PEER OR COMMONER?
King George has thrust a pin into the bubble which for two long days after Mr. Bonar Law's resignation supported Lord Curzon under the rays of the spotlight as the probable successor to the English premiership. The bubble was large, but it was nothing more and in the clear sunlight of modern conditions it could not last.
Lord Curzon is prevented by birth from ever becoming a member of the House of Commons. His classmates at the University had, it is said, a standing toast--"Here's to George Nathaniel Curzon: he's a very particular person" and the tradition of aloofness has remained despite a record of diplomacy and statesmanship of which any commoner might be proud. It is small wonder, then, that the Labor party hinted that it would resent the appointment of a peer, "so alien to the aspirations of democracy", reposing luxuriously in the House of Lords well out of reach of Labor's official opposition.
But if Mr. Baldwin's appointment is logical it is none the less significant. A clear-headed business man with a successful record as Chancellor of the Exchequer, Mr. Baldwin nevertheless represents the most uncompromising section of the Conservative Party. He was instrumental last fall in the overthrow of the Coalition, and he has maintained since that time an attitude of reserve toward such insurgents as Austen Chamberlain and Lord Birkenhead. This has been enough to win him the support of the Die-Hards and to make him Prime Minister.
Mr. Baldwin is a younger and presumably a stronger man than his predecessor--fortunately so, for there are rough waters ahead. The tide has been running strongly against the Conservatives in the bye-elections; the Labor Party is united and ably directed; Mr. Asquith and Mr. Lloyd-George add debating power and the voting strength of the Liberal Party to the opposition. And now apparently the selection of Mr. Baldwin has closed the door on reconciliation with "the lost leaders".
Competent observers are agreed that the tendency in England is away from coalitions, and middle-of-the-way groups toward two distinct parties. Mr. Baldwin is setting himself a real task in attempting to face this future without the help of the liberal factions of his party.