15 NOVEMBER 1935, Page 1

Election Rowdyism Unhappily in many areas' the campaign has been

characterised by sustained disorder and organised attempts to deny speakers a hearing. Hooliganism has been rife in many districts, in the form, not of spontaneous outbursts for which some immediate if specious excuse to be claimed, but sustained and often violent attempts t_o prevent the presentation of the National Government's case,--for the offenders appear to have been in every 'Ise opponents of the Government. National Labour Cabinet Ministers have been the worst sufferers. The Public Meetings Act of 1908 provides a legal remedy, and might be invoked oftener than it is, but candidates are reluctant to have recourse to it, since legal action in the course of an election often reacts against the side that sets the law in motion. The danger lies in the threat to the democratic principle of free speech. if that is denied the alternatives arc Fascism or Com- munism, with a deadly struggle to decide which of them shall prevail.