This text presents a comprehensive study of the British Conservative Party during the struggle over Home rule between 1912 and 1914. This struggle saw the Tories, rather than see Ireland achieve self-governing status like Canada, Australia and South Africa, eschew constitutional precedents, de-stabilize the British state, encourage civil disobedience and forment Ireland’s drift into civil war. This work asks why the Conservative Party took such actions and what they were trying to achieve by them. In examining these questions the study presents an alternative view of the Tory leadership. It argues that the party were not keen on securing a compromise settlement around the exclusion of Ulster. This was a line pursued by Sir Edward carson and many Ulster Unionists from late 1913, but not by Andrew Bonar Law, the new leader of the Tory Party. Led by Law, the Conservative leadership were determined to use the struggle to force asquith to an election, and so, they believed, return them to government. The struggle over Home rule was not, then, to save the Union or to save Ulster but to save the Conservative Party from extinction.
About the Author
Jeremy Smith teaches history at University College, Chester. He is the author of a number of books on Ireland and Anglo-Irish relations including Britain and Ireland: From Home Rule to Independence (1999) and Making the Peace in Ireland (2002).