London (Oct. 7)
Sir Herbert Samuel’s political future is the subject of much speculation and comment to-day in the press and in political circles generally, in view of the situation created by the dissolution of Parliament to-day, and the opening of the election campaign, in which polling has been fixed for October 27th. Although Sir Herbert remains Acting Leader of the official Liberal Party, which continues to form part of the National Government and retains his Ministerial post as Home Secretary, he is to be opposed in his constituency, Darwen, by a Conservative candidate, and as his majority over the Conservative candidate at the last election was only 462 out of a total poll of nearly 38,000, it is though very possible that he may be defeated this time.
Sir Herbert is standing as a Free Trader, and Mr. L. Airey, the secretary of the Darwen Conservative Association, said to-day: “It will be a keen fight on the tariff issue. Captain Graham became the prospective Conservative candidate two years ago. Our view is that this is a Conservative seat; it has been for thirty years, except for the victory of Sir Herbert Samuel at the last election”.
Although Sir Herbert is himself suffering from the lack of an arrangement between the Liberal and Conservative elements in the National Government, he was the subject of “a good deal of outspoken criticism”, as the “Times” to-day reports, at a hurriedly called meeting of the Parliamentary Liberal Party held last night, over which he presided, “in accepting a position which, in their opinion, gave Liberal members no protection in the constituencies against Conservative candidates”. A resolution was proposed, the report proceeds, which amounted to a virtual vote of censure on Sir Herbert Samuel for his handling of the negotiations. Complaint was made that the Parliamentary Party as a whole was not consulted before the vital decision was taken. Mr. Hore-Belisha (who is also a Jew) submitted the following resolution: That this meeting of the Parliamentary Liberal Party, while determined to support the Prime Minister as the head of the National Government, regrets the result of the negotiations reported by Sir Herbert Samuel, which seems to indicate ambiguity in the interpretation of policy and may lead to confusion in the constituencies”.
Sir Herbert, as chairman, declined to accept the resolution, on the ground that the meeting was not representative and had been hurriedly summoned. The meeting broke up amid a certain amount of disorder, the “Times” concludes, and Sir Herbert departed without putting the resolution to the vote.
The official Liberals look like coming very badly out of the business, the Liberal “Manchester Guardian” writes, and that is one of the reasons why Sir Herbert Samuel had to face a very critical meeting of the Liberal Parliamentary Party last night.
The party leaders do not see how any consideration can or need be given to National Government candidates where there is the prospect of a straight fight between Liberals and Conservatives, the “Daily Express” explains. In such cases they must fight it out. It would not be possible for headquarters to compel the withdrawal of Conservative candidates. Every effort will be made, however, to secure a straight fight between a Government candidate and a Socialist. It will be emphasised that whatever the party of the National Government candidate the common aim of Conservatives and Liberals in this election must be to smash the Socialists. These arrangements must be left to the local leaders who are best able to judge which candidate is the more likely to win.
Meanwhile, Mr. Hore-Belisha, who has been taking the lead with Sir John Simon in forming the new National Liberal Party, which now numbers 25 Liberal members of Parliament, has emerged into the political limelight, by being elected last night as the chairman of the Executive of the Party, which is pledged to support the Government, without qualifications of any kind.
After the election, the “Daily Express” states, the Ministry will be reconstructed and enlarged, to take in Sir John Simon, Lord Hailsham and Mr. Hore-Belisha. The report is accompanied by photographs of the Party leaders, and by a coincidence one block of three photographs shows Sir Herbert Samuel, Lord Reading and Mr. Hore-Belisha, who are all three Jews.