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‘A country fit for heroes’

30 November 2018

November 29th, 1918.

THERE never was a General Election like that which we are just beginning. An electorate numbering twenty millions of voters, men and women, most of them inexperienced in the franchise, of unknown political opinions, is called upon to form a new House of Commons at one of the turning-points in our national history. The question of the hour is whether the Coalition Government, that has carried us over the war, shall continue in power at least for the period in which the peace settlement will be completed. It is quite certain that, unless the three great parties in the State had consented to hold their party differences in suspension and combined for the successful prosecution of the war, we should have been undone. Has the time arrived when we can safely return to the old game of party politics, while the foundations of a settled peace are not yet laid, and after-the-war domestic problems call for prompt and agreed action? If, as Mr Lloyd George said on Saturday, our task is “to make Britain a fit country for heroes to live in”, this cannot be done except by a united people. A Coalition Government seems to be the only possible one in the circumstances, but the course pursued by Mr Lloyd George and Mr Bonar Law, in making an official selection of Coalition candidates, seems only too likely to result in the return of the Old Gang, of whom we have had enough. Would it not have been better to throw themselves on the goodwill of the people, laying before them a programme of reforms to be taken in hand, and leaving the choice of candidates to the electorate? There is too much of the appearance of a caucus in the method adopted. In any case, it is of supreme importance that we should approach, in complete detachment from old party watchwords, those social questions that call for prompt action — the land, housing, wages, transport, and electrical power. Neither Liberalism, nor Unionism, nor Labour can separately claim to know the best way of dealing with them. In combination, and judging the questions on their merits, they could hope to handle them successfully.


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