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I. M. S. Tod, ˜Lord Salisbury and women™s suffrage™, The Liberal Unionist, Sep. 1891,
26.
199
I. M. S. Tod, The Northern Whig, 1 May 1886, 8.
200
[Anon.] The Ulster Liberal Unionist Association. A sketch of its history 1885“1914. How it has
opposed Home Rule, and what it has done for remedial legislation for Ireland, introduction by
Mr J. R. Fisher, published by the authority of the Executive Committee of the Ulster
Liberal Association, Ulster Reform Club (1913), 18“20. Interestingly, the list did not
include either T. Lea or T. W. Russell, who were soon to be elected as Liberal Unionist
MPs for Ulster constituencies. Lea was admitted in June 1886 (ibid., 20).
201
Ibid., 15.
202
Pugh, March of the women, 132; G. Sutherland, Faith, duty and the power of mind: the
Cloughs and their circle, 1820“1960 (2006), 117.
203
˜Powder and shot™, WT&E, 17 April 1887, 9.
258 British Democracy and Irish Nationalism

employment elsewhere™. Home Rule would ˜kick the bread from our
shores™.204 Should the Southern majority of the electorate be allowed to
ruin the country? ˜It is impossible to build a nation on such foundations™,
˜A Presbyterian Liberal™ argued. ˜In fighting for our own individual
liberties and rights we are really fighting for the best portion of even the
Catholic South.™205
More fundamentally, for the Ulster Liberals at this stage Home Rule
was a question of identity and belonging. It concerned whether or not
Ireland should remain within the Union “ rather than religious liberty.
This persuaded E. T. Herdman, president of the Tyrone Liberal
Association, to write to the press as early as January 1886, advocating
an alliance between Liberals and Conservatives in Ireland. His initiative
sparked off a furious debate which continued for months. At a stormy
meeting the association censored him, passing a motion of confidence in
Gladstone, conditional on both the preservation of the Union and the
reform of local government.206
As the Home Rule Bill took shape, Ulster Liberal criticism focused on
its specific features, and in particular on the exclusion of the Irish MPs
from Westminster, a move which, had it been implemented, would have
turned Ireland from a partner in empire into a ˜contributory nation™ and a
˜vassal™. In June 1886 the ˜Ulster Liberal Unionist Committee™ published
an ˜Address to the people of the United Kingdom™, in which, as usual, the
religious issue was ignored, although the question of law and order was
stressed. At stake was ˜the repression of crime and the maintenance at all
hazards of the rights of freemen to exercise their liberties, and live their
lives secure from intimidation and outrage™. The National League was
denounced for its intolerance. The address emphasized the expected
economic disadvantages of Home Rule, which ˜[was] already breaking
up mercantile confidence amongst us, depreciating Irish securities to a
degree unprecedented even in times of commercial panic, and driving
capital wholesale out of our country™. The measure would ˜inevitably
increase poverty and pauperism in Ireland™ and ˜flood the labour markets
of manufacturing Ulster and of English and Scottish industrial centres,
with hosts of Irish unemployed™. They criticized Gladstone™s complacent
and cavalier attitude towards Ulster, insisting that a permanent solution

204
Letter by ˜A Working Man™, ˜Working man and Home Rule™, The Northern Whig, 10
May 1886, 8.
205
Letter by ˜A Presbyterian Liberal™, ˜Liberal duties™, The Northern Whig, 8 Mar. 1886, 8.
206
Rep., ˜County Tyrone Liberal Association: important meeting™, The Northern Whig, 21
Jan. 1886, 7. Despite their opposition to Home Rule, most Ulster Liberals rejected
Gladstone™s leadership only at the end of April (the Home Rule Bill was introduced on
the 8th of that month): Walker, Ulster politics, 235“6.
The rise and fall of Radical Unionism 259

to the Irish question required the gradual establishment of ˜a widespread
system of occupying owners™ in the country. Once the land question was
settled, local government could be established.207
As we have seen, Chamberlain had been toying with the idea of an
Ulster Protestant assembly as early as March 1885. In this respect
he differed from Bright, who insisted that ˜any plan for dealing only
with the Protestants of Ulster by themselves & not associated with the
rest of the population of the Province, is an impossible plan & is not worth
one moment™s consideration™.208 In 1886“7, however, Bright was a more
consistent ˜Unionist™, largely because he distrusted the Irish Nationalists
even more than Chamberlain did and insisted on the iniquity of abandon-
ing ˜five millions of our population to the rule of a conspiracy which is
represented by men who sit in the House of Commons by virtue of
contributions from America™.209 He also distrusted Gladstone™s rhetoric
about the claims of the distinct nationalities within the United Kingdom.
Particularly galling, he thought, was the GOM™s readiness to accord to
Wales the privileges and status of a nation, while ignoring the equally
strong claims of Ulster to be so regarded:
Mr Gladstone . . . speaks as if there were no province of Ulster or loyal Catholic
population in Ireland. He seems ignorant or unconscious of the fact that the whole
of Wales had a population in 1881 of only 1,360,000, which is, I think, less than
that of Ulster by something like 300,000. Ulster may be a nationality differing
from the rest of Ireland at least as much as Wales differs from England, but Wales
is treated to a flattery which, if not insincere, seems to me childish, and Ulster is
forgotten in the discussion of the Irish question.
Moreover, he questioned the wisdom of artificially fostering ethnic reviv-
alism, noting that Gladstone spoke ˜as if it were a good thing to make
Wales almost as un-English as he assumes all Ireland to be. He conceals
the fact that there are more loyal men and women in Ireland than the
whole population of men and women in Wales.™210 When Gladstone
remonstrated with Bright, the latter vented his exasperation:
You say ˜if there is a desire, a well considered desire on the part of the Protestant
population in the portion of Ulster capable to be dealt with separately, we were
perfectly agreed to consider any plan for the purpose.™ But can anything be more
unsatisfactory than this sentence? You ask for a ˜well considered desire™ on the
part of the ˜Protestant population™. Has it not been known to all men that
the desire has been ˜well considered™, & that it has been expressed in the loudest


207
The Northern Whig, 28 June 1886, 8.
208
Bright to Gladstone, 14 June 1887, Gladstone Papers, Add. MSS 44113, ff. 230“1
209
Bright as reported in ˜The Crimes Bill through the Commons™, LW, 10 July 1887, 6.
210
˜Mr Bright on Mr Gladstone™s Welsh speeches™, The Liberal Unionist, 15 June 1887, 180.
260 British Democracy and Irish Nationalism

terms by those who are entitled to speak for the Protestant inhabitants of the
Province?211
As we have already seen, this was the line long since adopted by
Chamberlain, who in private conversation as much as in his public
speeches insisted that Ulster should not have to submit to ˜a servitude
and subjection which they detested. They must, if they were consistent,
concede the claim of Ulster as a separate, and individual, and independ-
ent claim, at the same time as they conceded the claim of the three
southern provinces.™212
This requirement, amounting to partition, began to be taken on board
by Gladstone and his party as the 1892 election drew near. However,
throughout the period between the first and the second Home Rule Bills,
Irish Liberal Unionists were appalled at the idea of ˜separate treatment™
for Ulster.213 Whatever the larger picture for the Unionists as a whole, the
Liberals fitted in with Loughlin™s integrationist hypothesis, with its
emphasis on absolute and undivided parliamentary sovereignty, in con-
trast to Miller™s ˜contractarian™ model (according to which Ulster™s ˜loy-
alism™ was conditional on England™s support for Irish Protestantism).214
Particularly vocal was Isabella Tod, for whom all that was needed was the
establishment throughout the UK of representative county councils,
without discrimination or special treatment for the Irish who would be
allowed to stay within the Union, ˜as free as we are now, and with all our
ties to the rest of the Empire unbroken. Whoever else may be attracted by
little paltry Councils, legislating on narrow provincial grounds, we are
not.™ In her view ˜what Ireland most needs [was] a larger outlet to the
world™ rather than ˜a smaller and poorer life, spiritual, intellectual and
material™.215 When, at a meeting of Liberal working men in England, Tod
was asked why the Irish people should not be allowed to decide their
affairs in Ireland instead of in London, she replied: ˜What affairs?™ In


211
Bright to Gladstone, 14 June 1887, Gladstone Papers, Add. MSS 44113, ff. 230“1. This
letter was published in The Liberal Unionist, 22 June 1887, 196 (˜Mr Bright and
Mr Gladstone™).
212
MacKnight, Ulster as it is, 186; Chamberlain in rep., ˜Mr Chamberlain in Scotland™, LW,
17 Feb. 1889, 1.
213
L.a., ˜The convention in Dublin™, The Liberal Unionist, July 1892, 222“3. Cf. A. Jackson,
The Ulster party: Irish Unionists in the House of Commons, 1884“1911 (1989), 14.
However, a few weeks earlier Isabella Tod had publicly claimed that Ulster was ready
to stand up for itself and wanted only to be left alone (rep., ˜Women™s Liberal Unionist
Association™, The Liberal Unionist, June 1892, 209).
214
Loughlin, Gladstone™, 157“8; D. W. Miller, Queen™s rebels: Ulster loyalism in perspective
(1978).
215
Isabella M. Tod, ˜The ˜˜separate treatment™™ of Ulster™, The Liberal Unionist, Sep.
1887, 28“9.
The rise and fall of Radical Unionism 261

Ireland as much as in Britain local affairs should certainly be handled by
elected county authorities. But she urged them not to forget that there
was a wider world out there, one for which more or less parochial assem-
blies were not adequate, and insisted that ˜[w]e had duties to the whole
world, and it was only through an Imperial Parliament that we could
perform them™. What she dismissed out of hand was the relevance of
national councils:
While there were undoubtedly local interests which the manufacturing, the agri-
cultural, and the fishing districts of Ireland might attend to by themselves, there
were actually no interests or affairs whatsoever that concerned the whole island of
Ireland and not equally England and Scotland . . . There was nothing which could
be decided by itself for Ireland as a whole; but there was very much indeed that
could be done by the Imperial Parliament on the one hand, and, on the other, by
the spread of local governments for which she argued. It was, therefore, quite a
fallacy to talk of giving to Ireland a Parliament to manage Irish affairs.216
Likewise, Tod also dismissed the religious fanaticism of the Orangemen “
who had turned ˜religion [into] a tabooed subject between most
Protestants and Catholics™ “ and insisted that ˜the great principle of
liberty cannot be preserved except by preserving the one United legisla-
ture™.217 For Tod Ireland was the result of a mixture of Danish, Norman,
Spanish, English, Scottish and Celtic peoples, while millions of Irish
people lived overseas. Furthermore, she insisted that this was a feature
that Ireland shared with both England and other modern ˜successful™
countries, showing ˜how valuable to civilization is the steady accretion
of new powers, brought about by the frequent admixture of different
races™.218 Tod rejected the ˜fundamentalist™ Gaelic account of Irish his-
tory and defended the value of a socially and culturally diverse Ireland.
She denied that the Celts had ever formed either a national Irish state or
had even filled up the country in which they themselves were ˜immi-
grants™. She also denied the Gaelicist claim ˜that all comers after the
Celts were intruders into a regular State, and should have conformed to
its ways. On the contrary, from the earliest times there was full intercourse
and frequent colonisation between Ireland and the other countries, and
no sharp line of demarcation.™219 Therefore, Ireland was historically a
melting pot and this had always been its strength. By contrast, a purely
Celtic state could not create ˜a framework of life large enough for
other races to share™. Her reasoning relied heavily on the importance of

216
Rep., ˜Miss Tod in England™, The Northern Whig, 6 July 1886, 7; see also letter by
Samuel Black, ˜Home Rule™, ibid., 24 Aug. 1886, 8.
217
I. M. S. Tod, ˜The Orange cry™, The Liberal Unionist, Aug. 1891, 3. 218 Ibid.
219
I. M. S. Tod, ˜Some historical fallacies™, The Liberal Unionist, Aug. 1892, 3“4.
262 British Democracy and Irish Nationalism

encouraging variety and diversity of ˜human types™ within Ireland in order
to encourage progress. By contrast, ˜[t]he dangers of merely Celtic life are
an intensifying and stereotyping of the narrowness, and adherence to
tradition, and indifference to the rest of the world, which makes all
improvement so slow as it is™. And she concluded by highlighting the
contrast between ideal and reality in Parnellism: ˜Terrible as the tyranny
of the National League is from the point of view of individual liberty, it is
almost ludicrous from this other point of view, in its painful endeavour to
prevent movement, variety, and natural expansion.™220
Tod contrasted the entrepreneurial open-mindedness of the ˜pioneers
of industry™ in Ulster with ˜the monotonous toil of a community of land
cultivators™ in the South and concluded that ˜the different sections of the
[Irish] people . . . can only work well together in settled equality and
independence of each other; that is, under an Imperial Parliament, in
which all races, creeds and classes are equal™.221 Thus, while in general
the Radical Unionist response was characterized by an emphasis on the
material “ rather than national or religious “ nature of both liberty and the
Irish crisis, in so far as they discussed the spiritual side of the crisis they
stressed themes from the J. S. Mill tradition, rather than sectarian issues.
In 1886 one notable exception to this Irish Liberal preference for
˜secular™ policies and moderate style was T. W. Russell. He was a Scot
and in some respects an outsider: far from being a member of the political
elite, he was the son of a stonemason and the grandson of an evicted
crofter, and he had moved to County Tyrone when he was eighteen. He
had been a Sunday school pupil of T. A. Dickson, the radical MP. Later,
with the encouragement of his employer, Russell himself entered politics
as a temperance campaigner, and such ˜faddism™ provided him with
political training and a radical reputation.222 He always remained a
Radical Liberal of sorts, eventually rejoining the Liberal party in 1907.
In 1886“95 he was Chamberlain™s protege and political adviser, at
´´
first operating through Jesse Collings “ a Radical Unionist of similarly
plebeian origins “ as an intermediary. With Chamberlain and Collings
he shared a strong commitment to land reform, to the distinctiveness
of Liberal Unionism within the anti-Home Rule coalition, and to

220
Ibid. 221 I. M. S. Tod, ˜Myth and fact™, The Liberal Unionist, June 1887, 146“7.
222
MacKnight, Ulster as it is, 158“9; J. Loughlin, ˜T. W. Russell, the tenant-farmer
´
interest, and progressive Unionism in Ulster, 1886“1900™, Eire“Ireland, 25, 1(1990),
44. Russell was Liberal Unionist and then Liberal MP for South Tyrone (1886“1910)
and eventually North Tyrone (1910“18). In 1886 he was one of only two Liberal
Unionists to secure a seat in Ulster (the other was Thomas Lea). A third Liberal
Unionist was elected in 1892 for West Belfast: H. O. Arnold-Forster, W. E. Forster™s
adopted son.
The rise and fall of Radical Unionism 263

democracy.223 A frequent speaker at Liberal Unionist gatherings in
Britain,224 he argued his case vigorously in a series of articles and pam-
phlets. Although he opposed and denounced the Plan of Campaign as
both unacceptable in principle and counterproductive in practice,225 he
pursued radical social reform by legal and parliamentary means and

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