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grace? The Irish leaders were more likely to be brought to reasonable terms if they were met at once half way by a policy of conciliation than later when the blood of the Irish people was stirred by refusal of their constitutional demands. The true historical defence of Mr. Gladstone and his colleagues will be that their new policy, whether consistent altogether or not with their past, was wise and just, especially at the time when it was proposed, and when, by the extension of its franchise, Ireland was for the first time able to declare its views in a constitutional manner, and did so in terms so unmistakable.

A difference in policy on the Irish question between two sections of the Dissentient Liberals was early emphasised by their attitude to Mr. Gladstone on the formation of his Government. Lord Hartington, Mr. Goschen, and Lord Derby refused even to entertain the policy of Home Rule. They had none of them given the smallest indication of a leaning in that direction. Lord Hartington, it is understood, had strongly opposed Mr. Chamberlain's scheme for a National Council in Ireland. On his visit to Belfast during the general election of November 1885, he had shown no desire to conciliate Irish opinion in the direction of Local Government.

With Mr. Chamberlain and Sir George Trevelyan it was different. They were both favourable to the scheme for a National Council in Ireland. There was every reason to hope that they might be induced to go further in support of a policy of autonomy. They joined the Government upon the understanding that the subject was to be dealt with. It is unnecessary to discuss the reasons which led to their retirement. They were unable to support the particular scheme for autonomy as propounded by Mr. Gladstone; they objected specially to the Land Purchase scheme. They resigned their posts in the Cabinet, and joined the other and very different section of Dissentient Liberals in their endeavours to defeat the measure and to overthrow Mr. Gladstone's Government. The defection thus formed was perhaps the most serious which any Government has ever encountered—formidable not so much from its numbers as from the authority and activity of its leaders. They not unreasonably hoped to carry with them a majority of Liberal Members, and a majority of Liberal voters, when a general election should take place. Every influence, political and social, was brought to bear on Liberal Members, with the object of detaching them from the support of the Government. The seceders contained within their ranks some of the most accomplished masters of the art of private persuasion in the lobbies. As a result, at one time, no fewer than 133 Members of the Liberal party, or rather more than a third of its number, were detached, or were known to be opposed to the measure as it stood ; thirty of these, after much wavering, were brought back to the Government fold, mainly by the promise of the Government to make provision for the representation of Ireland in the Imperial Parlianient for Imperial purposes only, and in some cases by the pressure of their constituents.

It may be permitted here to recall a method of persuasion in the opposite direction, which, so far as my experience and reading go, was quite new to party tactics. I refer to the promises openly held out by the Tory leaders to Liberal Members, as an inducement to them to vote against the Irish Bill, that they would use all their party organisation to secure their re-election in the general election which might result from the defeat of the Government. Such a course is hardly to be distinguished from a corrupt bargain. It could not be adopted by any one who has any respect for or a belief in representative government. It is one which either party might adopt, but which it is the interest of both should not be resorted to. If generally adopted, it would undermine the confidence of electors in their members, and would tend to even stricter bonds of party organisation than now exist. What are likely to be the feelings of either party in a constituency when they learn that their representative has voted against the wishes of a vast majority of them, under the promise of the opposite party that they will join with a few dissentients from his own former supporters in returning him again as member? That some Liberals in the last Parliament were induced by such tactics to vote against their own party and against the Irish measure cannot be doubted, for several urgent personal appeals were made in the course of the general election to the Tory leaders to fulfil their promises. It is much to be regretted that the leaders of the Dissentient Liberals did not dissociate themselves from such tactics, and openly repudiate them as contrary to the good faith and fair play on which in the long run party politics must be based.

The Parliamentary campaign on the Irish Bill resulted in 93 Liberals voting against Mr. Gladstone's Government, and in 10 abstaining from voting. With this combination against them the Government was defeated, and appeal was made to the constituencies. In the general election which followed, no one could doubt the right of the Dissentient Liberals, who had voted against the Irish Bill, apart from any such bargain as I have referred to, to appeal to the whole of the electors of their constituencies. We may, however, question whether many of them, who had originally been selected as candidates by the local associations, were wise in standing again in direct opposition to the vast majority of the same bodies, and, while still calling themselves Liberals, receiving the full support of the Tory party. It is difficult to suppose that members who thus acted can ever again make peace with their former friends, and unless they attach themselves to the Tory party they are not likely again to receive Tory support.

Of the 103 Dissentients (including those who abstained from


voting), thirty-five withdrew from the contest or were defeated ; a few made peace with their party and promised to support the Irish policy. The waverers were even more unfortunate ; for, of thirty, twenty lost their seats to Tory opposition. Whatever hopes the Dissentient Liberal leaders may have had of carrying a majority of the Liberal party were bitterly disappointed. Their campaign was a total failure in this respect. In the contests, forty in number, which took place between Dissentient Liberals, who had been members in the late Parliament, and Liberal supporters of Home Rule, there were not more than four in which majorities of Liberal voters supported their former members. In all the other cases the Dissentient Liberals owed their return to the support of the whole of the Tory party, aided by a small contingent of Liberal voters or by Liberal abstentions, varying from five to thirty per cent. of the Liberal party.

The cases of contests between nėw candidates representing the views of Liberal dissentients and Liberals selected by the local organisations were different. Without impugning the good faith of the leaders of the Dissentient Liberals, it may be permitted to question their policy and the methods they resorted to in the electoral campaign in these

The Central Liberal Unionist Committee was formed, with Lord Hartington as its President, and with large funds at its disposal for election purposes. This association entered into direct communication with the leaders of the Tory party, with a view to the defeat of Government candidates at the election. The plan of their campaign provided that, wherever at the previous general election, in November 1885, the majority in favour of a Liberal candidate had been small, he should now be attacked by a Tory candidate with the full support of the Unionist Liberals; where, however, the majority at the last election had been large, the Liberal Unionists undertook the task of fighting the sitting Liberal member, with the promise of full support from the Tory party.

Under this arrangement no fewer than seventy new candidates were put forward by the Liberal Unionist Committee to contest Liberal seats already represented by Liberal members, most of them with promises of pecuniary support from the Association. In no one of these cases did the candidate, thus sent down, obtain any substantial support from the local Liberal party ; in all they were repudiated by the local Liberal Associations. Their only hope of being returned consisted in obtaining the support of the whole of the Tory party, and detaching from the Liberals a small number of voters sufficient with the Tory voters to turn the scale. The success of these candidates would have done more to split the Liberal party, and to destroy its integrity, and to ruin its prospects for the future in the constituencies thus dealt with, than if Tory candidates had been returned. It would be difficult to exaggerate the animosities which have resulted in constituencies where this policy has been Vol. XX.-No. 116.


successful ; much ill-feeling survives in those where it was tried without success. There could have been no reason, indeed, to complain of any section of the Liberal party endeavouring to secure the nomination of its members by majorities of the local Associations or of the Liberal party; but that those who wish to remain members of the Liberal party, and hope to be its future leaders, should have been induced to act as I have described, and to have done their best to undermine and destroy the Liberal party in these seventy constituencies, is difficult to understand.

Fortunately the policy was not more successful than it was ill conceived. Of the seventy new candidates thus put forward by the Liberal Unionist Committee, all of them of the same type, Whigs or something less advanced than Whigs—for the old Whig traditions of Charles Fox and his school were undoubtedly favourable to Home Rule—not more than five were successful at the poll. The remainder were defeated in spite of their compact with the Tories. They were repudiated by the mass of the Liberal voters. On the average they did not receive the support of more than two per cent. of Liberal voters. In fact, they received a smaller measure of support from Liberals in the constituencies they contested than did Tory candidates elsewhere; and it is now clear that the Tory leaders would have done better if they had made no bargain with the Liberal Unionists, and had put forward their own candidates in every constituency.

A careful examination of the results of the contests or a comparison with the contests in the same constituencies in the previous election in November 1885, shows that, after making an allowance of five per cent. for a reduced vote, due to deaths and removals, the Dissentient Liberal members who had voted against the Government, and who were opposed by Liberal candidates, on the average obtained the support of twenty per cent. only of the Liberal voters, and that seventeen per cent. of the Liberals abstained from voting; it also shows that in constituencies where Liberal members were opposed by candidates sent down by the Liberal Unionist Committee, the latter succeeded on the average in obtaining no more than two per cent. of Liberal votes, and that twelve per cent. only of the Liberal voters abstained.

A computation of the results of contested elections throughout the three countries shows that the Tories and Liberal Unionists together had a majority of not more than 70,000 over the Liberals and Irish Nationalists, out of an aggregate poll of nearly 2,700,000. The uncontested constituencies nearly balanced one another, for 101 Tories and Liberal Unionists were returned unopposed, and 103 Liberals and Parnellites. It should, however, be recollected that in the case of Irish constituencies, if polled out, the majorities for a Home Rule policy would be vastly greater in proportion than the majorities against it in English uncontested constituencies. If, there

fore, the aggregate voting power could be fairly weighed throughout all the constituencies, it is doubtful whether the majority could fairly be considered as adverse to Home Rule.

In the contested constituencies it appears that the number of Liberals who transferred their votes on this occasion to Tory candidates or to Liberal Unionists did not much exceed 50,000, and that about 200,000 Liberals abstained from voting. A large number of voters abstained from indifferentism rather than from real hostility to Home Rule. The actual defections, therefore, of voters from the Liberal party cannot be estimated at more than ten per cent.

In the new Parliament the Tories and the Dissentient Liberals combined have a majority of 118. It is obvious, therefore, that the election has resulted in a majority of members against the Irish policy far greater than the majority of actual voters. The Dissentient Liberals especially are greatly over-represented. They are from 70 to 75 in number. Their true proportion should not be above 30. The excess in both cases is due in part to the split among the Liberals, and to the particular tactics referred to, and in part also to the fact that, under the system of one-membered constituencies, the verdict of the majority is accentuated, and the majority of members will probably always be larger in proportion than the majority of voters. It is often said that further discussion of the Irish question would have resulted in a still greater majority against Home Rule. Where, however, the subject was most fully discussed on the platform, where the Dissentient Liberals, and their allies the Tories, had the amplest opportunity of laying their case before the electors, they met with the heaviest reverses. No one can doubt that at Edinburgh the case on both sides was most fully argued. The Unionists had the daily advantage of many most able speeches of Mr. Goschen, of the constant support of the foremost of Scotch papers, which had the field to itself; yet even there the verdict of the voters was overwhelmingly in favour of Home Rule; and the same division of the city, which in November 1885 had returned Mr. Goschen by a majority of over 2,000, after a prolonged platform controversy with Mr. Chamberlain, rejected him by as large a majority in favour of Home Rule. It is impossible to suppose that the voters were influenced only by Mr. Gladstone's great personality. What influenced them is stated to have been a real conviction in favour of the Home Rule policy, after hearing the full case on both sides, and the inability of Mr. Goschen to suggest an alternative policy other than Coercion. The same remarks apply to Glasgow; to Paisley, where Lord Hartington and Mr. Goschen used their utmost exertions; to Cardiff, where Lord Hartington and Mr. Chamberlain in vain endeavoured to turn out Sir E. Reed; to Darlington, and to North Derbyshire. In all these cases the objections to the Irish policy were most fully expounded by its ablest opponents, and under the best advantages, but without success.

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