23 DECEMBER 1905, Page 3

Mr. Asquith was the principal speaker at a Liberal demon-

stration held at the Queen's Hall on Tuesday night, and dealt vigorously with the hollowness and insincerity of the Home-rule scare. The latest phase of this protracted game of alternating bluff and finesse, as Mr. Asquith put it, was the attempt to steal votes for Protection under cover of an artificial outcry about Home-rule. In reply to these insinuations, Mr. Asquith predicted with the utmost confidence that "the now Liberal majority in the House of Commons will be as absolutely opposed as you and I are to advancing upon any path that will lead to separation," or impair the paramount authority of the Imperial Parliament. But if within these limits they did something to improve and liberalise the administration of Ireland, the Opposition, in view of their Irish record—with their gift of local government, their land legislation, and the appointment of Sir Antony MacDonnell—were the last persons in the world who had any right to protest. The supreme issue at the elections was that between Free-trade and Protection, and it was the height of absurdity to pretend that the issue had shifted its place or changed its relative value simply because, in defiance of their repeated declara- tions, the members of the late Government had chosen to desert their posts, and the Liberals had undertaken to govern the country.