17 APRIL 1880, Page 13


[TO THE EDITOR OF THE "SPECTATOR'] SIR,—There is probably some truth in the explanation you give of the exceptional success of the Liberals in the Cathedral towns. But I am sure you are mistaken in practically ignoring the in- fluence of the "Church Vote," in the victory, throughout the country. Most of the Clergy are, no doubt, Conservatives, and the same thing holds of the majority of Church laymen, but there are a considerable number of both classes, who in 1874 remained neutral or voted with the Conservatives, but who have supported the Liberals in the recent Election. Every one whose acquaintance lies at all in clerical circles must know of several such cases among his friends.

A striking illustration of my point is the Bradford election. In 1874, the Dissenting section of the Liberal party was wholly defeated in that town. Mr. Forster, whom they opposed, was at the head of the poll, and they were not even strong enough to prevent a Conservative from securing the second seat. In 1880, the Liberal Churchmen and Dissenters agreed, and they easily returned both their candidates. It seems that in this large manufacturing town, the Liberal Churchmen hold the political balance in their hands.

All honour to the earnestness and zeal of the Nonconformists, who form the main part of the Liberal party. But they need the co-operation of Churchmen, and it is to be hoped that our leaders will fix their attention primarily on those important measures of reform which both sections desire.—I am, Sir, &c., J. E. SYMES. P.S.—In the town where I now am, of the eleven clergymen whose political opinions I know, seven are Liberals.