18 DECEMBER 1909, Page 13


a Unionist Free-trader, be allowed to express my concurrence with the view of Mr. Hobhouse and Sir Frederick Pollock as regards the action to be taken by Conservative and Unionist Free-traders at the approaching Election ? As you remark, it may be a choice of evils, but it appears to me that a return to Protection would be a greater evil than the continuance in office of the present Government. Ministers come and Ministers go, but if Protection is once introduced it will be impossible ever to shake it off again ; and it must not be forgotten that if such a policy is passed by even a small majority in the House of Commons, it will certainly be approved by the House of Lords, who in that case will not deem it necessary to refer the question to the country for consideration. I am rather surprised that the Spectator, which has hitherto so admirably supported the cause of Free- trade, should now, when for the first time the question has come into the sphere of practical politics, recommend Unionist Free-traders to support Protection, for that of coarse is what voting for Tariff Reform candidates would really mean.

It is matter for great regret that the Conservative Party should have adopted a policy which, if carried into effect, would seriously injure the well-being of the country; but I, for one, decline to be forced into supporting this policy, when I know it to be wrong, and I believe there are many who take a similar view. Speaking generally, Parliamentary elections are decided, not by the majority of the electors, who vote on one side or the other as directed by their respective party organisa- tions, but by those persons who are not influenced by the statements of political orators, nor by highly coloured articles in the Press, but who form their own conclusions after due consideration of the points under discussion.

The present unfortunate position of affairs is entirely due to the Tariff Reformers, and on them must rest the blame, certainly not on the Unionist Free-traders, who simply adhere to what used to be the policy of the whole Conservative Party, and who are as strongly opposed to Protection as they are to