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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 72

The Ballot-box preferred to Industrial War

The Ballot-box preferred to Industrial War.

The defeat sustained by the Labour party in the strike caused the leaders to see plainly that strikes are a mistake, and a waste of force and of resources; that the ballot-box gave them better opportunities of success than industrial warfare. The energy thus displayed was the result of new hopes inspiring a defeated but not dejected party; a party who learned that—

"When you organise a strike, it is war you organise;
But to organise our labour were the labour of the wise."

Up to that time no election had been fought in New Zealand on page 12 strictly party lines as understood in this country, but the election of 1891 was distinctly a fight between the party of Labour and the party of Capital, and the Labour party won.

According to the analysis of one of its members the newly elected Parliament consisted of lawyers, merchants, farmers, and landowners, each ten; of six journalists, four Maories, two brewers, two mine agents, and two bootmakers; while each of the following classes had one representative: a major, a captain, a doctor, a pensioner, a shipping agent, a contractor, a builder, a painter, a tailor, a stonemason, a carpenter, and a lamplighter. There is on record a resolution of the Town Council of the borough represented by the lamplighter, which runs "that leave of absence be given to the borough turncock and lamplighter during the Session of Parliament, and that his son be accepted as his substitute." To these may be added four nondescripts included as "gentlemen." Even then there were only seven mechanics to 80,000 wage-earners in the Colony, while the 3,000 professional men were better represented than the 40,000 farmers.

Although among the new Ministry there was not to be found any who was at the time of the formation of the Government working for wages, several at an earlier period of life would have been described as working men. Not one of the Ministers belonged to the squatter or landowning class, or was among the larger employers of labour.

The Labour party was strong in the new House, and, with the exception of one or two free lances, chiefly men disappointed of place, accepted the new Liberalism and presented an undivided front to the Capitalist opposition.