The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 69
To the Electors of the Electoral District of Dunedin
To the Electors of the Electoral District of Dunedin.
Gentlemen,—I beg to intimate that I am a Candidate for the honourable position of one of your representatives in Parliament.
My political opinions having been fully reported in the newspapers, you will be able to consider whether, on the whole, they are such as to commend my candidature to your favourable consideration. It cannot be expected that the views of any candidate upon all questions will be acceptable to every elector. I have therefore to ask you, when reviewing the merits and demerits of the several candidates, whether, all things considered, you deem me one who is worthy of support and may be trusted to represent you in Parliament.
As some of you may not have read a report of my meeting on November 7th, I append a reprint of the address I delivered on that occasion, to which I invite your kind attention, and also to the following
The remarks I made on this question were intended to express my opposition to the continuance of the huge loan policy. There may be, and probably are, objects of colonial importance and necessity for which money must be found, and if by further retrenchment in the public expenditure we, cannot provide the required funds out of ordinary revenue, we must increase to some extent our permanent indebtedness. I should, however, scrutinise very carefully any proposals in this direction, and, before assenting to them, satisfy myself of the necessity for the expenditure, and that the money could not be found out of the ordinary revenue. Every proposal should be considered on its merits, and I must ask you to allow me to exercise my judgment after careful consideration.
The position I take up on the
is not, I think, correctly understood by some of my friends, who seem to think that I advocate the substitution of a denominational for the present system; that, of course, would mean abolishing the State schools. I do not propose that, nor am I opposed to the free and compulsory system. I am quite willing that the present system shall continue, but, believing as I do, that no satisfactory arrangements can be made for imparting religious instruction in the State schools, and that there are a very large number of parents who deplore the page 4 absence of such instruction, I am in favour of a capitation grant to any other schools, the course of secular instruction in which shall include the compulsory subjects in the State schools syllabus, and which shall be subject to the regulations of the Education Department relating to qualification of teachers, inspection, &c.
The plan I advocate would enable parents of my way of thinking to combine in establishing schools in which the high moral lessons to be found in the Bible may be inculcated. I am persuaded that there is no unsurmountable difficulty in the way of a common understanding being arrived at between most of the religious denominations as to the course of religious instruction to be given. Controversial points can be avoided, and they could all agree that the children should be taught to believe in God the Great Architect of the Universe, and their accountability for their deeds. Such a lesson must exercise a restraining influence on the rising generation, which would most assuredly tend to make them better citizens.
Why i Became a Candidate.
I may offer as a reason for my candidature on the present occasion that I consider the people should have an opportunity of declaring whether or not the vicious policy of setting class against class finds favour with them.
I am convinced that the success of the attempt now being made to foster and perpetuate class distinctions would result in placing what are commonly called Capital and Labour in hostile camps, and that the struggle for supremacy must result in serious loss to both without doing good to either, and cannot fail to retard our prosperity as a people. There can be no question that the greatest sufferers by such a conflict will be the wage earners of the Colony. A long study of the problem of the relation of capital to labour has led me to the conclusion that what is best for labour is also best for capital in the long run, and that there is no necessary antagonism between the two.
I am one of those who recognise the right of all classes, and believe that by carrying cut the golden principle—"Live and Let Live," and dealing oat even-handed justice to all we shall best promote the welfare and prosperity of the whole community.
Please understand that I do not make any distinction between the Candidates because of any difference there may be in their social position. I have not the slightest objection to being represented by a sensible working man, but I do most strongly oppose the election of any man, whichever class he may belong to, who may be put forward specially in the interest of one class.
I present myself to you as an independent candidate who, though his sympathies are, and always have been, with the workers, is determined, as far as lays in his power, to see that justice is meted out to all classes, and that legislation and the administration of our affairs shall be in the direction of securing the greatest good to the greatest number of people.
Unscrupulous politicians, at election times, always adopt illegitimate means for securing their ends. They do not hesitate to malign and misrepresent their opponents in the expectation of attracting support to themselves. page 5 These tactics are being pretty freely employed during this election. As far as I am personally concerned they are not likely to do a great deal of harm, for I am so well known to a large proportion of the electors that any attempt to blacken my character is not likely to be successful.
I am being misrepresented by those who are masquerading in the character of the working man's friend. They are endeavouring to poison the minds of the working men in order that their natural common sense may not have full play. Amongst the many things that are being said to my disadvantage is that I am the representative of the capitalist class, and am therefore not worthy of the support of the Labour party. That is lie number one. I am not the representative of any one class, and should emphatically decline to be nominated as such; and so far from being a representative of the capitalist class, I know that my known sympathies with the workers of the world has on more than one occasion recently aroused the enmity of the few but powerful men in our midst who take up a hostile position to labour.
It is well known that at the meeting called to establish an Employers' Association in Dunedin I attempted to get a resolution passed as an indication of policy, to the effect that the meeting recognised the right of wage-earners to combine for the protection of their interests, and that the principal object of the Association should be to form a recognised body to represent employers in I negotiating with the labour unions for the peaceful settlement of disputes on the lines advocated by me in a letter to the Daily Times which I wrote at the time of the Shag Point trouble.
Mine is no newly-born sympathy with labour, paraded for the purpose of attracting votes, and I should not have alluded to the matter were it not for the misrepresentions that are being industriously circulated by my opponents with a view to damaging my chance of election.
I am also accused of being a "Tory." Now, such a word is meaningless in connection with New Zealand politics. There are really no political parties, properly so called, here. In Great Britain the term "Tory" is applied to those who are opposed to the "Liberals" in politics. I ask you, after perusing the report of my political opinions, whether "Tory" is an appropriate designation for any man holding the views I have expressed.
I ask the working men of Dunedin to consider well, before recording their votes, whether it will not be more to their advantage to be represented by a plain man of business like myself than by men of shattered reputations who, for their own purposes, loudly proclaim their pretended sympathy with the labour party, while secretly laughing in their sleeves at the gullibility of the working men. Look into the character of such men and see whether their actions in the past square with their present loud-mouthed professions, and ask yourselves which of the candidates before you are most worthy of your confidence, and likely to serve you faithfully and bring no discredit upon the important constituency of Dunedin.
As it is against my principles to make a personal canvass, I must ask my friends to aid me with their influence to secure my return, assuring them that I shall highly appreciate the honour of being chosen one of the representatives of a city in which I have passed the greater part of my life.
R. H. Leary.Dunedin,
Note.—Every elector may give one vote to each of three candidates, and he may give one vote to any less number, but he may not vote for more than three, nor give more than one vote to any candidate.