Monday, 6 April 2009

Tory Touts Temperance before 'U' turn

Stay with me on this a while. It all relates to the 1900 'Khaki' election and a series of cartoons that appeared in the Liberal supporting Southport Guardian.
The Boer War was raging and so was jingoist sentiment. Lord Salisbury wrapped himself in the flag and ran for the polls whilst the fighting was still going on. There was none of this 'we can't talk about it until the war is over and our boys have come home' nonsense we get from the present government.

The Liberal Party was a tad divided. There were clearly some who quite favoured the enterprise, Campbell Bannerman gave reluctant and passive support as long as the war went on and then there was Lloyd George. In truth anti war sentiment was widespread in the National Liberal Federation and particularly so in the large provincial cities. For his anti war views Lloyd George got himself set upon by an angry mob in the Llyn peninsular and famously had to escape another angry mob at the Birmingham Town Hall by disguising himself as a policeman. (I make no comment on the behavior of theTory supporting mob)

Back in Southport Dr Pilkington the Liberal MP was angrily critical of the government and particularly the War Office remarking on their 'blunders' and demanding thorough reform. The local Liberal Association was more open in it's anti war sentiment and 'protested' against the governments handling of the situation asserting that the war was unnecessary and could and should be settled by peaceful means.

Winston Churchill gets a walk on part in this saga. Whilst still serving in South Africa Southport Conservatives tried to persuade him to stand as their candidate. It didn't take long for Churchill to snub them. The Southport Liberals were (and still are) formidable election fighters and had seen off Balfour in the 1899 by election caused by the death of the Liberal MP who had defeated Lord (later Earl) Skelmesdale in the 1898 General election.

The next three postings relate to the cartoons published by the Southport Guardian-not all are headlines .