100 Years Ago: Home (Rule) and dry

20 January 2010

January 21st, 1910.

THE General Election has brought many surprises, falsifying the forecasts which had been daringly made by the prophets. At this stage, one thing can be clearly seen, which is that the Radical-Socialist coali­tion will, with the Nationalists thrown in, have a fairly substantial majority at the end of the contest. What it will do with it we have yet

to see. The Unionists, or Tariff Reformers — call them what we may — will return to Parliament immensely strengthened, and the Government, if the Radicals take office, will have its work cut out to keep the Nationalists quiet. Before the elections, Mr Asquith very astutely dangled before their eyes a promise of Home Rule, on the strength of which Irish Romanists in many English constituencies voted for the Radical candidates, placing Home Rule above the claims of religion. What will they think of the late Chief Whip’s explanation — withheld until the deluded Home Rulers had given their votes — of Mr Asquith’s promise, which is now stated to mean no more than the concession of a local “gas and water” council? Is it to be supposed that the Nationalists will consent to having their whisky and their land-holdings taxed, if Mr Asquith will not give them an independent Parliament? Can it even be that Mr Asquith has caused his real mean­ing to be explained, in order to make it impossible for him to form a Cabinet? Or did Mr Lloyd George or Mr Churchill inspire Mr Pease, for the purpose of getting rid of their late chief? At all events, we anticipate some lively times in the life of the next Radical admin­istration.

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