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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 79

The Opposition

The Opposition.

Entertaining the greatest personal respect for many members of the Opposition whom I know, I must express my conviction that as a body it exercises but little influence for good in the House. It is repugnant to one's feelings to have to say it, but the only term which in my judgment applies to them is "hopeless ineptitude." As a body, the Opposition seems to utterly lack a sane conception of the fact that, as a result of the comparatively recent discovery of their powers as individuals, and of their rights as s whole, the "common people" are inaugurating an era of great social and political reform which, in a startlingly short spare of time, will sweep away the inequalities of the past and give to intellect and to labour that dominance in the world's affairs which has hitherto been held and exploited by privilege and wealth. "Old things" are truly "passing away," and a time of enlightenment is at hand. An adjustment of the relative share of capital and labour in the profits earned by the combination of both in all pursuits of life is being demanded, and must be conceded. This page 12 demand may be, in some instances, roughly enforced, but the degree of roughness will altogether depend upon the degree of resistance to progress which is manifested by the representatives of a dead past It is, I say, the blindness of the Opposition to this radical change impending which makes their efforts in Parliament and in the country appear so puny and contemptible. These are usually confined to attacks upon small details of administration; the search after those mythical, non-existent habitations known as "mares' nests," or to making their political opponents look "small"; while all the time real and great problems, in the solving of which Parliament could confer immense benefits upon the country, are left untouched.

To me it seems that the best thing the "Reform Party" (?) could do would be to "reform" itself out of existence and give free scope to the desire felt in the country for putting all political sections into the melting pot, getting rid of the political scum attaching to them, and thus allow a real National progressive party, ignoring past Shibboleths to arise. For a man to go to Wellington as a member of the present antiquated Opposition I deem a waste of life. He can do no good in such a position when it is so clear that, whatever changes and chances may befall Ministry after Ministry as far as personnel is concerned no Opposition party of a "standstill" or retrogressive type can ever again come into power. The days of privilege are past.