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course, war bases on the east coast. Whilst preparing the harbours on the east coast as war bases, and fitting them for defence with torpedo-boats, submarines, a few cruisers, and some of the older battleships, it will, perhaps, be advisable to put our most valuable battleships out of reach of a surprise attack.

I would now draw attention to some weak spots in our naval defences. Apart from one private dock, there is not a single dock on the east coast able to take Dreadnoughts. If a battle should occur in the North Sea, the disabled German Dreadnoughts might reach their home docks and be repaired, whilst the disabled British Dreadnoughts might have to be abandoned and be allowed to sink. Therefore, the present Government's failure to provide docks for Dreadnoughts on the east coast is most culpable. Various high German authorities assert that our 12-inch wire guns are very inferior weapons. They say that the barrel of our guns loses its shape very quickly. The 12-inch Krupp guns are said not only to wear better and to allow of straighter shooting than our 12-inch guns, but, according to the German ordnance tables which I have seen, they are far more powerful weapons than are ours.

Our reserve of 12-inch guns is far too small. Lastly, the Germans attach great value to airships and flying machines for reconnoitring and attack. In these we are lamentably deficient, and, as airships can be effectively fought not by gunfire but only by airships and flying machines, Germany would have a great advantage over us in naval war. In about two years Germany will possess some twenty airships able to travel thirty hours, or, let us say, more than six hundred miles, and to carry each from one ton to three tons of explosives. We have nothing to meet these, and, lacking experience, we shall scarcely be able to have any airships ready by 1911. This danger to our fleet should not be under-estimated.

During the last three years the Liberals have followed their traditional policy of starving the Fleet. Eleven months ago I wrote in this Review :

During a long time it has been the settled policy of the Liberal party to starve the Fleet in order to pose as champions of peace and economy with their supporters and to declaim against the ‘ reckless wastefulness of the Unionists, and their“ bloated armaments,' as soon as these tried to make good the neglect of their predecessors. From the party politician's point of view, the traditional policy of the Liberals was very useful. It is true that, incidentally, it imperilled the safety of the Empire, but that was apparently a minor consideration. At present the Liberals are again practising naval economy at the cost of national security. Will they allow Germany to obtain a temporary naval superiority, which may become a permanent one, and which may involve this country in the greatest dangers, in order to gain a trick in the party game? Will it not be madness, in view of the evident drift and the officially declared aim of Germany's naval policy, to allow Germany to outbuild this country in first-class battleships ? Will it not be an almost equally great madness for this country to be satisfied with but a small margin of naval superiority over Germany, and thus allow her to hope that by a special effort she might succeed in outbuilding Great Britain ?

Will that prospect not give her an inducement constantly to enlarge her programme and thus accelerate the mad shipbuilding race? Would it not be wiser economy to demonstrate to Germany at once that naval competition with Great Britain is hopeless for her, by laying down the doctrine that for every German ship voted, Great Britain will lay down two ?

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The naval policy of the Liberal party has had the consequences which I predicted. The traditional Liberal policy of naval economy is the economy of folly. It is an economy which causes enormous waste. By whining to Germany about the costliness of naval armaments, and by reducing our shipbuilding programme, the Liberals have not only endangered our peace but have encouraged Germany to make a bid for naval supremacy. Thus, the Liberals, by their pseudoeconomy, have made necessary an enormous enlargement of our shipbuilding programme, and for every single million saved on the Navy by Mr. Asquith we shall probably have to spend ten millions. This is the usual result of Liberal economy in naval matters.

By failing to provide adequately for our naval defence, the Prime Minister has shown that he does not possess the most elementary qualifications required for directing the policy of Great Britain and of the Empire. We need not inquire which members of the Cabinet are responsible for the neglect of our Navy, for there is a joint responsibility in the British Cabinet. Mr. Asquith and his colleagues are a danger to the State. The defence of the Empire must be amply provided for at all costs, and if the Government refuses to do this it must be removed. The House of Lords should throw out the Budget if it contains insufficient provisions for naval defence and thus force on a dissolution, and save the country from this Government. If it be allowed to stay on, the historian of the future may sum up its record in the words : ‘It took a farthing off sugar and wrecked the Empire.'

J. ELLIS BARKER.

PostSCRIPTUM.—Since these pages were written some of the daughter-States have offered Great Britain battleships as a gift. I think their offers spring partly from generosity, partly from a feeling that Germany's naval armaments threaten them quite as much as us. Their offers should be accepted with gratitude and rejoicing, and if they should materialise, it is to be hoped that the Dominions will be invited not only to assist in the defence of the Empire with their money, but also to man their ships with officers and sailors of their own. Such a step would make the Imperial Navy a reality. Friendly rivalry between the Colonial and British contingents of the fleet would increase its efficiency. Before all, the common task of defence would bring the oneness of the Empire home to every heart and would visibly demonstrate its peaceful and defensive mission. It should be the first, and a most important, step towards the consolidation of the British Empire.

THE UNIONIST PARTY AND ITS FISCAL

SORE

The Unionist party suffers from a running sore. Sometimes this ailment weakens it to a dangerous state of debility; sometimes it is no more than a vexation and distress. Just now the party is gaining strength and recovering with a rapidity which delights its friends from its great illness of three years ago ; and yet its physicians cannot quite relieve it from the discomfort and irritation of its fiscal sore.

It may seem strange that the fiscal question should be so peculiarly vexatious. Other questions lead to disagreement; other questions strongly arouse passion ; but neither in contemporary politics, nor in the pages of Parliamentary history, will there be found anything precisely resembling the disorganisation and uneasiness which the fiscal controversy has caused among Unionists. Not even in the great convulsions which took place over the Corn Laws and over Home Rule was the disturbance so lasting. When Sir Robert Peel divided the Conservative party by repealing the Corn Laws in 1846, when Mr. Gladstone divided the Liberal party by introducing Home Rule in 1886, there was an acute difference of opinion within the disintegrated party; but in neither case did the disagreement produce a prolonged disorganisation in its internal economy. In the days of the Peelites such dissension was not so abnormal as now. Independence from party was recognised as legitimate, and the friction that it caused was much slighter. The period of bitterness, though acute, was short; and afterwards the Peelites were allowed to continue an independent element in public life, until they were gradually and with little pain absorbed into the two main parties. After the rejection of the first Home Rule Bill, the Liberal Unionists passed rapidly and easily into coalition with the Conservatives; most of them had long been vexed with the developments of Gladstonian Liberalism. Neither after 1846 nor after 1886 was there exhibited the spectacle which we see to-day of a party comprehending, but neither tolerating nor assimilating, conscientious disagreement within its ranks. Disagreement is commonly tolerated, is sometimes assimilated, and in very rare cases it leads to secession, but that none of these three things should happen is a phenomenon new in politics.

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An exhaustive analysis of the causes of this state would be difficult. But it is at any rate largely due to two unusual circumstances : the promulgation of a policy in the form of abstract considerations more or less indefinitely propounded, and the insistence on a doctrine of party discipline more rigid than has been heretofore known. If the issue had been more definitely propounded, if there were a specific bill or schedule of duties in existence to which the majority of the Unionist party was pledged, it is probable that either co-operation with Liberal opponents of that definite proposal, or else compromise with its Unionist supporters, would be feasible. Or, again, if the older doctrine of the independence of politicians prevailed, and it was still thought right and obligatory for public men at least to pretend that they preferred the interests of the country to those of their party, and that they determined their action by conscientious reflection on the merits of current questions, no friction resembling that which exists would trouble us. Independence admittedly honest would be respected, and there would be no effort to force on a dispute which might after all be avoided. It is the singular combination of vagueness in the party policy, and rigidity in the claims of party allegiance, which oppresses us. This union of vagueness and strictness is unprecedented. Even the history of religion, rich as it is in the enforcement of opinions by menaces, cannot, I think, match the attitude of the zealous inquisitors of Tariff Reform. Persecutors are always harsh and narrow, but never before have they been so unreasonable as to require assent to what has not been precisely formulated.

The situation will be more clearly dealt with if I, as a Unionist Free Trader, consider in turn these three questions : (1) Why cannot we secede to the Liberal party? (2) Why cannot we assimilate our opinions to those of other Unionists ? (3) Why cannot our opinions be tolerated by our Unionist friends? Hitherto either secession, assimilation, or toleration has always adjusted difficulties such as ours. Why are none of these solutions appropriate to-day? To this problem I now address myself, writing only on my own responsibility and without any claim to be the mouthpiece of others.

The most obvious obstacle to secession lies in the aims and character of the Liberal party. Co-operation with them would only be possible to Unionist Free Traders if Free Trade was the main and dominant belief of the Liberal party, and if that party accordingly directed its political action mainly with the purpose of preserving Free Trade. If Liberals cared for Free Trade as Conservatives cared for the Union in 1886, there would at any rate be some basis for friendly co-operation between Liberals and ourselves. And if one were merely to listen to what Liberals say, it would be natural to believe that they were before all other things Free Traders. Every Liberal candidate, I suppose, at

I the late election, put the defence of Free Trade in the very foremost position in his address. Not a few actually added the name · Free

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Trader' to the name Liberal’ as a characteristic title. Nor can anything exceed the flattering courtesy of their words towards Unionist Free Traders, as well in public as in private. But, unhappily, the zeal of Liberals for Free Trade is almost exclusively the concern of their lips. They have, so far as I know, never modified the policy of their party in the interests of Free Trade, and hitherto they have only in such rare instances as to be negligible missed any opportunity of capturing a seat from a Unionist Free Trader.

The truth is, I believe, that Free Trade has not that predominant influence with Liberals which would make them sacrifice the ordinary purposes of Liberalism for its sake. They do not care for it as Conservatives cared for the Union in 1886. It is possible that as the danger to Free Trade becomes more acute they may see the need of larger sacrifices. But so far nothing has been given up. Nay, Disestablishment and even Home Rule are again, it seems, to be placed in the forefront of their programme; and all the objects of Liberalism, including measures like the Eight Hours Act and the Old Age Pensions Act, which considerably enlarge the functions of the State and are further departures from the system of natural liberty by which adult men, at any rate, were left to make their own bargains and provide for their own futures, are keenly pursued without regard to the risks involved to the maintenance of Free Trade. Finally, by proclaiming an uncompromising attack on the House of Lords, the leaders of the Liberal party have raised an insurmountable barrier of separation between themselves and everyone of Conservative or moderate opinions. Very absurdly, they have continued to maintain that the existence of Free Trade will be a main issue at the general election side by side with their projected constitutional revolution. There are to be two dominant issues--so loosely do eminent Liberals think and speakthe preservation of Free Trade and the destruction of the House of Lords. Yet a dominant issue, if the phrase has any useful meaning, should connote a line of division ranging men into two opposing bodies. There can no more be two dominant issues between parties than there can be two frontiers between countries. To talk of Free Trade and the House of Lords as the dominant issues at the election is like talking of the Rhine and the Vosges as the frontier between France and Germany. To what country, then, it would be asked, do those belong who live between the Rhine and the Vosges ? And with what party, we may now ask, are those to vote who wish to maintain both the established Constitution and the established fiscal system of the country? The phrase 'two dominant issues' is, in fact, a mere confusion. If clear-headed men use it, it can only be to secure against the House of Lords the votes of those who are afraid of Protection-a design not very ingenuous and singularly futile.

Secession to the Liberal party is, then, rendered impossible by

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