Tuesday, 11 December 2007

Politics after 1886

The Salisbury Government 1886-92
The main characteristic of the period 1886-1902 is the hegemony of the Conservatives under Lord Salisbury (Robert Arthur Talbot Gascoyne-Cecil, 3rd marquess, 1830-1903), three-time prime minister (1885-86, 1886-92, 1895-1902). However, this apparent dominance covered grave cracks in the party. The coalition with the Liberal Unionists created many problems. How was ‘Radical Joe’ to fit into a conservative agenda? Even without Chamberlain the Conservative party would have had problems. It was led by aristocratic, landed and Anglican elements but the bulk of its supporters were middle class and many were Nonconformist (having switched from the Liberals over Ireland).

Salisbury’s answer to this problem was to steer a middle path and sponsor modest reforms. He told his Chancellor, Lord Randolph Churchill (using Gladstone's vocabulary):
We have so to conduct our legislation that we shall give some satisfaction to both classes and masses.
Outside Ireland his government enacted two major pieces of social legislation.
(a) In 1888 local government in the counties was transferred from magistrates to elected county councils; this also involved the creation of the LCC – which to the annoyance of the conservatives soon fell under the control of metropolitan radicals.
(b) In 1891 elementary education was effectively made free – an expensive innovation.
Neither of these reforms was as radical as disaffected backbench Conservatives believed. The principal purpose of free education was to save the church schools from collapse. And in practice the local government reforms shored up the authority of the local elites.

The Liberal Government, 1892-95

The Liberals too had fundamental problems. The events of 1886 left them committed to Home Rule as the one issue that would relate them. According to Roy Jenkins, it was the only cause Gladstone was really interested in. But circumstances were driving them towards radicalism. In October 1891 a meeting of the National Liberal Federation at Newcastle adopted an uncompromisingly radical manifesto, the ‘Newcastle Programme’. It advocated church disestablishment in Wales and Scotland, triennial parliaments, payment of MPs and employers’ liability – with heavy implied warnings to the House of Lords if they resisted these reforms. Gladstone accepted these proposals reluctantly in order to preserve party unity.

The 1892 election was fought from mid-June to early July. The result gave the Liberals 273 seats, the Conservatives 268, the Liberal Unionists 47 and the Irish Nationalists 81. In the election two ‘independent labour’ MPs were returned; Keir Hardie for West Ham, and John Burns for Battersea. Gladstone had a majority of 40 because of Irish Nationalist support. The result was a disappointment to Gladstone who had expected a decisive victory:
a small Liberal majority being the heaviest weight I can well be called to bear.
It was an inadequate majority for intimidating the Lords. IOn 11 August the Salisbury government was defeated on an amendment to the address and on 15 August Gladstone, now semi-blind and semi-deaf became Prime Minister for the fourth time.

The Liberal cabinet contained Archibald Philip Primrose, 5th earl of Rosebery (1847-1929), a reluctant Foreign Secretary and Sir William Harcourt (1827-1904), Chancellor of the Exchequer. Two members of the younger generation gained high office: Herbert Henry Asquith (1852-1928) became Home Secretary and Edward Grey (1862-1933) Under Secretary for Foreign Affairs. Henry Campbell-Bannerman (1836-1908) became War Secretary. One of the most impressive of the new intake of Liberal MPs was David Lloyd George (1863-1945) who in 1890 had been returned for the previously Conservative Caernarfon Boroughs in a by-election.

The Second Home Rule Bill
In February 1893 Gladstone introduced a second Home Rule Bill with a 2 ½ hour oration. It differed from the bill of 1886 in that there were to be 81 (not 103 as in the 1886 bill) Irish members, who were to be left at Westminster but allowed to vote only on Irish affairs (the ‘West Lothian question’ again). But the committee stage amended this on the grounds of its impracticality and gave the Irish MPs the full right to vote on all UK affairs. Like the 1886 bill, the bill of 1893 ignored the potential problem of Ulster. In July Chamberlain delivered a vicious attack on Gladstone, whom he accused of behaving like an imperious and cruel god; this led to an outbreak of fighting on the floor of the House. On 1 September the bill passed its third reading by the narrow majority of 34 votes, after 85 Commons sittings. On 8 September it was rejected by the Lords by 419/41. An excited mob cheered Salisbury through the streets as he made his way home.

The defeat was predictable but it left the government in a quandary. The bill had much more legitimacy than the 1886 bill. It had gone through all stages in the elected house, had emerged as a complete measure, and would have become law but for the Lords veto. Yet there was no immediate outrage.

On 23 February 1894 Gladstone resigned: a combination of failing health and a dispute with the Admiralty, who wanted to increase naval estimates. His stand against ‘militarism’ set him at odds with many of his younger colleagues and made him feel out of tune with his times. He had ended his career in a downbeat fashion. He died at Hawarden on 19 May 1898 and was buried at Westminster Abbey.

Gladstone had failed to groom a successor and his resignation led to a crisis in the party. Most Liberal MPs preferred Harcourt, but on 3 March the Queen sent for Rosebery; he had the backing of the London press, the Scottish wing of the party and most members of the cabinet. He was replaced at the Foreign Office by Lord Kimberley.

Rosebery, a horse-racing aristocrat, inherited a weak and divided government which lasted only 15 months. He was in a weak position leading a Liberal government from the Lords, which, he said was like addressing a crowd through a megaphone with a pudding in its orifice. The most important measure of his premiership was Harcourt’s famous (1894) budget, one of the most important in British history. It raised the basic rate of income tax to 1s. 8d, in the £, and introduced graduated death duties on the novel principle ‘that the state could tax capital and spend it as income’. Rosebery hated it, and in April 1894 he wrote his Chancellor a memorandum protesting that the Budget would forfeit the support of the propertied classes; Harcourt taunted him with wishing to protect his own pocket. Gladstone thought it
too violent ... by far the most Radical measure of my life time.
The ‘poor man’s budget’ was a sign of the ‘New Liberalism’, more committed to redistribution than to economic orthodoxy. However most of the new taxation came from increased duties of 6d on beer and spirits. The significance of death duties lay in the future.

Harcourt would have liked to have been bolder. He wanted to cut some taxes and to introduce old age pensions – a policy which was rapidly gaining support on the Liberal back benches. But his plans were put on hold by increased army and navy expenditure.

The government’s slowness to act on the issue of Welsh disestablishment led to a Commons defeat. The Queen asked Salisbury to form a government. The general election was fought in July 1895. It was a bad time for a governing party to fight an election. Unemployment was high and there were a myriad of grievances among traditional Liberal supporters – especially the brewers. The appearance of 28 socialist candidates may have helped to split the vote and was a warning that the Liberals had no monopoly on radicalism.

The Conservatives went into the election in a confident mood. The election of 1892 and three years of Liberal government had increasingly convinced Conservatives and Liberal Unionists that they would need to form an official coalition. This meant papering over the differences in temperament and political philosophy between the profoundly anti-democratic Salisbury and the populist Chamberlain. But in spite of their differences Chamberlain’s growing enthusiasm for empire brought them together. He was impressed by the economic arguments for imperial development as an antidote to economic depression and attracted by the notion of an imperial federation uniting the Anglo-Saxon race.

The Unionist victory was stunning; 340 Conservatives; 71 Liberal Unionists; 177 Liberals, 82 Irish Nationalists. [Keir Hardie lost his seat.]

The Third Salisbury Government, 1895-1902
Salisbury’s third administration was dominated by foreign policy. He was his own Foreign Secretary and Chamberlain was Colonial Secretary. One of Salisbury’s main concerns was to bring Britain out of the isolation into which Gladstone’s policies had led her. His nightmare was that there would be a European war in which Britain’s imperial possessions would become the spoils. Yet he did not want a full continental alliance. He maintained contacts with the Triple Alliance (Germany, Austria, Italy) but in spite of difficulties with France in the Mediterranean and Egypt, he wanted to keep friends with France.

In 1898 a serious crisis occurred in Anglo-French relations. Sir Herbert Kitchener (1850-1916) had long wanted to recapture the Sudan, in spite of cabinet hostility. His strategy was to advance by short stages up the Nile. On 2 September an Anglo-Egyptian force of 26,000 defeated an army of 40,000 mahdists at Omdurman and went on to occupy Khartoum. The results of the battle were the destruction of mahdism in the Sudan, and British dominance of the area.

But this did not go unchallenged as France too had expansionist ambitions. In July Captain Jean-Baptiste Marchand and his French troops had occupied Fashoda on the White Nile, having advanced from Senegal. On 18 September Kitchener’s force reached Fashoda, where he handed Marchand a written protest and hoisted the British and Egyptian flags. For some months Britain and France stood on the brink of war. In November Marchand quit Fashoda, though he left behind him a string of posts. Early in 1899 the French gave way. An Anglo-French convention in March fixed an Anglo-French dividing line (roughly the watershed between the Nile and the Congo). This was seen as something of a diplomatic triumph for Salisbury.

With the occupation of Egypt, Britain had less need of Turkey. As early as 1892 Salisbury was saying that it was no longer possible to protect British influence in the Ottoman Empire. Turkish massacres of the Armenians in 1894/5/6 inflamed British opinion in a way their earlier massacres of the Bulgarians had not done. It was clear to Salisbury that the Ottoman Empire was disintegrating and even in Tory circles there was now very little sympathy for Turkey. However there was no immediate move towards Russia. Instead, in 1902 Britain formally ended her policy of ‘splendid isolation’ when she signed an alliance with Japan, as a counter to Russian ambitions in China.

The fall of Parnell

This post owes a great deal to Paul Bew's entry on Parnell in the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.

After 1886 Home Rule was the polarizing issue in British politics.

From March 1887 the Chief Secretary for Ireland was Salisbury’s nephew, Arthur Balfour, who was determined to assert the rule of law in that country. This was also the policy of his uncle, who believed that the Irish must take ‘a good licking’. Balfour stiffened the provisions of the Crimes Bill and subjected disaffected areas to a kind of martial law, under which Nationalist politicians, Roman Catholic priests and the poet Wilfred Scawen Blunt were imprisoned. In September 1887 an illegal demonstration took place at Mitchelstown, Co. Cork. The police panicked and fired into an unarmed crowd, killing three civilians and wounding others.

Balfour’s draconian policies earned him the nickname ‘Bloody Balfour’. Ireland once more became an issue of fierce party politics as ‘Remember Mitchelstown’ became a favourite Liberal war cry. On 13 November 1887 (‘Bloody Sunday’) a rally was held in Trafalgar Square, despite a banning order by the Chief Commissioner of the Metropolitan Police. Serious rioting erupted, leading to loss of two lives and some prominent arrests. So tense was the atmosphere that the government created the ‘Special Branch’ to protect the queen during her Golden Jubilee celebrations.

The Unionist strategy of coercion was risky but so was the Liberal one of investing so heavily in Irish nationalism and in Parnell. In 1887, The Times published a series of articles, “Parnellism and Crime”, in which the Home Rule leaders were accused of being involved in murder and outrage during the land war. It produced a number of facsimile letters, allegedly bearing Parnell’s signature; in one of the letters Parnell had excused and condoned the murder of T.H. Burke in the Phoenix Park which he had publicly condemned. Parnell immediately declared the letter a forgery and the government set up a Special Commission to investigate the charges made against Parnell and his party. The commission sat for nearly two years. Their findings concluded that the letters were forgeries. They had been bought in good faith by The Times from a disreputable Irish journalist, Richard Pigott, who had forged one of them with his own hand.

In February 1889, Pigott entered the witness box and admitted to having forged the letters; he then fled to Madrid, where he shot himself. Parnell’s name was fully cleared by the commission, and the Times paid a large sum of money by way of compensation. The closing months of 1889 marked the high point of Parnell’s popularity. He received a standing ovation in the House of Commons, was presented with the freedom of the city of Edinburgh. In December he stayed as Gladstone’s guest at Hawarden, planning for what seemed the inevitable Liberal return to office.

A much more serious threat to Parnell’s career was to follow. At the end of 1889, Captain O’Shea, filed for divorce from his wife, Katharine, and Parnell was named in the proceedings. (For Garrett Fitzgerald's review in the Guardian (21 June, 2008) of the latest biography of Katharine O'Shea, see here.) He did not defend himself and to most people it appeared to be another trumped-up charge. This time, however, he was not innocent. He and Katharine O’Shea had fallen in love when they first met in 1880. By that time her marriage to Captain O’Shea was breaking up. From 1886, Parnell and Katharine O’Shea lived together. There is no doubt that Captain O’Shea had been aware of Parnell’s relationship with his wife. To keep him happy Parnell had O’Shea elected as an unpledged Home Ruler to the Galway City seat in February 1886, despite opposition from his party. (Was O’Shea blackmailing Parnell?) It is not clear why O’Shea delayed until December 1889 before seeking a divorce. One possible reason was the hope of obtaining a large sum of money from his wife, when her aunt, Mrs. Woods (‘Aunt Ben’), died. Mrs. Woods left her entire fortune to Katherine, but in such a way that her husband could not get his hands on it. Captain O’Shea is said to have resorted to blackmail, asking for £20,000 from his wife but she refused to pay. It was after this that he went ahead with the divorce case.

The case caused a sensation in England and Ireland. In England The Times gave currency to the phrase ‘the Nonconformist conscience’ in an attempt to label Nonconformists as hypocrites. On the day after the verdict the Baptist minister, John Clifford, wrote:
Men legally convicted of immorality will not be permitted to lead in the legislation of the Kingdom.
It was not merely Nonconformists who were outraged. Parnell’s adultery galvanized the social purity movement into action, and Cardinal Manning issued a letter to English Catholics imploring them to put morality above politics. Gladstone told Parnell’s second-in-command, Justin Macarthy, that if Parnell continued leader, the Liberals would lose the next election.
But Parnell, a proud man, showed no intention of retiring. His refusal to step down produced a bitter spilt in the party. His old partner, Michael Davitt, along with another Irish MP, Tim Healy, urged the Irish party to dismiss Parnell. A meeting of the Irish Parliamentary Party was held on 1 December 1890.

The meeting lasted for several days. Desperately the party tried to achieve a compromise. It sought guarantees from Gladstone of a satisfactory home-rule measure if Parnell was to retire, but Gladstone refused to be pressurized in this way. Finally, when one of Parnell's supporters, John Redmond, referred to ‘the master of the party’, Tim Healy could not resist the malevolent quip:
Who is to be the mistress of the party?
Parnell bitterly retorted by describing Healy as that
cowardly little scoundrel … who dares in an assembly of Irishmen to insult a woman.
Healy later called Parnell ‘Mr Landlord Parnell’, introducing a note of aggressive Catholic nationalism into the debate.

After a long discussion as to whether the man (Parnell) was more important than the cause (Home Rule), the party split in two. Forty four members sided with Justin McCarthy, the vice-chairman, and remained in favour of the alliance with the Liberals, and twenty seven sided with Parnell. Parnell had now lost the leadership of the parliamentary party. He refused to accept the verdict given against him. Almost immediately afterwards at a by-election in Kilkenny, Parnell's candidate was beaten (22 December 1890) 2 to 1. In 1891 two more by-elections were held and in both the Parnellite candidates were beaten. On the campaign Parnell had mud thrown at him. He was subsequently and falsely accused of a whole range of exorbitant acts including embezzling party funds to pay for his affair.

In June 1891, he married Katherine O’Shea at Steyning registry office, profoundly shocking the Irish clergy, but he still refused to retire from public life. Eventually the strain of addressing meetings up and down the country proved too much for him. On 27 September while suffering from rheumatism he addressed an outdoor meeting in the rain. Returning to England gravely ill, he went home to his wife at Brighton and died on 6 October 1891. He was only forty-five years of age. 150,000 people attended his funeral at Glasnevin cemetery, his casket led by a group of radical Fenians.

Parnell was the architect of his own downfall. He refused to co-operate with the party during the critical time of the divorce dispute. His attitude was that of a ‘loner’ and so he was prepared to ignore the advice of his best friends. Despite this his achievements were real and lasting. He brought Home Rule from being a faint hope to the forefront of national politics. Both the English political parties and successive governments had to recognise the importance of the Irish question and declare their standpoint on it. By his creation of a disciplined party, he proved that Irishmen were capable of ruling themselves.

Perhaps he will be most remembered for the quotation that can be found on his statue at the junction of O'Connell Street and Parnell Street in Dublin City Centre:
'No man shall have the right to fix the boundary to the march of a Nation'.
But possibly his greatest legacy was the powerfully emotional image of Ireland’s ‘uncrowned king’ torn down by base followers; a prophet outcast with the Promised Land in sight.’
He is still remembered today on Ivy Day, 6th October, when supporters wear a sprig of ivy on their clothing.

Meanwhile agrarian agitation in Ireland was abating. With Ireland relatively tranquil, the policy (wrongly) called ‘Killing Home Rule with Kindness’ was pursued. Public money was invested in rural projects and new piers and harbours along the western seaboard. Ireland became relatively quiet until the beginning of the twentieth century.

Tuesday, 4 December 2007

Home Rule splits the Liberals

Gladstone’s Conversion
In his brief period out of office Gladstone came to the conclusion that the Irish, like the Italians, the Afghans, the Zulus and the Sudanese were a people rightly struggling to be free, and that Parnell’s demand for Home Rule ought to be conceded. The conversion was a bombshell comparable to Peel's conversion to free trade.

The election of 1885: The conversion to Home Rule was not a single moment of decision and was not the result of an inner struggle. He believed he needed time to educate his party and for this reason his manifesto for the election was vague on Ireland. Most Liberal candidates ignored the Home Rule issue.

All this sent out the wrong signals to Parnell. On 1 August he held a secret meeting in Mayfair with the new Irish Viceroy, Carnarvon, and came to believe that he might get something substantial from the Tories - a supposition confirmed by a speech delivered (cynically?) by Salisbury at Newport in October. Accordingly, he urged his followers to vote Conservative and in a speech delivered on 21 November in his election campaign he roundly abused the Liberals as ‘perfidious, treacherous, and incompetent’. The Catholic clergy in Ireland also urged their flocks to vote for the Conservatives. Many Liberals were deeply resentful of the way they were attacked by the Nationalists.

Thanks to the newly enfranchised county voters, in the election of November - December 1885 the Liberals won 335 seats and the Conservatives only 249. But Parnell was the real winner as his party won 86 seats (85 out of 103 Irish seats and one in Liverpool), which exactly equalled the Liberal majority over the Conservatives. The result confirmed Gladstone’s view that Pitt’s Act of Union had been a mistake and that the Irish desire for home rule was unstoppable. But since in the absence of any statement from Gladstone the Parnellites were still in nominal alliance with the Conservatives, and Salisbury remained in office.

The ‘Harwarden kite’: Gladstone reached the conclusion that it was Salisbury’s duty to bring in a Home Rule Bill, which would reach the statute book since it would be supported by the Gladstonian Liberals and the Irish Nationalists. He did not wish it to be a party political isse. With this in mind he had discreet consultations with his political opponents rather than his political allies. But Salisbury was aware that Home Rule would split his party (he himself had resigned from Derby’s cabinet in 1867). He therefore told Churchill that Gladstone’s ‘hypocrisy makes me sick’.

In December Herbert Gladstone, who was acting as his father’s private secretary, inadvertently flew ‘the Hawarden kite’ in which he went to London and spoke with prominent Liberals with contacts in the press. On 17 December the Evening Standard published what it described as Gladstone’s plans for Home Rule; the Pall Mall Gazette went further
Mr Gladstone has definitely adopted the policy of Home Rule for Ireland.
Gladstone unconvincingly dismissed the articles as speculative, but his Liberal colleagues (especially Hartington) were horrified to find their names and (apparent) views discussed in the papers. This widened the rift between him and Gladstone.

In the new year, Gladstone then secured the agreement of his colleagues, apart from Hartington, that the government be brought down on a domestic (not Irish) issue. In January the government was duly defeated, but Hartington and 17 other Liberals voted with the Conservatives and 70 other Liberals, including John Bright, abstained; the abstainers knew very well that the real issue was Home Rule. The government was therefore overthrown by a mere 79 votes.

On 28 January Salisbury resigned and within 48 hours Gladstone was Prime Minister, much to (guess what?) the Queen’s dismay.

The Third Gladstone Administration, 1886
Gladstone thus headed a Liberal government about to implement a policy for which it had no mandate. Hartington refused to serve, though Chamberlain took office in the minor post of President of the Local Government Board. At the same time British opinion was hardening against Ireland both because of Parnell’s speeches and a recurrence of Irish outrages in London. Gladstone fatally misread the public mood and the mood of many in his own party.

The Home Rule Bill: On 20 March the Government of Ireland Bill was printed for cabinet distribution. On 26 March Chamberlain and Trevelyan resigned.

Gladstone’s principles behind his Home Rule proposals were (1) to preserve imperial unity, (2) to provide safeguards for the minority. This was shorthand for buying off the Protestant landlords, not for conciliating the Ulster Unionists and would entail considerable expenditure.
On 8 April the Bill was introduced. It was based on the Canadian model and had the effect of strapping Ireland firmly to the United Kingdom.
There would be a unicameral Irish legislative body which would consist of two ‘orders’ (a) representative peers and others elected on a £25 occupier franchise and (b) the existing 103 Irish MPs plus another 101 members elected along similar lines.
From the two orders an executive would gradually emerge via Privy Councillors as the Viceroy became like the Canadian Governor-General.
London was to retain control over defence, foreign policy, and international trade.
Ireland to bear one-fifteenth of imperial costs.
There would be no Irish MPs at Westminster, though Gladstone had agonized over this question. To exclude them would encourage separatism, but their inclusion in the Westminster parliament would raise what is now known as the ‘West Lothian question’.
The details of the bill mattered less than the fact that politicians on all sides were forced to realign their relationships.
Salisbury was determined to destroy Gladstone. With Lord Randolph Churchill’s help he raised the temperature so high that compromise became impossible. On 22 February Churchill had visited Belfast. Some weeks later he coined the slogan,
Ulster will fight, and Ulster will be right.
On 2 March Salisbury defended Orange resistance in a speech in Crystal Palace. On 15 May he told an audience in St James’s Hall, Piccadilly, that the best way to govern Ireland was twenty years of coercion. He declared that ‘some races’ (he mentioned ‘Hottentots’ and ‘Hindoos’ but he also meant the Irish) were inherently incapable of self-government. He said that the best use for public money in Ireland was in promoting emigration.

The Liberals split: Gladstone had presented his party with a ‘take it or leave it’ bill.
On the introduction of the Home Rule Bill (8 April), Hartington declared his opposition. He insisted that Britain had a responsibility to secure law and order in Ireland and to protect property—not least that of Protestants with capital to invest in economic development. Gladstone claimed that his scheme guaranteed the continuing supremacy of the imperial parliament over Irish affairs, but Hartington regarded this as na├»ve.

Chamberlain also threw himself into the fight against Gladstone's proposals, for a combination of reasons, imperial, domestic, and personal: because they threatened to weaken the central government of the United Kingdom, because they took precedence away from his radical programme, and because they undermined his own standing in the Liberal hierarchy.

On 31 May and 1 June, Chamberlain and Hartington respectively held meetings with dissident Liberal MPs. In the early hours of 8 June the votes on the second reading were taken. Gladstone spoke of Ireland standing
at your bar, expectant, hopeful, almost suppliant.
Members voted 341/311 against Home Rule; 94 Liberals had gone into the lobby against Gladstone and another half dozen had abstained. Gladstone wrote in his diary:
The defeat is a smash.
In July Gladstone decided to call an election rather than resign and allow Salisbury to form another minority government. This led the dissident Liberals to form a distinct Liberal Unionist group under Hartington's leadership and to fight the ensuing election in tandem with the Conservatives.

Gladstone fought the campaign as another Midlothian, developing the theme of class division. In a speech in Liverpool he listed ten major reforms enacted during the previous half century and declared that
on every one of them without exception the masses have been right and the classes have been wrong.
In spite of Gladstone’s rhetoric, the Conservatives won 316 seats, the Liberals 191, the Liberal Unionists 78, and the Irish Nationalists 85. Scotland, Wales and Ireland all produced Home Rule majorities by almost three to one. Only England voted the other way. The central element in the Liberal defeat was the collapse of the Liberal agricultural vote.

Outside Westminster the Home Rule crisis accelerated the shift of middle and upper middle-class voting support from the Liberals to the Conservatives - helping to create Salisbury’s ‘villa Toryism’. The ‘unique duality of Ireland as both a domestic and an imperial concern’ meant that Conservatism became ever more stridently attached to empire. Salisbury was to be prime minister for 13 of the next 16 years. The transformation of British politics was part of a general European trend: the arrival of mass politics favouring right-wing governments.

In the Irish debates, Gladstone argued
This, if I understand it, is one of those golden moments in our history; one of those opportunities which may come and may go, but which rarely return, or if the return, return at long intervals, and under circumstances which no man can forecast.
In 1930 George V told Ramsay MacDonald.
What fools we were not to have accepted Gladstone’s Home Rule Bill. The Empire would not have had the Irish Free State giving us so much trouble and pulling us to pieces.
Was he right?