To the Electors—of—Dunedin East
The present time, as you are aware, marks a grave crisis in the affairs of this Colony. You will be shortly called upon to cast your votes in one of the most momentous elections that has yet arisen in New Zealand. What, then, is the all-important question you are called upon to decide? Remember there is but one, and that not one of Education, or Protection, or Atkinson, or Vogel. These are but minor issues. The great question is, Do you, or do you not, approve of the policy of the present Ministry? If you believe that policy has advanced the welfare of the Colony, lessened the depression, encouraged commerce, checked extravagance, reduced expenditure, and generally promoted the well-being of the community, then your duty is plain. On the other hand, if their policy has not done so, your duty is also plain. Fellow electors, is there the least doubt as to our position now, and when the Stout-Vogel Government took office? Is that position better or worse? Is your expenditure greater or less? Is trade more brisk? Have, in fact, the promises of the Government been fulfilled? Does not every impartial elector feel and know that if our position was bad in 1884, it is infinitely worse in 1887! Can this be wondered at? The present Government, from its inception down to this—the verge of its dissolution—has been unenviably conspicuous for its utter and complete absence of political honour, political morality, and political principle; holding office in defiance of all the forms of page break parliamentary government, after their policy had been contemptuously rejected by the House. Fellow electors, these are not mere empty phrases or political "catch cries," they are the words of "soberness and truth." Take a few facts.
Sir Robert Stout, the ostensible head of the Government, was for many years the idol of Otago. His success was welcomed by at classes, he was looked upon by many as the beau ideal of a politician, he was regarded as the champion of the "worker" against the "dummy" and the "land shark;" as the opponent of all jobbery, corruption, and extravagance in our political life; he was, in fact, to many, the embodiment of all that was manly and honorable in politics On these grounds, and in this belief, we worked, supported, and voted for Robert Stout in 1884. Alas! after three years of office, three years of golden opportunity, from one end of the Colony to the other, his Government and his policy have, save from interested persons, met with an almost universal condemnation. Why? Have the people changed? Nay! rather, has Sir Robert Stout changed? Those principles, by the advocacy of which he attained to power and influence, were shamelessly and recklessly abandoned. Briefly, what were those principles? Then Sir Robert Stout advocated the abolition of the property tax—it was "tantamount to confiscation," he cried. Now he upholds the property tax, and defends it in season and out of season. Then he advocated the abolition of the Upper House; the first act of his Government was to add eleven new members to that Chamber, at [unclear: a] permanent cost of £2200 per annum to the country. Then he condemned Protection. Now he advocates a fiscal policy, under the guise of protection, which would increase the cost of living to every [unclear: man], woman, and child in the Colony. Then he favoured a reduction in the number of members in the House of Representatives. Now, but a [unclear: few] months back, in the face of his pledged word, he refused to accept the reduction in the number desired by the House. Then he advocated the land for the people and the people for the land. Now he defends the grant made by his Government of 2,500,000 acres of land to, an English syndicate. Then he condemned in ringing tones all jobbery, corruption, and trickery. Now he is to be found defending such political scandals as the purchase of private railways, the infamous Meigg's con- page break tract, the Stark and other land purchases! Fellow electors, are these facts or no? If they are the truth, then we fearlessly ask you, is it the people who have forsaken Sir Robert Stout, or is it Sir Robert Stout who has forsaken the people? Is there anything more pitiable than to see a man exerting all his powers of argument to explain away the convictions and principles of a lifetime? Many of us, as you are aware, voted and worked for Sir Robert Stout at the last election. Is it reasonable to suppose that we are all mistaken and laboring under a delusion? Is it not absurd to imagine the Press of this town can possibly gain anything by wilfully misrepresenting Sir Robert Stout? Is he alone above suspicion? What object have we to gain? What end to serve? Think for yourselves. And if after a calm and dispassionate study of the political history of the past three years you come to the conclusion that your interests as individuals, and the interests of your adopted country, are not in trustworthy hands, then we confidently ask you to support that belief by recording your vote against Sir Robert Stout.page break
Fellow electors, we appeal to you. We know there are many persons who vote for men and not for principles, or who fondly believe that all the above, all the past record of Debt, Deficiency, and Disgrace can be "easily explained" away. With such electors we can, [unclear: of] course, do nothing. Our hope and our trust rests with the vast [unclear: body] of thoughtful, independent men in this constituency, and to you [unclear: was] appeal with every confidence and belief that our appeal will not be vain!
Mr. J. Allen'sCommittee.