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Newsletter for 21st April 2023

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  • Newsletter for 21st April 2023

    Electric Scotland News

    Soaring Staples
    Price Increases in the last year in the UK

    Porridge Oats 35.5%
    Skimmed Milk 33.6%
    Cheddar Cheese 28.3%
    Sliced White Bread 21.9%

    Source: Which?


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    I got in a paper copy of Beth's Newfangled Family Tree and have scanned it into pdf format for which see below in the Electric Scotland section of this newsletter.

    -------

    Top news items in Scotland were really all to do with the SNP and their financial woes however protests in the Parliament were also prominent along with the Scottish win at the Grand National Horse Race.

    --------

    I hope Canada will take note of the news story from the UK.. "UK Government introduces new measures to tackle nuisance phone calls" which is featured in our News section.


    Scottish News from this weeks newspapers
    I am partly doing this to build an archive of modern news from and about Scotland and world news stories that can affect Scotland and as all the newsletters are archived and also indexed on Google and other search engines it becomes a good resource. I might also add that in a number of newspapers you will find many comments which can be just as interesting as the news story itself and of course you can also add your own comments if you wish which I do myself from time to time.

    Germany's nuclear catastrophe
    This weekend Germany will shutter its last remaining nuclear power plants. That it has followed through with such a brazenly anti-scientific policy is a disaster: not just for Germans themselves, but for wider European energy security and for the future of the planet.

    Read more at:
    https://capx.co/the-pure-folly-of-ge...ear-phase-out/

    Kate Forbes lays out urgent plan to fix party as SNP fears members are quitting in droves
    Kate Forbes called on new SNP leader Humza Yousaf to urgently improve transparency in the party.

    Read more at:
    https://www.express.co.uk/news/polit...-peter-murrell

    Britain's world-leading next-generation Tempest fighter jets programme gets 650m boost
    The Defence Secretary said the Tempest would protect the UK's skies "for decades to come".

    Read more at:
    https://www.express.co.uk/news/polit...st-japan-italy

    UK Government introduces new measures to tackle nuisance phone calls
    Tougher penalties for nuisance calls to boost UK economy by over 4billion.

    Read more at:
    https://www.express.co.uk/news/polit...-economy-boost

    Grand National 2023: Triumph, tears and protest at Aintree as Corach Rambler wins
    Tears, triumph, tragedy, protest - it was a day of drama even by the Grand National's unique standards.

    Read more at:
    https://www.bbc.com/sport/horse-racing/65289493

    Archaeologists discover remains of Roman fortlet near Clydebank
    The remains of a Roman fortlet have been discovered in West Dunbartonshire. New technology has enabled the archaeology team at Historic Environment Scotland (HES) to uncover the structure after attempts to find it failed in the 1970s and 1980s.

    Read more at:
    https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-scotland...-west-65309762

    Union Chain Bridge linking Scotland and England reopens
    A historic bridge linking Scotland and England over the River Tweed has reopened after a 10.5m overhaul. The complex project saw most of the 200-year-old Union Chain Bridge removed and restored, then put back in place.

    Read more at:
    https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-scotland...tland-65274771

    Why the Jacobite rebellion failed
    Cognitive biases in seven strategic decisions that led to Culloden

    Read more at:
    https://thinkscotland.org/2023/04/wh...ellion-failed/

    A rabble burns
    Spare a thought for Humza Yousaf, who has inherited a divided party, possibly on the brink of bankruptcy, whose former ex-chief executive and serving treasurer have both been arrested. The real victims, though, are the Scottish people, who are the First Minister's second priority after putting out the SNP bin fire.

    Read more at:
    https://capx.co/can-humza-yousaf-put...e-snp-bin-fire

    Humza Yousaf's business reboot
    Beyond his party's finance crisis, the new first minister wants to reset relations with groups that have become increasingly disconnected from St Andrew's House.

    Read more at:
    https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-scotland...iness-65320810

    Elon Musk's big rocket explodes on test flight
    Elon Musk's SpaceX company's mammoth new rocket, Starship, has exploded on its maiden flight.

    Read more at:
    https://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-65334810

    Britain strikes new trade deal with US state as minister heads to Washington to sign pact
    Britain has struck a new trade deal with a US state. The Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Oklahoma is the fourth such state-level pact.

    Read more at:
    https://www.express.co.uk/news/polit...gel-huddleston

    Brexit export success story in Japan proves Remainers wrong with new 380m trade explosion
    James Cleverly celebrated a blossoming UK-Japan relationship at the G7 summit as new figures show trade is booming between the countries.

    Read more at:
    https://www.express.co.uk/news/polit...exit-g7-update



    Electric Canadian

    1914 Rural Survey County of Huron, Ontario
    By Co-operative Organisations of the Presbyterian and Methodist Churches (pdf)

    You can study this at:
    http://www.electriccanadian.com/hist...ural-huron.pdf

    Glengarry School Days
    A story of early days in Glengarry by Ralph Connor (1903) (pdf)

    You can read this book at:
    http://www.electriccanadian.com/make...ld0000unse.pdf

    Duncan Polite
    The Watchman of Glenora by Mary Esther Miller MacGregor (1905) presents a Highlander and a Lowlander as two old friends keeping an eye on the life of the village of Glenora. (pdf)

    You can read this at:
    http://www.electriccanadian.com/life...watc00macg.pdf

    Children's Gardening
    Published by the Department of Education, in co-operation with the Department of Agriculture for the free use of the pupils in schools where instruction is given in Elementary Agriculture and Horticulture.

    You can read this at:
    http://www.electriccanadian.com/chil...deni00onta.pdf

    Thoughts on a Sunday Morning - the 16th day of April 2023 - Compassion
    By the Rev. Nola Crewe

    You can watch this at:
    http://www.electricscotland.org/foru...023-compassion

    The Church in Canada
    Journal of Visitation to the Western Portion of his Diocese by the Lord Bishop of Toronto (John Strachan) in the Autumn of 1842 (third edition) (1846)

    You can read this account at:
    http://www.electriccanadian.com/Reli...chincanada.htm

    OHS Bulletin
    The Newsletter of the Ontario Historical Society (December 2022) (pdf)

    You can read this at:
    http://www.electriccanadian.com/hist...-Issue-221.pdf



    Electric Scotland

    Beth's Newfangled Family Tree
    Got in her April 2023 edition which you can read at:
    https://electricscotland.com/bnft/index.htm

    Perth
    Added a video to our Perth page showing salmon fishing on the River Tay and also an interesting historic video about Perth.

    You can watch these at:
    https://electricscotland.com/history/perth/index.htm

    Added a short video of a trip on The Wanlockhead and Leadhills Railway, and a visit to the Map of Scotland created by a Polish citizen.

    You can watch this at:
    https://electricscotland.com/history/poland/index.htm

    Fergus Morton
    A Story of a Scottish Boy by J. R. MacDuff, D.D. (1869) (pdf)

    You can read this at:
    https://electricscotland.com/kids/st...00macdgoog.pdf

    Life of The Princess Margaret Queen of Scotland 1070-1093
    By Samuel Cowan, J.P. (1911) (pdf)

    You can read this book at:
    https://electricscotland.com/history...ssmargaret.htm

    Leabhar Nan Cnoc
    Comh-Chruinneachadh do Nithibh, Sean Agus Nuadh; Airson, Oilean Agus Leas Nan Gaidheal Le Tormoid MacLeod, D.D., New Edition (1898) (pdf) (Gaelic Text)

    This book is in the Gaelic language but there is an English introduction which you can read at:
    https://electricscotland.com/gaelic/Laoidhean.htm

    Towards a New Social Theology
    The Contribution of Norman MacLeod by Peter L.M. Hillis, M.A., Ph D. (pdf)

    You can read this article at:
    https://electricscotland.com/history...rmanmaceod.pdf

    MacDuffee Clan Society of America, Inc.
    Got in their Spring 2023 newsletter which you can read at:
    https://electricscotland.com/familyt...ffee/index.htm

    The Presbytery of Perth
    Memoirs of the members, ministers of the several parishes within the bounds; from the Reformation to the present time; compiled from the records of Presbytery and other sources by the Rev. John Wilson, Clerk of Presbytery, and Minister of Forgandenny (1860) (pdf)

    You can read this at:
    https://electricscotland.com/history...pert00wils.pdf

    Parish Papers
    By Norman MacLeod, D. D. (1862) (pdf)

    You can read his book at:
    https://electricscotland.com/history...00macliala.pdf

    Humorous Episodes In the Life of a Provincial Publisher
    Extending over Fifty Years by Samuel Cowan, J.P. (1900) (pdf)

    You can read this wee book at:
    https://electricscotland.com/books/p...odes00cowa.pdf



    Story

    Liberal disaffection such as has not been seen in Scotland
    Home Rule, Political Organisation and the Liberal Party in 1886 by Naomi LLoyd-Jones

    The Liberal party dominated nineteenth century Scottish political life, but the Irish Home Rule crisis of 1886 inflicted damage from which it would never fully recover. This article draws on the author’s study of the hundreds of constituency meetings at which the Irish question was discussed in the spring of 1886, the volume and intensity of which heightened and maintained the sense of crisis outside parliament, raised awareness of the policy locally and helped identify its supporters and opponents. These meetings are indicative of the imperative Scottish Liberals felt to discuss Home Rule and declare opinion thereon, and of the conflicting interpretations which emerged of what such opinion meant, what it was worth and who it represented. The crisis arrived at a time of intense Liberal disagreement over the purpose of party organisation and its relationship to ‘Scottish opinion’, and revealed both a remarkable degree of division within local party associations and a lively debating culture within the constituencies. Examining the relationship between Home Rule and party organisation prompts questions about the cohesion and coherence of ‘Liberal Scotland’ at both local and national levels. This article reveals the conditional character of party loyalty on Home Rule and the depth and breadth of the split in Scotland.

    Opening a meeting of the Glasgow College Division Liberal Association in late April 1886, its former president declared that the ‘great controversy at present dividing the country and the Liberal party’ made this an occasion on which ‘every citizen, and especially every member of the Liberal party, was bound to say what his opinions were’ and ‘take his stand on one side or the other’. The meeting was one of hundreds convened in Scotland that spring to discuss Liberal prime minister William Gladstone’s proposal to establish an Irish parliament separate from that at Westminster, where Ireland had been represented since the 1801 Union. The measure shattered the Liberal party in Britain and undercut decades of Liberal electoral hegemony in Scotland. After considerable debate, the association narrowly carried a resolution describing the Home Rule bill as forming ‘the basis of a satisfactory settlement of the Irish question’, which, its proposer explained, bound the meeting not to the bill’s details but to its ‘principle’. The meeting was regarded by the Scotsman as an example of how the party had been ‘split and rent’—this was a measure brought forward by a Liberal government, yet ‘the opinion of Liberals’ was ‘so divided’ that only a small majority could be found for its ‘conditional approval’. By contrast, the North British Daily Mail, whose proprietor was MP for the constituency, offered a tally of the Liberal meetings to have ‘generally declared in favour’ to date and asserted, first, that ‘there is no denying that the Liberal representative bodies’ were on Gladstone’s side and, second, that this trend showed ‘how the current of thought is running among the Liberal electors’.1 This episode is indicative of the imperative many Scottish Liberals felt to discuss Irish Home Rule and declare opinion thereon, and of the conflicting interpretations which emerged of what such opinion meant, what it was worth and who it represented. Liberal associations played a crucial role in shaping the crisis beyond Westminster. Their meetings—and the debate which surrounded them—reveal that the policy both caused extensive division within rank-and-file Scottish Liberalism and generated greater scrutiny of the complex relationships between party organisation and political participation and representation in the age of ‘mass’ politics.

    This article examines responses to the Home Rule bill during the debate period between its introduction on 8 April and defeat on 7 June 1886, with a focus on Scotland’s constituencies. The extra-parliamentary Home Rule crisis is a neglected area. This is surprising, as historians recognise that it drove ‘a deep wedge through the Liberal party in Scotland’, to the extent that, after 1886, it was ‘no longer a one-party state’.2 Historians note the complexity of the split, which cut through and across the groupings typically labelled ‘whig’ and ‘radical’—illustrated by lists of MPs, landowners, businessmen, churchmen and disestablishers who opposed or supported it—and the importance to Scottish politics of the Liberal Unionist party, formed by anti-Home Rule Liberals. However, little has been written about the dynamics or effects of the crisis on the ground during its crucial first months. We know more about the tensions exposed during that summer’s general election, when the party suffered its worst Scottish result since 1841, than we do about the fervent activity that preceded and informed the contest. Instances of constituency activity during the debate period generally serve as snapshots of attitudes in given localities and as illustrations of MPs’ electoral stability or of the extent to which Liberalism was riven by this and other controversies.3 Fuller accounts are provided in studies by John McCaffrey of Glasgow and Catriona MacDonald of Paisley, where Liberals divided into ‘oppositional camps’ striving to establish themselves as the ‘truer’ form of Liberalism. Kyle Thompson’s recent work on Edinburgh situates the crisis in the context of electoral reform and grassroots Liberal ideological and organisational rivalries. However, much work remains to be done to establish a comprehensive picture of this critical period across Scotland. Sixty years ago, Donald Savage noted that in Scotland there ‘developed a full-scale battle in the local Liberal associations’.4 This article reveals, for the first time, the ways in which and sites and terms on which that fight was fought. Through a combination of qualitative and quantitative analysis, it demonstrates the enormity of the crisis in the constituencies and examines the cohesion and coherence of ‘Liberal Scotland’ at both local and national levels.

    Exploring the extra-parliamentary crisis also prompts questions about how politics was conceived of and functioned outside Westminster, and outside of elections. Constituency Liberal associations were the site of intense debate on the policy, and were themselves at the centre of a complex web of competing understandings about political representation and behaviour. The crisis arrived at a time when, as Iain Hutchison notes, the ‘struggle to acquire control of party organisation’ in Scotland ‘had the appearance of an irreconcilable conflict’.5 The party was organised separately in England and Scotland. The National Liberal Federation (NLF), established in Birmingham in 1877, was a predominantly English body. Scottish Liberals founded regional organisations between 1876 and 1877, which amalgamated as the Scottish Liberal Association (SLA) in 1881. This national body aimed to ‘consolidate and strengthen’ the party in Scotland, to encourage the formation of constituency associations, and, without interfering with ‘independent local action’, to provide them with ‘information and advice’.6 Organisational innovation rapidly became a source of friction. The dispute centred on whether members could discuss policy issues. Their proclamations upon such issues might determine the SLA’s public stance and thus that of the Liberal party in Scotland—potentially in the form of a ‘platform’ or ‘programme’—and enable it to make demands upon party leaders. The SLA was resolute that policymaking lay beyond the scope of its legitimate activity, and confined itself to supplying legal information and speakers and to mediating constituency disputes. Yet as the campaign for policy discussion and decision escalated, SLA meetings became ‘tests of strength’, often centring on the issue of disestablishment of the Church of Scotland.7 Matters came to a head in late 1885, when radicals formed the National Liberal Federation of Scotland (NLFS) to fulfil roles the SLA abnegated, and demanded that disestablishment be made an electoral test question. The two bodies reunited in December 1886 as a reconstituted SLA with organisational and deliberative functions. Conflict was also apparent locally. Legislation passed between 1884 and 1885 expanded the electorate and redrew the constituency map. These changes placed a premium on organisational efficiency and local volunteer work, prompting the SLA to call for the establishment of an association for each constituency.8 They also raised the issue of whether Scotland possessed popular and electoral politics suited to the demands of a massified electorate. Rival associations proliferated as factions clashed over the right to nominate and run candidates they claimed represented the views of local Liberals. Liberals fought Liberals in one-third of Scottish seats at the winter 1885 general election, albeit losing only one of these to the Conservatives.9

    Although Scottish historians detail these organisational developments and their connection to the disestablishment crisis, they show limited interest in the relationship between later nineteenth-century disputes over the purpose and principle of party organisation and debates about political participation, representation and opinion. Historians of political culture, language and organisation pay little attention to Scotland. The distinct electoral system and the ‘oligarchic’ nature of the Liberal party there mean that Scotland does not fit easily into English-focused debates on the supposed ‘closing down’ of a vibrant, independent and participatory popular political culture. Likewise, that for much of the nineteenth century Scotland was effectively a one-party state and had neither the ‘mass party’ nor ‘mass politics’ of the kind that inform this scholarship, complicates narratives in which it was, in part, the ‘triumph’ of ‘party’ politics that ‘disciplined, regulated and disabled popular politics’.10 It is also thought Scotland’s lack of ‘a competitive two-party system’ ‘inhibited the development’ of efficient Liberal organisation, and there were few permanent grassroots structures until the early 1880s.11 Scottish Liberals appeared able to ‘do without a close-knit organisation’12 along the lines of the mass-based, ‘highly structured’ model and ‘representative principles’ pioneered in Joseph Chamberlain’s Birmingham and the NLF as mechanisms for marshalling and managing an expanding electorate and for exercising pressure on party leaders.13 Hence Scotland’s general absence from discussions about the effects of internal party democratisation on the experience and quality of political participation and representation, and about the discourses used to justify and condemn ‘modern’ party organisation.

    Organisations of this nature were known pejoratively as ‘the caucus’, for their alleged resemblance to American ‘machine politics’, by which ‘manipulation’ by ‘dictatorial wirepullers’ in the name of party challenged the independence of conscience and action of MPs, electors and rank and file alike. Contemporaries used what James Owen terms the ‘language of the caucus’ to dissect the implications of political organisation and articulate competing visions of popular and party politics, and of democracy and representation, to gain legitimacy or undermine that of opponents.14 This language was in 1886 crucial to how anti-Home Rulers articulated opposition to the policy. It was British in scope but was translated in Scotland through competing Liberal discourses which owed much to Scotland’s distinct, yet rapidly changing, political culture. Scotland’s Liberal organisational structures were not in most cases analogous to those of the English ‘caucus’, yet there were among Scottish Liberals both concerns about the potential divisiveness of organisation and hopes for its capacity to reflect and effect political change. Moreover, 1886 was a moment of intense political engagement, the significance of which was heightened by its being facilitated to a great extent by Liberal organisations. With ‘the public’ often conflated with the ‘Liberal’ in Scotland, Scotland should form a crucial part of scholarly debates over the avenues for and rituals of participation and representation. Where MacDonald suggests that 1886 ‘shattered a pre-existing—if increasingly fragile—consensus on the meaning of Liberalism’,15 it is also clear that the crisis affected both the meaning and purpose of Liberal organisation. Greater attention should likewise be paid to the construction and expression of, and judgements on, opinion—‘public’, ‘Liberal’ or otherwise—during the crisis. It is surprising that 1886 has not previously been analysed as a critical moment in Victorian debates over ‘public opinion’.16 It brought into focus conflicting understandings of where opinion was located, how and by whom it should be articulated, and who had the right to any such expression. It interacted with a desire to change the style of Scottish organisational politics, but activists found themselves debating a policy that was not their own and on which there was no clear or accepted ‘Scottish Liberal opinion’.

    As Tom Devine argues, Liberalism’s dominance is attributable to a perception that it went ‘with the grain of Scottish political opinion’. The crisis severely undermined this world view. Addressing a public meeting in Edinburgh in May 1886, the Scottish MP and cabinet minister Henry Campbell-Bannerman observed that ‘the agitation and the political controversy’ aroused by Home Rule was ‘to a great extent carried on within the limits of the Liberal party’.17 In Scotland, this reflected both its sudden advent as party policy and existing patterns in Liberal politics. The idea of ‘Liberal Scotland’ is about more than successive Liberal victories—it suggests a symbiosis of value systems, with the party embodying and reflecting back to ‘the people’ Scottish values, and to such an extent that the political public could be assumed to be Liberal.18 The ‘limits of the Liberal party’ were by this reading the limits of the Scottish political nation, and vice versa. When understood in this way, ‘Liberal Scotland’ is a vital, yet overlooked, example of the processes by which parties created and sustained popular support. It was a successful political appeal through which the party helped mould the very constituency it would then claim to represent. However, if Liberal opinion and Scottish opinion were synonymous, why had it, by the 1880s, begun to appear imperative to some within the party to measure such opinion via the medium of political organisation? That party and political nation appeared coterminous, and that this impression was reinforced electorally, meant that political debate ‘took place within the party, rather than, as in England, between Liberals and Tories’.19 Having long monopolised public discussion of political issues, Scottish Liberalism was now faced with the conundrum of whether enshrining such discussion within a party apparatus that connected ‘political demands to organizational structure’20 would make Liberal representation more inclusive or exclusionary and whether, having been able to afford ‘internal disputes’ and still win elections,21 this would help overcome or intensify them.

    Those who demanded organisational reform and policymaking from the party sought to institutionalise popular Liberalism. ‘Liberal Scotland’, although seemingly all-embracing, does not convey a sense of a participatory popular politics. The Liberal ‘public’ might have been represented by ‘Liberal Scotland’, with the Liberal party its representative body, but had that public been invited to participate in its politics or in its ruling party? Those seeking a shift to deliberative and declarative organisational principles appeared to offer to the party, and to Scotland, mass, collective action and opinion appropriate to the age of ‘mass democracy’. However, another consequence of its hegemony was that suspicion of ‘party’ existed and was expressed predominantly within Scottish Liberalism. Both disestablishment and Home Rule, and their prosecution through the medium of the associations, might alternatively seem to threaten the definition of Liberalism around specific policies rather than broad principles and, in turn, to make Scottish political identity more explicitly ‘partisan’. ‘Liberal Scotland’ has an air of permanence to it, yet it was predicated upon a representative relationship and, as Jon Lawrence argues, such relationships could be sustained only by ‘negotiation and renegotiation’. This is not to suggest that ‘Liberal Scotland’ was a myth; rather that, as a constructed political allegiance, it was subject to processes of ‘contention, redefinition, and transformation’.22 These push-pull dynamics are evident in the crises of 1885–6. ‘Liberal Scotland’ is also therefore an example of how political parties make claims to embody and reflect the opinions of electors and ‘the people’ and of how far they can accommodate deliberative, representative structures and practices.

    This article comprises three sections. Section one helps decentre the crisis from Westminster by offering the first quantitative analysis of the meetings at which the policy was discussed in Scotland, the volume and intensity of which heightened and maintained the sense of crisis out-of-doors, raised awareness of Home Rule locally and helped identify its supporters and opponents. The second section considers how the crisis interacted with Scottish disputes over organisation, which informed debates over the quality and representativeness of ‘Liberal opinion’ and the legitimacy of the rituals of Liberal political participation. The final section explores the difficulties Liberals faced in procuring and performing agreement on Home Rule, looking at the resolutions discussed at meetings, which went beyond symbolic gesture or formal partisan declaration and became part of the debate.

    ChooseThe crisis in the constituencies
    As the country awaited Gladstone’s 8 April announcement, early reports from Scotland were far from glowing. The tone was set by the 29 March publication in the Scotsman, Scotland’s leading Liberal newspaper, of the draft Home Rule bill supposedly presented to the cabinet meeting at which two members resigned in protest. Ireland would have its own legislature but would cease sending MPs to Westminster, and the arrangements for Irish finance and fiscal matters would be amended. According to the paper, this was ‘separation’, a ‘calamity to be avoided at almost any cost’. As for Scotland’s reaction, the editor Charles Cooper believed it would ‘be scouted from one end of the country to the other’. Support for it would be ‘resented’, and it was doubtful whether even Gladstone could secure re-election for Midlothian.23 Cooper informed the foreign secretary and Scottish peer Lord Rosebery that, in the week following the publication, there was ‘positive consternation in Scotland’. He recounted receiving letters ‘innumerable … praying that there be no such plan’ and, having talked with ‘many men’, claimed it was seen as ‘down-right folly’ by ‘staunch Liberals’, for not ‘one man’ had ‘even excused’ it. If the ministry adopted ‘a plan approaching Repeal’ of the Union, Cooper warned, it ‘may count on most of Scotland going against Mr G.’.24 This dismal picture suited Cooper’s agenda—he advocated ‘local-national self-government’ but opposed ‘repeal’—but he was not the only source of gloom.25

    The NLFS’s secretary, Alex MacDougall, was unable to ‘speak confidently of the Scottish M.P.’s [sic]’, advising his English counterpart that support would be ‘perhaps half-hearted’, with ‘strong exception’. MacDougall had, on 29 March, ‘a call from a good Rad[ical]’, who was ‘very savage at Mr. G.’, while Gladstone’s ‘warmest friends’ were convinced ‘he has been too hasty’.26 The alleged bill, according to a leading election agent, caused a ‘sensation’. Holmes Ivory told Rosebery that he had been ‘ascertaining the opinion of many scores of representative Liberals’, including those ‘of a more advanced … type both County & City & … working men’. Neither he nor anyone at the SLA’s offices had ‘found a single Liberal who would support the scheme’, and the party was now ‘losing ground’. If it was anything like the Scotsman’s version, there would not be an ‘earthly chance of carrying Scotland’. Liberals there would ‘be doomed to immediate and crushing defeat’, not least because men who ‘would have followed G. to Hell if he asked them are now most seriously hesitating’. Ivory had never ‘on any previous subject … listened to opinion so adverse & so unanimous’. He personally did ‘not fancy to go into a sinking ship’ and would ‘wait for a Liberal leader to arise who could better gauge public opinion’—a striking assessment of Gladstone’s shortcomings.27 This discomfort did not diminish, and the bill was broadly in line with the Scotsman’s description. A week into the debate, Rosebery’s secretary, T. L. Gilmour, wrote in his diary ‘that the country is against the proposal’; Ivory, ‘who ought to know’, had given him ‘a very gloomy account’, for ‘nowhere’ had it ‘been received with enthusiasm’.28 By the end of April, Gladstone’s election agent, P. W. Campbell, was warning the prime minister that ‘things do not look bright with us’. He feared they would experience ‘Liberal disaffection such as [has] not been seen in Scotland in this generation’.

    Unease was also evident at a local level. Mr Buchan, agent to the Home Secretary, Hugh Childers, reported that ‘several of our people’ had ‘been at me’ on 29 March ‘in a state little short of a panic’. Buchan wrote to ‘urge earnestly upon’ Childers that his Edinburgh constituency ‘wd. never return a member to support such proposals’. Nor would any seat in Scotland, for the ‘country is not nearly ripe’ and only the ‘merest fragment of electors’ would support it. It would be ‘political suicide’: the party would ‘go to pieces’ and face ‘annihilation’. The government should ‘be prepared for the most uncompromising hostility of the mass of Scottish Liberals’.29 These fears were not without foundation. The chairman at a 30 March Edinburgh ward Liberal association meeting worried that Gladstone would ‘wreck his career’ but refused to ‘entertain the idea, until the Premier had sanctioned it by his own words’. Other associations thought it similarly wise, the disquiet notwithstanding, to withhold a formal verdict until the announcement. The chair of the Glasgow Central association’s executive postulated that night that the divided state of the parliamentary party was a fair indication of extra-parliamentary feeling and reported that several men had declined to join the association given the uncertainty over the future ‘position of parties’; he advised they reserve criticism but be prepared to ‘exercise their own judgment’ when the time came.30 Liberal associations would soon assert the importance of their participation in the crisis. For example, the Stirling Burghs association’s inaugural meeting in May was convened to consider the legislation, where its president surmised that if anyone had ‘misgivings about the necessity’ of such a body, this ‘proved that they had good grounds for it’. The president of Dunbarton’s association deemed it the ‘duty’ of Liberal associations to discuss and declare their views and thus to ‘help the country to arrive at some well matured decision’.31 It is to such meetings that this section now turns, providing statistical analysis which demonstrates the extent of the division that had been feared and the scale of the crisis.

    The Home Rule crisis was a moment of mass politics in Britain. During the sixty-day debate period, over 3,750 meetings took place at which the Irish question was discussed, and to which were put over 3,500 resolutions and amendments. Of these meetings, 477 were held in Scotland, which together passed over 400 motions (see Table 1).32 As Figure 1 illustrates, over nine-tenths (92.6%) of Scotland’s constituencies witnessed at least one meeting. The author used the newspapers surviving from 1886 to gather quantitative and qualitative data on these meetings.33 That it was possible to identify thousands of events from newspaper reports is testament to the sustained interest in the extra-parliamentary crisis. Meetings were reported in detail by national, regional and local newspapers, covering the principal speeches, exchanges between attendees, audience reactions, and the content of and responses to resolutions and amendments. Syndicated columns with titles such as ‘Public Opinion’, ‘The Political Situation’ and ‘The Irish Question’ contained lists itemising meetings, attitudes of associations, and resolutions. Organisers sent summaries to the press, providing copies of motions passed as evidence of the ‘feeling’ of the meeting. Editors attempted to quantify activity, producing tables which summarised the ‘opinion of the country’ under headings like ‘General approval’ and ‘Opposed’, calculating weekly how many Liberal associations fell under each category and citing the figures in editorials.34 This created a feedback loop among activists, with, for example, the proposer of a pro-bill resolution at a Liberal meeting in Grangemouth in mid-May citing the latest press figures and hailing them ‘the voice of the Liberal Associations’.35 That these events enjoyed such an afterlife enhanced their visibility and extended their audience. Taking into account the content of and responses to speeches and motions, the author classified meetings by their tone, as ‘for’, ‘against’ or ‘mixed’.36 ‘Mixed’ denotes meetings where there was no clear majority for or against. It is applicable, for example, to meetings where there was heated debate, where opinion was divided, where there were multiple amendments or revisions to a resolution, where resolutions hedged considerably, or where MPs or lecturers spoke against it and were supported or opposed by some but not all attendees.

    Table
    Table 1: Meetings in Britain at which the Irish question was discussed, 9 April–7 June 1886

    Table 1: Meetings in Britain at which the Irish question was discussed, 9 April–7 June 1886

    Total meetings % meetings for % meetings against % mixed meetings % meetings with MPs present % Liberal meetings for % Liberal meetings against % Liberal meetings mixed
    England 3,087 41.8 51.5 6.7 23.4 87.4 0.1 12.5
    Scotland 477 43.8 37.9 18.3 12.2 69.8 1.2 29
    Wales 206 65 33.5 1.5 18.9 99.2 0 0.8
    Britain 3,770 43.3 48.9 7.8 21.7 85.7 0.2 14.1
    Sources: Newspapers, various: see footnotes 32–37.


    Figure 1: Location of meetings in Scotland at which the Irish question was discussed, 9 April–7 June 1886.

    As can be seen from Table 1, across Scotland, a slightly higher proportion of meetings were favourable than were opposed to Home Rule.37 However, nearly one-fifth were ‘mixed’, with the Scottish figure over two and a half times that for England and twelve times that for Wales. Just over one-tenth (12.7%) of all meetings were held in Scotland, but it accounted for over a quarter (28.6%) of Britain’s ‘mixed’ meetings. Just over three-quarters (77.5%) of Scotland’s constituencies witnessed at least one anti-Home Rule meeting, with slightly fewer (73.2%) playing host to a favourable meeting—the latter figure explained partly by a concentration in Edinburgh, as Scotland’s capital, of set-piece pro- demonstrations. Three-fifths (60.5%) of constituencies saw a ‘mixed’ meeting. This complex picture was also reflected at a regional level.38 Western constituencies accounted for a slight majority of meetings (52.4%), with eastern seats following closely (45.5%) and Highland and Island seats seeing few meetings (2.1%). However, in neither the east nor west was there a majority for either side. In the east, 41.9% of meetings were in favour and 36.1% were opposed. The respective figures were higher in the west, at 45.2% pro- and 40.2% anti-Home Rule. This reflects a higher incidence of ‘mixed’ meetings in the east, at 22% compared to 14.6% in the west. As Figures 1 and 2 illustrate, these statistics are also indicative of a Liberal predominance in Scotland and in the discussion of Ireland, and of the extent of Liberal division. Liberals organised 275 meetings, over half of the total (57.7%). Conservatives arranged 111, or around one-fifth (23.3%).39 Non-party meetings accounted for most of the remainder (11.6%), although these were overwhelmingly hostile to Home Rule (75%), typically being billed as ‘patriotic’ meetings. Overall, 83% of Scottish constituencies experienced at least one Liberal-organised event and two-thirds saw a Conservative one. At no stage were Liberal meetings outnumbered by their Conservative or non-party counterparts, with Liberals typically organising at least twice as many each week.


    Figure 2: Location and tone of Liberal-organised meetings in Scotland at which the Irish question was discussed, 9 April–7 June 1886.43

    Almost one-third of Scottish Liberal meetings were ‘mixed’.40 This figure is nearly thirty-fold that for Wales and almost two-and-a-half times higher than England’s. Scotland accounted for 15.1% of Britain’s Liberal meetings, but over a fifth (21.4%) of all Liberal ‘mixed’ meetings. As Figure 2 illustrates, of the Scottish constituencies that hosted Liberal events, nine-tenths saw at least one pro-Home Rule meeting, but over two-thirds had at least one ‘mixed’ meeting. The latter figure is twice that for England. Liberal meetings were comparably spread across the east (46.9%) and west (49.8%). In the east, one-third (34.2%) were ‘mixed’, and in the west, where there were early signs of separate Liberal Unionist organisation outside the existing Liberal apparatus, it was one-quarter (24.2%).41 Formal Liberal organisations were operational in eight in ten Scottish constituencies during the debate period, which is indicative of the extent to which the party had developed its organisational network by spring 1886. In total, 182 Liberal organisations were involved—ranging from the national, in the shape of the NLFS, to constituencies’ ward, district and central associations—the vast majority of which arranged one meeting each.42 Most Liberal meetings were organised by associations (80.7%). Of these, the majority (88.3%) were party events, arranged by and for local Liberals—such as regular association meetings or meetings specially convened to consider the legislation—rather than ‘open’ meetings to which the ‘public’ was invited (although they were not ticketed).

    The Stirling Burghs constituency, where all the Liberal meetings were ‘mixed’, is a key example of how divisions played out as the crisis developed. The MP, Campbell-Bannerman, was perceived to have opposed Home Rule in 1885, and was criticised for his supposed ‘inconsistency’ in now supporting it.44 Activists in Stirling relayed to Campbell-Bannerman the ‘very strong’ opposition of ‘good Liberals’ in the town, who, concerned that Gladstone had made ‘a great mistake’ and gone too far, were ‘despondent’ and feared that ‘the Liberal party will be found broken up & rent asunder in Scotland’. There were ‘few’ who ‘would speak right out in approval’ and others hoped for modifications ‘which would relieve them’.45 Similar to Ivory and Buchan, in his early reports from Dunfermline the agent John Ross stated that, having spoken ‘with many on the subject’, he had ‘not yet found one whose confidence in Mr Gladstone is not more or less shaken’. By late April, Ross—who ‘deplored’ the legislation—was explaining that ‘we have been taken by surprise’ and that opinion ‘is somewhat chaotic, but upon the whole adverse’. Some local Liberals felt themselves ‘put in a corner’, believing that Campbell-Bannerman had ‘implied that [he] could not support such measures’. To ‘show him his constituency in minutiae’, Ross in early May organised a ‘very representative’ lunch for Campbell-Bannerman in Dunfermline with ‘men of Liberal principles’, and found them ‘equally divided’ for and against. Ross attempted to resign as agent to two MPs, desiring ‘liberty, certainly in private, and if occasion arose, also in public, to express my convictions on the grave questions raised’.46 Other correspondents drew Campbell-Bannerman’s attention to the situation in the Dunfermline Liberal Association, where there were ‘so many speakers for & against’ that its discussion was twice adjourned between late April and mid-May before a vote could be taken. The association’s president stated at the first meeting that he ‘did not know when there had been so much division among good and hearty Liberals’, and he did not expect that ‘everyone could adopt all the points embraced in the Government policy’.47 Ross described these meetings as ‘ludicrous’, the resolution having been ‘formed to avoid any definite expression of opinion’. Indeed, the president stated that the resolution was ‘in very vague terms’, for it did not ‘commit the Association to all the proposals in the Irish schemes’, which would likely be amended. The local Liberal newspaper lamented that ‘[u]nanimity could not possibly be produced by a motion of vague confidence in the Government’, and urged that if Liberal resolutions were ‘to be of any value’ they ‘must be specific, must accept or reject the particular measures’. Campbell-Bannerman, for his part, hoped that, ‘however unfriendly to the Bill the feeling’ was, Liberals would ‘refrain for the present from committing themselves to any resolution or opinion directly opposed to it’.48

    While Campbell-Bannerman was criticised for supporting the bill, divisions also emerged in constituencies represented by its Liberal opponents. Half of all ‘mixed’ meetings took place in seats whose Liberal MP later voted against the bill, a figure out of proportion with the weight these constituencies carried in Scotland’s Westminster cohort (31%).49 Opinion was often divided over the extent to which support should be given to either the legislation or the MP. This was seen within individual associations and across them. Several of these constituencies witnessed a greater proportion of ‘mixed’ Liberal meetings than the Scottish average. For example, all the Liberal-organised meetings in Leith Burghs were ‘mixed’. In late April, three of the four resolutions put to the Portobello Liberal Association were oppositional, variously describing the bill as ‘unconstitutional and illusory’, ‘detrimental’ to Ireland’s interests, and ‘dangerous’ to imperial unity. The meeting ultimately passed a vague resolution of sympathy for the government’s endeavour and declined to ‘pronounce on all the details’ of the bill. An early May meeting of the Leith Burghs Liberal Association, the central constituency organisation, had five motions tabled, with divisions being taken on whether to delay action, call for the bill’s withdrawal, or accept it as ‘a basis’ for settlement. The latter passed by forty-eight to twenty-one. Several members, desiring that ‘some other expression of opinion should be elicited’, wrote and made available for signature a letter to the MP, William Jacks, declaring their ‘refusal’ to accept the association’s resolution as ‘representative of the opinion’ of Leith Liberals and approving Jacks’s opposition to the legislation. Tensions remained when the association gathered again later that month, to consider an NLFS proposal that public meetings be convened to discuss Home Rule. On the one hand, it was argued that the constituency should make its ‘voice heard on the momentous question’, not least given Jacks’s position, for they did not want it ‘supposed that they were going in with’ him. On the other hand, several members expressed concern that such a meeting ‘would divide them more’ and ‘rend the Association’. The matter was left undecided.50

    There were comparable patterns of division in Partick, Lanarkshire, where half the Liberal meetings were ‘mixed’. The Possilpark Liberal Association in mid-April carried a resolution of thanks to Gladstone and trust that, with amendments, the bill would prove successful. Yet by early May, it was debating resolutions criticising several of the bill’s provisions and declaring against the structure of the Irish parliament. In late May, the executive committee resolved by nine votes to eight to ‘approve’ the MP Alexander Craig Sellar’s action against the measure. By contrast, the neighbouring Maryhill association approved the bill’s ‘principles’ and expressed ‘regret at [his] hostile attitude’. The proposer of this resolution argued that while an MP should not be a ‘mere delegate’, they had returned Sellar on the understanding that he would support Gladstone, while another speaker stressed that Sellar was ‘not in harmony with his constituents’.51 There were also instances where an MP’s anti-Home Rule attitude clearly ran against the grain. In Dumfries Burghs, only one Liberal meeting was ‘mixed’. The Dumfries and Maxwelltown association regretted Ernest Noel’s ‘uncompromising hostility’ to the bill, while Liberals in Annan declared ‘their want of confidence’ in him, and the Lochmaben association announced that it would ‘transfer its support to some other representative, whose views and principles are more in harmony with the major part of this Association’. Kirkcudbright Liberals passed a vote of ‘censure’, reproaching Noel for failing to ‘treat the burghs in anything like a fair and honest way’ and for having ‘treated the Liberal Association with contempt’, and arguing that although Noel was ‘quite entitled to his own opinion’, he ‘should have paid a little more attention to the views of those who elected him’.52 Such episodes illustrate the manifold responses of rank-and-file Scottish Liberals to Home Rule and the complex ways in which they attempted to express opinion and navigate relationships with their representatives, at both parliamentary and local levels.

    Party and public meetings were one of the main ‘ways in which democracy was organised’ in the nineteenth century.53 They afford insight into the ‘rituals and languages of popular political culture’ and the ‘connections between popular culture and organized, formal politics’.54 They were, variously, tools for gathering and expressing opinion, for constructing and maintaining local allegiances and networks, and for contact with MPs, and they formed part of the struggle to establish legitimacy within constituencies. A meeting could simultaneously be a site and a form of participation and representation—and of political interaction, not just between leaders and led but also between those who considered themselves ‘Liberal’ or as forming ‘the public’. Dan Jackson argues of the Edwardian Home Rule crisis that there was ‘massive interest and participation in politics’, with meetings a means by which popular sentiment ‘could be translated into a tangible, corporeal entity’.55 This holds true for 1886: there was widespread, sustained engagement with Home Rule at a time when its unveiling as Liberal policy made such activity imperative. In Scotland, Liberal discussion of Home Rule took place within the fora afforded by party organisational structures. This suggests both their capacity to function as deliberative assemblies and a perceived need to respond to the policy. This embrace of the association meeting as a mode of collective action and representative claim-making had the potential to forge grassroots support for Home Rule. However, it also generated and exposed rank-and-file division, and the phenomenon of ‘party’ discussion made Liberals vulnerable to criticism.

    ChooseThe crisis and party organisation
    The crisis erupted at a time of tense debate over the structure and activity of the Liberal party in Scotland. The culture of Liberal organisation in England and Scotland was affected by whether it was deliberative or not. Chamberlain, the NLF’s founding president, had from its inception in 1877 maintained that its meetings were a venue in which ‘the opinions of Liberals on measures to be supported or resisted will be readily and authoritatively ascertained’ and he argued that the party should be governed by the principle of ‘the direct participation of all its members in the direction of its policy’.56 As Hutchison notes, the NLF’s ‘power derived from being the locus of both organisation and policy determination, the former endowing the latter with greater significance’.57 The SLA had no such pretensions. When the matter of policy discussion was raised at the SLA’s first annual meeting in 1882, its presiding chairman stated that they had met purely ‘for the advancement of organisation’ and that ‘the Association had never taken up … or tried to advance any political question’.58 The SLA claimed to ‘promote the unity and strength of the Liberal party in Scotland’ and ‘to inform but not to dictate’.59 As a central association, it was to fulfil an advisory not a directive role. The SLA comprised an executive committee and a general council, the latter being formed of delegates nominated by constituency associations and executive appointees. The council elected the executive, which compiled the annual report, and the two sections shared a chairman. Unlike the NLF’s, the SLA’s constitution did not require associations wishing to affiliate to be structured according to a ‘representative model’.60 According to Lord Elgin, chairman from January 1884, the SLA admitted ‘anyone who came to us with the profession of being a Liberal’. As Elgin told the SLA the following year, it was a matter of pride that ‘they had not … been doing the work which was commonly attributed to what the Tories were pleased to call the Caucus’. Namely, they ‘had not been stimulating or “manufacturing” … agitation’ and their constitution stated that the SLA would not interfere with independent local action.61 The SLA was afraid not of organising but of caucusing: party organisation could create problems of adhesion and cohesion if it was understood as, or expected to be, more than the practice of organising for political purposes.62

    At successive SLA annual meetings between 1884 and 1886, Elgin stressed three things: it was not the SLA’s duty to ‘frame a political programme, or to issue a political manifesto’; it would not interfere with the independence of local associations; and its meetings should be confined to subjects not generating ‘differences of opinion’.63 Elgin felt that, ‘for the sake of the unity of the party’, the ‘question of organisation & the work of organisation’ must be ‘kept distinct from those other questions & movements on which different sections of the party hold different opinions’.64 Elgin squared this circle by insisting that the ‘business’ of the SLA was ‘simply organisation’: ‘the programme’ did not fall within its ‘scope’.65 This precluded action on a second front: if Scotland’s central Liberal organisation prepared a programme for the party, Liberals might be expected to support it ‘by agitation’. Elgin was therefore clear that the SLA ‘should not be involved in agitation in favour of particular measures … until they are officially & universally adopted by the Party’.66 However, it appeared to some that, by barring discussion of political questions, the SLA denied Scottish Liberals the opportunity to determine and express opinion on important issues and to influence party or government policy. At the SLA’s January 1885 annual general meeting, the Galashiels radical Alexander Brown asked members to consider whether the SLA ‘was the sort of Association calculated now to meet their wants’ or whether they ought to establish a federation of associations that could provide means to ‘gather the opinions of Liberals in Scotland’ on pressing questions and ‘bring them to bear’ on MPs and government. In subsequent letters to the press, Brown argued that Scotland ‘required some machinery’ to enable politicians ‘to ascertain with tolerable accuracy, what is the mind of the country on different political questions’.67 Elgin referred the matter to the executive for consideration. Fearing that the ‘new organization would lead us into difficulties’, it unanimously decided against Brown’s proposal, citing the ‘paramount necessity’ of not interfering with local action.68

    Elgin’s views on the subject prompt questions about the quality and extent of representation and participation in Scottish Liberal organisations. He was aware of the difficulties that different organisational forms presented for Liberal representative claim-making and of their amplification in a ‘national’ institution. He acknowledged that the premise ‘laid down’ by Chamberlain, that ‘an Assocn. in order to have authority must be truly representative’, could be hard to achieve were the SLA to move towards policy discussion and decision. In the first instance, the SLA ‘includes representation from all parts of Scotland’ but it was scarcely ‘possible to convene them at any one meeting’.69 As Elgin explained to one federation advocate, this meant that in the SLA—it ‘being a National Society’—debate ‘where the constituent elements of the Assocn. should be fully represented’ would be ‘practically if not theoretically impossible’. If the SLA gave ‘active support’ to a resolution adopted at a meeting where not all local associations were represented, and that resolution ‘asserted a particular policy as a necessary position of the creed of the Liberal party’, that would constitute ‘direct interference’ with local independence and have implications for SLA members. As Elgin told Rosebery, were ‘disputed topics’ voted upon at a meeting ‘which claims to represent the whole of Scotland’, members might find both the Association and themselves ‘committed to proposals with which they disagree’.70 According to the SLA’s secretary, James Patten, the executive feared ‘trouble in holding the Association together’, especially if members ‘are bound or suppose themselves bound’ by any resolution.71 Such activity might risk institutionalising and nationalising Liberal divisions in both organisational structure and party programme. In a one-party state, the party’s claim to representation could be rendered problematic if voters and the rank and file no longer believed it reflected their views.

    The executive’s attempts to hold the line failed to persuade those who believed policy discussion was crucial to the party’s future. As an alternative to the federation, Elgin suggested that the SLA’s autumnal meeting—a non-‘business’ meeting held in a provincial town—could be expanded to include a conference of delegates from the area or region, ‘on a distinct basis from any other meetings of the Assocn.’. This might allow greater opportunities for debate and afford ‘a fair expression of the views of a well-defined district’—without ‘interfering with the possibly adverse opinion of another part of the country’ or giving the SLA ‘responsibility for the opinions expressed’.72 This cautious compromise was rejected as insufficient.73 In September 1885, a conference of over 600 delegates from Liberal associations agreed to proceed with a federation and adopted a ‘programme’ of policies encapsulated in six resolutions. The federation’s founding resolution declared it ‘a suitable organisation for expressing authoritatively the consensus of enlightened Liberal opinion’ and bringing MPs ‘more into touch with the currents of opinion’ in their constituencies. Its constitution contained two objects the SLA’s did not, bringing it more closely in line with the NLF’s: the promotion of ‘the organization throughout the country of Liberal Associations based on popular representation’ and ‘the discussion of political questions, and the adoption of Liberal principles in the government of the country’. Also similar to the NLF, the NLFS’s general committee could submit to affiliated associations political questions ‘upon which united action may be considered desirable’.74 It was not until the two Scottish organisations were reunified and reconfigured in winter 1886 that the new SLA’s objects included encouraging ‘discussion of political questions in Liberal Associations’.75

    According to the conference’s chair, Gilbert Beith, president of the Glasgow Liberal Association, the SLA was not suited to this purpose. It ‘occupied the arm-chair of Scottish Liberal politics’ with ‘masterly inaction’ and did not accurately represent ‘the political opinion of Scotland’, thus depriving Scotland of ‘facilities for expressing the popular mind on political questions’. Theoretically, measuring and articulating opinion in the ways envisaged by the federationists could make the party more responsive. Converting such opinion into a programme of demands could improve the quality of organisation and representation. The federation could thus assert a collective identity for and materialise Scottish Liberalism as a collective political actor. In anti-caucus rhetoric, the caucus disciplined and constrained. For advocates of organisational reform in Scotland, these innovations would free up a rigid apparatus and provide a more inclusive forum. Putting the NLFS’s founding resolution, Brown insisted that disagreements would be settled by Liberals coming together in a representative organisation, which would let their political leaders ‘know what the country really wanted’, who, after all, did not require ‘the opinions of the Liberal electors on questions about which there was no difference of opinion’.76 Opinion could be located in a deliberative Liberal community, with the NLFS providing its institutional foundation and location, and making it authentic and authoritative. To be truly representative and participatory, organisation could and should be both administrative and deliberative.

    There was, however, the question of how such opinion translated into ‘party’—first Association, then leadership, then government—policy. Alexander Cross—a federationist and later a Liberal Unionist—criticised the SLA for thinking that unity could only be achieved if Liberals did ‘not open their lips on any matter in which the Liberal party were interested’. He stressed that every association member ‘ought to have his word in formulating the policy of the party’.77 When, as president, he addressed the Liberal Association in Glasgow Central in April 1886, Cross observed that, until recently, policy had been dictated at headquarters by party managers, while ‘the rank and file had no political existence except’ at elections. Thanks to the formation of local associations, they ‘now had a say in [its] promulgation’. Aware of ‘differences of opinion’ on Home Rule, Cross nevertheless insisted that this should not prevent them from ‘discharging’ their ‘functions’, for the aim of the associations remained ‘influencing the policy and the opinion of the party’. If they were to debate policy, Home Rule was now the question of the day: to ‘shrink or slur’ on this occasion would defeat the ‘object’ of the associations. Still, if having this aim would, somewhat idealistically, enable Liberals to ‘face’ their ‘difficulties’, it does prompt the question of how far an association possessing such ‘divergence of opinion’ could hope, in Cross’s words, to reliably ‘guide the party’.78 The Irish crisis focused these problems, because it was the local associations that mobilised to discuss the policy.

    Throughout the organisational debates, the Scotsman maintained a line similar to that of the SLA’s executive. It warned that there was nothing more dangerous to Liberalism than ‘hankering after hard-and-fast “programmes” which lead to disputes’ and shut out of the party good Liberals who could otherwise be of service. It praised the executive and secretaries for working to ‘organise Liberal effort’ and make the SLA ‘what it was intended to be, a centre of information as to electoral matters’, for this had strengthened the party and helped it win elections. Local associations should ‘avoid matters of detail, as to which there are pretty certain to be differences of opinion’ and which threaten ‘trouble and failure’. There was also the issue of how far these organisational forms could constitute genuine representation. The paper surmised that, if associations were ‘supposed to be representative of all sections of Liberals’, and first they and then the central organisation were persuaded to declare for, say, disestablishment, the party’s leaders and the public might believe that ‘the Liberalism of Scotland has spoken’. The problem was that, amid attempts to ‘manipulate’ and ‘capture’ them, the associations were becoming representative of merely ‘those sections which have their own fads’. It likewise saw in the NLFS an illegitimate attempt to speak for Scottish Liberalism and enforce obedience not to principles but to fads. The Federation might confidently proclaim ‘what Scotland desires’, but what its founders meant ‘by Scottish opinion’ was their own and that of ‘those who agree with’ them—opinions they wanted to force ‘down the throats of the people’.79 The paper feared that Scottish Liberalism would lose an elasticity that had given it strength and be reduced to adhesion to rigid policy lines. Such rhetoric was mirrored in the complaints against constituency associations in 1886. They were portrayed as the preserve not of a majority of local Liberals but a minority of zealots who, intolerant of opinions contrary to theirs, arrogated to themselves the right to speak for their community—rendering Liberalism not broad-based but cliquish. The crisis gave rise to a rhetoric of a public-association dichotomy, in which neither the public nor public opinion could be found in the associations.

    The Scotsman’s correspondence columns were crowded in spring 1886 with letters denouncing the associations, which were, as far as their ‘representative character’ could be judged, ‘a sham and a deception on the public’.80 Associations presumed to but did not have ‘power to speak for the constituencies’ on the Home Rule question, for this was ‘beyond their scope’, and their resolutions were invariably the ‘reverse of the sentiments of the great majority’.81 Letter-writers interpreted association tactics as intimidation, directed against both MPs and rank-and-file Liberals. One thought it absurd that a few men could pass resolutions condemnatory of their MP and of confidence in Gladstone, send ‘a paragraph of the meeting’ to the press, and ‘presto! the world knows that the political life of our sitting member is at an end’. Another condemned the ‘political gamesters’ who pulled the ‘wires’ with the aim of ‘stifling the expression of independent Liberal thought’, so that anyone ‘not for their interpretation of Liberalism must be against Liberalism altogether’. Associations thus both suffocated debate and contained it, making it party-political rather than ‘public’. There was also the issue of how far a meeting’s outcome represented attendees’ opinions. ‘An Independent Liberal’ reported having attended two meetings where the resolutions, giving the impression of ‘full accord’ with the proposals, were not ‘a fair indication’ of the speeches, which had revealed objections to key provisions; that members had nonetheless accepted the resolutions proved they ceased to ‘exercise independence of judgment’.82 Of Scotland’s newspapers, the Scotsman was the most forthright in condemning the associations. Its editorials insisted that, despite having ‘assumed to speak for the electors whom they did not accurately represent’, the ‘clamour of a few committees’ had not sufficed ‘to show that public opinion is with Mr Gladstone’. The associations did ‘not represent Scottish opinion’ and what they did produce in the way of it was ‘a mechanical product after a pattern provided for them’. The demonstrations organised by Liberal Unionists were treated as truer indicators of public feeling. Of the NLFS’s inaugural conference and public meeting in Glasgow on 30 April, the Scotsman claimed that nobody believed it could ‘furnish an accurate reflection of Scottish opinion’. The same night, there was a major set-piece demonstration in Edinburgh of Liberals wanting to uphold the UK’s legislative integrity, which had ‘all sections’ of the party represented and showed that ‘Scottish Liberal opinion is by an immense preponderance opposed to the Irish measures’.83 The Scotsman and its correspondents appealed to a discourse more typically used to describe an English mode of political action, but which proved adaptable in the changing context of Scottish Liberalism.

    On 17 May, the NLFS circularised affiliated associations counselling that at least one public meeting be held in each district to facilitate ‘the greatest possible expression of public opinion throughout Scotland’. The circular suggested three resolutions for such meetings: confidence in the government, approval of the bill, and an undertaking to petition for its second reading. It also recommended that in parishes presently lacking Liberal associations, arrangements should be made for their establishment and for securing expressions of support for the government through these new bodies.84 The NLFS’s action appeared the antithesis of the SLA’s cardinal principle of ‘organisation without interference with independent local action’.85 It was, however, broadly in line with the NLFS’s recently agreed constitution and is indicative of the role it envisioned for itself as an overarching organisational body and repository of Scottish Liberal opinion. It is also possible that the circular was a response to inaction by the SLA, which did not convene until after July’s general election or discuss Home Rule until the autumn. The SLA had been due to hold its annual meeting that spring, but there was concern among the executive that it ‘would be very dangerous to have it just now’ and would risk ‘a regular break up’, meaning the longer it could be ‘put off … the better’.86 Elgin’s logic during the federation crisis further helps explain why the SLA held back. Home Rule, the ultimate disputed topic, may have been officially adopted by the party leadership at Westminster but it was not universally accepted by the wider party. Any pronouncement upon it by the central organisational body for Scotland, at a meeting which claimed to represent but could not realistically bring together the whole of Liberal Scotland, might bear upon Home Rule’s status as a Liberal principle and risk placing the SLA out of step with its broader membership. Indeed, despite the NLFS’s representative claim-making, its inaugural conference was criticised for failing to assemble a geographically broad range of associations, and the capacity of local associations to gather and speak for the community was similarly questioned. Together the organisational debates and Home Rule crisis reveal the complexities of the relationship between party organisation and political representation, and of constituting ‘Liberal Scotland’ in an age of mass politics.

    Critics interpreted the NLFS’s circular as the work of the dreaded machine, which would, if successful, ‘institute a national caucus for Scotland’.87 The Scotsman, anticipating that Scotland would now suffer ‘the screw with a vengeance’, asked, would honest Liberals believe that ‘expressions of opinion’ obtained by ‘dictatorial’ means supplied ‘evidence of the real feeling of the Liberal party?’88 The Liberal Unionist Glasgow Herald branded the NLFS ‘a sham’ and treated the circular as evidence of the coercion of Liberals who followed their consciences—while also reminding readers that ‘the caucuses are as divided as’ the parliamentary party.89 Such division, opponents argued, rendered claims to ‘Scottish opinion’ at best impossible and, at worst, fraudulent. This was discipline, not popular force. The Perthshire West Liberal Unionist MP Donald Currie forwarded the circular to newspapers, to alert ‘the public’ to ‘the manoeuvres adopted by certain political wirepullers … seeking to stimulate or manufacture opinion … and to force Scottish members of Parliament to support the measure’. To reinforce the illegitimacy of these tactics, Currie cited a ‘small’ meeting in his constituency, where the resolution regretted his actions and hoped he would vote for the bill. Unsympathetic grassroots recipients also condemned this ‘string-pulling’, forwarding their correspondence with the NLFS’s secretary, MacDougall, to the press. One letter-writer wondered why, if the NLFS sought the expression of public opinion in Scotland, it ‘put before us “cut and dry” resolutions’—this was not ‘a proper way to go to work’ and he declined to partake in the ‘cooking of public opinion’. Another worried that Home Rule would become ‘a cardinal article in a new Confession of Faith’, to be signed by anyone joining a Liberal association, and protested against ‘attempts to coerce’ associations and MPs. According to ‘X’, the NLFS assumed ‘gratuitously that the sentiments of the party throughout Scotland’ coincided with its own. It should not, however, be dictating ‘on a question concerning which public opinion, and Liberal opinion especially, is so much divided’, and so had ‘no authority’ to distribute material or hold meetings ‘in support of one side’.90

    An alternative reading was offered by the Stirling Observer, which countered that there was ‘nothing illegitimate’ and none of the ‘so-called “pressure”’ in associations meeting to discuss Home Rule and forwarding their resolutions to MPs, which was within their rights. Meetings and resolutions were a source of information, and MPs, possessing this knowledge of constituents’ views, could vote as they pleased and face any consequences at election time.91 Associations were not usurping rights, but expressing them. Rejecting allegations that a meeting of the Elgin Liberal Association was so small it could have been held in an eight-foot-square room, a member of its executive stressed that the association ‘embraces in its membership a large proportion’ of the town’s Liberals and that its resolution ‘expresses the opinion of the great majority of the party here’.92 Such opinion was ‘not manufactured’: resolutions ‘were not passed at the bidding of those sneeringly called … “wirepullers,” but as genuine expressions of their convictions’.93 When the Irish Secretary, John Morley, addressed the NLFS’s public meeting in April, he predicted that Scotland’s remaining ‘true to the cause’ would be scorned as ‘the machine-made opinion of caucus-driven hacks’. To laughter and applause, he proclaimed that if a meeting ‘animated … by such a spirit of thoroughness’ was the ‘result of mechanical pressure’, then ‘mechanical pressure puts on every appearance of honest enthusiasm’. Beith, now an MP and the NLFS’s president, chaired and hailed the ‘new order of things’ ushered in by ‘the advent of what is called the Caucus’, through which ‘the independent voice of the people is declared’. He argued that local associations ‘stimulate political thought’ and ‘orderly political action’ and ensured that the ‘organised popular voice guides and controls the action of the party in Westminster’, while the NLFS provided ‘the power of concentrated expression’ and ‘the consensus of Liberal opinion in Scotland’.94 Responding to the furore over the circular, MacDougall maintained that adoption of its recommendations could ‘only be from the free choice of Liberals’. He pointed out that the NLFS’s conference had supported Home Rule and argued that the opinions then expressed were ‘the authoritative utterances of a great body of Liberals throughout Scotland’—the circular could not be ‘dictatorial’, for it gave effect to those opinions. MacDougall also gave short shrift to those who ‘scent every deliverance’ of the associations for Home Rule ‘as the action of “servile politicians” who constitute the caucus’.95

    In late April, the Roxburghshire Liberal Unionist MP Arthur Elliot wrote in his diary that although ‘no one likes’ the proposals, ‘party feeling carries people a long way’. He anticipated that associations would ‘support anything Gladstone proposes, if unchecked by the national public’.96 Elliot later made explicit the separability of associations from the public at a meeting in Jedburgh, where he emphasised that he ‘looked for the opinion of the constituency to the constituency itself’. He had decided ‘not to wait till some Liberal Association invited him to come’, declaring it his duty to ‘meet the constituency at once’. Elliot had called himself to the constituency, the caucus had not summoned him. ‘Long gone were the days’, he rejoiced, when ‘forty or fifty, sixty or seventy gentlemen in a room can set themselves up as the constituency’. In this rhetoric, association activity might represent a retrograde step, taking local politics back to procedures belonging to a pre-reform era. ‘The constituency’ might now be ‘a very large body indeed’, yet Elliot could declare this an ‘opportunity of meeting you face to face’. An entire constituency could hardly be present at a public any more than it could at an association meeting. Attendance at and membership of the latter, however, appeared quantifiable and its smallness contrastable with the fullness of ‘the constituency’. A ‘public meeting’ and its resolutions, free from the machinations of ‘party’, provided a record of ‘public opinion’, readily conflated with the opinion of ‘the constituency’. Elliot’s meeting resolved that although ‘local government’ should be extended, the ‘unity of the legislature’ must be maintained. The town’s Liberal Association convened the next day and passed a resolution criticising Elliot and describing the legislation as the basis of a settlement. Elliot did not attend.97 The Liberal Unionist Jedburgh Gazette argued that no one who formed their judgement of Roxburghshire opinion upon the Jedburgh association’s conduct could have imagined the enthusiastic reception afforded Elliot at his meeting. Emphasising that ‘only about half’ the association’s members approved its resolution, the paper objected not to this small group ‘holding their own opinions’ but to ‘action being taken by them in the name of people whom they do not represent’, concluding that the association ‘throws itself against the decision of the constituency’.98 With the impressions given by these meetings vastly different, faith should be placed in the public, not the party-political. These meetings also prompted the question, from a Scotsman letter-writer, of how association members, ‘wise in their conceit’, knew whether Scotland supported the legislation. Indeed, the only public meeting called in Roxburghshire to discuss it approved Elliot’s conduct, making it ‘impertinence … to palm off [association] resolutions as representing the Liberal mind of the county’.99

    Such rhetoric is not only evocative of a public-association dichotomy, but is also indicative of the prising apart—and falling away—of ‘Liberal Scotland’. If neither the public, nor public opinion, were to be found in the Liberal associations, then the ‘opinion’ they expressed would be worth little. The ‘public meeting’, Lawrence suggests, ‘possessed a legitimacy that was widely recognized and respected’, because it drew ‘together the active, concerned citizenry’.100 The legitimacy of the association meeting, seemingly bringing together merely activists—and, even then, likely not all of them—was contested in Scotland, most notably by Liberals and among Liberals. The crisis tapped into and writ large debates about whether party organisations were an appropriate sphere for ‘the people’ to be active politically. Where ‘public’ meetings could be seen as a form of community organisation, association meetings could be dismissed as simply partisan gatherings. That associations were seen to endorse Home Rule—albeit often with difficulty—signalled to many a divorce between ‘party’ and ‘public’ opinion. Furthermore, if not all the ‘party’ participated in these meetings, the legitimacy of their representative claims could be further undermined. ‘Liberal Scotland’ seemed to have become very small indeed. According to Eugenio Biagini, it was ‘Liberal veneration for local democracy which inspired popular support for Home Rule’.101 In Scotland, the idea that the rank and file had a right to a say within a ‘national’ party democracy was organisationally innovative, and the crisis required of local associations deliberation and action on an unprecedented scale. Yet these developments also showed that ‘Liberal opinion’ was far from united. Support for Home Rule, such as existed in Scotland, was expressed through organisational structures whose representative claim-making was controversial; that beneath this support lay evidence of discord made the situation still more problematic. The organisation controversy also reveals competing visions of ‘Liberal Scotland’. One was unspoken, broadly based, and founded upon symbiosis with a Scottish value system. The other was, in the age of mass politics, to be made tangible through organisation and policy pronouncement. James Thompson notes that nineteenth-century ‘notions of public opinion set considerable store by the idea of the unitary public’, meaning that ‘the machinations of party could seem an obstacle to the emergence of a genuine public opinion’.102 Both the SLA’s and NLFS’s approaches assumed there existed a Liberal public opinion, and constituted attempts to hold together the idea that ‘Liberal’ and ‘Scotland’ were coterminous. For the NLFS, establishing and facilitating its explicit expression would ensure its authentic representation. Yet it is ironic that Gladstone, by imposing Home Rule from the top down, fulfilled the role the SLA wished of the party’s leaders—it was they who ought to make policy—only for this issue, the most divisive of a generation, to prompt the division it dreaded.

    ChooseThe crisis and Liberal opinion
    An example of political decision-making and ritual outside of election time, resolutions were a long-established, routine part of nineteenth-century political meetings. Yet they have rarely been analysed as a source, either qualitatively or quantitatively, or in the context of the development of party organisation. Resolutions were intended to document opinion and therefore had both summative and declarative purposes. An attempt to resolve questions of importance, resolutions were a form of political appeal and communication that made representative claims. If an association was said to constitute local Liberals as a body, a resolution could stand for that community, or at least a majority thereof. A resolution could also be seen as a form of political commitment with implications for future political action, particularly if the decision of that majority was considered binding. Consequently, the wording of resolutions and the process of their passage were subject to intense scrutiny in 1886. Resolutions became part of the debate and affected how both Liberal action and Home Rule were depicted. Resolutions were put to over four-fifths (83.6%) of Scottish Liberal meetings, and a similar figure carried at least one motion. Three-quarters (77%) of these meetings saw at least one pro-Home Rule motion, with nearly two-thirds (65%) of all resolutions proposed being favourable. Overall, almost two-thirds (62.8%) of Liberal meetings passed a motion of approval.103 There is a case for adding the resolution to James Thompson’s holy trinity of Victorian locations of public opinion (press, platform and petition). Debates about resolutions reflected concerns about how opinion ought in practice to be reflected and measured, and by whom it could be represented.104 These rituals of deliberation and accord were contested: a resolution had the power to establish or undermine the credibility of an association, and could quantifiably serve either as evidence of local opinion or the lack or falsification thereof. Examining Liberal resolutions enhances our understanding of both how the party operated in the constituencies and the extent of discord within ‘Liberal Scotland’. It also throws into relief that political organisation was about more than the mechanics of fighting elections, as were the languages which legitimised and undermined organisational activity.

    If taken at face value, Liberal resolutions might indicate considerable rank-and-file support for the policy. If we categorise them as straightforwardly pro- or anti-Home Rule, and do not take into account qualifying phrases or attendees’ speeches, it would appear that three-quarters of the Liberal meetings which passed resolutions supported it. However, the climate of unease about the bill’s provisions discussed in the first section is reflected in association debates over the wording of resolutions and the meanings ascribed to them. The crux of the issue was that, as Chamberlain observed, ‘most’ associations ‘accepted the scheme as a “basis” only’, while ‘many have urged concession and amendment’.105 In total, 77.9% of the resolutions submitted to Liberal-organised meetings in Scotland either described the legislation as a ‘basis’ for the settlement of the Irish question or approved of its ‘principles’. It seems that the word ‘basis’ was intended to signify support for its essential components. For example, the proposer at a Liberal demonstration in Edinburgh explained that granting a legislative assembly to manage Irish affairs ‘was the basis of the whole scheme’.106 In this sense, the bill offered the foundations of a settlement, and ‘basis’ can be seen as an attempt to lend Home Rule a broad appeal. As the Irvine Times emphasised, ‘the principle is the key to the settlement of the whole question, however much diversity of opinion there may be as to the details’.107 Put simply, it was ‘[t]he principle first—the details afterwards’.108 A ‘basis’ resolution was often recommended at association meetings because it ‘did not bind any one of them as supporting all the details’, instead showing it ‘was the principle of the Irish measures which they accepted as affording a basis for the satisfactory settlement of the Irish difficulty’.109 Such resolutions were frequently drafted in anticipation of ‘some difference of views’ and ‘desiring that … the meeting should come to a unanimous resolution’.110 Where Liberals disagreed over the bill’s details, they might agree on the underlying principle of Home Rule, offering a focus on policy rather than practicalities.

    However, the formula could often generate rather than contain division.111 Its equivocalness was challenged: ‘basis’ resolutions were criticised at Liberal meetings in Perth and Govanhill as, respectively, ‘the most meaningless thing that had ever been proposed’, and as offering ‘curious, reluctant, hesitating and doubtful assent’.112 At the Glasgow Blackfriars Liberal Association, the proposer of a resolution calling for the bill’s withdrawal lamented that the axiom ‘a basis for the settlement’ had ‘done duty for the past few weeks’. He could not recollect such a phrase being used to support any previous Liberal measure and was ‘ashamed’ that this was now the case.113 A series of meetings in North Ayrshire illustrates how difficult it could be to reach accord and how problematic resolutions could be as records of opinion. In late April, the Newmilns Liberal Association passed an amendment stating its inability to approve of the Home Rule and land bills. The amendment had initially been lost by a single vote to a resolution to ‘support the principle’, but, with the ‘majority thinking a mistake had been made’, a recount was taken, and the amendment passed by five votes. A second meeting was summoned by requisition to reconsider the decision, with signatories ‘sorry to see so much diversity of opinion’ and hoping they could ‘come to a better finding’. This time, it was proposed that the association ‘stand by’ Gladstone and express hope that the legislation be read a second time and amended in committee, reserving decision for or against until the third reading. Yet compromise was not so easily fudged. As one attendee argued, it would ‘look strange’ if a majority was ‘found against’ only to then be seen ‘entirely reversing’ the decision. It would, another added, ‘look as if the Association did not know its own mind’. The situation unresolved, the meeting was adjourned, on the grounds that the association ‘ought to sacrifice a little in trying to keep unity in the camp’. When it again reconvened, the resolution passed, surviving an amendment to leave out reference to land purchase, but suffering several abstentions.114 There were limits to the capacity of a resolution, however carefully worded, to resolve a contested meeting.

    There were, however, important qualifications to the ‘basis’ formula, the ‘basis’ being that upon which a starker critique could be offered. For example, in the Kilwinning Liberal Association’s resolution, the bill was described in the first clause as a ‘basis’ but in the second as ‘defective’ and requiring amendment.115 The New Kilpatrick association in Dunbartonshire endorsed the bill ‘in so far as it affirms the principle of Home Rule’ but declined to ‘bind itself to an approval of its detail’ or the exclusion of Irish MPs. The latter provision was one to which three Dundee ward meetings objected, along with the parliament’s structure and financial arrangements, while the Alloa association in Clackmannanshire wanted to see imperial unity maintained and ‘discord in the Liberal ranks removed’.116 Divisions often worked their way out in the choices presented between resolutions and amendments. In Peebleshire, Liberals agreed by a margin of fifty-three votes to forty-nine an amendment stating that the government should reconsider Irish representation and consider the party’s ‘divided state’, the defeated resolution likewise highlighting the ‘diversity of feeling’ but recommending the bill’s withdrawal.117 Some associations were prepared to accept a less-than-glowing resolution against a hostile amendment. Rather than declare it ‘a disgrace to civilisation’ and ‘injurious’ to Ireland’s interests, Glasgow St Rollox Liberals opted to both recognise the scheme as ‘a courageous effort to settle the Irish difficulty’ and criticise the removal of Irish MPs.118 A fifth of the Scottish Liberal meetings which carried resolutions called for adjustments to the measures—double the number in England and four times as many as in Wales—and there was a high success rate for resolutions making such recommendations (83.6%).

    A Scottish Liberal meeting was four times as likely as its English equivalent to see an amendment. At least one amendment was tabled in response to a resolution in 53% of cases. Although three-quarters of the meetings to which resolutions were put had at least one pro- motion, nearly a third of these saw an inverse amendment. Broadly, two-fifths (42.2%) of amendments were hostile or mixed in complexion, while the 7% that were pro- typically attempted to make the original motion more conditional. More than half the amendments (53.2%) were proposed at ‘mixed’ meetings. There were on average 0.4 amendments for every one resolution, but with ‘mixed’ Liberal meetings, this rises to 0.7. In England, there were 0.1 amendments for every resolution. There were on average 1.6 motions (resolutions and/or amendments) at a Scottish Liberal ‘pro’ meeting, and 2.4 at a ‘mixed’ meeting. These figures are indicative of the extent to which debate could go back and forth. Anti-Home Rulers even succeeded in carrying their resolutions or amendments at twelve Scottish meetings (nine of which were ‘mixed’). This figure is not especially high, but is double that recorded in England, which possessed more than six times as many constituencies. In Lasswade, Midlothian, a resolution of general approval was withdrawn and the association declared its inability to support a bill that ‘introduce[d] such important constitutional changes’ and required ‘important modifications’. The Nairn Liberal Association passed a critical resolution after its proposer reasoned that there ‘must be something radically wrong with a bill that had caused so many staunch Liberals to falter in their allegiance’ to Gladstone.119

    Unionists contended that accepting the bill as the basis of a settlement was not the same thing as saying the legislation was in itself a satisfactory settlement. As one Scotsman letter-writer advised, resolutions had to be read ‘guardedly, with due stress laid on the qualifications and conditions expressed or implied’.120 At a Paisley demonstration of anti-Home Rule Liberals, the chairman observed that ‘there was a saving clause to every resolution’, and that, as ‘“a basis” … might mean anything, and it might mean everything’, the associations had evidently ‘not pronounced in favour of those measures’.121 Unionist newspapers argued that the resolutions, offering merely qualified approval, exposed the ‘hollowness and insincerity’ of associations’ support.122 When the NLFS’s conference resolved to approve of the ‘principle which forms the basis of the great measures’ and recommend ‘some modification in details’, the Glasgow Herald reasoned that ‘not even the caucuses’ believed they were, as Gladstone claimed, Ireland’s Magna Carta—they were ‘mere bases for legislation’. This made the scope of association declarations appear far smaller than the expansive suggestion that the principle of Home Rule was endorsed. The paper noted that resolutions were carried ‘with some difficulty’, and there was ‘some prospect’ of associations ‘being disrupted even with so cautious and mild an approval’ as a ‘basis’ motion.123 For all its insistence during the NLFS split that associations should avoid issues on which opinion was divided, the Scotsman also condemned them in 1886 for inadequately interrogating the bill’s specifics: associations did not attempt to justify it on its merits, and not even ‘the famous “basis” resolution’ had ‘done much’, since their ‘pretended approval … is not echoed by the constituencies’.124

    Resolutions were also analysed for their adequacy both as expressions of collective action and as indicators of the scope for participation and representation afforded by Liberal organisation. Critics drew attention to the small number of votes cast on or in favour of them. The Perthshire Advertiser lamented that at a Liberal meeting in Oban there were just nineteen in attendance; the resolution was carried by eleven votes to four, with four abstentions, meaning that the ‘opinion of Oban’ was reduced to ‘the opinion of seven individuals’. It had ‘had more than enough’ of these ‘caricature[s]’, which ‘discounted’ the ‘value of Liberal opinion’ and were ‘bringing honest Liberalism into disrepute’.125 Opponents could simultaneously argue that these resolutions, passed by hole-and-corner cliques, were of no account, and warn that they misrepresented local opinion to authority and to the nation. The Border Record thought that while no one in Galashiels would be ‘influenced’ by ‘the votes of 22 men’ out of a population of thousands, Gladstone might be, because an association resolution could be misconstrued as ‘the declared opinion of the party in the burgh’.126 A letter to the Liberal Unionist Dundee Courier surmised that the public was meant to infer from the lists of resolutions published in newspapers that across Scotland Liberals supported the legislation—yet it was accepted only as a basis for settlement of the Irish question, and the close margins for the resolutions rendered ‘absurd’ claims that the associations were entirely favourable. Moreover, because associations were ‘to such an insignificant extent representative of the people’, none of this guaranteed that ‘the bulk of the Liberal electors are of the same way of thinking’.127 Indeed, even Gladstone’s agent advised him that although the situation in Midlothian was more favourable than elsewhere, Liberal committee meetings had been ‘small and attended chiefly by the most earnest and interested members’, meaning it was ‘not easy to suppose’ that the party’s supporters more broadly were ‘keeping pace’.128

    Liberal resolutions reveal both the conditional character of party loyalty on Home Rule and the depth and breadth of the split in Scotland. The crisis also points to the contested and problematic nature of resolutions as forms of representation and opinion. Home Rule was an issue that required declarations of political faith. These events reveal a tension between process and product: while a meeting was a deliberative activity, a resolution was a declaratory act. This dynamic helps explain why it so frequently proved difficult to reach agreement on resolutions and why their wording was invested with meaning. ‘Basis’ was an attempt at reconciling these issues. It became the qualifying word that aimed at both nodding to and containing a diversity of opinion, indicating support for principle but, given the perceived binding power of resolutions, not committing an association’s members to details. Yet it also introduced ambiguity and prompted critics to dig beneath the surface of such pronouncements and to discuss issues of party organisation and party policy in tandem. ‘The caucus’ often did not have the homogenising impact its opponents feared and could instead have disintegrative effects. Liberal meetings and resolutions failed to convince a broader ‘public’ of support for Home Rule. In late April, The Times’s Edinburgh correspondent dissected the resolutions of nine Scottish associations to demonstrate that in ‘scarcely any instance has unqualified approval been expressed’ and that there ‘has been a dissenting minority utterly opposed’. Taking this ‘minority’ in the associations ‘as proportionate to the whole body of Liberals’, it would, the Liberal Unionist Inverness Courier reckoned, ‘amount to a considerable defection’.129 Just as the Scotsman could on the one hand insist that associations eschew matters of detail and, on the other, berate them for failing to interrogate the proposals, so too could it both allege mindless rubber-stamping and hail as a ‘most striking fact’ that ‘the opinion of Liberals’ was ‘so divided’. Mutually contradictory statements, they each served a purpose. The paper was adamant that associations did ‘not, as a rule, represent the full strength of Liberalism’ and were ‘more fully representative of the extreme men’. Nevertheless, that discord had arisen in even these circles proved ‘the same dubiety’ existed among ‘the more advanced Liberals as among the more moderate’. The ‘split’, the Scotsman concluded, was not therefore ‘a direct cleavage between two sections of Liberals’ but ‘one that breaks across as well as through the party’.130 Tensions over the substance of resolutions show not only dissonance within associations, but that associations could and did function in a deliberative capacity. This is important given the SLA’s fear that policy discussion and resolutionary action would reveal and institutionalise divisions and radicals’ insistence that debate was necessary to ascertain opinion and thereby overcome divisions. Insofar as the principle became the platform, it also became a matter of Liberal creed—and Liberal resolutions, for all their ambiguity, played a critical role in Liberal commitment-making at the grassroots.

    ChooseConclusion
    Explaining the reason for a special meeting of the Hillhead and Kelvinside Liberal Association in early May, its chairman stated that ‘when the country was so much agitated by the questions before it’ such associations should ‘make their voices heard’. Whereas previously their association had ‘only engaged in perfecting the organisation of the district’ to secure election victory, it now had an equally important duty to discharge: to ‘contribute their share in the formation and expression of public opinion’. By a margin of two votes, the meeting carried an amendment approving the bill’s ‘principle’ against a resolution declaring it objectionable.131 Such meetings are indicative of the critical roles—theoretical, practical and rhetorical—played by Liberal associations, and of the processes and rituals of the crisis. Many grassroots Liberals believed they had a right and a duty to participate politically and a role to play in shaping opinion. That they did so through the fora provided by party organisation facilitated a sustained extra-parliamentary agitation. Yet it also generated extensive debate over the sites of political representation and sources of political legitimacy.

    Association meetings and resolutions were the crucial forms and locations of political interaction, communication and representative claim-making in spring 1886. This article has asserted the importance of this moment of dynamic extra-parliamentary politics in Scotland to histories not only of the Home Rule crisis but also of political culture and language in nineteenth-century Britain. It has also revealed that, while this form of mobilisation was successful in enabling Scottish Liberal engagement with a defining political issue, it tended to expose and institutionalise Liberal divisions rather than to articulate and unify ‘Scottish Liberal opinion’. Liberals had benefited electorally from the seeming simultaneous inseparability and interchangeability of ‘public opinion’, ‘Scottish opinion’ and ‘Liberal opinion’. Home Rule shattered this imagined political-national community and appeared to reduce it to ‘party’ opinion. On disestablishment and Home Rule, both Liberal opinion and Scottish opinion were divided—and, seemingly, divided from one another. However, unlike disestablishment, the policy of Home Rule was not formulated by the rank and file but imposed on them, by the British party leadership. If the associations were to ‘promulgate’ it, they would need to do a better job of convincing the public both that there was a consensus of opinion and that this was the opinion of ‘Liberal Scotland’. ‘Liberal Scotland’ was fractured in 1886, both locally and nationally, and the crisis placed under the microscope the mechanisms used by the Liberal party to create, maintain and mobilise its constituency. There was no single, coherent ‘Liberal Scotland’ on display. There were multiple Liberal Scotlands—situated in competing political spaces, embodying divergent forms of ‘the public’, and represented in contested institutions. Home Rule amplified and made it impossible to reconcile these conflicting participatory and representative impulses, and revealed that there was no one, united ‘Scottish Liberal opinion’.

    ChooseORCID
    Naomi Lloyd-Jones  https://orcid.org/0000-0002-4303-1195

    Notes
    1 Glasgow Herald [GH], 24 Apr. 1886, 5; Scotsman, 26 Apr. 1886, 4; North British Daily Mail [NBDM], 26 Apr. 1886, 4.

    2 T. M. Devine, The Scottish Nation 1700–2000 (London, 1999), 301–2.

    3 I. G. C. Hutchison, A Political History of Scotland 1832–1924 (Edinburgh, 1986), 163–6; Michael Fry, Patronage and Principle. A political history of modern Scotland (Aberdeen, 1991), 106–13; J. G. Kellas, ‘The Liberal Party in Scotland 1876–1895’, SHR 44 (1965) 9–13; D. C. Savage, ‘Scottish politics, 1885–6’, SHR 40 (1961) 117–20; Catriona Burness, ‘Strange Associations’: The Irish question and the making of Scottish Unionism 1886–1918 (East Linton, 2003), 46–68.

    4 John F. McCaffrey, ‘The origins of Liberal Unionism in the west of Scotland’, SHR 50 (1971) 55–64; Catriona M. M. MacDonald, The Radical Thread: Political change in Scotland. Paisley politics, 1885–1924 (East Linton, 2000), 84–5; M. K. Thompson, ‘Edinburgh’s local Liberal party and the political crises of 1885–6’, Parliamentary History 41 (2022) 435–62; Savage, ‘Scottish politics’, 130–5.

    5 Hutchison, Political History, 141–3.

    6 Scotsman, 4 Jan. 1882, 5, SLA annual report, constitution.

    7 Michael Dyer, Capable Citizens and Improvident Democrats: The Scottish electoral system 1884–1929 (Aberdeen, 1996), 33; Kellas, ‘Liberal Party’, 6–9; J. G. Kellas, ‘The Liberal party and the Scottish church disestablishment crisis’, English Historical Review [EHR] (1964) 31–41; Savage, ‘Scottish politics’, 119–23.

    8 Scotsman, 17 Jan. 1885, 9, SLA AGM.

    9 Thompson, ‘Liberal Party’; Dyer, Capable Citizens, 35; McCaffrey, ‘Liberal Unionism’, 48.

    10 James Vernon, Politics and the People: A study in English political culture, c. 1815–1867 (Cambridge, 1993), 103–4, 336–7.

    11 Hutchison, Political History, 141–56; Michael Dyer, Men of Property and Intelligence: The Scottish electoral system prior to 1884 (Aberdeen, 1996), 123–44.

    12 H. J. Hanham, Elections and Party Management: Politics in the time of Disraeli and Gladstone (London, 1959), 167.

    13 Patricia Auspos, ‘Radicalism, pressure groups, and party politics: from the National Education League to the National Liberal Federation’, Journal of British Studies 20 (1980) 200–1.

    14 James Owen, Labour and the Caucus: Working-class radicalism and organised Liberalism in England, 1868–1888 (Liverpool, 2014), 16–17.

    15 Catriona M. M. MacDonald, ‘Locality, tradition and language in the evolution of Scottish Unionism: a case study, Paisley 1886–1910’, in idem (ed.), Unionist Scotland 1800–1997 (Edinburgh, 1998), 53.

    16 James Thompson, British Political Culture and the Idea of ‘Public Opinion’, 1867–1914 (Cambridge, 2013), ch. 2.

    17 GH, 6 May 1886, 7.

    18 Devine, Scottish Nation, 284–5. For an overview of scholarship on Scottish Liberalism, see David Torrance, A History of the Scottish Liberals and Liberal Democrats (Edinburgh, 2022), chs 1–2.

    19 Keith Robbins, Nineteenth-Century Britain: England, Scotland and Wales (Oxford, 1998), 105.

    20 Anne Heyer, ‘Manipulation or participation? Membership inclusion in the party organization of the German Social Democratic Workers’ Party and the British National Liberal Federation’, in H. te Velde and M. Janse (eds), Organizing Democracy: Reflections on the rise of political organizations in the nineteenth century (Basingstoke, 2017), 198.

    21 Lindsay Paterson, The Autonomy of Modern Scotland (Edinburgh, 1994), 48; Gordon Pentland, ‘By-elections and the peculiarities of Scottish politics, 1832–1900’, in T. G. Otte and Paul Readman (eds), By-elections in British Politics, 1832–1914 (Woodbridge, 2013), 291.

    22 Jon Lawrence, Speaking for the People: Party, language and popular politics in England, 1867–1914 (Cambridge, 1998), 61, 267; Jon Lawrence, ‘Class and gender in the making of urban Toryism’, EHR 108 (1993) 631.

    23 Cambridge, Cambridge University Library [CUL], RCMS37/5/178 (Childers MSS): to Childers, 30 Mar. 1886.

    24 Edinburgh, National Library of Scotland [NLS], MS10011 (Rosebery MSS), fos 156–7: 4 Apr. 1886.

    25 Scotsman, 29 Mar., 4–5; 30 Mar., 4; 5 Apr. 1886, 4.

    26 Bristol, Bristol University Library Special Collections, Francis Schnadhorst correspondence, DM668, uncatalogued.

    27 NLS, MS10037 (Rosebery MSS), fos 143–6: 1 Apr., 5 Apr. 1886.

    28 Ibid., Gilmour MSS, Acc.8989/4: 17 Apr. 1886.

    29 According to Campbell, Childers’s ‘leading Committee man’ advised him ‘not to come down and speak’ for the bill and in the Western division Thomas Buchanan was warned ‘he will lose his seat if he supports’ it. London, British Library [BL], Add. MS 44116 (Gladstone MSS), fos 95–7: 30 Apr., 1 May 1886. Childers told Gladstone that all the ‘Liberal Committees in Edinburgh’ were opposed. Ibid., Add. MS 441232, fos 231–2, 7 May 1886; CUL, RCMS37/5/179 (Childers MSS): 29 Mar., 1 Apr. 1886, from Buchan. On Edinburgh, which had rival associations in three or four constituencies, reflecting 1885’s Liberal vs Liberal contests, see Thompson, ‘Liberal Party’. On Gladstone and Scotland, see Naomi Lloyd-Jones, ‘Liberalism, Scottish nationalism and the Home Rule crisis, c. 1886–93’, EHR 129 (2014) 862–87.

    30 Scotsman, 31 Mar. 1886, 6; GH, 31 Mar. 1886, 7. Also Dundee Evening Telegraph, 30 Mar. 1886, 2, Dundee Liberal Association.

    31 Stirling Observer, 8 May 1886, 4; Dumbarton Herald, 28 Apr. 1886, 5.

    32 Calculated from 9 April, the day after Gladstone’s late evening announcement, to 7 June, the day of the bill’s late-night defeat, inclusive. Gladstone also introduced a land purchase bill later in April, which did not go to a division. Statistics generated by the author from her relational databases. Databases contain entries for each meeting, covering date, location, constituency, convener, purpose, tone, resolutions/amendments, MPs present. Excludes non-political meetings, e.g. of religious bodies, chambers of commerce, conventions of burghs.

    33 154 Scottish newspapers, and more than 550 English and Welsh newspapers, via BL, Gale, British Newspaper Archive and Welsh Newspapers Online. The author manually worked through newspapers, edition by edition, page by page, county by county, region by region, and cross-referenced speeches and motions across multiple sources. Meetings were typically reported in at least one newspaper, but it is conceivable that not every meeting was covered. Verbatim reporting was inconsistent, and newspapers could downplay or emphasise division, or audience size and composition. There is no perfect way to reconstruct nineteenth-century political events, but the sample scale and methodological rigorousness mitigate these issues.

    34 E.g. Peterhead Sentinel, 28 Apr. 1886, 6; Dalkeith Advertiser [DA], 29 Apr. 1886, 2.

    35 Paisley Gazette, 8 May 1886, 6. Also Falkirk Express, 21 May 1886, 2, Renfrew Liberal meeting.

    36 Classifiable for 95% of meetings (due to lack of reported information for some meetings). In the minority of cases where only a resolution was found, classification was simpler for Conservative-organised events (safely assumed anti-Home Rule). At Liberal meetings that passed pro- motions, there could have been dissenting voices that went unreported, but they were recorded as ‘pro’, based on available information.

    37 Where tone known. ‘Liberal’ covers meetings reported as organised by Liberal, Liberal and Radical, and Radical associations, clubs and federations, and by ‘Liberal delegates’. Excludes meetings of Highland land reform organisations. ‘Liberal Unionist’ refers to Liberals identifying themselves or their meeting as opposed to the bill. ‘Non-party’ refers to meetings called by requisition or where convener did not correspond to one of the main parties or was not identified as such in the sources (Irish unionist- and nationalist-organised meetings classified separately).

    38 Regions in Henry Pelling, Social Geography of British Elections 1885–1910 (London, 1967).

    39 On 21 April, the Council of the National Union of Conservative Associations of Scotland (NUCAS) decided to ‘promote’ a petitioning campaign as ‘preferable to holding public meetings’ ‘as a method of shewing the feeling of the Conservative party in Scotland’ – in part because Scottish Liberal Unionists desired to ‘rely entirely on members of their own party, and not to ally themselves in any way with Conservatives’. NLS, Acc. 10424/60: NUCAS Council minute book, p. 95, meeting and secretary’s report.

    40 Where tone known (92.7% of Liberal meetings).

    41 Although a West of Scotland Liberal Unionist association met seven times, one meeting is included here, as the others were purely organisational. NLS, Acc.10424/19: WSLUA minute book; McCaffrey, ‘Liberal Unionism’.

    42 Excludes the few organisations which met but did not discuss Ireland.

    43 Where tone known.

    44 E.g. Dunfermline Journal, 24 Apr. 1886, 3: Liberal Association executive attendees argued that Campbell-Bannerman ‘owed his constituency some explanation’.

    45 BL, Add. MS 41232 (Campbell-Bannerman MSS), fo. 236: from William Sanders, 28 Apr.; fo. 211: from Robert Smith, 20 Apr.; fo. 216: from Provost Yellowlees, 22 Apr. 1886.

    46 Charlestown, Broomhall House, Elgin MSS, 41/10, to R. P. Bruce, 2 Apr., 10 Apr., 7 May, 12 Jun. 1886 (Ross was Bruce’s agent); BL, Add. MS 41232 (Campbell-Bannerman MSS), fos 218, 228: 24 Apr., 27 Apr. 1886.

    47 BL, Add. MS 41232 (Campbell-Bannerman MSS), fos 201, 206: from A. J. Cunningham, 19 Apr., 27 Apr. 1886.

    48 Ibid., fo. 231: 28 Apr. 1886, to Ross; Dunfermline Journal, 1 May 1886, 2; Dunfermline Sunday Press, 1 May, 2; 8 May, 3; 15 May 1886, 3.

    49 Where tone known.

    50 Leith Burghs Pilot, 24 Apr., 3; 1 May 1886, 3; Portobello Advertiser, 14 May, 2; 28 May 1886, 2.

    51 NBDM, 22 Apr., 5; 12 May, 5; 4 Jun. 1886, 5; Govan Press, 8 May 1886, 3; GH, 5 May 1886, 5.

    52 Annandale Observer, 28 May 1886, 2; Moffat Times, 12 Jun. 1886, 3; Eskdale Advertiser, 9 Jun. 1886, 2; Kirkcudbrightshire Advertiser, 11 Jun. 1886, 3; Galloway Advertiser, 11 Jun. 1886, 3.

    53 Maartje Janse and Henk te Velde, ‘Perspectives on political organizing’, in idem (eds), Organizing Democracy: Reflections on the rise of political organizations in the nineteenth century (Basingstoke, 2017), 12.

    54 Jon Lawrence and Alexandre Campsie, ‘Political history’, in Stefan Berger, Heiko Feldner and Kevin Passmore (eds), Writing History: Theory and practice (London, 2020), 335–6.

    55 Daniel M. Jackson, Popular Opposition to Irish Home Rule in Edwardian Britain (Liverpool, 2009), 6, 243.

    56 J. Chamberlain, ‘The Caucus’, Fortnightly Review (Jul. 1877), 132–3.

    57 Hutchison, Political History, 157.

    58 NLS, Acc.11765/2: SLA minute book, p. 8, Lord Fife, 5 Jan. 1882.

    59 Ibid.: Elgin; Maxtone Graham (chairman before Elgin).

    60 Scotsman, 4 Jan. 1882, 5; Owen, Labour, 93.

    61 NLS, Acc.11765/2: SLA minute book, p. 83, special general meeting, 29 Oct. 1886; Scotsman, 17 Jan. 1885 (AGM). The NLF, seen as the archetypal ‘caucus’, also professed to guarantee affiliated associations their independence.

    62 Determining the composition of Liberal associations is difficult, as few minute books survive. The SLA’s 1884 list of general council representatives mentions some occupations, including manufacturers, merchants, solicitors and (ex-)provosts, suggesting a middle-class membership. The SLA knew the practical difficulties of encouraging greater working-class participation in local associations, which included the effect of attending meetings on wage-earning and finding accessible locations. Elgin acknowledged that association delegates might be elected ‘because they have the means & perhaps zeal’. Broomhall, Elgin MSS, 41/7; 41/24: draft to Rosebery, Dec. 1885.

    63 GH, 24 Jan. 1884, 6 (AGM); Scotsman, 17 Jan. 1885, 5 (AGM); NLS, Acc.11765/2: SLA minute book, p. 80, 19 Feb. 1886 (annual general council meeting).

    64 NLS, MS10084 (Rosebery MSS), fo. 229: to Rosebery, 18 Dec. 1885.

    65 Ibid., Acc.11765/2, SLA minute book, p. 68, AGM 1885.

    66 Broomhall, Elgin MSS, 41/7: draft to Prof. Calderwood, 26 Jan. 1885.

    67 Scotsman, 17 Jan. 1885, 9; 19 Jan. 1885, 7; Edinburgh Evening News, 10 Feb. 1885, 2. Brown won Hawick Burghs at the 1886 election, defeating the sitting Liberal Unionist.

    68 NLS, MS19487 (Elliot MSS), fo. 23: 13 Aug. 1885, Patten to Elliot; GH, 16 July 1885, 3, general council meeting.

    69 Broomhall, Elgin MSS, 41/24: draft to Rosebery, Dec. 1885.

    70 Ibid., 41/7: draft to Calderwood, 26 Jan. 1885; NLS, MS10084 (Rosebery MSS), fo. 229: 15 Dec. 1885.

    71 NLS, MS10084 (Rosebery MSS), MS10042, fo. 207: 9 Jan. 1886.

    72 Broomhall, Elgin MSS, 41/7, 41/24.

    73 According to Calderwood, federation advocates thought Elgin’s alternative ‘would be constantly leading us into difficult questions of responsibility, which would endanger our Association’, making a separate body the better option. Ibid., 41/7: 3 Feb. 1885.

    74 Ibid., 41/10.

    75 This was not without difficulty. Debates continued over whether the SLA should propose a programme of future actions, including points that were desirable but not imminently practical and which might place the SLA in advance of the party leadership. Likewise, over how authoritative expressions of national Liberal opinion could be achieved and how far members would be committed by decisions at SLA meetings (and at which meetings). Ibid., 41/8: Elgin–Beith correspondence, Dec. 1886.

    76 Scotsman, 16 Sep. 1885, 7–8.

    77 NBDM, 21 Apr. 1886, 5; NLS, Acc.11765/2: SLA minute book, p. 80, general council meeting.

    78 GH, 27 Apr. 1886, 5.

    79 Scotsman, 16 Sep., 6; 19 Oct., 4; 20 Oct. 1885, 4; 15 Feb. 1886, 4.

    80 Ibid., see 6 May, 7, ‘A Selkirkshire elector’; 28 Apr., 8, ‘A Newbattle Liberal’; 4 May, 7, ‘A Galashiels radical’; 7 May 1886, 3, ‘A moderate Liberal’.

    81 Ibid., 28 Apr., 8, ‘Country Liberal’; 4 May 1886, 7, ‘Consistency’.

    82 Ibid., 3 Jun., 3, ‘C.M.’; 4 May, 7, ‘W.S.W.’; 11 May 1886, 6, ‘An Independent Liberal’.

    83 Ibid., 21 May, 4; 8 June, 6; 31 May, 4; 1 May 1886, 8. See Ayrshire Post, 28 May 1886, 3, Greenock Telegraph, 1 May 1886, 2, for critiques of the Scotsman’s line.

    84 DA, 21 Apr. 1886, 6.

    85 NLS, MS10084 (Rosebery MSS), fo. 229: from Elgin.

    86 Broomhall, Elgin MSS, 41/7: from Robert Cathcart, 20 Apr., 24 Apr; from Lord Stair, former SLA president, 11 Jun. 1886.

    87 Fife Herald, 26 May 1886, 4–5.

    88 Scotsman, 20 May 1886, 4.

    89 GH, 22 May 1886, 4–5.

    90 Scotsman, 22 May, 7; 20 May, 7, ‘A Liberal’; 21 May, 4, ‘a correspondent at Kincardine-on-Forth’; 22 May, 7, ‘X’; 25 May 1886, 3, J. C. Haig. Also, BL, MS44497 (Gladstone MSS), fo. 274: Currie criticising the NLFS’s attempt to ‘influence’ MPs ‘through local associations’, 24 May 1886.

    91 Stirling Observer, 27 May 1886, 4. Also, Dundee Advertiser, 25 May 1886, 5, 9.

    92 Scotsman, 6 May 1886, 7. Also, NBDM, 15 May 1886, 4, Hamilton association secretary.

    93 Ardrossan Herald, 28 May 1886, 4.

    94 GH, 1 May 1886, 9.

    95 Scotsman, 24 May 1886, 6.

    96 NLS, MS19512 (Elliot MSS), p. 63: 23 Apr. 1886. Elliot opposed the NLFS, describing ‘federations, planks, platforms’ as ‘abominations’ and its originators as ‘“bossing” some little caucus’. Broomhall, Elgin MSS, 41/84: to Bruce, 17 Sep. 1885.

    97 Hawick Express, 1 May 1886, 4; Kelso Chronicle, 30 Apr. 1886, 2.

    98 Jedburgh Gazette, 1 May 1886, 2. Also, Southern Reporter, 29 Apr. 1886, 2.

    99 Scotsman, 3 Jun. 1886, 3, ‘C.M.’.

    100 Jon Lawrence, Electing Our Masters: The hustings in British politics from Hogarth to Blair (Oxford, 2009), 63.

    101 Eugenio F. Biagini, British Democracy and Irish Nationalism 1876–1906 (Cambridge, 2007), 368.

    102 Thompson, Political Culture, 89.

    103 Figures include successful amendments / riders.

    104 Thompson, Political Culture, ch. 2.

    105 Birmingham, Cadbury Research Library, Joseph Chamberlain MSS, JC5/8/87: to J. T. Bunce, 30 Apr. 1886.

    106 Scotsman, 6 May 1886, 5.

    107 Irvine Times, 21 May 1886, 4.

    108 NBDM, 1 May 1886, 4.

    109 Campbeltown Courier, 8 May 1886, 3, Campbeltown Liberal Association. Also, Aberdeen Journal, 28 Apr. 1886, 6, Aberdeen Liberal Association.

    110 Ayrshire Post, 7 May 1886, 5, Ayr Liberal Association chairman.

    111 E.g. Aberdeen Free Press, 10 May 1886, 6, Tarves Liberal meeting.

    112 Perthshire People’s Journal, 15 May 1886, 5; GH, 28 Apr. 1886, 7.

    113 NBDM, 11 May 1886, 5.

    114 Kilmarnock Herald, 30 Apr. 1886, 3; Ardrossan Herald, 7 May 1886, 5; Kilmarnock Standard, 15 May 1886, 3.

    115 Irvine Times, 7 May 1886, 5.

    116 Scottish News, 14 May 1886, 7; Dundee Weekly News, 1 May 1886, 7; Alloa Advertiser, 1 May 1886, 2.

    117 NBDM, 3 May 1886, 5.

    118 GH, 27 Apr. 1886, 5.

    119 DA, 29 Apr. 1886, 2; Northern Scot, 22 May 1886, 5.

    120 Scotsman, ‘An old Liberal’, 27 Apr. 1886, 7.

    121 Ibid., 3 May 1886, 5.

    122 Jedburgh Gazette, 22 May 1886, 2.

    123 GH, 1 May, 6; 24 Apr. 1886, 4.

    124 Scotsman, 16 Apr., 4; 3 Jun., 4; 21 Apr. 1886, 6.

    125 Perthshire Advertiser, 28 Apr., 2; 5 May 1886, 2.

    126 Scottish Border Record, 24 Apr. 1886, 2.

    127 Dundee Courier, 30 Apr. 1886, p. 2.

    128 BL, Add. MS 44116 (Gladstone MSS), fos 95–7.

    129 The Times, 29 Apr. 1886, 5; Inverness Courier, 21 May 1886, 3.

    130 Scotsman, 26 Apr. 1886, 4.

    131 NBDM, 5 May 1886, 4.

    NAOMI LLOYD-JONES is Associate Professor—Leverhulme Early Career Fellow at Durham University. She is grateful to Isaac Abraham, David Craig, Laura Forster, Richard Huzzey, Matthew Johnson and Paul Readman for their thoughts on earlier drafts, and to the two anonymous reviewers and the editor for their feedback. She thanks the Broomhall Home Farm Partnership for permission to access and cite from the Elgin papers. The initial research for the article was funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council, the British Association for Irish Studies, the Catherine Mackichan Trust, the Chalke Valley History Trust, the Sir John Plumb Charitable Trust, Gilchrist Educational Trust, and the Lynne Grundy Memorial Trust. The article was completed during an Early Career Fellowship generously provided by the Leverhulme Trust (ECF-2021-368).

    END.

    Weekend is almost here and hope it's a good one for you.

    Alastair


  • #2
    Thanks Alastair, I hadn't thought of Ralph Connor's books (Glengarry School Days, The Sky Pilot) for many years. Childhood favourites from my parent's library!

    Comment


    • #3
      I'm enjoying some these old books myself Rick.

      Alastair

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