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A History of Britain, 1885–1939 by John Davis (auth.)

By John Davis (auth.)

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Extra resources for A History of Britain, 1885–1939

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Could they possibly be excluded from a parliament which could still tax Ireland or commit her to a foreign war? If included, could they be allowed to vote on the operation in England of powers to be handled in Ireland by the Dublin parliament? In 1887 the Liberal leadership decided to retain Irish MPs at Westminster, perhaps with restricted voting rights, but this served to stimulate demands for devolution elsewhere in the United Kingdom, particularly in Scotland. 'Home Rule all Round' might have been intellectually neater, and might have suggested a solution to the Ulster problem, but it would have reinforced the Unionist claim that Irish Home Rule was a step towards imperial disintegration.

31 It was a prescient comment. In so far as there was a conflict between property and democracy, Ireland was the most obvious arena for it, since property rights - meaning, as usual in this period, the rights accruing to land-ownership- were less widely accepted in Ireland than anywhere else in the United Kingdom. But the conflict of 1886 was more than a battle between property and democracy. The conjunction of two processes - one the widening of access to the British political system through franchise extension and the growth of party democracy, the other the economic repercussions of the agricultural depression- had encouraged 'democracy' at a time when property felt vulnerable.

Secondly a network of new seats implied a network of new constituency associations adopting new candidates. In much of the country this process amounted to little more than the endorsement of the local 24 A History of Britain, 1885-1939 grandee who would, after all, fund his own campaign and subsidise the association, but where no obvious candidate existed, or where a sitting MP held views unpopular with the party association, caucuses might attempt to put test questions to candidates on matters of concern to them.

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