2 NOVEMBER 1907, Page 29



[To ma EDITOR OP TRY " SPECTATOR." J SIR,—The annual meeting of the "National Union" is soon to be held at Birmingham, and there are not a few Unionists who look forward to that Conference with apprehension. The rumour has been widely circulated in the political clubs of the Metropolis and elsewhere that a certain section of extreme Tariff Reformers are determined to find there some opportunity of coercing our leader, Mr. Arthur Balfour, to utter a comprehensive confession of their fiscal faith under pain of their heavy displeasure if he should refuse to do so. In a word, they want to repeat the Sheffield incident,—.a precedent of which nobody can be proud. If such an intrigue be afoot—and I have good authority for believing in its existence—I sincerely hope that it may be baulked. This is not the time to " Stellenbosch " a commander-in-chief (even if there were another possible leader available), when the supreme effort of the Unionist Party in Parliament and in the country should be concentrated on fighting the immediate campaign against the combined forces of those who would wreck the Constitution, and would lay in ruins the foundations of society. These issues must first be joined in Parliament ; and if the Unionist Party is to emerge victorious, it can be under no other leader than Mr. Balfour, who is absolutely indispensable to victory. One cannot help being glad to see that this view has already found expression in the speeches of such convinced Tariff Reformers as Mr. Walter Long, Mr. Wyndham, Mr. F. E. Smith, and Lord Milner, whose recent remarks at Guildford were supported by the Morning Post in the words: "In discharging the function of Parliamentary leadership gr. Balfour admittedly stands without a possible rival." I hope that these witnesses to our unabated confidence in the leader of our party (pace Mr. Jesse Collings) will find unanimous approval at the Conference, and during the next and succeeding Sessions of Parliament; for I am convinced that any hostile or coercive course, such as rumour suggests, will be disastrous to the credit of the Unionist Party.—