
Hide Articles List

21 articles on this Page



[No title]



[No title]



[No title]




INTERESTING POLITICAL DUEL. +. MR. F. E. SMITH AND MR. LEVER. WHO ARE THE WORKINGMEN S FRIENDS? Tho hall of the Const.itutsicxnal Association in Sir Thomas-street, Liverpool, was on Monday night crowded out by an eager audic-nce intent on witnessing tho crossing of swords in Single-handed combat by t.wo such redoubtable political duel- lists a Mr. F. E. Smith and Mr. W. H. Lever, the Unionist and Radical candidates respectively for Walton and Wirral. Tho meeting arose out of a declaration, by Mr. Lever that, after ten years' experience of their control, ho could not understand how woikingmen. could support the Unionist. paity. Invited to attend the ordinary monthly meeting of the Central Committee of tho Liverpool Woi king men's Conservative Associa- tion, as he expressed an inclination to do, m order to support that view, Mr. \V. H. Lever agreed to meet Mr. F. E. Smith in a debate under tho conditions of Monday rught- In addition to tho Workingmen delegates present, twenty seats wero reserved for iNIr. Lever's friends, and there were also a number of well-known Unionists on the platform and in tho hall. Alderman Sal- vidge presided, as chairman of the association, witii Mr. Lever on his right hand, and MI. F. E. Smith oil his left. THE RIGHT NOTE. Alderman Saividge, upon whom devolved the duty of mamtajning a free discussion, struck tae noto of fairness at the outset of the proceedings. After referring to the unique occasion and his unique position, and declaring his intention to hold the scales evemy between tho two gentle- men, he ventured discreetly on the sore ground of the contention which gave rise to the debate- "Members of the Liberal party have, he re- marked, "made attacks fiom time to timo upon this association; not attacking its principles, for we could not object to that, but attacking in a personal, vindictive and untruthful manner the 10 high character or tho organisation. It. has been my duty as your c-hairman to reply to these at- tacks and to challenge proof of them." "But," the Alderman fa¡rJy added, "I will not go into that to-night, because it would not be fair to Mr. Lever, who :s in no way responsible for such at- tacks Tnis open tribute, to Mr. Lover's honesty of spirit e icilfcd a hearty lound of applause, and none tho le ss was the response, when tho chairman appealed to the Liberal section of the- aud-erce to say whether the delegates pre- sent. looked1 the class or stamp of men that would be ruled by any individual or by any tiado. En- couiagcd by the appreciation displayed, the Alderman averted, with ealphasis "You. are banded together in support of the principles of this association; you are disinterested politicians except, in support of the cause which you believe- is for the good of your country, and while we will at. atl times welcome honest criticism, and are prepaic-d to meet them as we meet Mr. Lever al to-night, we protest against untruthful allegu- ticplQ. After briefly explaining the cause of Mr. Lever's appearance in their midst, and humor- ously epitomising the correspondence on the sub- ject. in which he described Mr. Lever's attitude as characteristic and manly, Alderman Salvidge appealed for an orderly hearing on both sides, and paid a tribute to the courage of the Port. Sunlight chief in going among them. CASE FOR THE UNIONIST PARTY. Mr. F. E. Smith alluded at the. outset to the chivalrous manner in which Mr. Lever had re- pudiated any reflection on the character of their association Plunging at once into the quest-ion to he debated, he genially chaffed his opponent on his failure on two. occasions to induce the typical workingmen of B:rkenhcad to renounco Unionist principles, and remarked that ho had now devoted his efforts to the simp-.«_-minded rus- tics of Wirral. (Laughter.) Dealing first, with loic gn policy, he pointed out that Mr. Lever's party recognised publicly to-day, as a condition preocdent- 10 the remotest chance of bciig re- turned to office, that they must p'n themselves to the foreign pohcy of the Conservative party. The inference was that the foreign policy of the British Empire did not matter to the workingmen of the country. This was typical of the party who were the friends of .every country but their own, and who were the lineal descendants of those who, like Ccbden. longed to see the Colonies go. (Applause) Mr. Lever had recently been dilating on the extravagance of the Tory Govern- ment. buib he personally approved of the South African. war, to which- three-fourths of his party were eppoeeel, and he would like to know the precis:1 manner in which. All. Lever proposed to reduce expenditure. By how many men would ho reduce, the Army, and by how many battleships deplete the Navy? (Hear, hear.) They remem- bered what "C.-B." had said about a policy of beggar-my-neigkbour, and they wished to know precisely what the Radical party proposed to do. (Applause) Turning to domestic affairs, Mr. Smith that, for 63 years it had been the work of the Conservative paity to root. out ono by ono tho heresies and frauds bequeathed to the Radical party by the influence of Co-bden and Bright, the outstanding fallacy of all being laissEz faiie in every department of life. After quoting tho opinions of Cobden and Bright against what they described as the brutal tyranny of trades unions, and pointing to their opposition to the Factory Acts, he reminded his auditors that Carlyle described the motto of the Manchester school as "cach for himself, and the devil take tho h'ndmost." It had been the PROUD AND ALMOST UNDISPUTED mission of the Conservative party for 40 yeans to care for tae hindmost and keep them from the devil. (Applause.), T-hat party had called trades unions into existence*, and, by making combina- tion lawful, had put. a weapon in the- handof labour and a tongue into its mouth. (Applause.) Mr. George Howell, formerly a Labour M.P., and secretary of tho London Trades Council, de- scribed the Workmen's Conspiracy Act of 1875 as the charter of the social a.nd industrial freedom of the industrial classes, and would Mr. Lever tell them who passed the Factory Acts in the teeth of Free Trade principles, destroying the white slavery which they upheld? (Applause.) They gave free education to the poor man's child in 1891, and in 1902 carried the ladder from the ele- ment&iy school to the, university. He supposed that in education. Mr. Lever's statesmanship- was limited to passive resistance, but if the latter was right why didn't Mr. Lever go to gaol; if wrong, why didn't he protest in his constituency against such theatrical illegality? (Applause.) Which would Mr. Lever say had done most. for the, work- ingman—free education or passive resistance? (Applause.) By the Dwellings of the Working- Classes Acts of 1885 and 1890 the Conservatives promoted the erection of cheap dwellings, with unspeakable improvements to the home life of the workmgman. and by the Compensation Acts of 1897 and 1900 established another great principle for the workman. Under those Acts about £ 100,000 per annum was paid! in compensation to injured working-people, and yet Mr. Lever said those measures were no good. (Applause.) The average cost of litigation under the imper- fect Radical Act, of 1880 was JB25, against only £ 11 under the Conservative Acts. Mr. Smith proceeded to quote the opinion of prominent labour leaders in testimony to the work accom- plished tor the working-man by Conservative Governments, and remarked, as he turned with a smile to Mr. Lever, and these representative labour men, instead of wondering after lunch how a workirgrnan could be a Tory, had done justice to a great party. (Applause.) Among other im- partial opinions as to innumerable beneficial Acts passed by the Unionist party, Mr. Smith quoted Mr. Ben Tillet, who said: "I should be a hypocrite were I not to say that the Conserva- tives of late have done more for the working- classes than the Liberals. (Applause.) Where- were the labour testimonials to Mr. Lever's party? Written in large letters in the many constituencies where. Labour candidates wero fighting against Liberals—against those whom Kcir Hardie de- scribed as "the false and insincere friends of labour." (Applause.) Brilliantly winding up his case, Mr. Smith declared in an eloquent perora- tion that, the Conservative party deserved the support of the working-classes, not only for past records, but. because they were pledged to com- plete the emancipation of labour, and to tear aside from its cramped limbs the last shred of the Man- chester swaddling clothes, by tariff reform. Of the necessity for that Mr. Lever was himself an admira-ble. example—at home a Free. Tmder, but abroad btifiressirg- himself against- rival English exporters by the severest tariffs of extreme Pro- tection. (Applause,) THE RADICAL CASE. Mr. Lever was warmly received and he readily expressed his acknowledgments. "I had no fears in coming here at all," he remarked. "I have had dealings all my life with workingmen. I have never received a discourtesy yet, and I am certain I shall not meet with any to-night." While admitting that the opposition had a perfect right to choose their own champion, and one whose eloquence, oratory, and rhetoric he ad- mired, it would, in his opinion, have been pre- ferable had he, as a business man, been pitted against a business man. Turning to the kernel of the debate, Mr. Lever reiterated the assertion that he could not for the life of him understand how a workingman could lie a Conservative, and he thereupon proceeded to quote numerous re- cords of divisions in the House of Commons in sup- port of his main argument, that in advanced de- mocratic legislation the Conservatives had gener- ally opposed the interests of the worker. He pointed out that the Conservatives, together with their representatives of that party in Liverpool, had voted against graduated death duties, and also the proposal for a graduated income tax. They had been in antagonism to the proposal several times before the House to rate urban site values. They were the opponents of the Ballot Act, which was carried by the Liberals, and although he admitted that household suffrage was carried when the Conservatives were in power, he occ-asioned much amusement by assert- ing that it was so amended by the Liberals that the only part of the original Tory Bill was the initial word "Whereas." While they passed an Employers! Liability Act under pressure, and a Free Education Act after opposing it for y-ean, they had never yet as a party, cicspite all the weight of publio opinion, laid thc,.r hands upon the taxation of lanu values. The Liverpool mem- bers had voted this year in favour oi Sir John Brunner's Bill to tax land values—possi-bly be- cause a general election was looming—but he would like to know when that Bill was going to be carried into law by the Cinservative party. Turning to the Aliens Act, Mr. Lever souglit to score a point by remarking that while the Conservatives voted against the proposal net to exclude aliens fleeing from religious persecution, they also voted aga.nst Keir 1iardies proposal that black-leg immigrants imported under contiact during a strike should be excluded. This con- tention evoked applause from the benches crowded by Mr. Lever's friends, who also testified their approval when he quoted the division records to shew thait although the Conservatives had voted against such a democratic reform as payment of members of Parliament and of returning officers' expenses, they supported the importation of Chinese labour into South Africa. Briefly allud- ing to foreign policy, Mr. Lever caused consider- able laughter by asserting that the foreign policy of which Mr. Smith boasted was simply the foreign policy of the Liberals—at any rate Lord Lans- down-a had returned to the traditional Liberal policy of smoothing over difficulties. He argued further that with the Liberal party nested the credit of having initiated a strong Navy by the estabishment of the famous two- nation standard, but he complained that the strengthening of our sea power to practically a four-nation standard was a menace to peace, as well as a great burden to the country. Both in regard to the Navy and Army he was of opinion that greater economy with corre- sponding efficiency could be brought about under a Liberal regime. Throughout the speech the audience displayed a fair spirit, and although once or twice, when Mr. Lover, to quote the chairman's remark, was "Saying unpalatable things," the feelings of the .nn.r1t'¡fln nc..rrn¿:\ incf o hn.rl.D. xn o A 1.J.CI l' n'} 0"\ n I Saividge promptly checked anything in the nature of a hostile demonstration. THE REPLIES. Mr. F. E. Smith then replied, ZJ:d indignantly repudiated what he deter-bed a-s the preposterous assumption that the Conservatives had adopted the foreign policy of the party responsible !or the Gordon betrayal, and the disgraceful, d.s- loyal policy of pro-Boerism. (Applause.) Re- ferring to the opposition to Mr. Keir Kardie's black-leg motion, Mr. Smith said that was cnly one of the many dishonest amendments put ior- ward by the Liberals and their friends to bar the passage of the Aliens' Bill. He twitted Mr. Lever on his failure to mention a question of which he was evidently afraid—Home Riiie-ai-d thought it was very significant that "tho busi- ness advocate of Liberalism" had not attempted to give even the semblance of an answer to the oharge against our obsolete Free Trade system, which was responsible for the appalling 'fact that there were to-day more skilled workmen unem- ployed and depending upon the bread of charity or pauperism than there had, been for 40 years past. In a touching peroration he appealed to his hearers to solve the question of the unem- ployed by remedying the defective and cruel Fiscal system, which had shackled to their limbs chains that were terribly hard to struggle with in the field of modern competition. (Applause.) Mr. Lever, in the course of his reply, confined himself for the most part to the quest-tin of Free Trade and Protection, and raised a. storm of dis- sent by asserting that we exported more manu- factured goods than did the protected nations of America, Germany, or France. Summing up the Fiscal proposals of tariff reformers, he said we might stop the £ 140,000,000 of manufac- tured goods coming into this country from abroad, but at the same time we should stop L-200,000,000 of manufactured goods going cut from this country abroad. This argument also elicited adverse cries. Replying to Mr. Smith's statement as to his firm's works abroad, Mr. Lever said the first factory was established in a. Free- Trade country which shortly aiterwareta I became Protectionist. The second was placed in Switzerland, which was nearly a Free Trade coun- try, and another in Belgium, which was in the same position. He maintained that in the truly Protectionist countries where his works wore in operation the conditions for the w07kingmall were far worse than in Free Trade England, and he wculd be glad if Free Trade was adopted there to-morrow. Free Trade in England had enabled the eoap manufacturers of this country to supply the neutral markets of the world. He denied that the establishment of his firm's factories abroad had taken any employment from men in this country, because they went to countries to which previously no English-made soap had been sent. In conclusion, Mr. Lever, with a sudden burst of eloquence, declared that our Colonies, were the legacy of Free Trade. True Imperialism meant a-i Empire founded on freedom and liberty, but the Imperialir;m of Protection wae of the tied- house description, and if adopted would lead the country to a deplorable depth of eoo-didnesi. A remarkable meeting was brought to a close by a vote of thanks to the speakers, proposed by Mr. David Maclver, M.P., and seconded by Mr. Tobin, K.C., who voiced the spirit cf .the pro- ceedings by expressing the hope that when the rivals of that evening went to their respective constituencies the best man might win in each case.



[No title]



LIGHTING-UP TABLE. -----+------'-


Family Notices


[No title]