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Andrew Bonar Law (; 16 September 1858 – 30 October 1923) was
Prime Minister of the United Kingdom The prime minister of the United Kingdom is the head of government The head of government is either the highest or second-highest official in the Executive (government), executive branch of a sovereign state, a federated state, or a ...
from October 1922 to May 1923. Law was born in the British colony of
New Brunswick ("Hope restored") , image_map = New Brunswick in Canada 2.svg , Label_map = yes , coordinates = , capital = Fredericton Fredericton (; ) is the capital of the Provinces and territor ...

New Brunswick
(now a Canadian province), the first British Prime Minister to be born outside the British Isles. He was of
Scottish Scottish usually refers to something of, from, or related to Scotland, including: *Scottish Gaelic, a Celtic Goidelic language of the Indo-European language family native to Scotland *Scottish English *Scottish national identity, the Scottish iden ...
and Ulster Scots descent and moved to Scotland in 1870. He left school aged sixteen to work in the iron industry, becoming a wealthy man by the age of thirty. He entered the
House of Commons The House of Commons is the name for the elected lower house A lower house is one of two chambers Chambers may refer to: Places Canada: *Chambers Township, Ontario United States: *Chambers County, Alabama *Chambers, Arizona, an unincorporat ...

House of Commons
at the 1900 general election, relatively late in life for a front-rank politician; he was made a junior minister,
Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of TradeThe Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Trade in the United Kingdom The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the United Kingdom (UK) or Britain,Usage is mixed. The Guardian' and Telegraph' use Britain as ...
, in 1902. Law joined the Shadow Cabinet in opposition after the 1906 general election. In 1911, he was appointed a
Privy Councillor A privy council is a body that advises the head of state A head of state (or chief of state) is the public persona A persona (plural personae or personas), depending on the context, can refer to either the public image of one's pers ...
, before standing for the vacant party leadership. Despite never having served in the Cabinet and despite trailing third after Walter Long and
Austen Chamberlain Sir Joseph Austen Chamberlain (16 October 1863 – 16 March 1937) was a British statesman, son of Joseph Chamberlain Joseph Chamberlain (8 July 1836 – 2 July 1914) was a British statesman who was first a radical Liberal Party (UK), Libera ...

Austen Chamberlain
, Law became leader when the two front-runners withdrew rather than risk a draw splitting the party. As Leader of the Conservative Party and
Leader of the Opposition The Leader of the Opposition is a title traditionally held by the leader of the largest party not in government in a parliamentary democracy. The Leader of the Opposition is seen as the alternative Prime Minister, Premier, First Minister, or Ch ...
, Law focused his attentions in favour of
tariff reform Protectionism is the economic policy The economic policy of governments covers the systems for setting levels of taxation, government budgets, the money supply and interest rates as well as the labour market, nationalization, national o ...
and against
Irish Home Rule The Irish Home Rule movement was a movement that campaigned for self-government (or "home rule") for Ireland within the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland was a sovereign state tha ...
. His campaigning helped turn
Liberal Liberal or liberalism may refer to: Politics *a supporter of liberalism, a political and moral philosophy **Liberalism by country *an adherent of a Liberal Party Arts, entertainment and media *''El Liberal'', a Spanish newspaper published betw ...
attempts to pass the Third Home Rule Bill into a three-year struggle eventually halted by the start of the
First World War World War I, often abbreviated as WWI or WW1, also known as the First World War or the Great War, was a global war A world war is "a war War is an intense armed conflict between states State may refer to: Arts, entertainmen ...

First World War
, with much argument over the status of the six counties in
Ulster Ulster (; ga, Ulaidh or ''Cúige Uladh'' ; sco, label=Ulster Scots dialects, Ulster Scots, Ulstèr or ''Ulster'') is one of the four traditional Irish provinces of Ireland, provinces, in the north of Ireland. It is made up of nine Counties ...

Ulster
which would later become
Northern Ireland Northern Ireland ( ga, Tuaisceart Éireann ; sco, label=Ulster-ScotsUlster Scots, also known as Scotch-Irish, may refer to: * Ulster Scots people The Ulster Scots (Ulster-Scots The Ulster Scots (Ulster Scots dialects, Ulster- ...

Northern Ireland
, four of which were predominantly Protestant. Law first held Cabinet office as
Secretary of State for the Colonies The secretary of state for the colonies or colonial secretary was the Cabinet of the United Kingdom, British Cabinet government minister, minister in charge of managing the United Kingdom's various British Empire, colonial dependencies. History ...
in
H. H. Asquith Herbert Henry Asquith, 1st Earl of Oxford and Asquith, (12 September 1852 – 15 February 1928) was Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1908 to 1916. He was the last prime minister to lead a majority Liberal government, and he pl ...
's Coalition Government (May 1915 – December 1916). Upon Asquith's fall from power he declined to form a government, instead serving as
Chancellor of the Exchequer The chancellor of the Exchequer, often abbreviated to the chancellor, is a senior minister of the Crown within the Government of the United Kingdom, and the chief executive officer of HM Treasury, Her Majesty's Treasury. As one of the four Grea ...
in
David Lloyd George David Lloyd George, 1st Earl Lloyd-George of Dwyfor, (17 January 1863 – 26 March 1945) was a British statesman and Liberal Party The Liberal Party is any of many political parties A political party is an organization that coordinat ...

David Lloyd George
's Coalition Government. He resigned on grounds of ill health in early-1921. In October 1922, with Lloyd George's Coalition having become unpopular with the Conservatives, he wrote a letter to the press giving only lukewarm support to the Government's actions over Chanak. After Conservative MPs voted to end the Coalition, he again became Party Leader and, this time, Prime Minister. Bonar Law won a clear majority at the 1922 general election, and his brief premiership saw negotiation with the United States over Britain's war loans. Seriously ill with throat cancer, Law resigned in May 1923, and died later that year. He was the shortest-serving Prime Minister of the twentieth century (211 days in office), and is sometimes called "The Unknown Prime Minister".


Early life and education

He was born on 16 September 1858 in Kingston (now Rexton),
New Brunswick ("Hope restored") , image_map = New Brunswick in Canada 2.svg , Label_map = yes , coordinates = , capital = Fredericton Fredericton (; ) is the capital of the Provinces and territor ...

New Brunswick
, to Eliza Kidston Law and the Reverend James Law, a minister of the
Free Church of ScotlandFree Church of Scotland may refer to: * Free Church of Scotland (1843–1900), seceded in 1843 from the Church of Scotland. The majority merged in 1900 into the United Free Church of Scotland; historical * Free Church of Scotland (since 1900), remai ...
with
Scottish Scottish usually refers to something of, from, or related to Scotland, including: *Scottish Gaelic, a Celtic Goidelic language of the Indo-European language family native to Scotland *Scottish English *Scottish national identity, the Scottish iden ...
and
Irish Irish most commonly refers to: * Someone or something of, from, or related to: ** Ireland, an island situated off the north-western coast of continental Europe ** Northern Ireland, a constituent unit of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and North ...
(mainly Ulster Scots) ancestry. R.J.Q. Adams (1999) p. 3 At the time of his birth, New Brunswick was still a separate colony, as the Canadian confederation did not occur until 1867. His mother originally wanted to name him after Robert Murray M'Cheyne, a preacher she greatly admired, but as his older brother was already called Robert, he was instead named after the Reverend
Andrew Bonar Andrew Alexander Bonar (29 May 1810 in Edinburgh Edinburgh (; sco, Edinburgh; gd, Dùn Èideann ) is the capital city of Scotland and one of its 32 Council areas of Scotland, council areas. Historically part of the county of Midlothian (inte ...
, a biographer of M'Cheyne. Throughout his life he was always called Bonar (rhyming with honour) by his family and close friends, never Andrew. He originally signed his name as A.B. Law, changing to A. Bonar Law in his thirties, and he was referred to as Bonar Law by the public as well.Adams (1999) p. 4 James Law was the minister for several isolated townships, and had to travel between them by horse, boat and on foot. To supplement the family income, he bought a small farm on the
Richibucto River The Richibucto River is a river in eastern New Brunswick, Canada which empties into the Northumberland Strait north of Richibucto. It is 80 kilometres long.Scotland Scotland ( sco, Scotland, gd, Alba Alba (Scottish Gaelic Scottish Gaelic ( gd, Gàidhlig or Scots Gaelic, sometimes referred to simply as Gaelic) is a Goidelic language (in the Celtic languages, Celtic branch of the Indo-European ...

Scotland
to look after the Law children. When James Law remarried in 1870, his new wife took over Janet's duties, and Janet decided to return home to Scotland. She suggested that Bonar Law should go with her, as the Kidston family were wealthier and better connected than the Laws, and Bonar would have a more privileged upbringing.Adams (1999) p. 6 Both James and Bonar accepted this, and Bonar left with Janet, never to return to Kingston. Law went to live at Janet's house in
Helensburgh Helensburgh (; gd, Baile Eilidh, lit=town (or burgh) of Helen) is an affluent coastal town in Argyll and Bute council area, Scotland, sitting at the intersection of the Firth of Clyde, East Clyde and the Gareloch. It has its own Community Coun ...

Helensburgh
, near
Glasgow Glasgow ( ; sco, Glesga; gd, Glaschu) is the most populous city A city is a large .Goodall, B. (1987) ''The Penguin Dictionary of Human Geography''. London: Penguin.Kuper, A. and Kuper, J., eds (1996) ''The Social Science Encyclopedia'' ...

Glasgow
. Her brothers Charles, Richard and William were partners in the family merchant bank Kidston & Sons, and as only one of them had married (and produced no heir) it was generally accepted that Law would inherit the firm, or at least play a role in its management when he was older.Adams (1999) p. 7 Immediately upon arriving from Kingston, Law began attending Gilbertfield House School, a preparatory school in
HamiltonHamilton may refer to: * Alexander Hamilton (1755–1804), first American Secretary of the Treasury and one of the Founding Fathers of the United States **Hamilton (musical), ''Hamilton'' (musical), a 2015 Broadway musical written by Lin-Manuel Mira ...
. In 1873, aged fourteen, he transferred to the
High School of Glasgow The High School of Glasgow is an Independent school (United Kingdom), independent, co-educational day school, day school in Glasgow, Scotland. The original High School of Glasgow was founded as the Cathedral school, choir school of Glasgow Cathed ...
, where with his good memory he showed a talent for languages, excelling in Greek, German and French. During this period, he first began to play
chess Chess is a board game Board games are tabletop game Tabletop games are game with separate sliding drawer, from 1390–1353 BC, made of glazed faience, dimensions: 5.5 × 7.7 × 21 cm, in the Brooklyn Museum (New Yor ...

chess
– he would carry a board on the train between Helensburgh and Glasgow, challenging other commuters to matches. He eventually became a very good amateur player, and competed with internationally renowned chess masters.Adams (1999) p. 9 Despite his good academic record, it became obvious at Glasgow that he was better suited to business than to university, and when he was sixteen, Law left school to become a clerk at Kidston & Sons.


Business career

At Kidston & Sons, Law received a nominal salary, on the understanding that he would gain a "commercial education" from working there that would serve him well as a businessman. In 1885 the Kidston brothers decided to retire, and agreed to merge the firm with the
Clydesdale Bank Clydesdale Bank is a trading name used by Clydesdale Bank plc for its retail banking operations in Scotland. In June 2018, it was announced that Clydesdale Bank's holding company CYBG would acquire Virgin Money UK, Virgin Money for £1.7 bi ...
.Adams (1999) p. 12 The merger would have left Law without a job and with poor career-prospects, but the retiring brothers found him a job with
William Jacks William Jacks (18 March 1841 – 9 August 1907) was a British ironmaster, author and Liberal Party (UK), Liberal politician. Early life Jacks was born at Cornhill-on-Tweed, near Coldstream, Northumberland the son Richard Jacks, a farmer and land ...

William Jacks
, an iron merchant who had started pursuing a parliamentary career. The Kidston brothers lent Law the money to buy a partnership in Jacks' firm, and with Jacks himself no longer playing an active part in the company, Law effectively became the managing partner. Working long hours (and insisting that his employees did likewise), Law turned the firm into one of the most profitable iron merchants in the Glaswegian and Scottish markets.Adams (1999) p. 13 During this period Law became a "self-improver"; despite his lack of formal university education he sought to test his intellect, attending lectures given at
Glasgow University , image_name = University_of_Glasgow_Coat_of_Arms.jpg , image_size = 150px , latin_name = Universitas Glasguensis , motto = la, Via, Veritas, Vita ''Via et veritas et vita'' (, ) is a Latin language, Latin phrase meaning "the way and the t ...
and joining the Glasgow Parliamentary Debating Association,Adams (1999) p.10 which adhered as closely as possible to the layout of the real
Parliament of the United Kingdom The Parliament of the United Kingdom is the supreme legislative body A legislature is an assembly Assembly may refer to: Organisations and meetings * Deliberative assembly A deliberative assembly is a gathering of members (of any kin ...
and undoubtedly helped Law hone the skills that served him so well in the political arena.Adams (1999) p. 11 By the time he was thirty Law had established himself as a successful businessman, and had time to devote to more leisurely pursuits. He remained an avid
chess Chess is a board game Board games are tabletop game Tabletop games are game with separate sliding drawer, from 1390–1353 BC, made of glazed faience, dimensions: 5.5 × 7.7 × 21 cm, in the Brooklyn Museum (New Yor ...

chess
player, whom Andrew Harley called "a strong player, touching first-class amateur level, which he had attained by practice at the Glasgow Club in earlier days". Law also worked with the Parliamentary Debating Association and took up
golf Golf is a club-and-ball sport Sport pertains to any form of competitive Competition is a rivalry A rivalry is the state of two people or groups engaging in a lasting competitive relationship. Rivalry is the "against each other" ...

golf
,
tennis Tennis is a racket sport that can be played individually against a single opponent (Types of tennis match#Singles, singles) or between two teams of two players each (Types of tennis match#Doubles, doubles). Each player uses a tennis racket th ...

tennis
and walking.Adams (1999) p. 16 In 1888 he moved out of the Kidston household and set up his own home at Seabank, with his sister Mary (who had earlier come over from Canada) acting as the housekeeper. In 1890, Law met Annie Pitcairn Robley, the 24-year-old daughter of a Glaswegian merchant, Harrington Robley.Adams (1999) p. 17 They quickly fell in love, and married on 24 March 1891. Little is known of Law's wife, as most of her letters have been lost. It is known that she was much liked in both Glasgow and London, and that her death in 1909 hit Law hard; despite his relatively young age and prosperous career, he never remarried. The couple had six children: James Kidston (1893–1917), Isabel Harrington (1895–1969), Charles John (1897–1917), Harrington (1899–1958), Richard Kidston (1901–1980), and Catherine Edith (1905–1992). The second son, Charlie, who was a lieutenant in the
King's Own Scottish Borderers The King's Own Scottish Borderers was a line infantry Line infantry was the type of infantry that composed the basis of European land armies from the late 17th century to the middle of the 19th century. Maurice of Nassau and Gustavus Adolphus ...
, was killed at the
Second Battle of Gaza The Second Battle of Gaza was fought between 17 and 19 April 1917, following the defeat of the Egyptian Expeditionary Force The Egyptian Expeditionary Force (EEF) was a British Empire military formation, formed on 10 March 1916 under the command ...
in April 1917.Taylor (2007) p. 11 The eldest son, James, who was a captain in the
Royal Fusiliers The Royal Fusiliers (City of London Regiment) was a line infantry regiment of the British Army in continuous existence for 283 years. It was known as the 7th Regiment of Foot until the Childers Reforms of 1881. The regiment served in many wars an ...
, was shot down and killed on 21 September 1917, and the deaths made Law even more melancholy and depressed than before.Taylor (2007) p.12 The youngest son, Richard, later served as a Conservative MP and minister. Isabel married Sir Frederick Sykes (in the early years of World War I she had been engaged for a time to the Australian war correspondent
Keith Murdoch Sir Keith Arthur Murdoch (12 August 1885 – 4 October 1952) was an Australian journalist, businessman and the father of Rupert Murdoch Keith Rupert Murdoch ( ; born 11 March 1931) is an Australian-born American media mogul. Through his ...
) and Catherine married, firstly, Kent Colwell and, much later, in 1961, The 1st Baron Archibald.Adams (1999) p. 293


Entry into politics

In 1897, Law was asked to become the
Conservative Party Conservative Party may refer to: Europe Current *Croatian Conservative Party, *Conservative Party (Czech Republic) *Conservative People's Party (Denmark) *Conservative Party of Georgia *Conservative Party (Norway) *Conservative Party (UK) Histor ...

Conservative Party
candidate for the parliamentary seat of Glasgow Bridgeton. Soon after he was offered another seat, this one in Glasgow Blackfriars and Hutchesontown, which he took instead of Glasgow Bridgeton.Adams (1999) p. 18 Blackfriars was not a seat with high prospects attached; a working-class area, it had returned
Liberal Party The Liberal Party is any of many political parties A political party is an organization that coordinates candidates to compete in a particular country's elections. It is common for the members of a party to hold similar ideas about politics, ...
MPs since it was created in 1884, and the incumbent, Andrew Provand, was highly popular. Although the election was not due until 1902, the events of the
Second Boer War The Second Boer War ( af, Tweede Vryheidsoorlog, lit. "Second Freedom War", 11 October 189931 May 1902), also known as the Boer War, the Anglo–Boer War, or the South African War, was a conflict fought between the British Empire and the two B ...
forced the Conservative government to call a general election in 1900, later known as the
khaki election In Westminster Westminster is a district in central London London is the capital city, capital and List of urban areas in the United Kingdom, largest city of England and the United Kingdom. The city stands on the River Thames in the so ...
.Adams (1999) p.19 The campaign was unpleasant for both sides, with anti- and pro-war campaigners fighting vociferously, but Law distinguished himself with his oratory and wit. When the results came in on 4 October, Law was returned to Parliament with a majority of 1,000, overturning Provand's majority of 381. He immediately ended his active work at Jacks and Company (although he retained his directorship) and moved to London.Adams (1999) p. 20 Law initially became frustrated with the slow speed of Parliament compared to the rapid pace of the Glasgow iron market, and
Austen Chamberlain Sir Joseph Austen Chamberlain (16 October 1863 – 16 March 1937) was a British statesman, son of Joseph Chamberlain Joseph Chamberlain (8 July 1836 – 2 July 1914) was a British statesman who was first a radical Liberal Party (UK), Libera ...

Austen Chamberlain
recalled him saying to Chamberlain that "it was very well for men who, like myself had been able to enter the House of Commons young to adapt to a Parliamentary career, but if he had known what the House of Commons was he would never had entered at this stage".Taylor (2007) p.8 He soon learnt to be patient, however, and on 18 February 1901 made his maiden speech. Replying to anti-Boer War MPs including
David Lloyd George David Lloyd George, 1st Earl Lloyd-George of Dwyfor, (17 January 1863 – 26 March 1945) was a British statesman and Liberal Party The Liberal Party is any of many political parties A political party is an organization that coordinat ...

David Lloyd George
, Law used his excellent memory to quote sections of
Hansard ''Hansard'' is the traditional name of the transcripts of Parliamentary debates in Britain and many Commonwealth of Nations, Commonwealth countries. It is named after Thomas Curson Hansard (1776–1833), a London printer and publisher, who was t ...
back to the opposition which contained their previous speeches supporting and commending the policies they now denounced. Although lasting only fifteen minutes and not a crowd- or press-pleaser like the maiden speeches of F.E. Smith or
Winston Churchill Sir Winston Leonard Spencer Churchill, (30 November 187424 January 1965) was a British statesman who served as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom The prime minister of the United Kingdom is the head of government The hea ...

Winston Churchill
, it attracted the attention of the Conservative Party leaders.Adams (1999) p.21


Tariff reform

Law's chance to make his mark came with the issue of
tariff reform Protectionism is the economic policy The economic policy of governments covers the systems for setting levels of taxation, government budgets, the money supply and interest rates as well as the labour market, nationalization, national o ...
. To cover the costs of the
Second Boer War The Second Boer War ( af, Tweede Vryheidsoorlog, lit. "Second Freedom War", 11 October 189931 May 1902), also known as the Boer War, the Anglo–Boer War, or the South African War, was a conflict fought between the British Empire and the two B ...
,
Lord Salisbury Robert Arthur Talbot Gascoyne-Cecil, 3rd Marquess of Salisbury (; 3 February 183022 August 1903) was a British statesman and Conservative Conservatism is a Political philosophy, political and social philosophy promoting traditional soci ...
's
Chancellor of the Exchequer The chancellor of the Exchequer, often abbreviated to the chancellor, is a senior minister of the Crown within the Government of the United Kingdom, and the chief executive officer of HM Treasury, Her Majesty's Treasury. As one of the four Grea ...
( Michael Hicks Beach) suggested introducing import taxes or
tariff A tariff is a tax A tax is a compulsory financial charge or some other type of levy imposed on a taxpayer (an individual or legal entity In law Law is a system A system is a group of Interaction, interacting or interrelated el ...
s on foreign metal, flour and grain coming into Britain. Such tariffs had previously existed in Britain, but the last of these had been abolished in the 1870s because of the
free trade Free trade is a trade policy A commercial policy (also referred to as a trade policy or international trade policy) is a government's policy governing international trade International trade is the exchange of capital, goods, and servic ...
movement. A duty was now introduced on imported corn.Adams (1999) p.22 The issue became "explosive", dividing the British political world, and continued even after Salisbury retired and was replaced as Prime Minister by his nephew,
Arthur Balfour Arthur James Balfour, 1st Earl of Balfour, (, ; 25 July 184819 March 1930) was Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1902 to 1905. He was a member of the Conservative Party. As Foreign Secretary in the Lloyd George ministry, he issued ...

Arthur Balfour
. Law took advantage of this, making his first major speech on 22 April 1902, in which he argued that while he felt a general tariff was unnecessary, an imperial customs union (which would put tariffs on items from outside the British Empire, instead of on every nation but Britain) was a good idea, particularly since other nations such as (Germany) and the United States had increasingly high tariffs.Adams (1999) p.23 Using his business experience, he made a "plausible case" that there was no proof that tariffs led to increases in the cost of living, as the Liberals had argued. Again his memory came into good use – when William Harcourt accused Law of misquoting him, Law was able to precisely give the place in
Hansard ''Hansard'' is the traditional name of the transcripts of Parliamentary debates in Britain and many Commonwealth of Nations, Commonwealth countries. It is named after Thomas Curson Hansard (1776–1833), a London printer and publisher, who was t ...
where Harcourt's speech was to be found. As a result of Law's proven experience in business matters and his skill as an economic spokesman for the government, Balfour offered him the position of
Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of TradeThe Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Trade in the United Kingdom The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the United Kingdom (UK) or Britain,Usage is mixed. The Guardian' and Telegraph' use Britain as ...
when he formed his government, which Law accepted,Adams (1999) p.24 and he was formally appointed on 11 August 1902.Taylor (2007) p. 9 As Parliamentary Secretary his job was to assist the
President of the Board of Trade The president of the Board of Trade is head of the Board of Trade The Board of Trade is a British government body concerned with commerce and industry, currently within the Department for International Trade. Its full title is The Lords of the C ...
, Gerald Balfour. At the time the
tariff reform Protectionism is the economic policy The economic policy of governments covers the systems for setting levels of taxation, government budgets, the money supply and interest rates as well as the labour market, nationalization, national o ...
controversy was brewing, led by the Colonial Secretary
Joseph Chamberlain Joseph Chamberlain (8 July 1836 – 2 July 1914) was a British statesman who was first a radical Liberal Party (UK), Liberal, then, after opposing home rule for Ireland, a Liberal Unionist, and eventually served as a leading new Imperialism, imp ...

Joseph Chamberlain
, an ardent tariff reformer who "declared war" on free trade, and who persuaded the Cabinet that the Empire should be exempted from the new corn duty. After returning from a speaking tour of South Africa in 1903, Chamberlain found that the new Chancellor of the Exchequer ( C.T. Ritchie) had instead abolished Hicks Beach's corn duty altogether in his budget. Angered by this, Chamberlain spoke at the Birmingham Town Hall on 15 May without the government's permission, arguing for an Empire-wide system of tariffs which would protect Imperial economies, forge the British Empire into one political entity and allow them to compete with other world powers.Adams (1999) p.25 The speech and its ideas split the
Conservative Party Conservative Party may refer to: Europe Current *Croatian Conservative Party, *Conservative Party (Czech Republic) *Conservative People's Party (Denmark) *Conservative Party of Georgia *Conservative Party (Norway) *Conservative Party (UK) Histor ...

Conservative Party
and its coalition ally the
Liberal Unionist Party The Liberal Unionist Party was a British political party that was formed in 1886 by a faction that broke away from the Liberal Party (UK), Liberal Party. Led by Spencer Cavendish, 8th Duke of Devonshire, Lord Hartington (later the Duke of Devonshi ...
into two wings – the Free Fooders, who supported
free trade Free trade is a trade policy A commercial policy (also referred to as a trade policy or international trade policy) is a government's policy governing international trade International trade is the exchange of capital, goods, and servic ...
, and the Tariff Reformers, who supported Chamberlain's tariff reforms. Law was a dedicated Tariff Reformer, but whereas Chamberlain dreamed of a new golden age for Britain, Law focused on more mundane and practical goals, such as a reduction in unemployment. L.S. Amery said that to Law, the tariff reform programme was "a question of trade figures and not national and Imperial policy of expansion and consolidation of which trade was merely the economic factor". Keith Laybourn attributes Law's interest in tariff reform not only to the sound business practice that it represented but also that because of his place of birth "he was attracted by the Imperial tariff preference arrangements advocated by Joseph Chamberlain". Law's constituents in Blackfriars were not overly enthusiastic about tariff reform – Glasgow was a poor area at the time that had benefited from free trade. In parliament, Law worked exceedingly hard at pushing for tariff reform, regularly speaking in the House of Commons and defeating legendary debaters such as
Winston Churchill Sir Winston Leonard Spencer Churchill, (30 November 187424 January 1965) was a British statesman who served as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom The prime minister of the United Kingdom is the head of government The hea ...

Winston Churchill
,
Charles Dilke Sir Charles Wentworth Dilke, 2nd Baronet, PC (4 September 1843 – 26 January 1911) was an English Liberal and Radical politician. A republican Republican can refer to: Political ideology * An advocate of a republic, a type of government th ...
and
H. H. Asquith Herbert Henry Asquith, 1st Earl of Oxford and Asquith, (12 September 1852 – 15 February 1928) was Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1908 to 1916. He was the last prime minister to lead a majority Liberal government, and he pl ...
, former
Home Secretary The home secretary, officially the secretary of state for the Home Department, is a Secretary of State (United Kingdom), secretary of state in the Government of the United Kingdom, with overall responsibility for all Home Office business. The ...
and later Prime Minister.Adams (1999) p.26 His speeches at the time were known for their clarity and common sense; Sir Ian Malcolm said that he made "the involved seem intelligible", and L.S. Amery said his arguments were "like the hammering of a skilled riveter, every blow hitting the nail on the head". Despite Law's efforts to forge consensus within the Conservatives, Balfour was unable to hold the two sides of his party together, and resigned as Prime Minister in December 1905, allowing the Liberals to form a government.


In opposition

The new Prime Minister, the
Liberal Liberal or liberalism may refer to: Politics *a supporter of liberalism, a political and moral philosophy **Liberalism by country *an adherent of a Liberal Party Arts, entertainment and media *''El Liberal'', a Spanish newspaper published betw ...
Henry Campbell-Bannerman Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman (7 September 183622 April 1908) was Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1905 to 1908 and Liberal Party (UK)#Liberal leaders 1859–1988, Leader of the Liberal Party (UK), Liberal Party from 1899 to 1908. He al ...
, immediately dissolved Parliament. Despite strong campaigning and a visit by
Arthur Balfour Arthur James Balfour, 1st Earl of Balfour, (, ; 25 July 184819 March 1930) was Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1902 to 1905. He was a member of the Conservative Party. As Foreign Secretary in the Lloyd George ministry, he issued ...

Arthur Balfour
, Law lost his seat in the ensuing
general election A general election is a political voting election where generally all or most members of a given political body are chosen. These are usually held for a nation, state, or territory's primary legislative body, and are different from by-election ...
. In total the
Conservative Party Conservative Party may refer to: Europe Current *Croatian Conservative Party, *Conservative Party (Czech Republic) *Conservative People's Party (Denmark) *Conservative Party of Georgia *Conservative Party (Norway) *Conservative Party (UK) Histor ...

Conservative Party
and Liberal Unionists lost 245 seats, leaving them with only 157 members of parliament, the majority of them tariff reformers.Adams (1999) p.28 Despite his loss, Law was at this stage such an asset to the Conservatives that an immediate effort was made to get him back into Parliament. The retirement of
Frederick Rutherfoord Harris Frederick Rutherfoord Harris (1 May 1856 – 1 September 1920) was a British Conservative Party politician who served as a Member of Parliament (United Kingdom), Member of Parliament (MP) between 1900 and 1906. Harris was born in Madras, In ...
, MP for the safe Conservative seat of
Dulwich Dulwich ( ) is an area of south London London is the capital Capital most commonly refers to: * Capital letter Letter case (or just case) is the distinction between the letters that are in larger uppercase or capitals (or mor ...
, offered him a chance. Law was returned to Parliament in the ensuing
by-election A by-election (also spelled bye-election), also known as a special election in the United States and the Philippines, or a bypoll (India), is an election used to fill an office that has become vacant between general elections. In most cases these ...
, increasing the Conservative majority to 1,279. The party was struck a blow in July 1906, when two days after a celebration of his seventieth birthday,
Joseph Chamberlain Joseph Chamberlain (8 July 1836 – 2 July 1914) was a British statesman who was first a radical Liberal Party (UK), Liberal, then, after opposing home rule for Ireland, a Liberal Unionist, and eventually served as a leading new Imperialism, imp ...

Joseph Chamberlain
suffered a stroke and was forced to retire from public life. He was succeeded as leader of the tariff reformers by his son
Austen Chamberlain Sir Joseph Austen Chamberlain (16 October 1863 – 16 March 1937) was a British statesman, son of Joseph Chamberlain Joseph Chamberlain (8 July 1836 – 2 July 1914) was a British statesman who was first a radical Liberal Party (UK), Libera ...

Austen Chamberlain
, who despite previous experience as
Chancellor of the Exchequer The chancellor of the Exchequer, often abbreviated to the chancellor, is a senior minister of the Crown within the Government of the United Kingdom, and the chief executive officer of HM Treasury, Her Majesty's Treasury. As one of the four Grea ...
and enthusiasm for tariff reform was not as skilled a speaker as Law. As a result, Law joined Balfour's Shadow Cabinet as the principal spokesman for tariff reform.Adams (1999) p.31 The death of Law's wife on 31 October 1909 led him to work even harder, treating his political career not only as a job but as a coping strategy for his loneliness.


The People's Budget and the House of Lords

Campbell-Bannerman resigned as Prime Minister in April 1908 and was replaced by
H. H. Asquith Herbert Henry Asquith, 1st Earl of Oxford and Asquith, (12 September 1852 – 15 February 1928) was Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1908 to 1916. He was the last prime minister to lead a majority Liberal government, and he pl ...
. In 1909, he and his
Chancellor of the Exchequer The chancellor of the Exchequer, often abbreviated to the chancellor, is a senior minister of the Crown within the Government of the United Kingdom, and the chief executive officer of HM Treasury, Her Majesty's Treasury. As one of the four Grea ...
David Lloyd George David Lloyd George, 1st Earl Lloyd-George of Dwyfor, (17 January 1863 – 26 March 1945) was a British statesman and Liberal Party The Liberal Party is any of many political parties A political party is an organization that coordinat ...

David Lloyd George
introduced the
People's Budget The 1909/1910 People's Budget was a proposal of the Liberal government that introduced unprecedented taxes on the lands and incomes of Britain's wealthy to fund new social welfare programmes. It passed the House of Commons The House of Commo ...
, which sought through increased direct and indirect taxes to redistribute wealth and fund social reform programmes.Adams (1999) p.38 By parliamentary convention financial and budget bills are not challenged by the
House of Lords The House of Lords, formally The Right Honourable the Lords Spiritual and Temporal of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland in Parliament assembled, is the of the . Membership is by , or . Like the , it meets in the . ar ...

House of Lords
, but in this case the predominantly Conservative Lords rejected the bill on 30 April, setting off a constitutional crisis. The Liberals called a general election for January 1910, and Law spent most of the preceding months campaigning up and down the country for other Conservative candidates and MPs, sure that his Dulwich seat was safe. He obtained an increased majority of 2,418.Adams (1999) p.39 The overall result was more confused: the Conservatives gained 116 seats, bringing their total to 273, but this was still less than the Liberal caucus, and produced a
hung parliament A hung parliament is a term used in legislatures under the Westminster system to describe a situation in which no particular political party or pre-existing coalition (also known as an alliance or bloc) has an absolute majority of legislators (c ...
, as neither had a majority of the seats (the
Irish Parliamentary Party The Irish Parliamentary Party (IPP; commonly called the Irish Party or the Home Rule Party) was formed in 1874 by Isaac Butt Isaac Butt (6 September 1813 – 5 May 1879) was an Irish barrister A barrister is a type of lawyer in common ...
, the
Labour Party Labour Party or Labor Party may refer to: Angola *MPLA, known for some years as "Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola – Labour Party" Antigua and Barbuda *Antigua and Barbuda Labour Party Argentina *Labour Party (Argentina) Armenia ...
and the
All-for-Ireland League The All-for-Ireland League (AFIL) was an Irish, Munster Munster ( gle, an Mhumhain or ) is one of the provinces of Ireland, in the south of Ireland. In early Ireland, the Kingdom of Munster was one of the kingdoms of Gaelic Ireland ruled b ...
took more than 120 seats in total). The Liberals remained in office with the support of the Irish Parliamentary Party. The Budget passed through the House of Commons a second time, and – as it now had an electoral mandate – was then approved by the House of Lords without a division. However, the crisis over the Budget had highlighted a long-standing constitutional question: should the House of Lords be able to overturn bills passed by the House of Commons? The Liberal government introduced a bill in February 1910 which would prevent the House of Lords vetoing finance bills, and would force them to pass any bill which had been passed by the Commons in three sessions of Parliament. This was immediately opposed by the Unionists, and both parties spent the next several months in a running battle over the bill. The Conservatives were led by
Arthur Balfour Arthur James Balfour, 1st Earl of Balfour, (, ; 25 July 184819 March 1930) was Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1902 to 1905. He was a member of the Conservative Party. As Foreign Secretary in the Lloyd George ministry, he issued ...

Arthur Balfour
and Lord Lansdowne, who headed the Conservatives in the House of Lords, while Law spent the time concentrating on the continuing problem of tariff reform. The lack of progress had convinced some senior Conservatives that it would be a good idea to scrap tariff reform altogether. Law disagreed, successfully arguing that tariff reform "was the first constructive work of the onservative Party and that to scrap it would "split the Party from top to bottom".Adams (1999) p.40 With this success, Law returned to the constitutional crisis surrounding the House of Lords. The death of
Edward VII Edward VII (Albert Edward; 9 November 1841 – 6 May 1910) was King of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland There have been 12 British monarchs since the political union of the Kingdom of England The Kingdom of Engla ...

Edward VII
on 6 May 1910 prompted the leaders of the major political parties to meet secretly in a "Truce of God" to discuss the Lords. The meetings were kept almost entirely secret: apart from the party representatives, the only people aware were F.E. Smith, J.L. Garvin, Edward Carson and Law.Adams (1999) p.41 The group met about twenty times at Buckingham Palace between June and November 1910, with the Conservatives represented by
Arthur Balfour Arthur James Balfour, 1st Earl of Balfour, (, ; 25 July 184819 March 1930) was Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1902 to 1905. He was a member of the Conservative Party. As Foreign Secretary in the Lloyd George ministry, he issued ...

Arthur Balfour
, Frederick Campbell, 3rd Earl Cawdor, Lord Cawdor, Lord Lansdowne and
Austen Chamberlain Sir Joseph Austen Chamberlain (16 October 1863 – 16 March 1937) was a British statesman, son of Joseph Chamberlain Joseph Chamberlain (8 July 1836 – 2 July 1914) was a British statesman who was first a radical Liberal Party (UK), Libera ...

Austen Chamberlain
. The proposal presented at the conference by
David Lloyd George David Lloyd George, 1st Earl Lloyd-George of Dwyfor, (17 January 1863 – 26 March 1945) was a British statesman and Liberal Party The Liberal Party is any of many political parties A political party is an organization that coordinat ...

David Lloyd George
was a coalition government with members of both major parties in the Cabinet and a programme involving Home Rule, Poor Law reforms, imperial reorganisation and possibly
tariff reform Protectionism is the economic policy The economic policy of governments covers the systems for setting levels of taxation, government budgets, the money supply and interest rates as well as the labour market, nationalization, national o ...
s. The Home Rule proposal would have made the United Kingdom a federation, with "Home Rule All Round" for Scotland, Ireland, and England & Wales. In the end the plans fell through: Balfour told Lloyd George on 2 November that the proposal would not work, and the conference was dissolved a few days later.


December 1910 general election

With the failure to establish a political consensus after the January 1910 United Kingdom general election, January 1910 general election, the Liberals called a second general election December 1910 United Kingdom general election, in December. The Conservative leadership decided that a good test of the popularity of the
tariff reform Protectionism is the economic policy The economic policy of governments covers the systems for setting levels of taxation, government budgets, the money supply and interest rates as well as the labour market, nationalization, national o ...
programme would be to have a prominent tariff reformer stand for election in a disputed seat. They considered Law a prime candidate, and after debating it for a month he guardedly agreed, enthusiastic about the idea but worried about the effect of a defeat on the Party.Adams (1999) p. 42 Law was selected as the candidate for Manchester North West (UK Parliament constituency), Manchester North West, and became drawn into party debates about how strong a tariff reform policy should be put in their manifesto. Law personally felt that duties on foodstuffs should be excluded, something agreed to by Alexander Fuller-Acland-Hood, 1st Baron St Audries, Alexander Acland-Hood, Edward Carson and others at a meeting of the Constitutional Club on 8 November 1910, but they failed to reach a consensus and the idea of including or excluding food duties continued to be something that divided the party.Adams (1999) p.43 During the constitutional talks the Conservatives had demanded that, if the Lords' veto were removed, Irish Home Rule should only be permitted if approved by a UK-wide referendum. In response Robert Crewe-Milnes, 1st Marquess of Crewe, Lord Crewe, Liberal Leader in the Lords, had suggested sarcastically that
tariff reform Protectionism is the economic policy The economic policy of governments covers the systems for setting levels of taxation, government budgets, the money supply and interest rates as well as the labour market, nationalization, national o ...
– a policy of questionable popularity because of the likelihood of increased prices on imported food – should also be submitted to a referendum.
Arthur Balfour Arthur James Balfour, 1st Earl of Balfour, (, ; 25 July 184819 March 1930) was Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1902 to 1905. He was a member of the Conservative Party. As Foreign Secretary in the Lloyd George ministry, he issued ...

Arthur Balfour
now announced to a crowd of 10,000 at the Royal Albert Hall that after the coming election, a Conservative Government would indeed submit tariff reform to a referendum, something he described as "Bonar Law's proposal" or the "Referendum Pledge".Adams (1999) p.43-4 The suggestion was no more Law's than it was any of the dozens of Conservatives who had suggested this to Balfour, and his comment was simply an attempt to "pass the buck" and avoid the anger of
Austen Chamberlain Sir Joseph Austen Chamberlain (16 October 1863 – 16 March 1937) was a British statesman, son of Joseph Chamberlain Joseph Chamberlain (8 July 1836 – 2 July 1914) was a British statesman who was first a radical Liberal Party (UK), Libera ...

Austen Chamberlain
, who was furious that such an announcement had been made without consulting him or the party. While Law had written a letter to Balfour suggesting that a referendum would attract wealthy Conservatives, he said that "declaration would do no good with [the working class] and might damp enthusiasm of best workers".Adams (1999) p.45 Parliament was dissolved on 28 November, with the election to take place and polling to end by 19 December. The Conservative and Liberal parties were equal in strength, and with the continued support of the Irish Nationalists the Liberal Party remained in government. Law called his campaign in Manchester North West the hardest of his career; his opponent, George Kemp, was a war hero who had fought in the
Second Boer War The Second Boer War ( af, Tweede Vryheidsoorlog, lit. "Second Freedom War", 11 October 189931 May 1902), also known as the Boer War, the Anglo–Boer War, or the South African War, was a conflict fought between the British Empire and the two B ...
and a former Conservative who had joined the Liberal party because of his disagreement with tariff reform. In the end Law narrowly lost, with 5,114 votes to Kemp's 5,559, but the election turned him into a "genuine [Conservative] hero", and he later said that the defeat did "more for him in the party than a hundred victories".Adams (1999) p.47 In 1911, with the Conservative Party unable to afford him being out of Parliament, Law was elected in 1911 Bootle by-election, a by-election for the safe Conservative seat of Bootle (UK Parliament constituency), Bootle. In his brief absence the Liberal suggestions for the reform of the
House of Lords The House of Lords, formally The Right Honourable the Lords Spiritual and Temporal of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland in Parliament assembled, is the of the . Membership is by , or . Like the , it meets in the . ar ...

House of Lords
were passed as the Parliament Act 1911, ending that particular dispute.


Leader of the Conservative Party

On Coronation of George V and Mary, the coronation of George V on 22 June 1911, Law was appointed as a
Privy Councillor A privy council is a body that advises the head of state A head of state (or chief of state) is the public persona A persona (plural personae or personas), depending on the context, can refer to either the public image of one's pers ...
on the recommendation of the Prime Minister
H. H. Asquith Herbert Henry Asquith, 1st Earl of Oxford and Asquith, (12 September 1852 – 15 February 1928) was Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1908 to 1916. He was the last prime minister to lead a majority Liberal government, and he pl ...
and
Arthur Balfour Arthur James Balfour, 1st Earl of Balfour, (, ; 25 July 184819 March 1930) was Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1902 to 1905. He was a member of the Conservative Party. As Foreign Secretary in the Lloyd George ministry, he issued ...

Arthur Balfour
.Adams (1999) p.49 This was evidence of his seniority and importance within the Conservative Party. Balfour had become increasingly unpopular as Leader of the Conservative Party since the 1906 general election; tariff reformers saw his leadership as the reason for their electoral losses, and the "free fooders" had been alienated by Balfour's attempts to tame the zeal of the tariff reform faction. Balfour refused all suggestions of party reorganisation until a meeting of senior Conservatives led by James Gascoyne-Cecil, 4th Marquess of Salisbury, Lord Salisbury after the December 1910 United Kingdom general election, December 1910 electoral defeat issued an ultimatum demanding a review of party structure.Adams (1999) p.55 The defeat on the House of Lords issue turned a wing of the Conservative Party led by Henry Page Croft, 1st Baron Croft, Henry Page Croft and his Reveille Movement, against Balfour. Leo Maxse began a Balfour Must Go campaign in his newspaper, the ''National Review (London), National Review'', and by July 1911 Balfour was contemplating resignation. Law himself had no problem with Balfour's leadership, and along with Edward Carson attempted to regain support for him.Adams (1999) p.57 By November 1911 it was accepted that Balfour was likely to resign, with the main competitors for the leadership being Law, Carson, Walter Long and
Austen Chamberlain Sir Joseph Austen Chamberlain (16 October 1863 – 16 March 1937) was a British statesman, son of Joseph Chamberlain Joseph Chamberlain (8 July 1836 – 2 July 1914) was a British statesman who was first a radical Liberal Party (UK), Libera ...

Austen Chamberlain
. When the elections began, Long and Chamberlain were the frontrunners; Chamberlain commanded the support of many tariff reformers, and Long that of the Irish Unionists. Carson immediately announced that he would not stand, and Law eventually announced that he would run for Leader, the day before Balfour resigned on 7 November.Adams (1999) p.59 At the beginning of the election Law held the support of no more than 40 of the 270 members of parliament; the remaining 230 were divided between Long and Chamberlain. Although Long believed he had the most MPs, his support was largely amongst backbenchers, and most of the whips and frontbenchers preferred Chamberlain. With Long and Chamberlain almost neck-and-neck they called a meeting on 9 November to discuss the possibility of a deadlock. Chamberlain suggested that he would withdraw if this became a strong possibility, assuming Long did the same. Long, now concerned that his weak health would not allow him to survive the stress of party leadership, agreed. Both withdrew on 10 November, and on 13 November 232 MPs assembled at the Carlton Club, and Law was nominated as leader by Long and Chamberlain. With the unanimous support of the MPs, Law became Leader of the Conservative Party despite never having sat in Cabinet. Law's biographer, Robert Blake, wrote that he was an unusual choice to lead the Conservatives as a Presbyterian Canadian-Scots businessman had just become the leader of "the Party of Old England, the Party of the Anglican Church and the country squire, the party of broad acres and hereditary titles" As leader, Law first "rejuvenated the party machine", selecting newer, younger and more popular whips and secretaries, elevating F.E. Smith and Robert Cecil, 1st Viscount Cecil of Chelwood, Lord Robert Cecil to the Shadow Cabinet and using his business acumen to reorganise the party, resulting in better relations with the press and local branches, along with the raising of a £671,000 "war chest" for the next general election: almost double that available at the previous one. On 12 February 1912, he finally unified the two Unionist parties (Conservatives and Liberal Unionists) into the awkwardly named National Unionist Association of Conservative and Liberal-Unionist Organisations. From then on all were referred to as "Unionists" until the ratification of the Anglo-Irish Treaty in 1922, after which they became Conservatives again (though the name "Unionist" continued in use in Scotland and Northern Ireland). In Parliament, Law introduced the so-called "new style" of speaking, with harsh, accusatory rhetoric, which dominates British politics to this day.Adams (1999) p. 61 This was as a counter to Arthur Balfour, known for his "masterly witticisms", because the party felt they needed a warrior-like figure. Law did not particularly enjoy his tougher manner, and at the State Opening of Parliament in February 1912 apologised directly to H. H. Asquith, Asquith for his coming speech, saying, "I am afraid I shall have to show myself very vicious, Mr Asquith, this session. I hope you will understand." Law's "warrior king" figure helped unify the divided Conservatives into a single body, with him as the leader.


Social policy

During his early time as Conservative leader, the party's social policy was the most complicated and difficult to agree. In his opening speech as leader he said that the party would be one of principle, and would not be reactionary, instead sticking to their guns and holding firm policies. Despite this he left women's suffrage alone, leaving the party unwhipped and saying that "the less part we take in this question the better".Adams (1999) p. 74 In terms of social reform (legislation to improve the conditions of the poor and working classes) Law was similarly unenthusiastic, believing that the area was a Liberal one, in which they could not successfully compete. His response to a request by David Lindsay, 27th Earl of Crawford, Lord Balcarres for a social programme was simply "As the [Liberal Party] refuse to formulate their policy in advance we should be equally absolved".Adams (1999) p.75 His refusal to get drawn in may have actually strengthened his hold over Conservative MPs, many of whom were similarly uninterested in social reform. In his first public speech as leader at the Royal Albert Hall on 26 January 1912 he listed his three biggest concerns: an attack on the Liberal government for failing to submit Home Rule to a referendum;
tariff reform Protectionism is the economic policy The economic policy of governments covers the systems for setting levels of taxation, government budgets, the money supply and interest rates as well as the labour market, nationalization, national o ...
; and the Conservative refusal to let the Ulster Unionists be "trampled upon" by an unfair Home Rule bill.Adams (1999) p. 76 Both tariff reform and Ulster dominated his political work, with
Austen Chamberlain Sir Joseph Austen Chamberlain (16 October 1863 – 16 March 1937) was a British statesman, son of Joseph Chamberlain Joseph Chamberlain (8 July 1836 – 2 July 1914) was a British statesman who was first a radical Liberal Party (UK), Libera ...

Austen Chamberlain
saying that Law "once said to me that he cared intensely for only two things: Tariff Reform and Ulster; all the rest was only part of the game".


More tariff reform

After further review with members of his party, Law changed his initial beliefs on
tariff reform Protectionism is the economic policy The economic policy of governments covers the systems for setting levels of taxation, government budgets, the money supply and interest rates as well as the labour market, nationalization, national o ...
and accepted the full package, including duties on foodstuffs. On 29 February 1912 the entire Conservative parliamentary body (i.e. both MPs and peers) met at Lansdowne House, with Lord Lansdowne chairing.Adams (1999) p.79 Lansdowne argued that although the electorate might prefer the Conservative Party if they dropped food duties from their tariff reform plan, it would open them to accusations of bad faith and "Cowardice, poltroonery". Law endorsed Lansdowne's argument, pointing out that any attempt to avoid food duties would cause an internal party struggle and could only aid the Liberals, and that Canada, the most economically important colony and a major exporter of foodstuffs, would never agree to tariffs without British support of food duties. James Gascoyne-Cecil, 4th Marquess of Salisbury, Lord Salisbury, who opposed food duties, wrote to Law several weeks later suggesting they separate foodstuffs from tariff reform for the referendum. If the electorate liked food duties, they would vote for the entire package; if not, they did not have to.Adams (1999) p.80 Law replied arguing that it would be impossible to do so effectively, and that with the increasing costs of defence and social programmes it would be impossible to raise the necessary capital except by comprehensive tariff reform. He argued that a failure to offer the entire tariff reform package would split the Conservative Party down the middle, offending the tariff reform faction, and that if such a split took place "I could not possibly continue as leader". Law postponed withdrawing the tariff reform "Referendum Pledge" because of the visit of Robert Borden, the newly elected Conservative Party of Canada (historical), Conservative Prime Minister of Canada, to London planned for July 1912. Meeting with Borden on his arrival, Law got him to agree to make a statement about the necessity of Imperial tariff reform, promising reciprocal agreements and saying that failure by London to agree tariff reform would result in an "irresistible pressure" for Canada to make a treaty with another nation, most obviously the United States. Law decided that the November party conference was the perfect time to announce the withdrawal of the Referendum Pledge, and that Lord Lansdowne should do it, because he had been leader in the House of Lords when the pledge was made and because of his relatively low profile during the original tariff reform dispute.Adams (1999) p. 82 When the conference opened the British political world was febrile; on 12 November the opposition had narrowly defeated the government on an amendment to the Home Rule Bill, and the next evening, amidst hysterical shouting from the opposition, H. H. Asquith, Asquith attempted to introduce a motion reversing the previous vote. As the MPs filed out at the end of the day
Winston Churchill Sir Winston Leonard Spencer Churchill, (30 November 187424 January 1965) was a British statesman who served as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom The prime minister of the United Kingdom is the head of government The hea ...

Winston Churchill
began taunting the opposition, and in his anger Ronald McNeill, 1st Baron Cushendun, Ronald McNeil hurled a copy of ''Standing Orders of the House'' at Churchill, hitting him on the head. Law refused to condemn the events, and it seems apparent that while he had played no part in organising them they ''had'' been planned by the party Whips. As party leader, he was most likely aware of the plans even if he did not actively participate. The conference was opened on 14 November 1912 by Horace Farquhar, 1st Earl Farquhar, Lord Farquhar, who immediately introduced Lord Lansdowne.Adams (1999) p.83 Lansdowne revoked the Referendum Pledge, saying that as the government had failed to submit Home Rule to a referendum, the offer that tariff reform would also be submitted was null and void. Lansdowne promised that when the Unionists took office they would "do so with a free hand to deal with tariffs as they saw fit". Law then rose to speak, and in line with his agreement to let Lansdowne speak for tariff reform mentioned it only briefly when he said "I concur in every word which has fallen from Lord Lansdowne". He instead promised a reversal of several Liberal policies when the Unionists came to power, including the disestablishment of the Church in Wales, Welsh Church, land taxes and Irish Home Rule. The crowd "cheered themselves hoarse" at Law's speech. However, the reaction from the party outside the conference hall was not a positive one. Law had not consulted the local constituency branches about his plan, and several important constituency leaders led by Archibald Salvidge and Edward Stanley, 17th Earl of Derby, Lord Derby planned for a meeting of the Lancashire party, the centre of discontent, on 21 December.Adams (1999) p.84 Law was preoccupied with the problem of Irish Home Rule and was unable to give the discontent his full attention. He continued to believe that his approach to the problem of tariff reform was the correct one, and wrote to John Strachey (journalist), John Strachey on 16 November saying that "it was a case of a choice of two evils, and all that one could do was to take the lesser of the two, and that I am sure we have done". Speaking to Edward Carson, F.E. Smith,
Austen Chamberlain Sir Joseph Austen Chamberlain (16 October 1863 – 16 March 1937) was a British statesman, son of Joseph Chamberlain Joseph Chamberlain (8 July 1836 – 2 July 1914) was a British statesman who was first a radical Liberal Party (UK), Libera ...

Austen Chamberlain
and David Lindsay, 27th Earl of Crawford, Lord Balcarres in December after two weeks of receiving negative letters from party members about the change, Law outlined that he would not be averse to a return to the previous policy considering the negative feelings from the party, but felt that this would require the resignation of both himself and Lansdowne. Law again wrote to Strachey saying that he continued to feel this policy was the correct one, and only regretted that the issue was splitting the party at a time when unity was needed to fight the Home Rule problem. At the meeting of the Lancashire party the group under Derby condemned Law's actions and called for a three-week party recess before deciding what to do about the repeal of the Referendum Pledge.Adams (1999) p. 86 This was an obvious ultimatum to Law, giving him a three-week period to change his mind. Law believed that Derby was "unprincipled and treacherous", particularly since he then circulated a questionnaire among Lancashire party members with leading questions such as "do you think the abandonment of the referendum will do harm?" Law met the Lancashire party on 2 January 1913 and ordered that they must replace any food tariff based resolutions with a vote of confidence in him as a leader, and that any alternative would result in his resignation. After a chance meeting at which Edward Carson learnt of Law and Lansdowne's acceptance of possible resignation, he was spurred to ask Edward Goulding, Baron Goulding, Edward Goulding to beg Law and Lansdowne to compromise over the policy and remain as leaders. The compromise, known as the January Memorial, was agreed by Carson, James Craig, 1st Viscount Craigavon, James Craig, Law and Lansdowne at Law's house between 6–8 January 1913, affirming the support of the signatories for Law and his policies, and noting that his resignation was not wanted. Within two days 231 of the 280 Conservative MPs had signed it; 27 frontbenchers had not been invited, neither had five who were not in London, seven who were ill, the Speaker and a few others who could not be found – only eight MPs actively refused to sign.Adams (1999) p. 90 Law's official response took the form of an open letter published on 13 January 1913, in which Law offered a compromise that food duties would not be placed before Parliament to vote on until after a second, approving election took place.


Irish Home Rule

The January 1910 United Kingdom general election, January and December 1910 United Kingdom general election, December elections in 1910 destroyed the large Liberal majority, meaning they relied on the Irish Parliamentary Party, Irish Nationalists to maintain a government.Adams (1999) p. 99 As a result, they were forced to consider Home Rule, and with the passing of the Parliament Act 1911 which replaced the Lords' veto with a two-year power of delay on most issues, the Conservative Party became aware that unless they could dissolve Parliament or sabotage the Home Rule Bill, introduced in 1912, it would most likely become law by 1914. As the child of an Ulster family who had spent much time in the area (his father had moved back there several years after Law moved to Scotland), Law believed the gap between Ulster Unionism and Irish Nationalism could never be crossed. Despite this he said little about Home Rule until the passing of the Parliament Act in 1911, calling it the "Home Rule in Disguise Act" and saying it was an attempt to change parliamentary procedures so as to allow Home Rule "through the back door".Adams (1999) p. 98 After the act's passage, he made a speech in the Commons saying if the Liberals wished to pass a Home Rule Bill they should submit it to the electorate by calling a general election. His elevation to the Leader of the Conservative Party (UK), leadership of the Conservative Party allowed him a platform to voice his opinion to the public, and his speeches (culminating with the January 1912 speech at the Royal Albert Hall) were centred on Home Rule as much as they were around tariff reform. In contrast to Balfour's "milk and water" opposition to Home Rule, Law presented a "fire and blood" opposition to Home Rule that at times seemed to suggest that he was willing to contemplate a civil war to stop Home Rule.Kennedy (2007) p.575. Law stated he would not stop "from any action...we think necessary to defeat one of the most ignoble conspiracies...ever formed against the liberties of free-born men." As the Conservative Party was badly divided by the tariff issue, Law had decided to make opposition for Home Rule his signature issue as the best way of unifying the Conservative Party. Right form the start, Law presented his anti-Home Rule stance more in terms of protecting Protestant majority Ulster from being ruled by a Parliament in Dublin that would be dominated by Catholics than in terms of preserving the Union, much to the chagrin of many Unionists. Law was supported by Edward Carson, leader of the Ulster Unionists. Although Law sympathised with the Ulster Unionists politically he did not agree with the religious intolerance shown to Catholics. The passions unleashed by the Home Rule debate frequently threatened to get out of hand. In January 1912, when
Winston Churchill Sir Winston Leonard Spencer Churchill, (30 November 187424 January 1965) was a British statesman who served as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom The prime minister of the United Kingdom is the head of government The hea ...

Winston Churchill
planned to deliver a speech in favour of Home Rule in at the Ulster Hall in Belfast, the Ulster Unionist Council (UUC) threatened to use violence if necessary to stop Churchill from speaking.Kennedy (2007) p.577. The legal scholar A. V. Dicey, himself an opponent of Home Rule, wrote in a letter to Law that the threats of violence were "the worst mistake" that undermined "the whole moral strength" of the Unionist movement. But as Carson admitted in a letter to Law, the situation in Belfast was beyond his control as many UUC members were also members of the Loyal Orange Order, and the prospect of Churchill's visit to Belfast had angered so many of his followers that he felt he had to threaten violence as the best possible way of stopping the planned speech instead of leaving it to his followers who might otherwise riot. As it was, Churchill agreed to cancel his speech in response to warnings that the police would not be able to guarantee his security. Besides for his concerns about the violence, Dicey was also worried about the way in which Law was more interested about stopping Home Rule from being imposed on Ulster, instead of all of Ireland, which seemed to imply he was willing to accept the partition of Ireland. Many Irish Unionists outside of Ulster felt abandoned by Law, who seemed to care only about Ulster.


Third Home Rule Bill

The 1912 session of Parliament opened on 14 February with a stated intent by the
Liberal Party The Liberal Party is any of many political parties A political party is an organization that coordinates candidates to compete in a particular country's elections. It is common for the members of a party to hold similar ideas about politics, ...
in the speech from the throne, King's Speech to introduce a new Home Rule Bill. The bill was to be introduced on 11 April, and four days before that Law travelled to Ulster for a tour of the area. The pinnacle of this was a meeting on 9 April in the grounds of the Royal Agricultural Society of England, Royal Agricultural Society near Balmoral (an area of Belfast), attended by seventy Unionist MPs, the Primate of All Ireland and topped by "perhaps the largest Union Jack ever made" – 48 feet by 25 feet on a flagpole 90 feet high.Adams (1999) p. 103 At the meeting both Law and Carson swore to the crowd that "never under any circumstances will we submit to Home Rule". However, the Parliament Act and the government majority made such a victory against the Bill unlikely unless the government could be brought down or Parliament dissolved.Adams (1999) p.104 A second problem was that not all Unionists opposed Home Rule to the same degree; some hardcore Unionists would oppose any attempt at Home Rule, others thought it inevitable that the Bill would pass and were simply trying to get the best deal possible for Ulster. The spectre of civil war was also raised – the Ulstermen began to form paramilitary groups such as the Ulster Volunteers, and there was a strong possibility that if it came to fighting the British Army would have to be sent in to support the underfunded and understaffed Royal Irish Constabulary. The argument of Law and the Unionists between 1912 and 1914 was based on three complaints. Firstly, Ulster would never accept forced Home Rule, and made up a quarter of Ireland; if the Liberals wanted to force this issue, military force would be the only way. Law thundered that "Do you plan to hurl the full majesty and power of the law, supported on the bayonets of the British Army, against a million Ulstermen marching under the Union Flag and singing 'God Save The King'? Would the Army hold? Would the British people – would the Crown – stand for such a slaughter?".Adams (1999) p.105 A second complaint was that the government had so far refused to submit it to a general election, as Law had been suggesting since 1910. Law warned that "you will not carry this Bill without submitting it to the people of this country, and, if you make the attempt, you will succeed only in breaking our Parliamentary machine". The third complaint was that the Liberals had still not honoured the preamble of the Parliament Act 1911, which promised "to substitute for the House of Lords as it at present exists a Second Chamber constituted on a popular instead of a hereditary basis".Adams (1999) p. 106 The Unionist argument was that the Liberals were trying to make a massive constitutional change while the constitution was suspended. In May 1912, Law was told by the Conservative whip David Lindsay, 27th Earl of Crawford, Lord Balcarres that outside of Ireland "the electors are apathetic" about Home Rule, suggesting that he should de-emphasis the topic.Kennedy (2007) p.579 In July 1912 H. H. Asquith, Asquith travelled to Dublin (the first sitting Prime Minister to do so in over a century) to make a speech, ridiculing Unionist demands for a referendum on the issue via an election and calling their campaign "purely destructive in its objects, anarchic and chaotic in its methods".Adams (1999) p.107 In response the Unionists had a meeting on 27 July at Blenheim Palace, the birthplace of
Winston Churchill Sir Winston Leonard Spencer Churchill, (30 November 187424 January 1965) was a British statesman who served as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom The prime minister of the United Kingdom is the head of government The hea ...

Winston Churchill
, one of Asquith's ministers. More than 13,000 people attended, including over 40 peers. In Law's speech he said "I said so to [the Liberals] and I say so now, with the full sense of the responsibility which attaches to my position, that if the attempt be made under present conditions, I can imagine no length of resistance to which Ulster will go, in which I shall not be ready to support them, and in which they will not be supported by the overwhelming majority of the British people".Adams (1999) p. 109 Law added that if Asquith continued with the Home Rule bill, the government would be "lighting the fires of civil war". This speech was more known and criticised than any others; it implied both he and the British people would support the Ulstermen in anything, including armed rebellion. Despite the conflict and fierce resistance, the Bill continued its passage through Parliament. It moved to its second reading on 9 June, and the Committee stage on 11 June, where it became fraught in controversy after a young Liberal named Thomas Agar-Robartes proposed an amendment excluding four of the Ulster counties (Londonderry, Down, Antrim & Armagh) from the Irish Parliament.Adams (1999) p.111 This put Law in a delicate situation, since he had previously said that he would support a system allowing each county to remain "outside the Irish Parliament", at the same time saying that he would not support any amendment that didn't have Ulster's full co-operation. If he accepted the amendment, he would be seen as abandoning the Irish Unionists, but on the other hand if the amendment was carried it might disrupt the government by causing a split between the Liberals and Irish Nationalists, bringing down the government and thus forcing an election.Adams (1999) p. 112 If Unionists wished to win the ensuing election they would have to show they were willing to compromise. In the end the amendment failed, but with the Liberal majority reduced by 40, and when a compromise amendment was proposed by another Liberal MP the government Whips were forced to trawl for votes. Law saw this as a victory, as it highlighted the split in the government. Edward Carson tabled another amendment on 1 January 1913 which would exclude all nine Ulster counties, more to test government resolve than anything else. While it failed, it allowed the Unionists to portray themselves as the party of compromise and the Liberals as stubborn and recalcitrant. The Unionists in Ulster were committed to independence from any Irish Home Rule. They secretly authorised a Commission of Five to write a constitution for "a provisional Government of Ulster... to come into operation on the day of the passage of any Home Rule Bill, to remain in force until Ulster shall again resume unimpaired citizenship in the United Kingdom".Adams (1999) p. 113 On 28 September 1912, Carson led 237,638 of his followers in signing a Ulster Covenant, Solemn League and Covenant saying that Ulster would refuse to recognise the authority of any Parliament of Ireland arising from Home Rule. The "Ulster Covenant" as the Solemn League and Covenant was popularly called recalled the National Covenant signed by the Scots in 1638 to resist King Charles I who was viewed by Scots Presbyterians as a crypto-Catholic, and was widely seen as a sectarian document that promoted a "Protestant crusade".Kennedy (2007) p.580 The Conservative MP Alfred Cripps wrote in a letter to Law that English Catholics like himself were opposed to Home Rule, but he was troubled by the way that Law seemed to be using the issue as "an occasion to attack their religion." In his reply of 7 October 1912, Law wrote he was opposed to religious bigotry and claimed that as far he could tell that no "responsible" Unionist leader in Ireland had attacked the Roman Catholic Church. In fact, the Conservative MP Hugh Cecil, 1st Baron Quickswood, Lord Hugh Cecil had in the summer of 1912 given anti-Home Rule speeches in Ireland where he shouted "To Hell with the Pope!", and was not censured by Law. When Parliament resumed in October after the summer recess, the Home Rule Bill was passed by the Commons. As expected, the House of Lords rejected it 326 to 69, and under the provisions of the Parliament Act it could only be passed if it was passed twice more by the Commons in successive Parliaments. In December 1912, the chairmen of the Conservative Party, Arthur Steel-Maitland, wrote to Law that the Home Rule issue did not command much attention in England, and asked that he move away from the topic which he asserted was damaging the image of the Conservatives.


Second passage

The end of 1912 saw the end of a year of political struggle for Law. As well as the problem of Home Rule, there were internal party struggles; supporters of the Church of England or military reform lambasted Law for not paying attention to their causes, and tariff reformers argued with him over his previous compromise on food duties. Despite this, most Conservatives realised that as a fighting leader, Law could not be bettered. The results of by-elections throughout 1913 continued to favour them, but progress on the Home Rule Bill was less encouraging; on 7 July it was again passed by the Commons, and again rejected by the Lords on 15 July.Adams (1999) p.124 In response, the UUC created a paramilitary group, the Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF), to fight against the British government if necessary to stop Home Rule.Kennedy (2007) p.581. The Conservative peer, Lord Hythe, wrote to Law to suggest the Conservatives needed to present a constructive alternative to Home Rule and he had the "duty to tell these Ulstermen" that there was no need for the UVF. Another Tory peer, James Gascoyne-Cecil, 4th Marquess of Salisbury, Lord Sailsbury, wrote to Law that as much as he was opposed to Home Rule that: "I cannot support political lawlessness and I shall either disenfranchise myself or vote Liberal...rather than encourage armed resistance in Ulster." Lord Balcarres wrote to Law that much of the Conservative caucus were "deeply confused and uncertain" and the "policies of reckless defiance" were unpopular with the party membership in England. Balcarres wrote he was "...much alarmed lest some sporadic outbreak by Orangemen should...alienate English sympathies."Kennedy (2007) p.583. Lord Lansdowne advised Law to be "extremely careful in our relations with Carson and his friends" and find a way of stopping F. E. Smith, 1st Earl of Birkenhead, F. E. Smith’s "habit of expressing rather violent sentiments in the guise of messages from the Unionist party." Balfour wrote to Law that he had "much misgiving upon the general loosening of the ordinary ties of social obligation...I do most strongly feel that nothing can be more demoralising to a society than that some of its...most loyal members should deliberately organise themselves for the purpose of offering...armed resistance to persons...representing lawful authority." During the debate on the Home Rule bill, Carson submitted an amendment that would exclude the 9 counties of Ulster from the jurisdiction of the proposed Parliament that would govern from Dublin, which was defeated by the Liberal MPs. However, Carson's amendment which would lead to the partition of Ireland caused much alarm with Irish Unionists outside of Ulster and led many to write letters from Law seeking assurances that he would not abandon them for the sake of saving Ulster from Home Rule.Kennedy (2007) p.584. Carson told Law that he favoured a compromise under which Home Rule would be granted to southern Ireland, but not Ulster, and at the same time some sort of home rule be granted to Wales and Scotland as well. Law himself in a letter to a friend stated that the British public was "so sick of the whole Irish question" that the majority would probably agree to a compromise of a Home Rule for Ireland sans Ulster. Parliament rose for the summer recess on 15 August, and Law and the Unionists spent the summer trying to convince George V, the King to voice an opinion on the issue. Their first suggestion was that he should withhold the Royal Assent on it, something that horrified Law's constitutional law adviser A.V. Dicey. The second was more reasonable – they argued that the Liberals had put the King in an impossible position by asking him to ratify a bill that would infuriate half of the population. His only option was to write a memo to Asquith saying this and requesting that the problem of home rule be put to the electorate via a general election. After thinking on this, the King agreed, and handed a note to Asquith on 11 August requesting either an election or an all-party conference. Asquith responded with two notes, the first countering the Unionist claim that it would be acceptable for the King to dismiss Parliament or withhold assent of the Bill to force an election, and the second arguing that a Home Rule election would not prove anything, since a Unionist victory would only be due to other problems and scandals and would not assure supporters of the current government that Home Rule was truly opposed. George V, King George pressed for a compromise, summoning various political leaders to Balmoral Castle individually for talks. Law arrived on 13 September and again pointed out to the king his belief that if the Government continued to refuse an election fought over Home Rule and instead forced it on Ulster, the Ulstermen would not accept it and any attempts to enforce it would not be obeyed by the British Army. By early October the King was pressuring the British political world for an all-party conference. Fending this off, Law instead met with senior party members to discuss developments. Law, Arthur Balfour, Balfour, F.E. Smith, 1st Earl of Birkenhead, Smith and Walter Long, 1st Viscount Long, Long discussed the matter, all except Long favouring a compromise with the Liberals. Long represented the anti-Home Rule elements in Southern Ireland, and from this moment onwards Southern and Northern attitudes towards Home Rule began to diverge.Adams (1999) p. 129 Law then met with Edward Carson, and afterwards expressed the opinion that "the men of Ulster do desire a settlement on the basis of leaving Ulster out, and Carson thinks such an arrangement could be carried out without any serious attack from the Unionists in the South". On 8 October Asquith wrote to Law suggesting an informal meeting of the two party leaders, which Law accepted. The two met at Cherkley Court, the home of Law's ally Max Aitken, 1st Baron Beaverbrook, Sir Max Aitken MP (later Lord Beaverbrook), on 14 October.Adams (1999) p. 133 The meeting lasted an hour, and Law told Asquith that he would continue to try to have Parliament dissolved, and that in any ensuing election the Unionists would accept the result even if it went against them.Adams (1999) p. 134 Law later expressed his fear to Lansdowne that Asquith would persuade the Irish Nationalists to accept Home Rule with the exclusion of four Ulster counties with Protestant/unionist majorities. Carson would not accept this, requiring six of nine ulster counties to be excluded (i.e., four with unionist majorities plus two majority nationalist, leaving the three Ulster counties with large nationalist majorities, leading to an overall unionist majority in the six); such a move might split the Unionists. Law knew that Asquith was unlikely to consent to a general election, since he would almost certainly lose it, and that any attempt to pass the Home Rule Bill "without reference to the electorate" would lead to civil disturbance.Adams (1999) p. 136 As such, Asquith was stuck "between a rock and a hard place" and was sure to negotiate. Asquith and Law met for a second private meeting on 6 November, at which Asquith raised three possibilities. The first, suggested by Edward Grey, 1st Viscount Grey of Fallodon, Sir Edward Grey, consisted of "Home Rule within Home Rule" – Home Rule covering Ulster, but with partial autonomy for Ulster.Adams (1999) p. 137 The second was that Ulster would be excluded from Home Rule for a number of years before becoming part of it, and the third was that Ulster would be excluded from Home Rule for as long as it liked, with the opportunity of joining when it wished. Law made it clear to Asquith that the first two options were unacceptable, but the third might be accepted in some circles. The leaders then discussed the geographical definition of the area to be excluded from Home Rule; Ulster formally consists of nine counties, of which only four had a clear unionist majority, three a clear nationalist majority and two a small nationalist majority – however, overall a practical problem was that the nine counties of Ulster were majority nationalist. Carson always referred to nine counties of Ulster, but Law told Asquith that if an appropriate settlement could be made with a smaller number, Carson "would see his people and probably, though I could not give any promise to that effect, try to induce them to accept it". The third meeting was on 10 December and Law, raging because Asquith had not yet presented a concrete way to exclude Ulster, made little progress. Law brushed aside Asquith's suggestions and insisted that only the exclusion of Ulster was worth considering.Adams (1999) p. 141 He later wrote that "My feeling, however, is that Asquith has no hope whatsoever of making such an arrangement and that his present idea is simply to let things drift in the meantime.. I do not understand why he took the trouble of seeing me at all. The only explanation I can give is that I think he is in a funk about the whole position and thought that meeting me might keep the thing open at least". With the failure of these talks, Law accepted that a compromise was unlikely, and from January 1914 he returned to the position that the Unionists were "opposed utterly to Home Rule". The campaign was sufficient to bring the noted organiser Alfred Milner, 1st Viscount Milner, Lord Milner back into politics to support the Unionists, and he immediately asked L.S. Amery to write a British Covenant saying that the signers would, if the Home Rule Bill passed, "feel justified in taking or supporting any action that may be effective to prevent it being put into operation, and more particularly to prevent the armed forces of the Crown being used to deprive the people of Ulster of their rights as citizens of the United Kingdom".Adams (1999) p. 146 The Covenant was announced at a massive rally in Hyde Park, London, Hyde Park on 4 April 1914, with hundreds of thousands assembling to hear Milner, Long and Carson speak. By the middle of the summer Long claimed more than 2,000,000 people had signed the Covenant. Law's critics, including George Dangerfield, condemned his actions in assuring the Ulster Unionists of Conservative Party support in their armed resistance to Home Rule, as unconstitutional, verging on promoting a civil war. Law's supporters argued that he was acting constitutionally by forcing the Liberal government into calling the election it had been avoiding, to obtain a mandate for their reforms.


Army (Annual) Act

Law was not directly involved in the British Covenant campaign as he was focusing on a practical way to defeat the Home Rule Bill. His first attempt was via the Army (Annual) Act, something that "violated a basic and ancient principle of the constitution".Adams (1999) p. 147 Every year since the Glorious Revolution, the Act had fixed the maximum number of soldiers in the British Army; rejecting it would technically make the British Army an illegal institution. William Palmer, 2nd Earl of Selborne, Lord Selborne had written to Law in 1912 to point out that vetoing or significantly amending the Act in the House of Lords would force the government to resign, and such a course of action was also suggested by others in 1913–14. Law believed that subjecting Ulstermen to a Dublin-based government they did not recognise was itself constitutionally damaging, and that amending the Army (Annual) Act to prevent the use of force in Ulster (he never suggested vetoing it) would not violate the constitution any more than the actions the government had already undertaken. By 12 March he had established that, should the Home Rule Bill be passed under the Parliament Act 1911, the Army (Annual) Act should be amended in the Lords to stipulate that the Army could not "be used in Ulster to prevent or interfere with any step which may thereafter be taken in Ulster to organise resistance to the enforcement of the Home Rule Act in Ulster nor to suppress any such resistance until and unless the present Parliament has been dissolved and a period of three months shall have lapsed after the meeting of a new Parliament".Adams (1999) p.149 The Shadow Cabinet consulted legal experts, who agreed wholeheartedly with Law's suggestion. Although several members expressed dissent, the Shadow Cabinet decided "provisionally to agree to amendment of army act. but to leave details and decisions as to the moment of acting to Lansdowne and Law".Adams (1999) p.150 In the end no amendment to the Army Act was offered, though; many backbenchers and party loyalists became agitated by the scheme and wrote to him that it was unacceptable – Ian Malcolm (politician), Ian Malcolm, a fanatical Ulster supporter, told Law that amending the Army Act would drive him out of the Party.


World War I

On 30 July 1914, on the eve of the First World War, Law met with Asquith and agreed to temporarily suspend the issue of Home Rule to avoid domestic discontent during wartime. By the following day both leaders had convinced their parties to agree to this move. On 3 August, Law promised openly in Commons that his Conservative Party would give "unhesitating support' to the government's war policy. On 4 August, Germany rejected British demands for a withdrawal from Belgium, and Britain declared war. Over the coming months, the Liberal, Labour and Conservative whips worked out a truce suspending confrontational politics until either 1 January 1915 or until the end of the War. On 4 August both Asquith and Law made speeches together at the Middlesex Guildhall, and uncomfortably socialised with each other's parties. On 6 August, the Conservatives learnt that Asquith planned to put the Home Rule Bill on the statute books; Law wrote an angry letter to Asquith, the response of which was that Asquith could either pass the bill immediately, suspending it for the duration of the conflict, or make it law with a six-month delay and with a three-year exclusion for Ulster. Law responded with a speech in the Commons, saying that "the Government have treated us abominably... but we are in the middle of a great struggle. Until that struggle [is] over, so far as we are concerned, in everything connected with it there would be no parties, there would openly be a nation. In regard to this debate I have made protest as well as I could, but when I have finished we shall take no further part in the discussion". The entire Party then left the Commons silently, and although a strong protest (Asquith later admitted that "it was unique in my or I think anybody's experience") the bill was still passed, although with a suspension for the duration of the War. The Conservatives soon began to get annoyed that they were unable to criticise the Government, and took this into Parliament; rather than criticising policy, they would attack individual ministers, including the Richard Haldane, 1st Viscount Haldane, Lord Chancellor (who they considered "far too enamoured of German culture") and the Reginald McKenna, Home Secretary, who was "too tender to aliens". By Christmas 1914 they were anxious about the war; it was not, in their opinion, going well, and yet they were restricted to serving on committees and making recruitment speeches. At about the same time, Law and
David Lloyd George David Lloyd George, 1st Earl Lloyd-George of Dwyfor, (17 January 1863 – 26 March 1945) was a British statesman and Liberal Party The Liberal Party is any of many political parties A political party is an organization that coordinat ...

David Lloyd George
met to discuss the possibility of a coalition government. Law was supportive of the idea in some ways, seeing it as a probability that "a coalition government would come in time".


Coalition Government


Background and information

The crisis which forced a coalition was twofold; first the Shell Crisis of 1915, and then the resignation of John Fisher, 1st Baron Fisher, Lord Fisher, the First Sea Lord. The Shell Crisis was a shortage of artillery shells on the Western Front. It indicated a failure to fully organise British industry. Asquith tried to ward off the criticism the day before the debate, praising his government's efforts and saying that "I do not believe that any army has ever either entered upon a campaign or been maintained during a campaign with better or more adequate equipment". The Conservatives, whose sources of information included officers such as John French, 1st Earl of Ypres, Sir John French, were not put off, and instead became furious. Over the next few days the Conservative backbenchers threatened to break the truce and mount an attack on the government over the munitions situation. Law forced them to back down on 12 May, but on the 14th an article appeared in ''The Times'' blaming the British failure at the Second Battle of Artois, Battle of Aubers Ridge on the lack of munitions. This again stirred up the backbenchers, who were only just kept in line. The Shadow Cabinet took a similar line; things could not go on as they were. The crisis was only halted with the resignation of Lord Fisher. Fisher had opposed
Winston Churchill Sir Winston Leonard Spencer Churchill, (30 November 187424 January 1965) was a British statesman who served as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom The prime minister of the United Kingdom is the head of government The hea ...

Winston Churchill
over the Gallipoli Campaign, and felt that he could not continue in government if the two would be in conflict. Law knew that this would push the Conservative back bench over the edge, and met with
David Lloyd George David Lloyd George, 1st Earl Lloyd-George of Dwyfor, (17 January 1863 – 26 March 1945) was a British statesman and Liberal Party The Liberal Party is any of many political parties A political party is an organization that coordinat ...

David Lloyd George
on 17 May to discuss Fisher's resignation. Lloyd George decided that "the only way to preserve a united front was to arrange for more complete cooperation between parties in the direction of the War". Lloyd George reported the meeting to Asquith, who agreed that a coalition was inescapable. He and Law agreed to form a coalition government. Law's next job, therefore, was to assist the Liberal Party in creating a new government. In their discussions on 17 May, both Law and Lloyd George had agreed that Herbert Kitchener, 1st Earl Kitchener, Lord Kitchener should not remain in the War Office, and removing him became top priority. Unfortunately the press began a campaign supporting Kitchener on 21 May, and the popular feeling that this raised convinced Law, Lloyd George and Asquith that Kitchener could not be removed. To keep him and at the same time remove the munitions supply from his grasp to prevent a repeat of the "shells crisis" the Ministry of Munitions was created, with Lloyd George becoming Minister of Munitions. Law eventually accepted the post of Colonial Secretary, an unimportant post in wartime; Asquith had made it clear that he would not allow a Conservative minister to head the Exchequer, and that with Kitchener (whom he considered a Conservative) in the War Office, he would not allow another Conservative to hold a similarly important position. Fearing for the integrity of the coalition, Law accepted this position. Outside of Law's position, other Conservatives also gained positions in the new administration;
Arthur Balfour Arthur James Balfour, 1st Earl of Balfour, (, ; 25 July 184819 March 1930) was Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1902 to 1905. He was a member of the Conservative Party. As Foreign Secretary in the Lloyd George ministry, he issued ...

Arthur Balfour
became First Lord of the Admiralty,
Austen Chamberlain Sir Joseph Austen Chamberlain (16 October 1863 – 16 March 1937) was a British statesman, son of Joseph Chamberlain Joseph Chamberlain (8 July 1836 – 2 July 1914) was a British statesman who was first a radical Liberal Party (UK), Libera ...

Austen Chamberlain
became Secretary of State for India and Edward Carson, Baron Carson, Edward Carson became Attorney General for England and Wales, Attorney General.


Colonial Secretary

During Law's time as Colonial Secretary, the three main issues were the question of manpower for the British Army, the crisis in Ireland and the Gallipoli Campaign, Dardanelles Campaign. Dardanelles took priority, as seen by Asquith's restructuring of his War Council into a Dardanelles Committee. Members included Kitchener, Law, Churchill, Lloyd George and Lansdowne, with the make-up divided between political parties to defuse tension and provide criticism of policy. The main discussion was on the possibility of reinforcing the forces already landed, something Law disagreed with. With Asquith and the Army in support, however, he felt that he was ill-equipped to combat the proposal. Five more divisions were landed, but faced heavy casualties for little gain. As a result, Law led a strong resistance to the idea at the next Committee meeting on 18 August. The idea only avoided being scrapped thanks to the French promise to send forces in early September, and the arguing became an immense strain on the government. Law entered the coalition government as Colonial Secretary in May 1915, his first Cabinet post, and, following the resignation of Prime Minister and Liberal Party leader Asquith in December 1916, was invited by King George V to form a government, but he deferred to David Lloyd George, Lloyd George, Secretary of State for War and former Minister of Munitions, who he believed was better placed to lead a coalition ministry. He served in Lloyd George's War Cabinet, first as
Chancellor of the Exchequer The chancellor of the Exchequer, often abbreviated to the chancellor, is a senior minister of the Crown within the Government of the United Kingdom, and the chief executive officer of HM Treasury, Her Majesty's Treasury. As one of the four Grea ...
and Leader of the House of Commons. While Chancellor, he raised the stamp duty on cheques from one penny to twopence in 1918. His promotion reflected the great mutual trust between the two leaders and made for a well co-ordinated political partnership; their coalition was re-elected by a landslide following the Armistice. Law's two eldest sons were both killed whilst fighting in the war. In the 1918 General Election, Law returned to Glasgow and was elected as member for Glasgow Central (constituency), Glasgow Central.


Post-war and Prime Minister

At war's end, Law gave up the Exchequer for the less demanding sinecure office of Lord Privy Seal, but remained Leader of the Commons. In 1921, ill health forced his resignation as Conservative leader and Leader of the Commons in favour of
Austen Chamberlain Sir Joseph Austen Chamberlain (16 October 1863 – 16 March 1937) was a British statesman, son of Joseph Chamberlain Joseph Chamberlain (8 July 1836 – 2 July 1914) was a British statesman who was first a radical Liberal Party (UK), Libera ...

Austen Chamberlain
. His departure weakened the hardliners in the cabinet who were opposed to negotiating with the Irish Republican Army, and the Anglo-Irish War ended in the summer. By 1921–22 the coalition had become embroiled in an air of moral and financial corruption (e.g. the sale of honours). Besides the recent Irish Treaty and Edwin Montagu's moves towards Montagu–Chelmsford Reforms, greater self-government for India, both of which dismayed rank-and-file Conservative opinion, the government's willingness to intervene against the Bolshevik regime in Russia also seemed out of step with the new and more pacifist mood. A sharp slump in 1921 and a wave of strikes in the coal and railway industries also added to the government's unpopularity, as did the apparent failure of the Genoa Conference, which ended in an apparent rapprochement between Germany and Soviet Russia. In other words, it was no longer the case that Lloyd George was an electoral asset to the Conservative Party. Lloyd George, Birkenhead and
Winston Churchill Sir Winston Leonard Spencer Churchill, (30 November 187424 January 1965) was a British statesman who served as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom The prime minister of the United Kingdom is the head of government The hea ...

Winston Churchill
(still distrusted by many Conservatives) wished to use armed force against Turkey (the Chanak Crisis), but had to back down when offered support only by New Zealand and Dominion of Newfoundland, Newfoundland, and not Canada, Australia or South Africa; Law wrote to ''The Times'' supporting the government but stating that Britain could not "act as the policeman for the world". At a Carlton Club meeting, meeting at the Carlton Club, Conservative backbenchers, led by the President of the Board of Trade Stanley Baldwin and influenced by the recent 1922 Newport by-election, Newport by-election which was won from the Liberals by a Conservative, voted to end the Lloyd George Coalition and fight the next election as an independent party. Austen Chamberlain resigned as Party Leader, Lloyd George resigned as Prime Minister and Law took both jobs on 23 October 1922. Many leading Conservatives (e.g. Birkenhead,
Arthur Balfour Arthur James Balfour, 1st Earl of Balfour, (, ; 25 July 184819 March 1930) was Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1902 to 1905. He was a member of the Conservative Party. As Foreign Secretary in the Lloyd George ministry, he issued ...

Arthur Balfour
, Austen Chamberlain, Robert Horne) were not members of the new Cabinet, which Birkenhead contemptuously referred to as "the Second Eleven". Although the Coalition Conservatives numbered no more than thirty, they hoped to dominate any future Coalition government in the same way that the similarly sized Peelite group had dominated the Aberdeen ministry, Coalition Government of 1852–1855 – an analogy much used at the time. Parliament was immediately dissolved, and a 1922 United Kingdom general election , General Election ensued. Besides the two Conservative factions, the Labour Party (UK), Labour Party were fighting as a major national party for the first time and indeed became the main Opposition after the election; the Liberals were still split into Asquith and Lloyd George factions, with many Lloyd George Liberals still unopposed by Conservative candidates (including Churchill, who was defeated at Dundee nonetheless). Despite the confused political arena the Conservatives were re-elected with a comfortable majority. Questions were raised about whether the elderly Conservative Party Treasurer, Lord Farquhar, had passed on to Lloyd George (who during his premiership had amassed a large fund, largely from the sale of honours) any money intended for the Conservative Party. The Coalition Conservatives also hoped to obtain Conservative Party money from Farquhar. Bonar Law found Farquhar too "gaga" to properly explain what had happened, and dismissed him. One of the questions which taxed Law's brief government was that of inter-Allied war debts. Britain owed money to the US, and in turn was owed four times as much money by France, Italy and the other Allied powers, although under the Lloyd George government Balfour had promised that Britain would collect no more money from other Allies than she was required to repay the USA; the debt was hard to repay as trade (exports were needed to earn foreign currency) had not returned to prewar levels. On a trip to the USA Stanley Baldwin, the inexperienced
Chancellor of the Exchequer The chancellor of the Exchequer, often abbreviated to the chancellor, is a senior minister of the Crown within the Government of the United Kingdom, and the chief executive officer of HM Treasury, Her Majesty's Treasury. As one of the four Grea ...
, agreed to repay £40 million per annum to the USA rather than the £25 million which the British government had thought feasible, and on his return announced the deal to the press when his ship docked at Southampton, before the Cabinet had had a chance to consider it. Law contemplated resignation, and after being talked out of it by senior ministers vented his feelings in an anonymous letter to ''The Times''.Ahamed, Liaquat: ''Lords of Finance'', p. 144;


Resignation and death

Law was soon diagnosed with terminal oesophageal cancer, throat cancer and, no longer physically able to speak in Parliament, resigned on 20 May 1923. George V sent for Baldwin, whom Law is rumoured to have favoured over Lord Curzon. However Law did not offer any advice to the King.Alan Clark, ''The Tories: Conservatives and the Nation State 1922–1997'' (Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1998), p. 25; Law died later that same year in London at the age of 65. His funeral was held at Westminster Abbey where later his ashes were interred. His estate was probated at £35,736 (approximately £ as of ). Bonar Law was the shortest-serving Prime Minister of the 20th century. He is often referred to as "the unknown Prime Minister", not least because of a biography of that title by Robert Blake, Baron Blake, Robert Blake; the name comes from a remark by Asquith at Bonar Law's funeral, that they were burying the Unknown Prime Minister next to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Sir Steven Runciman is reported to have said that he had known all British Prime Ministers in his lifetime, except Bonar Law, "whom nobody knew". A tiny hamlet (unincorporated village) in the municipality of Stirling-Rawdon, Ontario, Canada, is named Bonarlaw after the British Prime Minister. It had been known as "Big Springs" and then "Bellview". The Bonar Law Memorial High School in Bonar Law's birthplace, Rexton, New Brunswick, Canada, is also named in his honour.


Bonar Law's Government, October 1922 – May 1923

*Bonar Law – Prime Minister and Leader of the House of Commons *George Cave, 1st Viscount Cave, Lord Cave – Lord Chancellor *James Edward Hubert Gascoyne-Cecil, 4th Marquess of Salisbury, Lord Salisbury – Lord President of the Council and Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster *Stanley Baldwin –
Chancellor of the Exchequer The chancellor of the Exchequer, often abbreviated to the chancellor, is a senior minister of the Crown within the Government of the United Kingdom, and the chief executive officer of HM Treasury, Her Majesty's Treasury. As one of the four Grea ...
*William Clive Bridgeman – Secretary of State for the Home Department *George Nathaniel Curzon, 1st Marquess Curzon of Kedleston, Lord Curzon of Kedleston – Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs and Leader of the House of Lords *Victor Cavendish, 9th Duke of Devonshire, The Duke of Devonshire –
Secretary of State for the Colonies The secretary of state for the colonies or colonial secretary was the Cabinet of the United Kingdom, British Cabinet government minister, minister in charge of managing the United Kingdom's various British Empire, colonial dependencies. History ...
*Edward George Villiers Stanley, 17th Earl of Derby, Lord Derby – Secretary of State for War *William Wellesley Peel, 1st Earl Peel, Lord Peel – Secretary of State for India *Ronald Munro Ferguson, 1st Viscount Novar, Lord Novar – Secretary for Scotland *Leopold Stennett Amery, Leo Amery – First Lord of the Admiralty *Philip Cunliffe-Lister, 1st Earl of Swinton, Sir Philip Lloyd-Greame –
President of the Board of Trade The president of the Board of Trade is head of the Board of Trade The Board of Trade is a British government body concerned with commerce and industry, currently within the Department for International Trade. Its full title is The Lords of the C ...
*Robert Arthur Sanders, 1st Baron Bayford, Sir Robert Sanders – Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food, Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries *Edward Wood, 1st Earl of Halifax, Edward Wood – President of the Board of Education *Montague Barlow, Sir Montague Barlow – Secretary of State for Employment, Minister of Labour *Arthur Griffith-Boscawen, Sir Arthur Griffith-Boscawen – Secretary of State for Health, Minister of Health


Changes

*April 1923 – Griffith-Boscawen resigned as Minister of Health after losing his seat and was replaced by Neville Chamberlain.


Cultural depictions


References


Bibliography

* * R. J. Q. Adams, Adams, R. J. Q. '"Andrew Bonar Law and the fall of the Asquith Coalition: The December 1916 cabinet crisis," '' Canadian Journal of History'' (1997) 32#2 pp 185–20
online
* * * Blake, Robert. ''The Unknown Prime Minister: The Life and Times of Andrew Bonar Law, 1858–1923'' (London: Eyre and Spottiswoode, 1955
online
* Charmley, John. ''A History of Conservative Politics, 1900–1996'' London: Macmillan, 1996) * Clark, Alan. ''The Tories: Conservatives and the Nation State, 1922–1997,'' (London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1998) *
online free to borrow
* * * * *
online free to borrow
* * * * * * *


External links

*
More about Andrew Bonar Law
on the Downing Street website.
The Bonar Law Papers
at the UK Parliamentary Archives
1903 illustrated article with photo of Bonar Law
* Stuart Ball
Bonar Law, Andrew
in

* * *
Parliamentary Archives, The Bonar Law Papers
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