Liberal Candidate Talks to Miners at Denaby Main

September 1900

Mexborough and Swinton Times, September 28.

Mr A.W.Black at Denaby and Conisborough.

Mr A.W.Black, the Liberal candidate for the Doncaster Division, on Wednesday evening, paid a visit to the populous mining district of Denaby Main and Conisborough. The meeting at the former was held in the open – air on a piece of ground nearly opposite the new Denaby Main Hotel. The weather, however, was anything but favourable to nominate gathering, yet, notwithstanding this a very considerable number of miners and their wives assembled to hear. Mr Blacks address. He was, accompanied by Alderman J.F. Clark and Councillor Theobald of Doncaster. Mr Wray, the son of the ex major of Barnsley presided.

Mr Black, who, on rising, received a most cordial and hearty reception, expressed his pleasure at seeing so larger in number present, and incidentally remarked upon the crowded and enthusiastic meeting held in the Guild Hall, Doncaster, on the previous evening, when hundreds were unable to gain admission.

The indications as to the results of the poll on Monday week were, he was glad to say, very hopeful, but still he behold them to do their utmost meanwhile, and particularly on the following day, to ensure success. The chief matter which was being brought before the electors was the war. The Tories had no right to make party capital out of it. (Hear, hear). Some of their opponents said if the Liberals came into power, they would give up the two conquered States in South Africa. Such statements were all moonshine; there was not a word of truth in it. No Liberal government or Tory government would think of altering the state of things back to what they were. Although the war could not have been avoided – and he had consistently maintained its – yet it was very unfortunate that the negotiations were in the hands of Mr Chamberlain (hear, hear).

He (Mr Black) happened to be in South Africa at the same time. Mr Chamberlain made his notorious speech, after the South African Committees enquiry had proved; Mr Cecil Rhodes was the prime mover and instigator of the Jameson Raid. Mr Chamberlain went out of his way to say, notwithstanding the fact of the proved complicity of Mr Rhodes, that he had done nothing inconsistent with his character as a man of honour. (Shame).

He (Mr Black) was in Pretoria on the day that speech was published there, and he was able to learn, not only from members of the government, but from ordinary workingmen, what their opinions was of Mr Chamberlain. There existed so much prejudice, and so much ill feeling against him, that it was easy for anyone to see that, when the difficult and delicate negotiations were placed in his hands, they had not a very good chance of arriving at the very best and most peaceful solution. (Hear, hear).

He (Mr Black) and always contended that the Boers themselves were responsible for the war. It was their narrow, intolerant, short-sighted, un Liberal policy that brought it about. Stop when the ultimatum was received – certainly an insulting ultimatum – then of course, the British nation was left with absolutely no alternative but to drive back the Boers from British territorial, and to go on with the conflict until they had ensured that he would never again be possible for the Boers to accumulate arms to be used against us – (hear, hear) – and that result could be brought about only by the incorporation of the two countries in the British Empire. (Cheers).

Both countries had already been annexed. He wished to be most emphatic on this point; there could be no possible will draw from that policy. (Cheers)

No Liberal candidate before the country was in favour of a reversal of the policy of annexation. Peace might be proclaimed now any day, and then the Government would have to take in hand. The peaceful settlement of those States, on lines calculated to secure peace, and contend with equality for the white races and justice for the native races. He contended that under British rule they would enjoy liberty, freedom, and equality as they are never enjoy before (hear, hear).

With regard to the conduct of the war, he agreed with Lord Roseberry that it had been bungled and mismanaged, the bungles being unparalleled. It costs thousands of precious lives and millions of money. Captain Lambton, of H.M.Ship “powerful” and only just arrived in time to save the fall of Ladysmith. When the government call for Vaughan Cheers at the outset of the war, they asked for one mounted men, where is one mounted a man was equal to 3. Amount, and asked for the guns, as Capt. Lambton it said, they were merely “ridiculous toys.”

Mr Winston Churchill, the war correspondent, who was himself a Tory, said that the Lee-Metford rifles used by our troops were not nearly so good as the Mauser rifles use by the enemy – and this statement had been borne out by facts.

The trust themselves were as brave as of all, but that was no reason why the weapons they used should be as of old. With regard to the costs of the war, Sir Michael Hicks Beach at first estimated that the cost of the war would be 10 million; in February last at a cost 23 million, a little later 60 million, in August (last month) it had risen to 70,000,000, and they will find that in the end it will cost about 100 million.

There was a most urgent need for reform in the War Office, and also reform in the army too. One thing he considered more than just, and that was that it was practically impossible for a private soldier to become an officer unless he had money or influence at his back. This state of things was a shame. (Hear, hear). This too is mine, was a scandal, they ought to give “brains” a chance. (Hear, hear).

The late government had had the question of Old Age Pensions before them. For nearly 5 years, and what had they done? Nothing tangible. They were as far away from it as ever. He (Mr Black) was strongly in favour of Old Age Pensions, and would support such a scheme under enable a man who spent the greater part of his life in honest toil, to receive something better than the Workhouse. (Hear, hear) and moreover than that, he should receive his pension as his right, and not as a kind of charity. If judges, civil servants, and Cabinet Ministers were entitled to receive pensions, the working man ought. Referring to the Workmen’s Compensation Act, he said it had been called the “Lawyers Relief Bill “and he thought that was a fitting name for it, seeing that the lawyers and no doubt got more out of it than the working classes. Only about one half of the working classes were included in the Act. If the workmen happened to be working on a building less than 30 feet high and accidentally fell and was injured fatally or otherwise, there would be no compensation.

When a memo was proposed, which would remove this disability, Mr Fison voted against it. He (Mr Black) was in favour of a legal eight hour day for mine, the taxing of Royalties and the better housing of the working classes.

In number of questions were then put to Mr Black, which were apparently answered to the satisfaction of those asking them.

The resolution of confidence in him (Mr Black) as a Liberal candidate was proposed by Ald J.F. Clark (Doncaster), seconded by councillors Theobald and supported by Mr Butcher was carried without opposition.

Another meeting was subsequently held in the Board School, Conisborough, where a very large number of the electors were in attendance, and gave Mr Black a most cordial and hearty reception. This meeting was under the presidency of Mr Brocklesby, Conisborough, who was supported by Alder man Clark, councillors Theobald, of Doncaster, and others. Mr Black gave a most interesting address on similar lines. The one given at Denaby, he remarked me frequently applauded, and were evidently highly appreciated by the audience. The usual “fit and proper” resolution was moved by Mr Charles Holmes, seconded by Mr Joseph March, and supported by Ald Clark and councillors Theobald. The resolution was passed without opposition.

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