13 JANUARY 1906, Page 1


TO-DAY polling begins in one of the most momentous Elections that have taken place in British history. The nation is being asked to abandon Free-trade and adopt Pro- tection,—whether under that name or the aliases of Retaliation, Fiscal Reform, and Tariff Reform. No Free-trader can possibly abstain at such a crisis in our national life. He must vote, and he must vote only for Free-traders, and real, not nominal, Free-traders. No Fiscal Reformer of Mr. Balfour's kind, and no Retaliator, is a real Free-trader. Again, no man is a real Free-trader, even though he does not in words advocate Fiscal Reform or Retaliation, who will not pledge himself uncon- ditionally to oppose Mr. Chamberlain's policy with all the power at his command. That is a test which in every case will unmask the Balfourite, the Retaliator, and the Fiscal Reformer who is trying to get Free-trade votes by pretending that he is opposed to Protection. Especially would we advise Unionist Free-trade voters to remember that the Retaliator is in reality as much an enemy to true Free-trade as the full- blown Protectionist. The Sugar Convention—always opposed by the Spectator—was an example of Retaliation, and has cost the country some £6,000,000 a year.