MR. ARTHUR ELLIOT AND THE DURHAM ELECTORS.
[TO THE EDITOR OP THE "SPECTATOR."]
SIR,—Please to let me add my testimony of hearty agreement with your article in the Spectator of February 4th on the political unwisdom of a direct Liberal opposition to such tried Unionist Free-traders as Mr. Arthur Elliot at Durham. It is true that we Liberals have every reason for opposing the policy of the present Government on a score of leading prin- ciples besides that of Preferential treatment. It will be years before we can forget their reckless extravagance, their wanton Colonial policy which launched us into a gigantic war, and their sacrifice of the rights of the public to the Clerical party in their Education Act. But neither these points, nor others of Liberal aspirations, can be compared with the transcendent importance of inducing the nation to register now and here a direct veto on any scheme of Protection. That must be the question to be decided by the next General Election, and nothing should be allowed by any section of the Free-trade party to weaken or detract from the importance of the verdict then to be passed by the country. As I heard Lord Rosebery say in a speech some few months ago, " we must go into this next contest with a clean slate. Let all other questions be put aside, and let us fight only on the single issue of Free-trade v. Protection." That, or words to that effect, were what he said; and if that is admitted, I cannot help thinking that in such cases as that of Mr. Arthur Elliot at Durham, where no Liberal candidate existed before 1903, it would be a grave mistake for a Liberal Free-trader to oppose ' a Unionist Free-trader at such a grave crisis as the present. Mr. Elliot's long record as a Liberal before the Home-rule question was mooted, his determined opposition to the Colonial policy which led to the Boer War, and the sacrifices which he has now made in the cause of Free-trade are, I should hope, amply sufficient reasons why the Liberals of Durham would do well to hesitate before they bring forward a Liberal to oppose such a tried Free-trader.—I am, Sir, &c.,
FRANCIS W. BUXTON.