Skip to main content
Article thumbnail
Location of Repository

The Lost Party: Liberal Unionism, 1886-1895

By Ian James Cawood

Abstract

This thesis seeks to analyse the political philosophy, organisation and historical significance of the Liberal Unionist Party, which was created following the first\ud Home Rule debate of 1886 and the subsequent general election in which\ud Unionists stood against ‘Separatists.’ The Liberal Unionist Party has rarely been taken seriously as an electoral force by political historians, who see the party as a collection of peers, intellectuals and lawyers, who objected to Home Rule from a desire to maintain the supremacy of Parliament and the rule of the law in the face of the burgeoning forces of nationalism, democracy and class-based politics. Given its elitist nature, the party is perceived as having failed to build a strong electoral base among the newly enfranchised workers and to have willingly succumbed to ‘fusion’ with the Conservative Party due to the parties’ fellow-feeling on issues of imperial expansion and the fear of socialism.\ud This thesis offers an alternative interpretation of the Liberal Unionists as a diverse group of liberals, who formed an electoral alliance with the Conservative Party largely from political necessity rather than ideological affinity. Committed to the maintenance of a political culture of strong regional identity, independence of political conscience and concepts of individual liberty, the Party only reluctantly engaged with the centralised machine politics that had begun to emerge after the electoral reforms of the 1870s and 1880s. Due to this, the Party barely escaped an electoral debacle in 1892, but reformed itself and its electioneering tactics and was perhaps the crucial force in the Unionist landslide of August 1895. The thesis also suggests why the Party swiftly declined as an independent force after this triumph and thereby came to be seen by most twentieth-century historians as a mere ‘revolt of the Whigs.

Publisher: University of Leicester
Year: 2010
OAI identifier: oai:lra.le.ac.uk:2381/8281

Suggested articles

Citations

  1. (1886). (Dugdale Society occasional papers; no. 15), Oxford : Printed for the Dugdale Society by
  2. (1961). 3rd Viscount Chilston, Chief Whip: The Political Life and Times of Aretas Akers-Douglas 1st Viscount Chilston, London: Routledge and Kegan Paul,
  3. (2004). A Colossal Blunder” Joseph Chamberlain, the Conservative Party and the Leamington Spa Candidature Dispute of 1895’, MPhil thesis,
  4. A Diary of the Home Rule Parliament 1892-1895,
  5. A Diary of the Salisbury Parliament 1886-1892,
  6. (1901). A Diary of the Unionist Parliament 1895-1900,
  7. A Great Unionist Demonstration, Wellow Parish Newsletter, n.d.,
  8. (2004). A History of the Ulster Unionist Party: Protest, Pragmatism and Pessimism, Manchester:
  9. A Leap in the Dark or Our New Constitution,
  10. (1909). A Memoir of the Right Hon. William Edward Hartpole Lecky, London :
  11. (2004). A New England? Peace and War 1886-1918,
  12. (1986). A Political history of Scotland, 1832-1924: Parties, Elections and Issues,
  13. (1944). A Victorian Diarist: Extracts from the Journals of Mary,
  14. (1970). Aggregate Election Data and British Party Alignments, 1885-1910’
  15. (1958). Alfred Lord Milner: The Man of No Illusions,
  16. (1917). Alfred Lyttleton : An Account of his Life,
  17. (1985). Alfred Venn Dicey: The Man and his Times,
  18. (1998). An Appetite for Power: A History of the Conservative Party since 1830,
  19. (1972). An Imperial War and the British Working Class: Working Class Attitudes and Reactions to the Boer War, 1899-1902, London: Routledge and Kegan Paul,
  20. (1911). An Irish Historian on Home Rule for Ireland, London: Liberal Unionist Association,
  21. (1968). Angels in Marble: Working Class Conservatives in Urban England,
  22. (1971). Apes and Angels: the Irishman in Victorian Caricature,
  23. (1985). Austen Chamberlain: Gentleman in Politics,
  24. (1973). Birmingham’s Politics 1873-1891: The Local Basis of Change’,
  25. (1977). Bradford politics, 1880-1906’, PhD thesis,
  26. (2007). British Democracy and Irish Nationalism 1876-1906, Cambridge:
  27. (1980). British Interparty Conferences,
  28. (1998). British Party Politics,
  29. (1983). British Workers and the Independent Labour Party,
  30. (1992). Britons: Forging the Nation,
  31. (1996). Cain ‘The Conservative Party and ‘Radical Conservatism’, 1880-1914: Incubus or Necessity?’,
  32. (2007). Calculating Compassion' in the South African War, 1899-1902: A Case Study in the History of the Origins of Humanitarian Relief’, paper delivered at
  33. (1963). Churches and the Working Classes in Victorian
  34. (2005). City-state and Nation: Birmingham’s Political History, c1830-1940,
  35. (2002). Civilising Subjects: Metropole and Colony in the English Imagination 1830-1867,
  36. (1993). Class and Ethnicity: Irish Catholics in
  37. (1880). Class and Gender in the Making of Urban Toryism,
  38. (1998). Class in Britain,
  39. (1963). Coercion and Conciliation in Ireland 1880-1892: A Study in Conservative Unionism,
  40. (1995). Colonel Edward Saunderson: Land and Loyalty in Victorian Ireland,
  41. (1990). Conservatism and Collectivism,
  42. (1983). Conservatism and Liberal Unionism in Glasgow 1874-1912’, PhD thesis,
  43. (2008). Conservatism between the Wars: Principles, Pride and Prejudice’, paper delivered at the British History 1815-1945 Seminar,
  44. (1912). Conservatism,
  45. (1967). Conservative Agent: A Study of the National Society of Conservative and Unionist Agents and its Members,
  46. (1996). Conservative Ideology and Representations of the Union with Ireland’
  47. (2006). Constructing a Tory World-view: Popular Politics and the Conservative Press in late-Victorian Leeds’,
  48. (1925). Cornish Granite: Extracts from the Writings and Speeches of Lord Courtney of Penwith, London : L.
  49. (1999). Cornwall Politics in the Age of Reform,
  50. (1995). Country before Party: Coalition and the Idea of ‘National Government
  51. (2007). Creating “a Social and Geographical Fact”: Regional Identity and the Ulster Question 1880s-1920s’, Past and Present,
  52. (2004). Culture, Politics and National Identity in Wales, 1832-1886,
  53. (1898). Dale of Birmingham, London: Hodder and
  54. (1981). Democracy and Sectarianism: A Political and Social History of Liverpool 1868-1939,
  55. (1994). Democratic Subjects: The Self and the Social in nineteenth century England, Cambridge:
  56. (2002). Democratisation in Britain: Elites, Civil Society and Reform since 1800,
  57. (1886). Dismemberment No Remedy,
  58. (1972). Drink and the Victorians: The Temperance Question
  59. (1908). Earl of Northbrook: A Memoir,
  60. (2009). Electing Our Masters:
  61. (1959). Elections and Party Management: Politics in the Time of Disraeli and
  62. (1932). Elections and Recollections,
  63. (1975). England and Ireland since 1800,
  64. (1978). English Attitudes to the Irish in England 1780-1900’
  65. Englishness and the Liberal Inheritance after 1886’ in R. Colls and P.
  66. (1986). Englishness and the Political Culture’
  67. (1932). Evening Memories, London: Alexander Maclehose,
  68. (1986). Fair ‘From Liberal to Conservative: The Flight of the Liberal Unionists after 1886’,
  69. (1907). Fourteen Years in Parliament,
  70. (1968). Free Fooders, Balfourites, Whole Hoggers: Factionalism within the Unionist party, 1906-1910’,
  71. (2007). From Platform to Polling Booth’, PhD thesis,
  72. (1910). Gathorne-Hardy, First Earl of Cranbrook:
  73. (1973). George Joachim Goschen: The Transformation of a Victorian Liberal, Cambridge:
  74. (1975). Gladstone and Radicalism: The Reconstruction of Liberal Policy
  75. (1991). Gladstone and the Disintegration of the Liberal Party’,
  76. (2001). Go Out into the Highways and the Hedges”: The Diary of Michael Sykes,
  77. (1957). Goldwin Smith: Victorian Liberal,
  78. (1994). Grammars of electoral violence in nineteenth century England and Ireland’,
  79. (1985). Green ‘Radical Conservatism: The Electoral Genesis of Tariff Reform’,
  80. (1937). Grey of Fallodon: Being the Life of Sir Edward Grey afterwards Viscount Grey of Fallodon,
  81. (1992). Hartington, Chamberlain and the Unionist Alliance’,
  82. (1909). Helier, Memories of Fifty Years,
  83. (1906). Henry Sidgwick: a memoir,
  84. (1964). Hernon ‘The Use of the American Civil War in the Debate over Irish Home Rule’,
  85. (1974). Home Rule and the Liverpool By-election of 1880’,
  86. (1986). Home Rule and the Ulster Question, 1882-1893, Dublin: Gill and Macmillan,
  87. (2003). Home Rule: A History, 1800-2000,
  88. (1911). Home Rule: What is it?,
  89. (1998). Irish Home Rule 1867-1921,
  90. (1985). Irish Home Rule and the Social Basis of the Great Separation in the Liberal Party in 1886’,
  91. (2004). Irish Protestants feel this betrayal deeply…: Home Rule, Rome Rule and Nonconformity’
  92. (1970). Joseph Chamberlain and Liberal Reunion: The Round Table Conference of 1887,
  93. (2006). Joseph Chamberlain, the Conservative Party and the Leamington Spa Candidature Dispute of 1895’,
  94. (1981). Joseph Chamberlain: A Political Study,
  95. (1994). Joseph Chamberlain: Entrepreneur in Politics,
  96. (1966). Joseph Chamberlain: Radicalism and Empire,
  97. (1987). Joseph Chamberlain’s Municipal Ideal’,
  98. (2008). Land and Nation
  99. (2005). Land and Revolution: Nationalist Politics in the West of Ireland, 1891-1902,
  100. Letters on Unionist Delusions,
  101. (1972). Liberal Politics in the Age of Gladstone and Rosebery: A Study in Leadership and Policy,
  102. (2001). Liberal Unionism and the Home Rule Crisis in
  103. (1987). Liberal Unionism in Scotland’,
  104. (1959). Liberal Unionism: The Revolt of the Whigs’,
  105. (1988). Liberals and the Home Rule issue, November 1885-July 1886: The Leaders and the Rank and File with Special Reference to Certain Localities’, PhD thesis,
  106. (1973). Liberals, Radicals and Social Politics, 1892-1914, Cambridge:
  107. (1920). Life of Lord Courtney,
  108. (1931). Life of Robert,
  109. (1911). Life of Spencer Compton,
  110. (1911). Life of W.
  111. (1886). Locality, Tradition and Language in the Evolution of Scottish Unionism: A Case Study,
  112. (1922). Loe Strachey, The Adventure of Living: A Subjective Autobiography, London: Hodder and
  113. (1930). Loe Strachey: His Life and His Paper,
  114. (2007). Looking for the “New Political History”’,
  115. (1994). Lord Curzon, Cambridge:
  116. (1929). Lord Landsdowne: A Biography,
  117. (1981). Lord Randolph Churchill: A Political Life,
  118. (1999). Lord Salisbury: A Political Biography,
  119. (2001). Lord Salisbury’s World: Conservative Environments in late Victorian Britain, Cambridge:
  120. (2001). Manchester Liberalism and the Unionist Secession, 1886-1895',
  121. (2005). Manliness and Masculinities
  122. (2000). Municipal Progress, Democracy and Radical Identity in
  123. (1938). My Apprenticeship,
  124. (2003). National Crisis and National Government: British Politics, the Economy and Empire, 1926-1932, Cambridge:
  125. (2002). Neville Chamberlain Vol. I, 1869-1929, Cambridge:
  126. (2007). Neville Chamberlain: A Biography,
  127. (1988). Nineteenth Century Britain: Integration and Diversity,
  128. (1984). Nonconformity and Electoral Sociology 1867-1918’,
  129. (1975). Nonconformity in Modern British Politics,
  130. of the Women: A Revisionist Analysis of the Campaign for Women’s Suffrage 1866-1914,
  131. (1948). Our Partnership (edited by
  132. (1993). Paddy and Mr Punch:
  133. (1986). Parnell and the first Home Rule Episode, 1884-1887,
  134. (1968). Partisanship and Dissidence in
  135. (1987). Patronage and Principle: A Political History of Modern
  136. (2007). Pictorial Lies?”
  137. (1990). Political Change and the Labour Party 1900-1918, Cambridge:
  138. (1990). Political Heroes of the Victorian Music Hall’,
  139. (1906). Politics and the Birmingham Working Class: The General Elections of 1900 and
  140. (1993). Politics and the People: A Study in English Political Culture, c.1815-1867, Cambridge:
  141. (2007). Popular Conservatism in Imperial London 1868-1906,
  142. (1885). Popular Government,
  143. (1998). Popular Politics
  144. (1991). Popular Politics and the Limitations of Party: Wolverhampton, 1867-1900’
  145. (1921). Portrait of the Nineties,
  146. (1984). Propaganda and Empire: The Manipulation of British Public Opinion, 1880-1960, Manchester:
  147. Proportional Representation: A Dialogue,
  148. (1904). Queen Victoria: A Biography,
  149. (1974). Radicalism and the Liberal Party, 1886-1895’,
  150. (1996). Re-reading the Constitution: New Narratives in the Political History of England’s long nineteenth century, Cambridge:
  151. (1976). Religion and Society
  152. (1905). Reminiscences of a Radical Parson,
  153. (1886). Report by the Executive of the West of Scotland Branch of the Liberal Unionist Committee for the Maintenance of the Legislative Union between Great Britain and Ireland,
  154. Report of Meeting on Proportional Representation, or Effective Voting, held at River House,
  155. (1992). Retrenchment and Reform: Popular Liberalism in the Age of Gladstone, 1860-1880, Cambridge:
  156. (1982). Riflemen Form’: The War Scare of 1859-1860 in
  157. (1987). Salisbury and the Unionist Alliance’
  158. (1988). Salisbury-Balfour Correspondence, 1869-1892, Hertford: Hertfordshire Record Society,
  159. (2001). Scientists against Home Rule’
  160. (1998). Scottish Unionism and the Ulster Question'
  161. (2005). Sir Edward Watkin, 1819-1901: The Last of the Railway Kings, Lewes: The Book Guild,
  162. (1970). Sir John Brunner, Radical Plutocrat, 1842-1919, Cambridge:
  163. (1890). Sir Stafford Northcote,
  164. (1913). Sir William Arrol: A Memoir,
  165. (1909). Sixty Years in the Wilderness: Some Passages by the Way,
  166. (1992). Social Classes and Social Relations in Britain 1850-1914, Cambridge,
  167. (1994). Social Geography of British Elections,
  168. (1967). Socialists, Liberals and Labour: The Struggle for London, 1885-1914, London: Routledge and Kegan Paul,
  169. (1998). Speaking for the People: Party, Language and Popular Politics in England, 1867-1914, Cambridge:
  170. (1998). Stanley Baldwin: Conservative Leadership and National Values, Cambridge:
  171. (2008). State Prayers, Fasts and Thanksgivings: Public Worship
  172. (1886). Strange Associations: The Irish Question and the Making of Scottish Unionism,
  173. (1979). Tariff Reform
  174. (1903). Tariff Reform: An Imperial Strategy,
  175. (1999). The 1895 General Election and Political Change in Late Victorian England’,
  176. (2004). The Absent-Minded Imperialists: Empire, Society and Culture in Britain,
  177. (1959). The Age of Improvement,
  178. (1996). The Age of Salisbury, 1881-1902: Unionism and Empire,
  179. (1909). The Autobiography of Henry M. Stanley (edited by D.
  180. (1996). The Borough Franchise after 1867’,
  181. (1998). The Cambridge Apostles, 1820-1914 : Liberalism, Imagination, and Friendship in British Intellectual and Professional Life, Cambridge :
  182. The Case for Home Rule, London: Chatto and Windus,
  183. (2006). The Caucus and Party Organization in England in the 1880s’, PhD thesis,
  184. (1976). The Caucus and the Liberal Party
  185. (1977). The Changing Context of British Politics in the 1880s: The Reform Acts and the Formation of the Liberal Unionist Party’,
  186. (1987). The Climax of Liberal Politics:
  187. (2001). The Conservative Party, Patriotism and British politics: The Case of the General Election of 1900’,
  188. (1996). The Conservatives in Wales’
  189. (1983). The Context, Performance and Meaning of Ritual: The British Monarchy and the “Invention of Tradition” c.1820-1977’
  190. (2002). The Controversialist: An Intellectual Life of Goldwin Smith,
  191. (1995). The Crisis of Conservatism: The Politics, Economics and
  192. (1992). The Decline and Fall of the British Aristocracy,
  193. (1978). The Discipline of Popular Government: Lord Salisbury’s Domestic Statecraft 1881-1902, Hassocks: Harvester,
  194. (1935). The Distribution of the Free Churches in England',
  195. (1997). The dynamic of urban politics, 1867-1914’
  196. (1987). The Efficient Secret: The Cabinet and the Development of Political Parties in Victorian England, Cambridge:
  197. (2008). The Elimination of Corrupt Practices in British Elections? Reassessing the Impact of the 1883 Corrupt Practices Act’,
  198. (2001). The End of Liberal Ulster: Land Agitation and Land Reform, Belfast: Ulster Historical Foundation,
  199. The Expansion of England,
  200. (1966). The Formation of the Liberal Party,
  201. (1990). The Funding of the Liberal Unionist Party and the Honours System’,
  202. (1974). The Governing Passion: Cabinet Government and Party Politics in Britain 1885-6, Hassocks: Harvester,
  203. (1985). The Idea of “Character” in Victorian Political Thought’,
  204. (2000). The Invention of Tradition, Cambridge:
  205. (1996). The Irish Question and British politics 1868-1986 (2nd ed),
  206. (1886). The Irish Question: A History of an Idea; Lessons of the Election,
  207. (1987). The Iron Ladies: Why do Women Vote Tory?,
  208. (1996). The Jubilee Years,
  209. (2005). The Landed Elite: Power and Ulster Unionism'
  210. (1994). The Last of the Whigs: A Political Biography of Lord Hartington,
  211. (1981). The Later Derby Diaries: Home Rule, Liberal Unionism, and Aristocratic Life in late Victorian England,
  212. (1994). The Liberal ascendancy,
  213. (1989). The Liberal Party and Gladstone’s Land Purchase Bill of 1886’,
  214. (2003). The Liberal Party in Rural England, 1885-1910: Radicalism and Community,
  215. (1965). The Liberal Party in Scotland, 1876-1895’,
  216. (1992). The Liberal Party: Triumph and Disintegration,
  217. (1962). The Liberal Unionist Alliance: Chamberlain, Hartington and the Conservatives, 1886-1904’,
  218. (1975). The Liberal Unionist Party and the Irish Policy of Lord Salisbury’s Government, 1886-1992’,
  219. (1955). The Liberal Unionist Party until December 1887’, PhD thesis,
  220. (1956). The Liberal Unionist Party, 1886-1895’, PhD thesis,
  221. (2008). The Liberal Unionist Vote: The Persistence of Patronage and Localism in later Victorian Britain’, paper delivered at British History 1815-1945 Seminar,
  222. (1886). The Liberal Unionists and their Leaders,
  223. (1995). The Liberal Unionists in Wales’
  224. (1980). The Liberals and Ireland: The Ulster Question in British politics to 1914,
  225. (2000). The Life and Times of
  226. (1888). The Life and Work of
  227. (1933). The Life of
  228. The Life of Charles
  229. (1905). The Life of Froude,
  230. (1913). The Life of Henry Labouchere,
  231. (1914). The Life of Sir
  232. (2002). The Making of Modern British Politics
  233. (1962). The Making of Victorian
  234. (1923). The Miners' Union of Northumberland and Durham, Cambridge:
  235. (1982). The Nonconformist Conscience: Chapel and Politics,
  236. (1998). The Orangeman's Unionist Vision'
  237. (1971). The Origins of Liberal Unionism in the West of Scotland’,
  238. (2001). The Party Agent and English Electoral Culture, 1880-1906’, PhD thesis,
  239. (1962). The Passing of the Whigs,
  240. (2001). The Persistence of Victorian Liberalism,
  241. (2006). The Politics of Patriotism: English Liberalism, National Identity and Europe, 1830-1886, Cambridge:
  242. (2004). The Politics of the Poor: The East End of London, 1885-1914,
  243. (1983). The Principles of Ethics
  244. (2001). The Problems of Unionist Literature’
  245. (1993). The Quest for Leadership in Unionist Politics’,
  246. (1994). The Remaking of the British Working Class, 1840-1940,
  247. (1993). The Rise and Fall of Liberal Government in Victorian Britain,
  248. (2009). The Rise and Fall of the “New Political History” 1979-2008’, paper delivered at Languages of Politics Conference,
  249. (1984). The Rise and Fall of the Political Press
  250. (1988). The Rise of Respectable Society,
  251. (1974). The Role of the Liberal Unionist Party in British Politics, 1886-1895’, PhD thesis,
  252. (1980). The Rule of Law:
  253. The Scot in Ulster,
  254. The Skeleton at the Feast',
  255. (1887). The Speaker’s Handbook on the Irish Question, London: Liberal Unionist Association, 1889 Speeches on the Formation of the Women's Liberal Unionist Association, London: Women’s Liberal Unionist Association,
  256. (1991). The Strange Death of Tory England’,
  257. (1985). The Tories and the People,
  258. (2006). The Transformation of British Politics after the First World War’, Past and Present,
  259. (1963). The Transformation of Conservatism in
  260. (2006). The Transformation of Urban Liberalism: Party Politics and Urban Governance in late nineteenth century
  261. (1913). The Ulster Liberal Unionist Association: A Sketch of its History,
  262. (1973). The Ulster Liberal Unionists and Local Government Reform, 1885-98’,
  263. (2005). The Unionist ‘Compact’ in West Midland Politics, 1891-1895’,
  264. The Verdict: A Tract on the
  265. (1981). The Whig Lords and Liberalism 1886-1893’,
  266. (1999). The Women's Suffrage Movement – A Reference Guide,
  267. (1931). These Hundred Years: A History of the Congregational Union of England and Wales 1831-1931, London: Congregational Union of England and Wales,
  268. (2001). To Save England from Decline” The National Party of Common Sense:
  269. (2000). Tod and Liberal Unionism in Ulster 1886-1896’
  270. (1906). Twenty-Five Years of Politics; or, the Political Record of Mr.
  271. Ulster as it is: Or, Twenty-Eight Years' Experience as an
  272. (1972). Unionists Divided: Arthur Balfour, Joseph Chamberlain and the Unionist Free Traders, Newton Abbot: David and Charles,
  273. (1999). Victorian Politics and the Linguistic Turn: Historiographical Review’,
  274. (2006). Villa Toryism” and Popular Conservatism in Leeds, 1885-1902’,
  275. (1991). Visions of the People: Industrial England and the Question of Class, 1840-1914, Cambridge:
  276. (1925). What I Remember,
  277. (1988). Whiggery and the Liberal Party, 1874-1886,
  278. (1889). Why I Became a Liberal Unionist: Reprinted from 'Blackwood's Magazine' for February 1889,
  279. (1967). Women's Suffrage and Party Politics
  280. (2000). Word and Deed: why a post-post-structural history is needed and how it might look’,
  281. (1980). Work, Society and Politics,
  282. (1998). Working Class Conservatism and the Rise of Labour’,
  283. (1996). Working Class Conservatism in Tower Hamlets and Bethnal Green, 1885-1914’,

To submit an update or takedown request for this paper, please submit an Update/Correction/Removal Request.