In 1906 John Redmond’s party secured 82 Parliamentary seats. Only 5 of them had been contested and 77 of them had been uncontested. More votes in Ireland were given to Unionists than to Redmond’s Party. Unionists were not short of funds nor rich friends in comparison to Redmond’s Party. Some questions might be asked:-
- Why did the Unionists not contest all, or even a majority of all Irish seats?
- Why didn’t Unionists at the time shout –“We wuz robbed?”
- Why don’t commentators today, for instance Professor Richard English and Eoghan Harris, question the right of the 82 Redmondites to claim a majority of sets with a minority of votes?
Readers might infer from their replies or failure to reply the validity of their objections to Sinn Fein’s claim for an Irish national mandate in 1918.
In the United Kingdom as a whole the Liberals in 1906, under the leadership of Henry Campbell -Bannerman, won a landslide and the Tory Prime Minister Arthur Balfour (the Bloody Balfour of Mitchelstown infamy), lost his seat.
But he didn’t lose his composure. He addressed his supporters, saying that, in office or out, his party should continue to direct “the affairs of this Great Empire.” He was not deluded, for the previous year he had established the Committee of Imperial Defence and the Entente Cordiale with France to plan the destruction of Germany. The incoming Prime Minister Campbell Bannerman knew nothing of the Committee of Imperial Defence, though Liberal Imperialists such as Herbert Asquith and Sir Edward Grey who were to initiate the Great War were members of it.
Balfour and the British ruling classes cared nothing for the opinions of the peoples of the Empire, nor even for the peoples of the United Kingdom. In 1906 the House of Lords could block any Bill passed by the Commons except a Money Bill.
David Lloyd George described the Lords as “Mr Balfour’s Poodle” before he himself became a great warlord.