Liberal Party Politics, the South African War, and the Rhetoric of Imperial Governance

Liberal Party Politics, the South African War, and the Rhetoric of Imperial Governance Abstract This article examines the imperial rhetoric of the Liberal Party during the South African War of 1899–1902, charting its use and development across five key controversies spanning the course of the conflict. Moving beyond traditional interpretations of the Liberal split as the product of competing visions of Empire and approaches to imperialism, this article argues for the need to recognize also the continuities within the imperial rhetoric of fin-de-siècle British Liberalism. Building on recent studies of political languages, it identifies how Liberal speakers from across the party operated within a rhetorical framework that emphasized three ideals of imperial governance: good government, self-government, and pluralism. In doing so, this article seeks to advance our understanding of the South African War as an episode in British party politics, demonstrating the complexity and nuance of the Liberal Party’s response to the conflict. Furthermore, by undertaking an in-depth exploration of the rhetoric of imperial governance, this article highlights the Liberal response to the South African War as a case study for the reinvention and reiteration of both party and imperial languages in early twentieth-century Britain, with the potential to offer new insights into the political and imperial cultures of the period. ‘Mix a little commonsense with your policy, develop your Empire, knit its parts together, and evoke the honourable, wholesome loyalty which comes from a well-governed, and, if possible, a self-governed people’.1 In considering these words from Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman, delivered mere weeks after the outbreak of the South African War, it is tempting to conclude that the embattled leader of the Liberal Party was simply seeking refuge in a statement of imperialism sufficiently vague that neither the most Radical pro-Boer nor the staunchest Liberal Imperialist could find much fault in it. Yet the emphasis placed on imperial governance was no passing remark. Instead, these ideals played a central role in the Liberal Party’s response to the politics of Empire at the fin de siècle. This article surveys the Liberal Party’s use of the rhetoric of imperial governance over the course of the 1899–1902 South African War.2 In doing so, it seeks to provide a corrective to traditional interpretations that emphasize a Liberal split over the idea of imperialism by demonstrating that important continuities persisted alongside innovations in Liberal imperial politics. This article additionally aims to contribute to our wider understanding of fin-de-siècle British political culture. Recent scholarship on the languages of politics has emphasized the extent to which apparently elite discourses of party and government obtained a greater resonance within public life, the articulation of ideas and values shaping the parameters of debate and interacting at a fundamental level with the popular politics and electoral dynamics of early twentieth-century Britain.3 As Jon Lawrence has argued, political parties did not simply echo political change, but actively interpreted it through their use of language.4 The close examination of parties’ rhetorical frameworks must therefore take a central role in any assessment of fin-de-siècle imperial politics, and by studying the Liberal response to the South African War as a case study of these elements, it is the ambition of this piece to contribute towards this essential task. The conflict’s significance for imperial Britain has long been a matter of interest for historians, the experience of the war serving as a test case for metropolitan imperial culture.5 This has proved to be particularly the case for scholars of British political history, the war having propelled the ‘South African question’ to prominence at the very centre of British political life. The use of the conflict as a case study for imperial politics has proved a highly productive field for historical inquiry and debate, not least in relation to the Unionist victory in the ‘khaki’ election of 1900. Richard Price’s once widely accepted assessment that the war played only a minor role in the election has come under challenge, most notably from Paul Readman’s argument that patriotic languages were central to the Unionist campaign.6 A focus on languages and political rhetoric has also proved a productive field for scholars of the conflict’s imperial significance. In their classic study, Richard Koebner and Helmut Dan Schmidt identified the war as ‘an essential turning point’ in the career of imperialism as a political word, bringing about a reversion to a pejorative understanding of the term.7 More recently, Andrew S. Thompson has used the South African question to chart the rise to dominance of different visions of imperialism within British political discourse. A Conservative focus on settler kinship, Thompson argues, gave way to an ill-fated Fabian-Liberal Imperialist emphasis on patriotic social reform, and then later a Radical language of trusteeship.8 Thompson’s emphasis on the fundamentally contested nature of imperial ideas and languages in this period is valuable, illustrating both the speed at which imperial languages were reformulated and the importance of immediate political contexts for the idealization of Empire. The Liberal response to the South African War did not take place in a vacuum. Instead, it arose within a political culture in which established ideas as to the nature of the British Empire and the politics of imperialism were facing disruption, both creating opportunities for political innovation but also compelling Liberal speakers to articulate their own ideals of Empire. Liberals had to articulate specifically Liberal imperial positions in the face of a determined Unionist effort to dominate the politics of Empire, as well as advancing a form of politics that could lead the party to success against their opponents. It was the necessity of managing these political imperatives that shaped the Liberal Party’s imperial politics over the course of the conflict. The fundamentals of the Liberal split over the South African War have been well documented, and had their roots as much in the electoral failures of late-Gladstonian Liberalism as in any questions of imperialism. On one wing of the party stood the Liberal Imperialist group, supporters of the former Prime Minister Lord Rosebery. An essentially elite faction, the Liberal Imperialists generally supported the Unionist government’s handling of the South African question, at least up until Rosebery’s Chesterfield speech of December 1901.9 On the opposite wing of the party were the Liberal opponents of the war, dubbed by their detractors as the pro-Boers. A far more disparate group, its leading figures including members of the Gladstonian old guard like Sir William Harcourt and John Morley as well as Radicals such as David Lloyd George, the pro-Boers were outspoken in their criticism of the justice of the conflict and the government’s conduct.10 Sitting between the two was the ‘official’ position of Campbell-Bannerman, best characterized as initially one of qualified support for the government, turning towards more outspoken criticism following his famous ‘methods of barbarism’ speech in June 1901.11 These essential fault lines within the Liberal Party lasted the full course of the war. However, there are major limitations with assessing the Liberal response to the conflict from a purely factional perspective. British Liberalism was not a closed body of views and practices, but instead embodied a broad spectrum of recognizably Liberal ideas and traditions, within which political actors moved freely. Liberal pro-Boerism and Liberal Imperialism existed as loose positions on this spectrum, rather than as clearly demarcated Liberal philosophies. Despite the dizzying array of sectional organizations established during this period, the factions within British Liberalism were therefore essentially fluid. The trajectory of H.H. Asquith well illustrates this point: although a Liberal Imperialist, Asquith’s public position closely resembled that of Campbell-Bannerman for much of the war. Rather than identifying ‘pro-Boer’ and ‘Liberal Imperialist’ positions as abstract ideas for comparison, we can instead construct both movements as part of the same ongoing processes by which Liberal actors reconciled imperial questions with Liberal political culture. This allows us not only to track the nuances of these political appeals in greater detail but also to identify and examine the important points of continuity that existed across the party’s factional divides. In an environment in which not just meanings of imperialism but also meanings of Liberalism were being contested, it stands to reason that common languages of imperial politics existed across factional boundaries as well as within them. The Liberal Imperialist and Radical visions of Empire identified by Thompson existed alongside wide-ranging languages of imperial politics that Liberals from across the party drew upon. Adopting this approach thus allows us to move beyond the traditional account of Liberal high politics, and instead interrogate the underlying rhetorical frameworks and unifying languages that were central to the Liberal response to the war. This article examines the trajectory of one such unifying language: the rhetoric of imperial governance, which emphasized the political and institutional basis of imperial rule. In seeking to articulate responses to the South African War, Liberal speakers drew upon this rhetoric to frame their positions on the conflict in relation to one or more ideals of imperial governance. The first ideal, self-government, was stressed by Liberals as central to Britain’s imperial success. This ideal, which in practice meant white settler self-government, had long played an important role in the Liberal Party’s approach to the South African question, and was also closely associated with the party’s support for Irish home rule.12 Alongside this stress upon self-government stood the ideal of good government. As James Thompson has argued, the language of good government was firmly rooted in the discourse of Victorian politics, with older narratives stressing the need for morality persisting in imperial politics alongside newer debates stressing the importance of competence and the character of administrative institutions.13 Links between national character and the capacity for good government had also formed a key justification for earlier imperial interventions.14 Finally, a third ideal of pluralism can be identified, which in the context of South Africa was framed as white racial harmony. The Empire, it was argued, owed its strength and exceptionalism to its ability to accommodate non-British settler populations within its structures. As John S. Ellis has noted, pluralistic conceptions of Britishness played an important role in pro-Boer rhetoric, although it is argued here that the use of pluralism as imperial ideal was not just limited to the Liberal critics of the war.15 Together, Liberals portrayed these ideals as the basis by which the Empire should be governed, while the opposing concepts of tyranny, misrule, and ascendency also served to provide further foundations for Liberal rhetoric on the conflict. To argue for the existence of a common Liberal rhetoric of imperial governance is not, however, to advocate narrowing the scope of inquiry to the study of abstract declarations of principle. Liberal speakers simply did not have the luxury of advancing visions of imperial rule purely on their own terms. Instead, they had to articulate them as interventions within existing and rapidly developing political debates, of which their own speeches formed only a part. There was a pressing need to adapt to and counter the arguments of their opponents, not least the continuing challenge for the mantle of British Liberalism posed by Chamberlain’s Liberal Unionists.16 Yet to achieve success, Liberal speakers also had to navigate the far broader constraints of their position. As David Craig and James Thompson note, ‘even the shifting and shuffling politician knew that wider norms and values limited what he or she might do’.17 Liberal speakers had to tailor their appeals to both the assumptions and expectations of their specific audiences, immediate and in the country at large, and to the established norms of late-Victorian politics. In adopting a rhetorical approach is it therefore vital to consider not just the language used but also the specific political circumstances of Liberal speeches, and the key debates and disputes that formed their context. This article thus proceeds to survey the language and rhetorical strategies deployed in Liberal speeches and public interventions relating to five distinct controversies and episodes taken from across the course of the conflict. In doing so, it argues that although Liberal speakers from across the party produced very different responses to the events of the war, the rhetoric of imperial governance nonetheless remained a consistent and essential component of Liberal rhetoric on the South African question. By identifying this important point of continuity in British imperial politics, this article demonstrates the explicitly Liberal nature of this imperial rhetoric, identifying the roots of this rhetorical framework of imperial governance within the history, circumstances, and traditions of British Liberal politics. Concluding, it then reflects on what the case study of the South African War reveals about the agency of political languages in British political history, and argues that such rhetorical frameworks must be placed at the centre of historians’ efforts to understand the function of imperial questions within British politics in this period. The Crisis of 1899 The period broadly spanning from the summer of 1899, when the crisis began to dominate the political agenda, through to the end of October after the opening few weeks of the war is an important one, as it was a moment in which debates were still primarily concerned with questions of the war’s justification and the wisdom of British policy. Tensions between Britain and the South African Republic (SAR) had by the end of the nineteenth century been building up for many years, but came to a head over the demands for the franchise by the Uitlander population of the Transvaal, economic migrants who had flocked to the SAR following the discovery of large gold reserves on the Rand. The question of whether the Empire had a right to intervene in the internal affairs of the SAR to correct perceived misrule by the government of President Kruger, alongside wider tensions over Britain’s predominance in South Africa, created an atmosphere of mounting diplomatic tensions that would ultimately collapse into warfare.18 It was against this background of crisis therefore that Liberal speakers in Britain were required to articulate their positions on the South African question. Both Liberal speakers supportive of and opposed to the government’s confrontational policy framed the crisis as one that jeopardized British rule in South Africa by embittering relations between the two white races. Speaking in a House of Commons debate on 28 July 1899, Campbell-Bannerman cautioned that a resort to arms would produce a ‘race feud extending through the whole of our colonies and possessions, which would make the good government of that continent impossible’.19 The Liberal leader was to stress this theme again in a speech at Maidstone on 6 October. ‘Every wise and prudent statesman who has had any responsibility in South African affairs’, he insisted, ‘has found the cardinal principle of good government to lie in the maintenance of the best feeling between the Dutch and English elements in the population’.20 This rhetoric appealed to the imperial ideals of good government and white racial harmony, as well as the supposed traditions of British imperial policy, and effectively functioned as a defence of the status quo against the risks posed by warfare. However, the emphasis on race harmony also provided Liberals supportive of the government’s actions with a rhetoric of necessity. Delivering a speech at Dundee just after the outbreak of the war, Asquith presented Anglo-Dutch settler tensions as the product of misrule in the SAR, declaring that ‘you cannot isolate the causes of hatred, resentment and estrangement which have developed. They spread insensibly, gradually, inevitably, till they poison the whole life of the great South African dominion’.21 Continuing, Asquith cautioned that the situation in the Transvaal was ‘undermining the very foundations of that unanimity of feeling, that loyalty of sentiment, that harmony of co-operation upon which our imperial position in South Africa depends’.22 In deploying this narrative, Asquith was adopting the same language of good government and pluralism as his more sceptical colleagues, even as he framed the situation as one in which the Boers threatened the basis for British rule. The rhetoric of idealized imperial governance also characterized debates on self-government and the effective independence of the SAR, particularly as British grievances expanded from the question of the franchise to incorporate a far greater critique of the Transvaal’s governance. Speaking at Carnarvon on 6 October 1899, Morley attacked this change in emphasis as an affront to the SAR’s independence, condemning reforms that were ‘to affect the judiciary, the constitution, the Civil Service, the jury system, the system of Municipal Government. How much self-government, I wonder, is left when you reckon all that up’.23 British efforts to improve the position of the Uitlanders, the argument went, unjustly infringed on the Boers’ rights to govern themselves. Again however, the rhetoric of self-government was one which could be deployed by Liberals supportive of the government’s tactics. Drawing upon the widespread misconception that the Uitlanders were both primarily British and constituted a majority of the white population in the Transvaal, the Liberal Imperialist Sir Edward Grey used a speech at Glasgow University to argue that the conflict was a war for ‘free and democratic government’, as it was a war against an ‘oligarchical and oppressive’ government which granted the Uitlanders ‘not even a minority share’, even though ‘the British race were in a large majority’.24 It was to defend the principle of democratic self-government from the threat of Boer ascendency that Britain was compelled to act. In this manner, speakers from across the spectrum of opinion within the Liberal Party drew upon a common rhetorical framework of imperial governance, crystallized around the ideals of good government, self-government, and white racial harmony, to articulate and justify their varying responses to the crisis of 1899. Ultimately, as the political situation transitioned from that of a potential conflict to actual warfare, the debates on the case for intervention were eclipsed by other issues. Critically however, while subsequent debates on the conduct, progress, and ultimate settlement of the conflict soon crowded out questions surrounding the righteousness of the war, the underlying rhetorical focus on the ideals of imperial governance remained a persistent feature. Annexation Despite initial setbacks, by the spring of 1900 the tide of the war was running steadily in Britain’s favour, bringing with it an important shift in the stated objectives of British policy. At the start of the conflict, the government had been keen to stress that the war was not one of territorial expansion, Lord Salisbury famously declaring that ‘we seek no goldfields; we seek no territory’.25 However, following the successes of British forces in the field, the policy instead became one of incorporation into the Empire, and the two republics were proclaimed annexed. In this action the bulk of the Liberal Party eventually acquiesced, but the rhetorical dynamics that made such a shift in position politically acceptable to Liberal audiences again reveal the underlying focus on imperial governance at the heart of Liberal rhetoric on the South African question. Liberal speakers initially presented annexation as incompatible with the imperial ideal of self-government. Speaking at Birmingham on 24 November 1899, Campbell-Bannerman challenged the claim made by supporters of annexation that representative government could be established quickly: ‘they will have to be governed directly, autocratically, without free institutions at all in the manner of our Crown colonies’.26 A similar line was advanced by Grey, who characteristically linked the prospect of direct rule to settler opinion throughout the Empire. Speaking in March 1900, Grey cautioned that he ‘did not think any self-governing British colony liked the idea of any large white community being governed by Crown colony Government’.27 Annexation would be distasteful, and even harmful to imperial sentiment. Liberal speakers also co-opted the war’s stated aim of ensuring white racial equality to oppose annexation. Lloyd George, for instance, used a speech to the House of Commons in July 1900 to charge that Britain had started the war ‘to obtain the franchise for everybody, and we end it with the franchise for nobody. It is true that you establish a kind of equality between the white races there, but it is not equal rights, but equal wrongs’.28 In this manner, annexation was cast as fundamentally incompatible with the democratic self-governing ideals that the war was supposed to secure. By the time of Lloyd George’s protest in parliament however, the public position of the Liberal leadership had already shifted in favour of the two republics’ incorporation. The acquiescence of Campbell-Bannerman in particular on this issue has been characterized as the policy of ‘accomplished fact’, a phrase deployed by the Liberal leader himself to justify his changed position.29 However, Liberal speakers did not simply frame their retrospective support for annexation on the grounds that it was irreversible, but instead adapted their earlier rhetorical focus on imperial governance. Speaking at Glasgow on 8 June 1900, Campbell-Bannerman justified his support for annexation by asking his audience to consider what the alternative would be. Given that the SAR could not be allowed to challenge British authority or perpetuate misgovernment, he questioned the value of maintaining merely notional independence: if all major questions were to be determined externally, then ‘what is left of the reality and dignity of independence?’30 Annexation was therefore preferable to the continued independence of the Transvaal precisely because any continued independence would be in name only: the rhetoric of self-government was in this way refashioned so as to support the incorporation of the two republics into the Empire. Similar language was deployed by Asquith, who in September 1900 declared that any solution short of annexation would result in the two states possessing ‘neither the reality of independence, nor the full status of partners in the empire’.31 Asquith’s rhetoric therefore presented annexation as a means for achieving self-government within the Empire, as well as emphasizing through the language of partnership the Empire’s pluralistic credentials. Indeed, both Campbell-Bannerman and Asquith were to extend this narrative further during the election campaign, framing annexation as an active step in advancing the causes of good government and self-government in South Africa. Addressing his East Fife constituents, Asquith declared that: The annexation of the two Republics was the first step towards a free, contented, and loyal South Africa, and it was only as a first step in laying the foundation of the edifice which was ultimately to be built up that the Liberal Party acquiesced in building up the structure which was to be raised upon that foundation.32 In a speech at Stirling on 26 September, Campbell-Bannerman likewise stressed that ‘annexation is not the end. It is the beginning. Annexation is not settlement: it is the thing on which settlement is to be built’.33 In this manner Liberal speakers sought to reframe the question of annexation so as to detach the action from a Unionist narrative that presented the new colonies as the hard-won results of British sacrifice, instead focusing on the incorporation of the new colonies into the self-governing settler-Empire. The earlier rhetorical critique of misrule in the SAR was additionally deployed to further justify annexation to Liberal audiences. Speaking at Ladybank, Asquith declared that ‘no lover of freedom need shed any tears for the disappearance of the South African Republic—an unhappy specimen of one of the worst kinds of political imposture, a caricature or mockery of liberty under a democratic form’.34 Similar justifications were advanced by elements of the Liberal press: the Daily News, for example, praised annexation as a policy that would ‘give to its inhabitants that true independence, that real enjoyment of the blessings of self-government, which they have so long been denied’.35 The misgovernment of the SAR served not only to mitigate the undesirability of annexation by casting aspersions on the SAR’s claim to democratic self-government but also to further the presentation of annexation as the method by which ‘true’ self-government could be established. After the election of 1900, debates over the annexations were largely displaced by other issues. While speakers on the Radical wing of the party continued to intermittently condemn the action, actual demands for retrocession were very rare. The question of annexation thus serves as a fascinating example of rhetorical pivot for the bulk of Liberal speakers. Although concerns for the primacy of self-government within the Empire were initially presented as reasons to oppose annexation, as the political situation developed, Liberal speakers were able to draw upon the same idealized notion of self-government to argue for the necessity of the two states’ incorporation into the Empire. The consequence of this approach, however, was to link the question of self-government firmly with the outcome of the conflict, an act which would have considerable repercussions for how Liberal speakers would deal with the questions arising from the conduct of the war. ‘Methods of Barbarism’ Contrary to expectations, the fall of the two republics in 1900 did not herald the imminent end of the war, but instead saw the war move into a guerrilla phase. In response, the British Army pursued counter-insurgency measures designed at eliminating the Boer resistance’s support networks, adopting a policy of farm-burnings and, most notoriously, relocating the civilian population of the rural districts into concentration camps. Although these camps were not the instruments of extermination associated with the modern understanding of the term, dreadful sanitary conditions and a failure of British planning contributed to shockingly high death rates among the incarcerated civilian population.36 As information about the impact of the British tactics began to be communicated back to the metropole, most notably through the reports of the humanitarian campaigner Emily Hobhouse, the issue exploded into a major political storm. Speaking at a Liberal dinner on 14 June 1901 Campbell-Bannerman, who had met with Hobhouse just a few days earlier, robustly denounced farm-burning and the concentration camp system. When was a war not a war, he asked: ‘when it is carried on by methods of barbarism in South Africa’.37 Campbell-Bannerman’s attack on the British counter-insurgency in South Africa caused considerable controversy. The Leader of the Opposition, the Unionist press charged, had cast aspersions on the morality of British soldiers. However, while it was the moralistic charge of barbarity which gained notoriety, this formed only part of Campbell-Bannerman’s critique. As G.B. Pyrah has noted, Campbell-Bannerman expressly attacked the government’s tactics as undermining the future governance of the Empire.38 This was not, however, a new departure on the part of the Liberal leader, but instead a continuation of the strategy of framing the controversy as a question of imperial governance. Figures on the Radical wing of the Liberal Party had already begun to raise objections to the policy in late 1900. In a letter printed in The Times on 17 November, Morley detailed an account of farm-burning sent to him by a correspondent at the Cape. Significantly, Morley added his own comments to the end of the account, remarking that ‘I will not give offense to-day by intruding any unfashionable reflections about humanity, pity, and the like’. Instead, he urged, ‘consider the resentment that is being accumulated in the mind of every Dutch-speaking man and woman in South Africa’.39 This was a critique of farm-burning not just in relation to the humanitarian consequences of the policy but also in terms of its consequences for the Dutch-speaking population’s attitude to Britain throughout South Africa. In this focus on a heritage of hatred and concern for Dutch sentiment, speakers like Morley were continuing the anti-war narratives expressed prior to the outbreak of the conflict. Echoing Morley, the Liberal leader declared in his ‘methods of barbarism’ speech that ‘this is not a question of humanity alone’, but that ‘it has come to be condemned on grounds of policy’. When the true scope of suffering was known after the conflict, he warned, the result would not only be the racial and political enmity of those who ‘are our fellow-citizens already’ but also a ‘personal hatred, an ineradicable sense of personal wrong’. Even if, he conceded, there was a military advantage to be gained from farm-burning, it was one which came at the price of a ‘heavy, overwhelming, irredeemable mortgage on the peace and contentment of South Africa’.40 Campbell-Bannerman’s rhetoric thus squarely placed his critique of British tactics within the context of its consequences for imperial governance and the pluralistic basis of the Empire in South Africa, rather than relying on what might be considered the emotional appeal to humanity and morality. Despite the hostile reaction from many quarters to his campaign, Campbell-Bannerman and his supporters persisted with this critique. Speaking in the House of Commons a week after the ‘methods of barbarism’ speech, Lloyd George warned that ‘when children are being treated in this way and dying, we are simply ranging the deepest passions of the human heart against British rule in Africa’, adding that it would always be remembered that British rule was established by such a policy.41 Significantly, Liberal speakers sought to further portray the ‘methods of barbarism’ as undermining the basis for self-government in the newlyannexed territories. In a speech at Stirling on 25 October 1901, Campbell-Bannerman attacked the notion that self-government could be quickly introduced following the war despite the policy: listing examples of the devastation that had been wrought, he ironically declared these to be ‘your materials for your new self-government’.42 In this manner, the Liberal leader was able to further frame the government’s tactics as jeopardizing self-government and running contrary to the idealized basis of British imperial rule. The assault on the ‘methods of barbarism’ was not one that provided a unifying politics for the party. The Liberal Imperialists rejected what they claimed was the charge of inhumanity on the part of the British army and generally conflated criticisms of the war’s conduct with outright opposition to the war. Asquith, for example, responded to Campbell-Bannerman’s intervention by condemning those whom he characterized as thinking that ‘to this initial crime [of the war] we have added, day by day, month by month, year by year, countless further crimes against the code of humanity’, while in a speech to the City Liberal Club the following month Rosebery declared the Liberal Party to be split between those who thought the war just, and those ‘who think it utterly wrong and carried on by methods of barbarism’.43 This was a narrative that had more in common with Unionist rhetoric than the language of their notional party leader. In contrast with the other controversies examined here, the question of British war methods was not therefore one in which the Liberal Imperialists joined with their colleagues in articulating their positions within the rhetoric of imperial governance, which might go some way to explaining why the faction failed to make substantial headway on the issue within Liberal opinion. If the Liberal critique of British war methods failed to prove a basis for party unity however, neither was it a new departure for the official or pro-Boer Liberals. Rather, it represented the application of existing narratives to new controversies: the ‘methods of barbarism’ were attacked as bad imperial policy, rendering impossible the idealized self-governing, pluralistic South Africa that the war was supposedly being waged to create. Martial Law at the Cape If the Liberal Imperialists declined to condemn farm-burning and the concentration camp system in the two former republics, the government’s counter-insurgency measures in the Cape Colony were another question entirely. Struggles between the Cape government, the military and imperial authorities on the spot, and the imperial government in Britain had been ongoing since the very start of the war, and the steady advance of martial law over much of the colony became one of the key exacerbating factors in Cape politics. This in turn sparked controversy in Britain, as Liberal speakers sought to present Unionist policy as not merely damaging the prospects of a lasting settlement in the two former republics but also jeopardizing British rule over the Cape. The opposition in British Liberal circles to martial law was not simply driven by a generic distaste for military rule but by the idealization of Cape Colony within British South African policy. During the early stages of the conflict, both supporters and opponents of the government’s policy sought to present the Cape as an idealized form of imperial rule in South Africa. The Cape represented the model of white racial harmony and inclusive self-government that, depending on the speaker, was either lacking in the Transvaal and thereby justified intervention, or was threatened by a resort to war which would irrevocably divide the British and the Dutch settler communities. In a speech at Wolverhampton on 9 November 1899, the Liberal Imperialist and former Indian Secretary Sir H.H. Fowler described the war as ‘one for the defence of the white races of South Africa, and the placing them upon that equality which was at present enjoyed in Cape Colony’.44 By way of contrast, at Manchester a few days later Campbell-Bannerman stressed that the war risked damaging the Cape system, declaring that ‘for good and stable government in Cape Colony, the first essential condition is that we should have the best feeling between the two races’.45 Collaborative constitutional rule at the Cape also served as a basis for rebutting the charge that the war was about establishing British ascendency. At Peebles, Grey attacked criticism of the war from foreign quarters, asking ‘how many of them would have permitted freely and frankly their own colony to be ruled by the Dutch as we had done Cape Colony?’46 The constitutional settlement at the Cape thus played a significant role in framing British political rhetoric on the conflict. As the system of government at the Cape became increasingly displaced by martial law, Liberal speakers were therefore provided with a powerful basis for challenging British policy in South Africa. Liberal critics of the war presented martial law as an attack on the constitutional structure of the Empire. Speaking at Stirling in October 1901, Campbell-Bannerman criticized the government for failing to allow the Cape Parliament to meet as required by law. Charging that martial law was ‘nothing but the arbitrary rule of soldiers’, the Liberal leader warned that under it ‘no man is safe in property, in liberty, or in life’.47 Martial law was presented as an attack on the rights of the citizen and the rule of law, as well as on the ordinary institutions of representative government. Morley deployed a similar line of argument a few days later at Arbroath, insisting that a civil administration should be set up so ‘that the law of the sword shall cease’.48 Unlike with the ‘methods of barbarism’, this was also a point echoed by those on the Liberal Imperialist wing of the party: speaking at Liverpool, Grey stated that while martial law was necessary ‘to stop the importation of Boer arms’, it might nonetheless be possible to incorporate a civil element into the Cape’s administration.49 Liberals from across the spectrum of opinion in the party therefore publically expressed their discomfort with the imposition of military rule. Liberal speakers also framed martial law as an attack upon the pluralistic basis of Cape governance. Speaking at Stirling, Campbell-Bannerman expressed his fear that ‘martial law is but a form of undeclared war upon the Dutch population’. Significantly, the Liberal leader condemned this as a matter of imperial policy, charging that the government had ‘alienated thousands of both races, it has sapped loyalty, it has turned friends into rebels, and it has filled the ranks of the men in the field against us’.50 This directly echoed his rhetoric on the ‘methods of barbarism’, branding martial law as a policy that actively harmed British rule in the region by alienating the Empire’s Dutch subjects. Morley echoed this line of attack, charging at Arbroath that ‘a war against the enemy outside our border has added to itself a civil war within our own borders in the Cape Colony’.51 Likewise, at the start of 1902 James Bryce, a high-profile critic of the war, declared that the policy has caused in the Cape ‘intense bitterness between Englishmen and Dutchmen, who before had lived in harmony’, resulting in ‘the great bulk of the Dutch embittered against British rule, and most of the younger Dutch in arms against us’.52 The crux of the Liberal argument was essentially an inversion of the logic with which the government sought to justify the suspension of civil rule in the first place: rather than being necessitated by the threat of rebellion and the disloyalty of the Dutch population, Liberal critics of the war charged that the policy was creating the very problems it supposedly addressed. Although the Liberal attack on martial law was never to achieve the same level of notoriety as the charge of ‘methods of barbarism’, it nonetheless constituted a critical element of the Liberal Party’s response to the politics of the South African War and was essentially framed in the same manner as the critique of the British counterinsurgency in the two annexed territories. The underlying narrative, that the methods of the conflict were incompatible with the ideals of imperial governance that Liberals so strongly emphasized, was all the more reinforced by the idealized conception of the Cape as having represented prior to the war a model of good government, self-government, and white racial equality to be replicated across South Africa. In this fashion, Liberals from across the party were able to draw upon the rhetoric of imperial governance deployed at the beginning of the conflict to effectively attack the government for failing to act by the ideals expected of it. The Return to Self-Government? From an early stage, debates on the South African War were heavily concerned with the question of what settlement would eventually follow. Liberals in particular stressed their great concern over the mechanisms that would be established for governing the newlyincorporated Transvaal and Orange River colonies. Just as the prospect of a well-governed South Africa characterized by self-government and white racial equality had proved so recurrent, a theme in questions of the war’s justification and progress, so too was the rhetoric of imperial governance a key feature in Liberal efforts to articulate their visions for a post-conflict South Africa. Campbell-Bannerman in particular placed the question of self-government at the centre of his rhetoric, attacking the suggestion that the former republics should be governed as Crown Colonies without representative institutions. In his speech at Glasgow in June 1900, Campbell-Bannerman criticized the notion that a substantial period of Crown Colony rule awaited the belligerent states, condemning in particular the Prime Minister’s statement that the Boers should be stripped of ‘every shred of independent government’.53 How, the Liberal leader declared, can you expect them to be hearty members [of the Empire] if you take from them every shred of independent government, if you govern them as Crown Colonies, if you rule them from Downing Street, if you Anglicise them, if you impose upon them your laws instead of their laws, and your customs and ways instead of the ways and customs which they and their fathers before them have followed?54 A Crown Colony system, which was presented as direct, centralized rule from London, would under this analysis only serve to prolong Boer opposition to British rule in South Africa. Campbell-Bannerman’s association of Crown Colony rule with a policy of Anglicization is also of significance, implicitly equating the government’s assault upon the ideal of self-government with an attack upon the principle of pluralism in the Empire. Liberals also sought to present the ideal settlement in South Africa as one which replicated the self-governing dominion model deployed in Canada and Australia. Speaking at the Liverpool Street Station Hotel in June 1901, Asquith asserted the need to endow the new colonies with ‘the full machinery and apparatus of autonomous government’, so that after a short interval, ‘they will be put on the footing of Canada and Australia’.55 The two former republics were to be integrated into the Empire through the same self-governing, pluralistic methods of imperialism that applied to Britain’s successful dominions. A similar argument was advanced by the veteran Liberal MP Sir Joseph Pease who, in a speech at the Reform Club in July 1901, put the point simply by declaring that ‘nothing will satisfy us that does not ultimately produce in South Africa a Canada, if I may so call it, of free institutions loyal to the mother country’.56 In this manner Liberals sought to frame the self-governing federations of the settler-Empire as idealized models to be applied to the settlement in South Africa. It is worth noting the striking degree to which Liberals used such parallels to reinforce their claims of a historical Liberal tradition of imperial policy. Asquith for instance used a speech at Tayport to call for ‘a future for South Africa as worthy of the great traditions of our Empire, and of the great principles of Liberalism as that experience which we had seen so successfully carried out under the analogous, if not identical conditions in Canada’.57 Throughout the conflict, Liberal speakers repeatedly characterized Canada as an example of Liberal success in imperial policy, often contrasted with the Tory loss of the American colonies. Speaking to an audience at Leeds during the election campaign, Herbert Gladstone, the Liberal Chief Whip, claimed that the ‘development of our colonies has been chiefly due to the Liberal party. It was the Tories who lost us the United States of America; it was the Tories who would have lost us Canada but for the action of the Liberal Party’.58 Similar attacks on the Tory legacy of a diminished Empire, as opposed to the Liberal policy of sustaining it, were made throughout the conflict, demonstrating the degree to which Liberal attempts to claim imperial authority were grounded in the party’s own history.59 The Canadian parallel also proved useful to Liberal speakers because it served as a precedent for the integration of an initially hostile white European settler community into the structures of the Empire. Through incorporating the Dutch-speaking population into the pluralistic self-governing institutions of British South Africa, the argument went, the loyalty of the settler population would be firmly established. In a speech at Southampton in July 1901, Campbell-Bannerman had declared that ‘British power could not be maintained by force over a community of men of European blood except with the consent of that community’ because fundamentally the rule of force was ‘contrary to the principles upon which our Empire was founded, and alien from the noblest traditions of our race’.60 This line of argument was to explicitly frame the settlement as needing to operate along inclusive, pluralistic lines, framing such a policy as not merely the structural basis for the strength of the Empire, but as fundamental to British traditions. Not all Liberal speakers went to such lengths to stress the significance of Boer inclusion for the settlement of the conflict, and such arguments were notably absent or downplayed in the speeches of many Liberal Imperialists. Instead, arguments in favour of the swift grant of representative institutions rested upon the position of the Uitlanders, imagined as a potential ‘British’ majority. In a speech at Newcastle on 28 September 1900, Grey challenged the government on this: ‘are you going to keep the British in the Transvaal without self-government?’61 Grey was to repeat this point the following February in a speech to the Eighty Club, declaring that ‘the guarantee that within a measurable distance of time self-government must be the rule in South Africa was the inflow of the British… and what was given to them must be given at the same time to the Dutch race’.62 This alternative strategy pursued by Grey still therefore stressed the importance of a swift return to self-government for the new colonies, and even the emphasis on the British settler population rather than the new Boer citizenry of the Empire was accompanied by an implicit insistence upon the principle of white racial equality. Over the course of the war Liberals from across the party therefore consistently had one eye on the terms of the peace in seeking to frame their stances on the South African question. The need for an acceptable constitutional settlement served as an essential foundation for many of the positions adopted from across the party: for the Liberal Imperialists, it was a necessary component of their justification for the war; for the Liberal critics of the conflict, it was the means by which the government’s counter-insurgency tactics could be condemned from a perspective of imperial policy; and for Liberals from across the party, it was the means by which annexation could be excused. The rhetorical framework of imperial governance that had been adopted by all sides from the very start of the conflict was entirely dependent on the conceptualization of an idealized form of imperial rule. For such strategies to be credible for Liberal audiences, Liberal speakers had to stress not just the potential but the necessity of realizing said ideals of imperial governance in the settlement of the war. Although undoubtedly this could embody differences of emphasis, such arguments nonetheless stressed the importance of the means of imperial governance. The very rhetoric of imperial governance that had enabled such a diverse range of responses in relation to the risks and justifications for conflict in the crisis of 1899 necessitated a unifying emphasis on the question of the war’s settlement. The Rhetoric of Imperial Governance Faced with the task of articulating and justifying their positions on the key controversies of the conflict, in an environment in which the support of Liberal audiences was itself heavily contested, Liberal speakers time after time drew upon conceptions of an idealized form of imperial rule in South Africa. Naturally, the controversies examined here did not constitute the entirety of the impact of the South African War on British politics: other questions also played a significant role. Neither were these debates exclusively viewed through the prism of imperial governance. Nonetheless, as this survey of Liberal rhetoric on the conflict has shown, the rhetoric of imperial governance was a key element to the Liberal Party’s politics of Empire, utilized by all sides of the party and present throughout the conflict. In seeking to understanding the relationship between British Liberalism and the politics of Empire, there is a need therefore to recognize not just the distinctive new visions of Empire and imperialism that emerged from the politics of the South African War but also the established tropes of Liberal imperial politics which were consistently drawn upon by Liberal speakers, in spite of the divisions within the party, and which emerged at the end of the conflict relatively unchanged from their pre-war iterations. Rhetorical appeals to ideals of governance were of course by no means exclusively the preserve of Liberal speakers. However, at the same time this rhetoric of imperial governance was not merely incidentally Liberal, a language that Liberal speakers simply happened to deploy. It instead arose directly out of the circumstances, impulses, and traditions of late Victorian British Liberalism. This was a rhetoric that served the immediate necessities of the fin-de-siècle Liberal Party. The South African War and the imperial questions that lurked behind it became the key arena in which both Liberalism’s external and internal battles were fought. The rhetoric of imperial governance provided its practitioners with a means both for contesting the mantle of imperialism assumed by the Unionists and for demonstrating their commitment to expressed Liberal ideals. The ideals codified in this rhetoric of imperial governance also drew extensively upon the wider instincts of nineteenth-century liberal thought. The fear of arbitrary power, concern for constitutionalism and the rule of law, and, above all, the individualism underpinned by ideas of pluralism and self-governance were all made manifest in the Liberal Party’s rhetorical response to the war. Indeed, the implicit agreement across practically all sections of Liberal opinion that South Africa was foremost a question of white governance assisted with this espousal of liberal values, neatly sidestepping the paternalistic and autocratic impulses which characterized liberal responses to the subject populations of Empire.63 At its very heart, however, this was a rhetoric of imperial governance that cloaked itself with the authority of received wisdom and Liberal Party orthodoxy. By framing Conservative imperial policy as not simply incompetent but founded upon dangerous ideas of despotic governance, the Liberal critique of the South African War actively echoed the language of Midlothian. Although there were important differences, not least in the construction of the conflict as primarily a danger to the Empire rather than the British constitution, this rhetoric of imperial governance was recognizably Gladstonian in its origins and focus.64 The language of Liberal speakers thus served to perpetuate this denunciation of the dangers of Conservative imperialism, and in doing so frame the Liberal tradition as the true doctrine of imperial rule. This was therefore a rhetoric of imperial governance that above all placed great emphasis upon past experience and established wisdom in critiquing and justifying imperial policy. The very reason that the imperial ideals of self-government, good government, and pluralism proved such effective rhetorical tools for critiquing the South African question was because the condition of South Africa was framed as an aberration against an idealized Empire that was already presumed to exist, and indeed was supposedly embodied by the pre-war Cape Colony. It was in defence of these pre-existing ideals that Liberals articulated their views on the conflict, whether supportive of the government or otherwise. The rhetoric of imperial governance was in effect a rhetoric of imperial maintenance, concerned with the preservation and restoration of the mechanisms of idealized imperial rule. If, on the one hand, the emergence of Radical ideas on the Empire and trusteeship represented a new departure in British imperial politics, on the other hand, the rhetoric of imperial governance represented the persistence of the old orthodoxy, the nineteenth-century politics of Empire continuing unimpeded into the twentieth century. The recognition of this fundamental continuity in the politics of Empire is significant, not least as it serves to provide important context for understanding the nature of imperial politics pursued by the Liberal Party after the end of the war. The rhetorical legacy of the visions of Empire espoused by the Liberals in opposition was ultimately to follow the party into government. The grant of responsible self-government to the Transvaal Colony has been characterized as driven by the Liberal government’s desire to rid itself of responsibility for such embarrassments as the use of indentured Asiatic labour.65 While no doubt such calculations played an important role in the decision, it also has to be recognized that the grant of responsible government was not just consistent with, but indeed practically demanded by, the rhetoric Liberals had deployed at the time of the South African War. Liberal attacks on the Unionist failure to restore self-government served as a proxy for questions of imperial expertise and fitness to govern: to hesitate in granting self-government to the new colonies thus risked jeopardizing the Liberal position and handing their Unionist opponents a weaponized rhetoric of imperial ideals.66 The ideals of imperial governance previously articulated in the justification of Liberal policies served therefore to limit the bounds of effective political action for the new Liberal government’s South African policy, just as they had done during the course of the conflict. This in turn reveals much about the agency of rhetoric within British political culture more generally. As this article has explored, on issues such as the premise of the conflict and the annexation of the republics, Liberal speakers were able to deploy this rhetoric of imperial governance in support of radically different positions. Yet despite this apparent flexibility, the rhetoric of imperial governance was malleable only up to a point. On specific questions of policy, a Liberal speaker could reasonably attempt to present their stance as the logical course of action to secure these Liberal principles of imperial rule. But they could not safely set aside these principles, or indeed the framing of South Africa as a problem of governance. Neither could Liberals easily evade a politics that established good government, self-government, and pluralism as the measures of success for British action in the region. A rhetoric that could be deployed in support of disparate policies nonetheless exercised an effective regulating agency over the representation of imperial ideals. Rhetorical acts served to determine the politically feasible, modifying the spaces within which subsequent political interventions could successfully take place.67 Critically, in establishing a framework of values through which policy had to be articulated, subsequent speakers, including the originators of this rhetoric, were compelled to operate within these terms of reference, directly shaping responses to policy questions constructed within this framework.68 Just as the legacy of Midlothian compelled subsequent governments, both Liberal and Unionist, to frame later imperial and foreign interventions in altruistic terms, so too did Liberal rhetoric on the South African War firmly establish the issue of governance as lying at the heart of the South African question, imposing significant constraints on subsequent government policy.69 The Liberal rhetoric of imperial governance therefore worked neither at the level of elite opinion and high politics nor at the level of a general discourse, but instead operated as a political practice between the two, simultaneously continuing and reinventing the parameters of political debate. The ideals of Empire, the lessons of past imperial episodes, and the traditions of the Liberal approach were all invoked, reshaped, and perpetuated through this rhetoric. This article began by surveying the scholarly debates on imperialism and British politics, debates that will surely continue over the coming years as historians seek to understand the full nature of British imperial culture. If these efforts are to be successful, then the case of Liberal rhetoric on the South African War surely further demonstrates that the rhetorical frameworks of party and Empire, and the processes by which they were articulated and sustained, must be placed at the heart of such inquiry. The author wishes to thank Richard Toye, Phil Child, and the anonymous reviewers of the Duncan Tanner Prize and Twentieth Century British History for their guidance and support in developing this article. The bulk of material in this article is drawn from the author’s doctoral research, which was supported by a Leverhulme Trust funded studentship. Footnotes 1Aberdeen Journal, 25 November 1899. 2 The best guides to the state of modern scholarship on the South African War can be found in the volumes of essays produced upon its centenary. See in particular: Greg Cuthbertson, Albert Grundlingh, and Marie-Lynne Suttie, eds, Writing a Wider War: Rethinking Gender, Race, and Identity in the South African War, 1899-1902 (Athens OH, 2002); John Gooch, ed., The Boer War: Direction, Experience and Image (London, 2000); David Omissi and Andrew S. Thompson, eds, The Impact of the South African War (Basingstoke, 2002). For a general overview of the conflict, see Denis Judd and Keith Surridge, The Boer War (London, 2002), and Bill Nasson, The South African War 1899-1902 (London, 1999). 3 See, for instance, discussions in Jon Lawrence, Speaking for the People: Party, Language and Popular Politics in England, 1867-1914 (Cambridge, 1998); Andrew S. Thompson, ‘The Language of Imperialism and the Meanings of Empire: Imperial Discourse in British Politics, 1895-1914’, Journal of British Studies, 36 (1997); Frank Trentmann, Free Trade Nation: Commerce, Consumption, and Civil Society in Modern Britain (Oxford,2008); David Craig and James Thompson, eds, Languages of Politics in Nineteenth-Century Britain (London, 2013). 4 Lawrence, Speaking for the People, 267. 5 See in the particular the discussion of the war in John M. Mackenzie, Propaganda and Empire: the Manipulation of British Public Opinion, 1880-1960 (Manchester, 1984), and Bernard Porter, The Absent-Minded Imperialists: Empire, Society, and Culture in Britain (Oxford, 2004). 6 Richard Price, An Imperial War and the British Working Class: Working-Class Attitudes and Reactions to the Boer War, 1899-1902 (London, 1972); Paul Readman, ‘The Conservative Party, Patriotism, and British Politics: The Case of the General Election of 1900’, Journal of British Studies, 40 (2001) 107–45. See also M.D. Blanch, ‘British Society and the War’, in Peter Warwick, ed., The South African War: The Anglo-Boer War 1899-1902 (Harlow, 1980), 210–38; Luke Blaxill, ‘The Language of British Electoral Politics 1880-1910’, PhD thesis, King’s College London, University of London, 2012; and Iain Sharpe, ‘Empire, Patriotism and the Working-class Electorate: The 1900 General Election in the Battersea Constituency’, Parliamentary History, 28 (2009), 392–412. 7 Richard Koebner and Helmut Dan Schmidt, Imperialism: The Story and Significance of a Political Word, 1840-1960 (Cambridge, 1965), 248. 8 Andrew S. Thompson, ‘The Language of Imperialism and the Meanings of Empire: Imperial Discourse in British Politics, 1895-1914’, Journal of British Studies, 36 (1997), 147–77. 9 The best study of the Liberal Imperialists remains H.C.G. Matthew, The Liberal Imperialists: The Ideas and Politics of a Post-Gladstonian Elite (Oxford, 1973). Other useful assessments include George L. Bernstein, ‘Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman and the Liberal Imperialists’, Journal of British Studies,23 (1983), 105–24; Peter D. Jacobson, ‘Rosebery and Liberal Imperialism’, Journal of British Studies, 13 (1973), 83–107; and Leo McKinstry, Rosebery: Statesman in Turmoil (London, 2005). 10 For assessments of the Liberal pro-Boers, see J.W. Auld, ‘The Liberal pro-Boers’, Journal of British Studies, 14 (1975), 78–101; Arthur Davey, The British pro-Boers, 1877-1902(Cape Town, 1978); and Bernard Porter, ‘The pro-Boers in Britain’, in Peter Warwick, ed., The South African War: The Anglo-Boer War 1899-1902 (Harlow, 1980), 239–57. 11 For a good overview of the ‘official’ position see G.B. Pyrah, Imperial Policy and South Africa 1902-10 (Oxford, 1955). 12 For background on these themes, see D.M. Schreuder, Gladstone and Kruger: Liberal Government and Colonial ′Home Rule′ 1880-85 (London, 1969). 13 James Thompson, ‘Good Government’, in David Craig and James Thompson, eds, Languages of Politics in Nineteenth-Century Britain (London, 2013), 21–43. 14 P.J. Cain, ‘Character and Imperialism: The British Financial Administration of Egypt, 1878–1914’, Journal of Imperial and Commonwealth History, 34 (2006), 177–200. 15 John S. Ellis, ‘“The Methods of Barbarism”and the “Rights of Small Nations”: War Propaganda and British Pluralism’, Albion: A Quarterly Journal Concerned with British Studies, 30 (1998), 49–75. 16 On fin-de-siècle Liberal Unionist politics, see Ian Cawood, The Liberal Unionist Party: A History (London, 2012). 17 David Craig and James Thompson, ‘Introduction’, in David Craig and James Thompson, eds, Languages of Politics in Nineteenth-Century Britain (London, 2013), 1–20; 2. 18 On the origins of the war, see Iain R. Smith, The Origins of the South African War, 1899-1902 (London, 1996), and A.N. Porter, The Origins of the South African War: Joseph Chamberlain and the Diplomacy of Imperialism, 1895-99 (Manchester, 1980). 19 HC Deb., 28 July 1899, fourth series, vol.75, c.696. 20Sheffield and Rotherham Independent, 7 October 1899. 21Glasgow Herald, 12 October 1899. 22Glasgow Herald, 12 October 1899. 23Daily News, 7 October 1899. 24Glasgow Herald, 26 October 1899. 25Daily News, 10 November 1899. 26Aberdeen Journal, 25 November 1899. 27Birmingham Daily Post, 21 March 1900. 28 HC Deb., 25 July 1900, fourth series, vol.86, c.1207. 29Daily News, 8 June 1900. 30Daily News, 8 June 1900. 31Birmingham Daily Post, 17 September 1900. 32Sheffield Daily Telegraph, 25 September 1900. 33Daily News, 27 September 1900. 34Birmingham Daily Post, 17 September 1900. 35Daily News, 4 September 1900. 36 For an overview of scholarship on the camps, see Elizabeth van Heyningen, ‘The Concentration Camps of the South African (Anglo-Boer) War, 1900-1902’, History Compass, 7 (2009), 22–43. 37Manchester Guardian, 15 July 1901. 38 G. B. Pyrah, Imperial Policy and South Africa, 64. 39The Times, 17 November 1900. 40Manchester Guardian, 15 June 1901. 41 HC Deb., 17 June 1901, fourth series, vol.95, c.583. 42Aberdeen Journal, 26 November 1901. 43Aberdeen Journal, 21 June 1901; Aberdeen Journal, 20 July 1901. 44Daily News, 10 November 1899. 45Aberdeen Journal, 16 November 1899. 46Glasgow Herald, 6 November 1899. 47Aberdeen Journal, 26 October 1901. 48Manchester Guardian, 31 October 1901. 49Aberdeen Journal, 14 November 1901. 50Aberdeen Journal, 26 October 1901. 51Manchester Guardian, 1 November 1901. 52Manchester Guardian, 20 January 1902. 53Daily News, 8 June 1900. 54Daily News, 8 June 1900. 55Aberdeen Journal, 21 June 1901. 56Manchester Guardian, 10 July 1901. 57Sheffield Daily Telegraph, 25 September 1900. 58Huddersfield Chronicle, 19 September 1900. 59 See for instance Campbell-Bannerman’s speech of 14 November 1899, reported in Glasgow Herald, 15 November 1899, and Lord Tweedmouth’s speech at Stoke Newington, 17 November 1899, reported in Edinburgh Evening News, 18 November 1899. 60Dundee Courier, 3 July 1901. 61Daily News, 29 September 1900. 62Manchester Guardian, 21 February 1901. 63 On the interaction between philosophies of liberalism and imperial rule, see Uday Singh Mehta, Liberalism and Empire: A Study in Nineteenth-Century British Imperial Thought (Chicago, IL, 1999). 64 For Liberal critiques of Disraelian imperialism, see discussions in: P.J. Durrans, ‘A Two-Edged Sword: The Liberal Attack on Disraelian Imperialism’, Journal of Imperial and Commonwealth History, 10 (1982), 262–84; Miles Taylor, ‘Imperium et Libertas? Rethinking the Radical Critique of Imperialism during the Nineteenth Century’, Journal of Imperial and Commonwealth History, 19 (1991), 1–23. 65 See in particular Ronald Hyam, ‘The Myth of the “Magnanimous Gesture”: The Liberal Government, Smuts and Conciliation, 1906’, in Ronald Hyam and Ged Martin, eds, Reappraisals in British Imperial History (London, 1975), 167–86. 66 These ideas are expanded upon in Simon Mackley, ‘British Liberal Politics, the South African Question, and the Rhetoric of Empire’, PhD thesis, University of Exeter, 2016. 67 On the ability of rhetorical acts to reshape the politically feasible, see Richard Toye, ‘Words of Change: The Rhetoric of Commonwealth, Common Market and Cold War, 1961–3’, in Larry Butler and Sarah Stockwell, eds, The Wind of Change: Howard Macmillan and British Decolonization (Basingstoke, 2013), 140–58. 68 These ideas are explored in Elizabeth Borgwardt, ‘“When You State a Moral Principle, You Are Stuck With It”: The 1941 Atlantic Charter as a Human Rights Instrument’, Virginia Journal of International Law, 46 (2006), 501–62. 69 The legacy of the Midlothian campaign is discussed in Durrans, ‘A Two-Edged Sword’, 278. © The Author [2017]. Published by Oxford University Press. All rights reserved. For Permissions, please email: journals.permissions@oup.com http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Twentieth Century British History Oxford University Press

Liberal Party Politics, the South African War, and the Rhetoric of Imperial Governance

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Abstract

Abstract This article examines the imperial rhetoric of the Liberal Party during the South African War of 1899–1902, charting its use and development across five key controversies spanning the course of the conflict. Moving beyond traditional interpretations of the Liberal split as the product of competing visions of Empire and approaches to imperialism, this article argues for the need to recognize also the continuities within the imperial rhetoric of fin-de-siècle British Liberalism. Building on recent studies of political languages, it identifies how Liberal speakers from across the party operated within a rhetorical framework that emphasized three ideals of imperial governance: good government, self-government, and pluralism. In doing so, this article seeks to advance our understanding of the South African War as an episode in British party politics, demonstrating the complexity and nuance of the Liberal Party’s response to the conflict. Furthermore, by undertaking an in-depth exploration of the rhetoric of imperial governance, this article highlights the Liberal response to the South African War as a case study for the reinvention and reiteration of both party and imperial languages in early twentieth-century Britain, with the potential to offer new insights into the political and imperial cultures of the period. ‘Mix a little commonsense with your policy, develop your Empire, knit its parts together, and evoke the honourable, wholesome loyalty which comes from a well-governed, and, if possible, a self-governed people’.1 In considering these words from Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman, delivered mere weeks after the outbreak of the South African War, it is tempting to conclude that the embattled leader of the Liberal Party was simply seeking refuge in a statement of imperialism sufficiently vague that neither the most Radical pro-Boer nor the staunchest Liberal Imperialist could find much fault in it. Yet the emphasis placed on imperial governance was no passing remark. Instead, these ideals played a central role in the Liberal Party’s response to the politics of Empire at the fin de siècle. This article surveys the Liberal Party’s use of the rhetoric of imperial governance over the course of the 1899–1902 South African War.2 In doing so, it seeks to provide a corrective to traditional interpretations that emphasize a Liberal split over the idea of imperialism by demonstrating that important continuities persisted alongside innovations in Liberal imperial politics. This article additionally aims to contribute to our wider understanding of fin-de-siècle British political culture. Recent scholarship on the languages of politics has emphasized the extent to which apparently elite discourses of party and government obtained a greater resonance within public life, the articulation of ideas and values shaping the parameters of debate and interacting at a fundamental level with the popular politics and electoral dynamics of early twentieth-century Britain.3 As Jon Lawrence has argued, political parties did not simply echo political change, but actively interpreted it through their use of language.4 The close examination of parties’ rhetorical frameworks must therefore take a central role in any assessment of fin-de-siècle imperial politics, and by studying the Liberal response to the South African War as a case study of these elements, it is the ambition of this piece to contribute towards this essential task. The conflict’s significance for imperial Britain has long been a matter of interest for historians, the experience of the war serving as a test case for metropolitan imperial culture.5 This has proved to be particularly the case for scholars of British political history, the war having propelled the ‘South African question’ to prominence at the very centre of British political life. The use of the conflict as a case study for imperial politics has proved a highly productive field for historical inquiry and debate, not least in relation to the Unionist victory in the ‘khaki’ election of 1900. Richard Price’s once widely accepted assessment that the war played only a minor role in the election has come under challenge, most notably from Paul Readman’s argument that patriotic languages were central to the Unionist campaign.6 A focus on languages and political rhetoric has also proved a productive field for scholars of the conflict’s imperial significance. In their classic study, Richard Koebner and Helmut Dan Schmidt identified the war as ‘an essential turning point’ in the career of imperialism as a political word, bringing about a reversion to a pejorative understanding of the term.7 More recently, Andrew S. Thompson has used the South African question to chart the rise to dominance of different visions of imperialism within British political discourse. A Conservative focus on settler kinship, Thompson argues, gave way to an ill-fated Fabian-Liberal Imperialist emphasis on patriotic social reform, and then later a Radical language of trusteeship.8 Thompson’s emphasis on the fundamentally contested nature of imperial ideas and languages in this period is valuable, illustrating both the speed at which imperial languages were reformulated and the importance of immediate political contexts for the idealization of Empire. The Liberal response to the South African War did not take place in a vacuum. Instead, it arose within a political culture in which established ideas as to the nature of the British Empire and the politics of imperialism were facing disruption, both creating opportunities for political innovation but also compelling Liberal speakers to articulate their own ideals of Empire. Liberals had to articulate specifically Liberal imperial positions in the face of a determined Unionist effort to dominate the politics of Empire, as well as advancing a form of politics that could lead the party to success against their opponents. It was the necessity of managing these political imperatives that shaped the Liberal Party’s imperial politics over the course of the conflict. The fundamentals of the Liberal split over the South African War have been well documented, and had their roots as much in the electoral failures of late-Gladstonian Liberalism as in any questions of imperialism. On one wing of the party stood the Liberal Imperialist group, supporters of the former Prime Minister Lord Rosebery. An essentially elite faction, the Liberal Imperialists generally supported the Unionist government’s handling of the South African question, at least up until Rosebery’s Chesterfield speech of December 1901.9 On the opposite wing of the party were the Liberal opponents of the war, dubbed by their detractors as the pro-Boers. A far more disparate group, its leading figures including members of the Gladstonian old guard like Sir William Harcourt and John Morley as well as Radicals such as David Lloyd George, the pro-Boers were outspoken in their criticism of the justice of the conflict and the government’s conduct.10 Sitting between the two was the ‘official’ position of Campbell-Bannerman, best characterized as initially one of qualified support for the government, turning towards more outspoken criticism following his famous ‘methods of barbarism’ speech in June 1901.11 These essential fault lines within the Liberal Party lasted the full course of the war. However, there are major limitations with assessing the Liberal response to the conflict from a purely factional perspective. British Liberalism was not a closed body of views and practices, but instead embodied a broad spectrum of recognizably Liberal ideas and traditions, within which political actors moved freely. Liberal pro-Boerism and Liberal Imperialism existed as loose positions on this spectrum, rather than as clearly demarcated Liberal philosophies. Despite the dizzying array of sectional organizations established during this period, the factions within British Liberalism were therefore essentially fluid. The trajectory of H.H. Asquith well illustrates this point: although a Liberal Imperialist, Asquith’s public position closely resembled that of Campbell-Bannerman for much of the war. Rather than identifying ‘pro-Boer’ and ‘Liberal Imperialist’ positions as abstract ideas for comparison, we can instead construct both movements as part of the same ongoing processes by which Liberal actors reconciled imperial questions with Liberal political culture. This allows us not only to track the nuances of these political appeals in greater detail but also to identify and examine the important points of continuity that existed across the party’s factional divides. In an environment in which not just meanings of imperialism but also meanings of Liberalism were being contested, it stands to reason that common languages of imperial politics existed across factional boundaries as well as within them. The Liberal Imperialist and Radical visions of Empire identified by Thompson existed alongside wide-ranging languages of imperial politics that Liberals from across the party drew upon. Adopting this approach thus allows us to move beyond the traditional account of Liberal high politics, and instead interrogate the underlying rhetorical frameworks and unifying languages that were central to the Liberal response to the war. This article examines the trajectory of one such unifying language: the rhetoric of imperial governance, which emphasized the political and institutional basis of imperial rule. In seeking to articulate responses to the South African War, Liberal speakers drew upon this rhetoric to frame their positions on the conflict in relation to one or more ideals of imperial governance. The first ideal, self-government, was stressed by Liberals as central to Britain’s imperial success. This ideal, which in practice meant white settler self-government, had long played an important role in the Liberal Party’s approach to the South African question, and was also closely associated with the party’s support for Irish home rule.12 Alongside this stress upon self-government stood the ideal of good government. As James Thompson has argued, the language of good government was firmly rooted in the discourse of Victorian politics, with older narratives stressing the need for morality persisting in imperial politics alongside newer debates stressing the importance of competence and the character of administrative institutions.13 Links between national character and the capacity for good government had also formed a key justification for earlier imperial interventions.14 Finally, a third ideal of pluralism can be identified, which in the context of South Africa was framed as white racial harmony. The Empire, it was argued, owed its strength and exceptionalism to its ability to accommodate non-British settler populations within its structures. As John S. Ellis has noted, pluralistic conceptions of Britishness played an important role in pro-Boer rhetoric, although it is argued here that the use of pluralism as imperial ideal was not just limited to the Liberal critics of the war.15 Together, Liberals portrayed these ideals as the basis by which the Empire should be governed, while the opposing concepts of tyranny, misrule, and ascendency also served to provide further foundations for Liberal rhetoric on the conflict. To argue for the existence of a common Liberal rhetoric of imperial governance is not, however, to advocate narrowing the scope of inquiry to the study of abstract declarations of principle. Liberal speakers simply did not have the luxury of advancing visions of imperial rule purely on their own terms. Instead, they had to articulate them as interventions within existing and rapidly developing political debates, of which their own speeches formed only a part. There was a pressing need to adapt to and counter the arguments of their opponents, not least the continuing challenge for the mantle of British Liberalism posed by Chamberlain’s Liberal Unionists.16 Yet to achieve success, Liberal speakers also had to navigate the far broader constraints of their position. As David Craig and James Thompson note, ‘even the shifting and shuffling politician knew that wider norms and values limited what he or she might do’.17 Liberal speakers had to tailor their appeals to both the assumptions and expectations of their specific audiences, immediate and in the country at large, and to the established norms of late-Victorian politics. In adopting a rhetorical approach is it therefore vital to consider not just the language used but also the specific political circumstances of Liberal speeches, and the key debates and disputes that formed their context. This article thus proceeds to survey the language and rhetorical strategies deployed in Liberal speeches and public interventions relating to five distinct controversies and episodes taken from across the course of the conflict. In doing so, it argues that although Liberal speakers from across the party produced very different responses to the events of the war, the rhetoric of imperial governance nonetheless remained a consistent and essential component of Liberal rhetoric on the South African question. By identifying this important point of continuity in British imperial politics, this article demonstrates the explicitly Liberal nature of this imperial rhetoric, identifying the roots of this rhetorical framework of imperial governance within the history, circumstances, and traditions of British Liberal politics. Concluding, it then reflects on what the case study of the South African War reveals about the agency of political languages in British political history, and argues that such rhetorical frameworks must be placed at the centre of historians’ efforts to understand the function of imperial questions within British politics in this period. The Crisis of 1899 The period broadly spanning from the summer of 1899, when the crisis began to dominate the political agenda, through to the end of October after the opening few weeks of the war is an important one, as it was a moment in which debates were still primarily concerned with questions of the war’s justification and the wisdom of British policy. Tensions between Britain and the South African Republic (SAR) had by the end of the nineteenth century been building up for many years, but came to a head over the demands for the franchise by the Uitlander population of the Transvaal, economic migrants who had flocked to the SAR following the discovery of large gold reserves on the Rand. The question of whether the Empire had a right to intervene in the internal affairs of the SAR to correct perceived misrule by the government of President Kruger, alongside wider tensions over Britain’s predominance in South Africa, created an atmosphere of mounting diplomatic tensions that would ultimately collapse into warfare.18 It was against this background of crisis therefore that Liberal speakers in Britain were required to articulate their positions on the South African question. Both Liberal speakers supportive of and opposed to the government’s confrontational policy framed the crisis as one that jeopardized British rule in South Africa by embittering relations between the two white races. Speaking in a House of Commons debate on 28 July 1899, Campbell-Bannerman cautioned that a resort to arms would produce a ‘race feud extending through the whole of our colonies and possessions, which would make the good government of that continent impossible’.19 The Liberal leader was to stress this theme again in a speech at Maidstone on 6 October. ‘Every wise and prudent statesman who has had any responsibility in South African affairs’, he insisted, ‘has found the cardinal principle of good government to lie in the maintenance of the best feeling between the Dutch and English elements in the population’.20 This rhetoric appealed to the imperial ideals of good government and white racial harmony, as well as the supposed traditions of British imperial policy, and effectively functioned as a defence of the status quo against the risks posed by warfare. However, the emphasis on race harmony also provided Liberals supportive of the government’s actions with a rhetoric of necessity. Delivering a speech at Dundee just after the outbreak of the war, Asquith presented Anglo-Dutch settler tensions as the product of misrule in the SAR, declaring that ‘you cannot isolate the causes of hatred, resentment and estrangement which have developed. They spread insensibly, gradually, inevitably, till they poison the whole life of the great South African dominion’.21 Continuing, Asquith cautioned that the situation in the Transvaal was ‘undermining the very foundations of that unanimity of feeling, that loyalty of sentiment, that harmony of co-operation upon which our imperial position in South Africa depends’.22 In deploying this narrative, Asquith was adopting the same language of good government and pluralism as his more sceptical colleagues, even as he framed the situation as one in which the Boers threatened the basis for British rule. The rhetoric of idealized imperial governance also characterized debates on self-government and the effective independence of the SAR, particularly as British grievances expanded from the question of the franchise to incorporate a far greater critique of the Transvaal’s governance. Speaking at Carnarvon on 6 October 1899, Morley attacked this change in emphasis as an affront to the SAR’s independence, condemning reforms that were ‘to affect the judiciary, the constitution, the Civil Service, the jury system, the system of Municipal Government. How much self-government, I wonder, is left when you reckon all that up’.23 British efforts to improve the position of the Uitlanders, the argument went, unjustly infringed on the Boers’ rights to govern themselves. Again however, the rhetoric of self-government was one which could be deployed by Liberals supportive of the government’s tactics. Drawing upon the widespread misconception that the Uitlanders were both primarily British and constituted a majority of the white population in the Transvaal, the Liberal Imperialist Sir Edward Grey used a speech at Glasgow University to argue that the conflict was a war for ‘free and democratic government’, as it was a war against an ‘oligarchical and oppressive’ government which granted the Uitlanders ‘not even a minority share’, even though ‘the British race were in a large majority’.24 It was to defend the principle of democratic self-government from the threat of Boer ascendency that Britain was compelled to act. In this manner, speakers from across the spectrum of opinion within the Liberal Party drew upon a common rhetorical framework of imperial governance, crystallized around the ideals of good government, self-government, and white racial harmony, to articulate and justify their varying responses to the crisis of 1899. Ultimately, as the political situation transitioned from that of a potential conflict to actual warfare, the debates on the case for intervention were eclipsed by other issues. Critically however, while subsequent debates on the conduct, progress, and ultimate settlement of the conflict soon crowded out questions surrounding the righteousness of the war, the underlying rhetorical focus on the ideals of imperial governance remained a persistent feature. Annexation Despite initial setbacks, by the spring of 1900 the tide of the war was running steadily in Britain’s favour, bringing with it an important shift in the stated objectives of British policy. At the start of the conflict, the government had been keen to stress that the war was not one of territorial expansion, Lord Salisbury famously declaring that ‘we seek no goldfields; we seek no territory’.25 However, following the successes of British forces in the field, the policy instead became one of incorporation into the Empire, and the two republics were proclaimed annexed. In this action the bulk of the Liberal Party eventually acquiesced, but the rhetorical dynamics that made such a shift in position politically acceptable to Liberal audiences again reveal the underlying focus on imperial governance at the heart of Liberal rhetoric on the South African question. Liberal speakers initially presented annexation as incompatible with the imperial ideal of self-government. Speaking at Birmingham on 24 November 1899, Campbell-Bannerman challenged the claim made by supporters of annexation that representative government could be established quickly: ‘they will have to be governed directly, autocratically, without free institutions at all in the manner of our Crown colonies’.26 A similar line was advanced by Grey, who characteristically linked the prospect of direct rule to settler opinion throughout the Empire. Speaking in March 1900, Grey cautioned that he ‘did not think any self-governing British colony liked the idea of any large white community being governed by Crown colony Government’.27 Annexation would be distasteful, and even harmful to imperial sentiment. Liberal speakers also co-opted the war’s stated aim of ensuring white racial equality to oppose annexation. Lloyd George, for instance, used a speech to the House of Commons in July 1900 to charge that Britain had started the war ‘to obtain the franchise for everybody, and we end it with the franchise for nobody. It is true that you establish a kind of equality between the white races there, but it is not equal rights, but equal wrongs’.28 In this manner, annexation was cast as fundamentally incompatible with the democratic self-governing ideals that the war was supposed to secure. By the time of Lloyd George’s protest in parliament however, the public position of the Liberal leadership had already shifted in favour of the two republics’ incorporation. The acquiescence of Campbell-Bannerman in particular on this issue has been characterized as the policy of ‘accomplished fact’, a phrase deployed by the Liberal leader himself to justify his changed position.29 However, Liberal speakers did not simply frame their retrospective support for annexation on the grounds that it was irreversible, but instead adapted their earlier rhetorical focus on imperial governance. Speaking at Glasgow on 8 June 1900, Campbell-Bannerman justified his support for annexation by asking his audience to consider what the alternative would be. Given that the SAR could not be allowed to challenge British authority or perpetuate misgovernment, he questioned the value of maintaining merely notional independence: if all major questions were to be determined externally, then ‘what is left of the reality and dignity of independence?’30 Annexation was therefore preferable to the continued independence of the Transvaal precisely because any continued independence would be in name only: the rhetoric of self-government was in this way refashioned so as to support the incorporation of the two republics into the Empire. Similar language was deployed by Asquith, who in September 1900 declared that any solution short of annexation would result in the two states possessing ‘neither the reality of independence, nor the full status of partners in the empire’.31 Asquith’s rhetoric therefore presented annexation as a means for achieving self-government within the Empire, as well as emphasizing through the language of partnership the Empire’s pluralistic credentials. Indeed, both Campbell-Bannerman and Asquith were to extend this narrative further during the election campaign, framing annexation as an active step in advancing the causes of good government and self-government in South Africa. Addressing his East Fife constituents, Asquith declared that: The annexation of the two Republics was the first step towards a free, contented, and loyal South Africa, and it was only as a first step in laying the foundation of the edifice which was ultimately to be built up that the Liberal Party acquiesced in building up the structure which was to be raised upon that foundation.32 In a speech at Stirling on 26 September, Campbell-Bannerman likewise stressed that ‘annexation is not the end. It is the beginning. Annexation is not settlement: it is the thing on which settlement is to be built’.33 In this manner Liberal speakers sought to reframe the question of annexation so as to detach the action from a Unionist narrative that presented the new colonies as the hard-won results of British sacrifice, instead focusing on the incorporation of the new colonies into the self-governing settler-Empire. The earlier rhetorical critique of misrule in the SAR was additionally deployed to further justify annexation to Liberal audiences. Speaking at Ladybank, Asquith declared that ‘no lover of freedom need shed any tears for the disappearance of the South African Republic—an unhappy specimen of one of the worst kinds of political imposture, a caricature or mockery of liberty under a democratic form’.34 Similar justifications were advanced by elements of the Liberal press: the Daily News, for example, praised annexation as a policy that would ‘give to its inhabitants that true independence, that real enjoyment of the blessings of self-government, which they have so long been denied’.35 The misgovernment of the SAR served not only to mitigate the undesirability of annexation by casting aspersions on the SAR’s claim to democratic self-government but also to further the presentation of annexation as the method by which ‘true’ self-government could be established. After the election of 1900, debates over the annexations were largely displaced by other issues. While speakers on the Radical wing of the party continued to intermittently condemn the action, actual demands for retrocession were very rare. The question of annexation thus serves as a fascinating example of rhetorical pivot for the bulk of Liberal speakers. Although concerns for the primacy of self-government within the Empire were initially presented as reasons to oppose annexation, as the political situation developed, Liberal speakers were able to draw upon the same idealized notion of self-government to argue for the necessity of the two states’ incorporation into the Empire. The consequence of this approach, however, was to link the question of self-government firmly with the outcome of the conflict, an act which would have considerable repercussions for how Liberal speakers would deal with the questions arising from the conduct of the war. ‘Methods of Barbarism’ Contrary to expectations, the fall of the two republics in 1900 did not herald the imminent end of the war, but instead saw the war move into a guerrilla phase. In response, the British Army pursued counter-insurgency measures designed at eliminating the Boer resistance’s support networks, adopting a policy of farm-burnings and, most notoriously, relocating the civilian population of the rural districts into concentration camps. Although these camps were not the instruments of extermination associated with the modern understanding of the term, dreadful sanitary conditions and a failure of British planning contributed to shockingly high death rates among the incarcerated civilian population.36 As information about the impact of the British tactics began to be communicated back to the metropole, most notably through the reports of the humanitarian campaigner Emily Hobhouse, the issue exploded into a major political storm. Speaking at a Liberal dinner on 14 June 1901 Campbell-Bannerman, who had met with Hobhouse just a few days earlier, robustly denounced farm-burning and the concentration camp system. When was a war not a war, he asked: ‘when it is carried on by methods of barbarism in South Africa’.37 Campbell-Bannerman’s attack on the British counter-insurgency in South Africa caused considerable controversy. The Leader of the Opposition, the Unionist press charged, had cast aspersions on the morality of British soldiers. However, while it was the moralistic charge of barbarity which gained notoriety, this formed only part of Campbell-Bannerman’s critique. As G.B. Pyrah has noted, Campbell-Bannerman expressly attacked the government’s tactics as undermining the future governance of the Empire.38 This was not, however, a new departure on the part of the Liberal leader, but instead a continuation of the strategy of framing the controversy as a question of imperial governance. Figures on the Radical wing of the Liberal Party had already begun to raise objections to the policy in late 1900. In a letter printed in The Times on 17 November, Morley detailed an account of farm-burning sent to him by a correspondent at the Cape. Significantly, Morley added his own comments to the end of the account, remarking that ‘I will not give offense to-day by intruding any unfashionable reflections about humanity, pity, and the like’. Instead, he urged, ‘consider the resentment that is being accumulated in the mind of every Dutch-speaking man and woman in South Africa’.39 This was a critique of farm-burning not just in relation to the humanitarian consequences of the policy but also in terms of its consequences for the Dutch-speaking population’s attitude to Britain throughout South Africa. In this focus on a heritage of hatred and concern for Dutch sentiment, speakers like Morley were continuing the anti-war narratives expressed prior to the outbreak of the conflict. Echoing Morley, the Liberal leader declared in his ‘methods of barbarism’ speech that ‘this is not a question of humanity alone’, but that ‘it has come to be condemned on grounds of policy’. When the true scope of suffering was known after the conflict, he warned, the result would not only be the racial and political enmity of those who ‘are our fellow-citizens already’ but also a ‘personal hatred, an ineradicable sense of personal wrong’. Even if, he conceded, there was a military advantage to be gained from farm-burning, it was one which came at the price of a ‘heavy, overwhelming, irredeemable mortgage on the peace and contentment of South Africa’.40 Campbell-Bannerman’s rhetoric thus squarely placed his critique of British tactics within the context of its consequences for imperial governance and the pluralistic basis of the Empire in South Africa, rather than relying on what might be considered the emotional appeal to humanity and morality. Despite the hostile reaction from many quarters to his campaign, Campbell-Bannerman and his supporters persisted with this critique. Speaking in the House of Commons a week after the ‘methods of barbarism’ speech, Lloyd George warned that ‘when children are being treated in this way and dying, we are simply ranging the deepest passions of the human heart against British rule in Africa’, adding that it would always be remembered that British rule was established by such a policy.41 Significantly, Liberal speakers sought to further portray the ‘methods of barbarism’ as undermining the basis for self-government in the newlyannexed territories. In a speech at Stirling on 25 October 1901, Campbell-Bannerman attacked the notion that self-government could be quickly introduced following the war despite the policy: listing examples of the devastation that had been wrought, he ironically declared these to be ‘your materials for your new self-government’.42 In this manner, the Liberal leader was able to further frame the government’s tactics as jeopardizing self-government and running contrary to the idealized basis of British imperial rule. The assault on the ‘methods of barbarism’ was not one that provided a unifying politics for the party. The Liberal Imperialists rejected what they claimed was the charge of inhumanity on the part of the British army and generally conflated criticisms of the war’s conduct with outright opposition to the war. Asquith, for example, responded to Campbell-Bannerman’s intervention by condemning those whom he characterized as thinking that ‘to this initial crime [of the war] we have added, day by day, month by month, year by year, countless further crimes against the code of humanity’, while in a speech to the City Liberal Club the following month Rosebery declared the Liberal Party to be split between those who thought the war just, and those ‘who think it utterly wrong and carried on by methods of barbarism’.43 This was a narrative that had more in common with Unionist rhetoric than the language of their notional party leader. In contrast with the other controversies examined here, the question of British war methods was not therefore one in which the Liberal Imperialists joined with their colleagues in articulating their positions within the rhetoric of imperial governance, which might go some way to explaining why the faction failed to make substantial headway on the issue within Liberal opinion. If the Liberal critique of British war methods failed to prove a basis for party unity however, neither was it a new departure for the official or pro-Boer Liberals. Rather, it represented the application of existing narratives to new controversies: the ‘methods of barbarism’ were attacked as bad imperial policy, rendering impossible the idealized self-governing, pluralistic South Africa that the war was supposedly being waged to create. Martial Law at the Cape If the Liberal Imperialists declined to condemn farm-burning and the concentration camp system in the two former republics, the government’s counter-insurgency measures in the Cape Colony were another question entirely. Struggles between the Cape government, the military and imperial authorities on the spot, and the imperial government in Britain had been ongoing since the very start of the war, and the steady advance of martial law over much of the colony became one of the key exacerbating factors in Cape politics. This in turn sparked controversy in Britain, as Liberal speakers sought to present Unionist policy as not merely damaging the prospects of a lasting settlement in the two former republics but also jeopardizing British rule over the Cape. The opposition in British Liberal circles to martial law was not simply driven by a generic distaste for military rule but by the idealization of Cape Colony within British South African policy. During the early stages of the conflict, both supporters and opponents of the government’s policy sought to present the Cape as an idealized form of imperial rule in South Africa. The Cape represented the model of white racial harmony and inclusive self-government that, depending on the speaker, was either lacking in the Transvaal and thereby justified intervention, or was threatened by a resort to war which would irrevocably divide the British and the Dutch settler communities. In a speech at Wolverhampton on 9 November 1899, the Liberal Imperialist and former Indian Secretary Sir H.H. Fowler described the war as ‘one for the defence of the white races of South Africa, and the placing them upon that equality which was at present enjoyed in Cape Colony’.44 By way of contrast, at Manchester a few days later Campbell-Bannerman stressed that the war risked damaging the Cape system, declaring that ‘for good and stable government in Cape Colony, the first essential condition is that we should have the best feeling between the two races’.45 Collaborative constitutional rule at the Cape also served as a basis for rebutting the charge that the war was about establishing British ascendency. At Peebles, Grey attacked criticism of the war from foreign quarters, asking ‘how many of them would have permitted freely and frankly their own colony to be ruled by the Dutch as we had done Cape Colony?’46 The constitutional settlement at the Cape thus played a significant role in framing British political rhetoric on the conflict. As the system of government at the Cape became increasingly displaced by martial law, Liberal speakers were therefore provided with a powerful basis for challenging British policy in South Africa. Liberal critics of the war presented martial law as an attack on the constitutional structure of the Empire. Speaking at Stirling in October 1901, Campbell-Bannerman criticized the government for failing to allow the Cape Parliament to meet as required by law. Charging that martial law was ‘nothing but the arbitrary rule of soldiers’, the Liberal leader warned that under it ‘no man is safe in property, in liberty, or in life’.47 Martial law was presented as an attack on the rights of the citizen and the rule of law, as well as on the ordinary institutions of representative government. Morley deployed a similar line of argument a few days later at Arbroath, insisting that a civil administration should be set up so ‘that the law of the sword shall cease’.48 Unlike with the ‘methods of barbarism’, this was also a point echoed by those on the Liberal Imperialist wing of the party: speaking at Liverpool, Grey stated that while martial law was necessary ‘to stop the importation of Boer arms’, it might nonetheless be possible to incorporate a civil element into the Cape’s administration.49 Liberals from across the spectrum of opinion in the party therefore publically expressed their discomfort with the imposition of military rule. Liberal speakers also framed martial law as an attack upon the pluralistic basis of Cape governance. Speaking at Stirling, Campbell-Bannerman expressed his fear that ‘martial law is but a form of undeclared war upon the Dutch population’. Significantly, the Liberal leader condemned this as a matter of imperial policy, charging that the government had ‘alienated thousands of both races, it has sapped loyalty, it has turned friends into rebels, and it has filled the ranks of the men in the field against us’.50 This directly echoed his rhetoric on the ‘methods of barbarism’, branding martial law as a policy that actively harmed British rule in the region by alienating the Empire’s Dutch subjects. Morley echoed this line of attack, charging at Arbroath that ‘a war against the enemy outside our border has added to itself a civil war within our own borders in the Cape Colony’.51 Likewise, at the start of 1902 James Bryce, a high-profile critic of the war, declared that the policy has caused in the Cape ‘intense bitterness between Englishmen and Dutchmen, who before had lived in harmony’, resulting in ‘the great bulk of the Dutch embittered against British rule, and most of the younger Dutch in arms against us’.52 The crux of the Liberal argument was essentially an inversion of the logic with which the government sought to justify the suspension of civil rule in the first place: rather than being necessitated by the threat of rebellion and the disloyalty of the Dutch population, Liberal critics of the war charged that the policy was creating the very problems it supposedly addressed. Although the Liberal attack on martial law was never to achieve the same level of notoriety as the charge of ‘methods of barbarism’, it nonetheless constituted a critical element of the Liberal Party’s response to the politics of the South African War and was essentially framed in the same manner as the critique of the British counterinsurgency in the two annexed territories. The underlying narrative, that the methods of the conflict were incompatible with the ideals of imperial governance that Liberals so strongly emphasized, was all the more reinforced by the idealized conception of the Cape as having represented prior to the war a model of good government, self-government, and white racial equality to be replicated across South Africa. In this fashion, Liberals from across the party were able to draw upon the rhetoric of imperial governance deployed at the beginning of the conflict to effectively attack the government for failing to act by the ideals expected of it. The Return to Self-Government? From an early stage, debates on the South African War were heavily concerned with the question of what settlement would eventually follow. Liberals in particular stressed their great concern over the mechanisms that would be established for governing the newlyincorporated Transvaal and Orange River colonies. Just as the prospect of a well-governed South Africa characterized by self-government and white racial equality had proved so recurrent, a theme in questions of the war’s justification and progress, so too was the rhetoric of imperial governance a key feature in Liberal efforts to articulate their visions for a post-conflict South Africa. Campbell-Bannerman in particular placed the question of self-government at the centre of his rhetoric, attacking the suggestion that the former republics should be governed as Crown Colonies without representative institutions. In his speech at Glasgow in June 1900, Campbell-Bannerman criticized the notion that a substantial period of Crown Colony rule awaited the belligerent states, condemning in particular the Prime Minister’s statement that the Boers should be stripped of ‘every shred of independent government’.53 How, the Liberal leader declared, can you expect them to be hearty members [of the Empire] if you take from them every shred of independent government, if you govern them as Crown Colonies, if you rule them from Downing Street, if you Anglicise them, if you impose upon them your laws instead of their laws, and your customs and ways instead of the ways and customs which they and their fathers before them have followed?54 A Crown Colony system, which was presented as direct, centralized rule from London, would under this analysis only serve to prolong Boer opposition to British rule in South Africa. Campbell-Bannerman’s association of Crown Colony rule with a policy of Anglicization is also of significance, implicitly equating the government’s assault upon the ideal of self-government with an attack upon the principle of pluralism in the Empire. Liberals also sought to present the ideal settlement in South Africa as one which replicated the self-governing dominion model deployed in Canada and Australia. Speaking at the Liverpool Street Station Hotel in June 1901, Asquith asserted the need to endow the new colonies with ‘the full machinery and apparatus of autonomous government’, so that after a short interval, ‘they will be put on the footing of Canada and Australia’.55 The two former republics were to be integrated into the Empire through the same self-governing, pluralistic methods of imperialism that applied to Britain’s successful dominions. A similar argument was advanced by the veteran Liberal MP Sir Joseph Pease who, in a speech at the Reform Club in July 1901, put the point simply by declaring that ‘nothing will satisfy us that does not ultimately produce in South Africa a Canada, if I may so call it, of free institutions loyal to the mother country’.56 In this manner Liberals sought to frame the self-governing federations of the settler-Empire as idealized models to be applied to the settlement in South Africa. It is worth noting the striking degree to which Liberals used such parallels to reinforce their claims of a historical Liberal tradition of imperial policy. Asquith for instance used a speech at Tayport to call for ‘a future for South Africa as worthy of the great traditions of our Empire, and of the great principles of Liberalism as that experience which we had seen so successfully carried out under the analogous, if not identical conditions in Canada’.57 Throughout the conflict, Liberal speakers repeatedly characterized Canada as an example of Liberal success in imperial policy, often contrasted with the Tory loss of the American colonies. Speaking to an audience at Leeds during the election campaign, Herbert Gladstone, the Liberal Chief Whip, claimed that the ‘development of our colonies has been chiefly due to the Liberal party. It was the Tories who lost us the United States of America; it was the Tories who would have lost us Canada but for the action of the Liberal Party’.58 Similar attacks on the Tory legacy of a diminished Empire, as opposed to the Liberal policy of sustaining it, were made throughout the conflict, demonstrating the degree to which Liberal attempts to claim imperial authority were grounded in the party’s own history.59 The Canadian parallel also proved useful to Liberal speakers because it served as a precedent for the integration of an initially hostile white European settler community into the structures of the Empire. Through incorporating the Dutch-speaking population into the pluralistic self-governing institutions of British South Africa, the argument went, the loyalty of the settler population would be firmly established. In a speech at Southampton in July 1901, Campbell-Bannerman had declared that ‘British power could not be maintained by force over a community of men of European blood except with the consent of that community’ because fundamentally the rule of force was ‘contrary to the principles upon which our Empire was founded, and alien from the noblest traditions of our race’.60 This line of argument was to explicitly frame the settlement as needing to operate along inclusive, pluralistic lines, framing such a policy as not merely the structural basis for the strength of the Empire, but as fundamental to British traditions. Not all Liberal speakers went to such lengths to stress the significance of Boer inclusion for the settlement of the conflict, and such arguments were notably absent or downplayed in the speeches of many Liberal Imperialists. Instead, arguments in favour of the swift grant of representative institutions rested upon the position of the Uitlanders, imagined as a potential ‘British’ majority. In a speech at Newcastle on 28 September 1900, Grey challenged the government on this: ‘are you going to keep the British in the Transvaal without self-government?’61 Grey was to repeat this point the following February in a speech to the Eighty Club, declaring that ‘the guarantee that within a measurable distance of time self-government must be the rule in South Africa was the inflow of the British… and what was given to them must be given at the same time to the Dutch race’.62 This alternative strategy pursued by Grey still therefore stressed the importance of a swift return to self-government for the new colonies, and even the emphasis on the British settler population rather than the new Boer citizenry of the Empire was accompanied by an implicit insistence upon the principle of white racial equality. Over the course of the war Liberals from across the party therefore consistently had one eye on the terms of the peace in seeking to frame their stances on the South African question. The need for an acceptable constitutional settlement served as an essential foundation for many of the positions adopted from across the party: for the Liberal Imperialists, it was a necessary component of their justification for the war; for the Liberal critics of the conflict, it was the means by which the government’s counter-insurgency tactics could be condemned from a perspective of imperial policy; and for Liberals from across the party, it was the means by which annexation could be excused. The rhetorical framework of imperial governance that had been adopted by all sides from the very start of the conflict was entirely dependent on the conceptualization of an idealized form of imperial rule. For such strategies to be credible for Liberal audiences, Liberal speakers had to stress not just the potential but the necessity of realizing said ideals of imperial governance in the settlement of the war. Although undoubtedly this could embody differences of emphasis, such arguments nonetheless stressed the importance of the means of imperial governance. The very rhetoric of imperial governance that had enabled such a diverse range of responses in relation to the risks and justifications for conflict in the crisis of 1899 necessitated a unifying emphasis on the question of the war’s settlement. The Rhetoric of Imperial Governance Faced with the task of articulating and justifying their positions on the key controversies of the conflict, in an environment in which the support of Liberal audiences was itself heavily contested, Liberal speakers time after time drew upon conceptions of an idealized form of imperial rule in South Africa. Naturally, the controversies examined here did not constitute the entirety of the impact of the South African War on British politics: other questions also played a significant role. Neither were these debates exclusively viewed through the prism of imperial governance. Nonetheless, as this survey of Liberal rhetoric on the conflict has shown, the rhetoric of imperial governance was a key element to the Liberal Party’s politics of Empire, utilized by all sides of the party and present throughout the conflict. In seeking to understanding the relationship between British Liberalism and the politics of Empire, there is a need therefore to recognize not just the distinctive new visions of Empire and imperialism that emerged from the politics of the South African War but also the established tropes of Liberal imperial politics which were consistently drawn upon by Liberal speakers, in spite of the divisions within the party, and which emerged at the end of the conflict relatively unchanged from their pre-war iterations. Rhetorical appeals to ideals of governance were of course by no means exclusively the preserve of Liberal speakers. However, at the same time this rhetoric of imperial governance was not merely incidentally Liberal, a language that Liberal speakers simply happened to deploy. It instead arose directly out of the circumstances, impulses, and traditions of late Victorian British Liberalism. This was a rhetoric that served the immediate necessities of the fin-de-siècle Liberal Party. The South African War and the imperial questions that lurked behind it became the key arena in which both Liberalism’s external and internal battles were fought. The rhetoric of imperial governance provided its practitioners with a means both for contesting the mantle of imperialism assumed by the Unionists and for demonstrating their commitment to expressed Liberal ideals. The ideals codified in this rhetoric of imperial governance also drew extensively upon the wider instincts of nineteenth-century liberal thought. The fear of arbitrary power, concern for constitutionalism and the rule of law, and, above all, the individualism underpinned by ideas of pluralism and self-governance were all made manifest in the Liberal Party’s rhetorical response to the war. Indeed, the implicit agreement across practically all sections of Liberal opinion that South Africa was foremost a question of white governance assisted with this espousal of liberal values, neatly sidestepping the paternalistic and autocratic impulses which characterized liberal responses to the subject populations of Empire.63 At its very heart, however, this was a rhetoric of imperial governance that cloaked itself with the authority of received wisdom and Liberal Party orthodoxy. By framing Conservative imperial policy as not simply incompetent but founded upon dangerous ideas of despotic governance, the Liberal critique of the South African War actively echoed the language of Midlothian. Although there were important differences, not least in the construction of the conflict as primarily a danger to the Empire rather than the British constitution, this rhetoric of imperial governance was recognizably Gladstonian in its origins and focus.64 The language of Liberal speakers thus served to perpetuate this denunciation of the dangers of Conservative imperialism, and in doing so frame the Liberal tradition as the true doctrine of imperial rule. This was therefore a rhetoric of imperial governance that above all placed great emphasis upon past experience and established wisdom in critiquing and justifying imperial policy. The very reason that the imperial ideals of self-government, good government, and pluralism proved such effective rhetorical tools for critiquing the South African question was because the condition of South Africa was framed as an aberration against an idealized Empire that was already presumed to exist, and indeed was supposedly embodied by the pre-war Cape Colony. It was in defence of these pre-existing ideals that Liberals articulated their views on the conflict, whether supportive of the government or otherwise. The rhetoric of imperial governance was in effect a rhetoric of imperial maintenance, concerned with the preservation and restoration of the mechanisms of idealized imperial rule. If, on the one hand, the emergence of Radical ideas on the Empire and trusteeship represented a new departure in British imperial politics, on the other hand, the rhetoric of imperial governance represented the persistence of the old orthodoxy, the nineteenth-century politics of Empire continuing unimpeded into the twentieth century. The recognition of this fundamental continuity in the politics of Empire is significant, not least as it serves to provide important context for understanding the nature of imperial politics pursued by the Liberal Party after the end of the war. The rhetorical legacy of the visions of Empire espoused by the Liberals in opposition was ultimately to follow the party into government. The grant of responsible self-government to the Transvaal Colony has been characterized as driven by the Liberal government’s desire to rid itself of responsibility for such embarrassments as the use of indentured Asiatic labour.65 While no doubt such calculations played an important role in the decision, it also has to be recognized that the grant of responsible government was not just consistent with, but indeed practically demanded by, the rhetoric Liberals had deployed at the time of the South African War. Liberal attacks on the Unionist failure to restore self-government served as a proxy for questions of imperial expertise and fitness to govern: to hesitate in granting self-government to the new colonies thus risked jeopardizing the Liberal position and handing their Unionist opponents a weaponized rhetoric of imperial ideals.66 The ideals of imperial governance previously articulated in the justification of Liberal policies served therefore to limit the bounds of effective political action for the new Liberal government’s South African policy, just as they had done during the course of the conflict. This in turn reveals much about the agency of rhetoric within British political culture more generally. As this article has explored, on issues such as the premise of the conflict and the annexation of the republics, Liberal speakers were able to deploy this rhetoric of imperial governance in support of radically different positions. Yet despite this apparent flexibility, the rhetoric of imperial governance was malleable only up to a point. On specific questions of policy, a Liberal speaker could reasonably attempt to present their stance as the logical course of action to secure these Liberal principles of imperial rule. But they could not safely set aside these principles, or indeed the framing of South Africa as a problem of governance. Neither could Liberals easily evade a politics that established good government, self-government, and pluralism as the measures of success for British action in the region. A rhetoric that could be deployed in support of disparate policies nonetheless exercised an effective regulating agency over the representation of imperial ideals. Rhetorical acts served to determine the politically feasible, modifying the spaces within which subsequent political interventions could successfully take place.67 Critically, in establishing a framework of values through which policy had to be articulated, subsequent speakers, including the originators of this rhetoric, were compelled to operate within these terms of reference, directly shaping responses to policy questions constructed within this framework.68 Just as the legacy of Midlothian compelled subsequent governments, both Liberal and Unionist, to frame later imperial and foreign interventions in altruistic terms, so too did Liberal rhetoric on the South African War firmly establish the issue of governance as lying at the heart of the South African question, imposing significant constraints on subsequent government policy.69 The Liberal rhetoric of imperial governance therefore worked neither at the level of elite opinion and high politics nor at the level of a general discourse, but instead operated as a political practice between the two, simultaneously continuing and reinventing the parameters of political debate. The ideals of Empire, the lessons of past imperial episodes, and the traditions of the Liberal approach were all invoked, reshaped, and perpetuated through this rhetoric. This article began by surveying the scholarly debates on imperialism and British politics, debates that will surely continue over the coming years as historians seek to understand the full nature of British imperial culture. If these efforts are to be successful, then the case of Liberal rhetoric on the South African War surely further demonstrates that the rhetorical frameworks of party and Empire, and the processes by which they were articulated and sustained, must be placed at the heart of such inquiry. The author wishes to thank Richard Toye, Phil Child, and the anonymous reviewers of the Duncan Tanner Prize and Twentieth Century British History for their guidance and support in developing this article. The bulk of material in this article is drawn from the author’s doctoral research, which was supported by a Leverhulme Trust funded studentship. Footnotes 1Aberdeen Journal, 25 November 1899. 2 The best guides to the state of modern scholarship on the South African War can be found in the volumes of essays produced upon its centenary. See in particular: Greg Cuthbertson, Albert Grundlingh, and Marie-Lynne Suttie, eds, Writing a Wider War: Rethinking Gender, Race, and Identity in the South African War, 1899-1902 (Athens OH, 2002); John Gooch, ed., The Boer War: Direction, Experience and Image (London, 2000); David Omissi and Andrew S. Thompson, eds, The Impact of the South African War (Basingstoke, 2002). For a general overview of the conflict, see Denis Judd and Keith Surridge, The Boer War (London, 2002), and Bill Nasson, The South African War 1899-1902 (London, 1999). 3 See, for instance, discussions in Jon Lawrence, Speaking for the People: Party, Language and Popular Politics in England, 1867-1914 (Cambridge, 1998); Andrew S. Thompson, ‘The Language of Imperialism and the Meanings of Empire: Imperial Discourse in British Politics, 1895-1914’, Journal of British Studies, 36 (1997); Frank Trentmann, Free Trade Nation: Commerce, Consumption, and Civil Society in Modern Britain (Oxford,2008); David Craig and James Thompson, eds, Languages of Politics in Nineteenth-Century Britain (London, 2013). 4 Lawrence, Speaking for the People, 267. 5 See in the particular the discussion of the war in John M. Mackenzie, Propaganda and Empire: the Manipulation of British Public Opinion, 1880-1960 (Manchester, 1984), and Bernard Porter, The Absent-Minded Imperialists: Empire, Society, and Culture in Britain (Oxford, 2004). 6 Richard Price, An Imperial War and the British Working Class: Working-Class Attitudes and Reactions to the Boer War, 1899-1902 (London, 1972); Paul Readman, ‘The Conservative Party, Patriotism, and British Politics: The Case of the General Election of 1900’, Journal of British Studies, 40 (2001) 107–45. See also M.D. Blanch, ‘British Society and the War’, in Peter Warwick, ed., The South African War: The Anglo-Boer War 1899-1902 (Harlow, 1980), 210–38; Luke Blaxill, ‘The Language of British Electoral Politics 1880-1910’, PhD thesis, King’s College London, University of London, 2012; and Iain Sharpe, ‘Empire, Patriotism and the Working-class Electorate: The 1900 General Election in the Battersea Constituency’, Parliamentary History, 28 (2009), 392–412. 7 Richard Koebner and Helmut Dan Schmidt, Imperialism: The Story and Significance of a Political Word, 1840-1960 (Cambridge, 1965), 248. 8 Andrew S. Thompson, ‘The Language of Imperialism and the Meanings of Empire: Imperial Discourse in British Politics, 1895-1914’, Journal of British Studies, 36 (1997), 147–77. 9 The best study of the Liberal Imperialists remains H.C.G. Matthew, The Liberal Imperialists: The Ideas and Politics of a Post-Gladstonian Elite (Oxford, 1973). Other useful assessments include George L. Bernstein, ‘Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman and the Liberal Imperialists’, Journal of British Studies,23 (1983), 105–24; Peter D. Jacobson, ‘Rosebery and Liberal Imperialism’, Journal of British Studies, 13 (1973), 83–107; and Leo McKinstry, Rosebery: Statesman in Turmoil (London, 2005). 10 For assessments of the Liberal pro-Boers, see J.W. Auld, ‘The Liberal pro-Boers’, Journal of British Studies, 14 (1975), 78–101; Arthur Davey, The British pro-Boers, 1877-1902(Cape Town, 1978); and Bernard Porter, ‘The pro-Boers in Britain’, in Peter Warwick, ed., The South African War: The Anglo-Boer War 1899-1902 (Harlow, 1980), 239–57. 11 For a good overview of the ‘official’ position see G.B. Pyrah, Imperial Policy and South Africa 1902-10 (Oxford, 1955). 12 For background on these themes, see D.M. Schreuder, Gladstone and Kruger: Liberal Government and Colonial ′Home Rule′ 1880-85 (London, 1969). 13 James Thompson, ‘Good Government’, in David Craig and James Thompson, eds, Languages of Politics in Nineteenth-Century Britain (London, 2013), 21–43. 14 P.J. Cain, ‘Character and Imperialism: The British Financial Administration of Egypt, 1878–1914’, Journal of Imperial and Commonwealth History, 34 (2006), 177–200. 15 John S. Ellis, ‘“The Methods of Barbarism”and the “Rights of Small Nations”: War Propaganda and British Pluralism’, Albion: A Quarterly Journal Concerned with British Studies, 30 (1998), 49–75. 16 On fin-de-siècle Liberal Unionist politics, see Ian Cawood, The Liberal Unionist Party: A History (London, 2012). 17 David Craig and James Thompson, ‘Introduction’, in David Craig and James Thompson, eds, Languages of Politics in Nineteenth-Century Britain (London, 2013), 1–20; 2. 18 On the origins of the war, see Iain R. Smith, The Origins of the South African War, 1899-1902 (London, 1996), and A.N. Porter, The Origins of the South African War: Joseph Chamberlain and the Diplomacy of Imperialism, 1895-99 (Manchester, 1980). 19 HC Deb., 28 July 1899, fourth series, vol.75, c.696. 20Sheffield and Rotherham Independent, 7 October 1899. 21Glasgow Herald, 12 October 1899. 22Glasgow Herald, 12 October 1899. 23Daily News, 7 October 1899. 24Glasgow Herald, 26 October 1899. 25Daily News, 10 November 1899. 26Aberdeen Journal, 25 November 1899. 27Birmingham Daily Post, 21 March 1900. 28 HC Deb., 25 July 1900, fourth series, vol.86, c.1207. 29Daily News, 8 June 1900. 30Daily News, 8 June 1900. 31Birmingham Daily Post, 17 September 1900. 32Sheffield Daily Telegraph, 25 September 1900. 33Daily News, 27 September 1900. 34Birmingham Daily Post, 17 September 1900. 35Daily News, 4 September 1900. 36 For an overview of scholarship on the camps, see Elizabeth van Heyningen, ‘The Concentration Camps of the South African (Anglo-Boer) War, 1900-1902’, History Compass, 7 (2009), 22–43. 37Manchester Guardian, 15 July 1901. 38 G. B. Pyrah, Imperial Policy and South Africa, 64. 39The Times, 17 November 1900. 40Manchester Guardian, 15 June 1901. 41 HC Deb., 17 June 1901, fourth series, vol.95, c.583. 42Aberdeen Journal, 26 November 1901. 43Aberdeen Journal, 21 June 1901; Aberdeen Journal, 20 July 1901. 44Daily News, 10 November 1899. 45Aberdeen Journal, 16 November 1899. 46Glasgow Herald, 6 November 1899. 47Aberdeen Journal, 26 October 1901. 48Manchester Guardian, 31 October 1901. 49Aberdeen Journal, 14 November 1901. 50Aberdeen Journal, 26 October 1901. 51Manchester Guardian, 1 November 1901. 52Manchester Guardian, 20 January 1902. 53Daily News, 8 June 1900. 54Daily News, 8 June 1900. 55Aberdeen Journal, 21 June 1901. 56Manchester Guardian, 10 July 1901. 57Sheffield Daily Telegraph, 25 September 1900. 58Huddersfield Chronicle, 19 September 1900. 59 See for instance Campbell-Bannerman’s speech of 14 November 1899, reported in Glasgow Herald, 15 November 1899, and Lord Tweedmouth’s speech at Stoke Newington, 17 November 1899, reported in Edinburgh Evening News, 18 November 1899. 60Dundee Courier, 3 July 1901. 61Daily News, 29 September 1900. 62Manchester Guardian, 21 February 1901. 63 On the interaction between philosophies of liberalism and imperial rule, see Uday Singh Mehta, Liberalism and Empire: A Study in Nineteenth-Century British Imperial Thought (Chicago, IL, 1999). 64 For Liberal critiques of Disraelian imperialism, see discussions in: P.J. Durrans, ‘A Two-Edged Sword: The Liberal Attack on Disraelian Imperialism’, Journal of Imperial and Commonwealth History, 10 (1982), 262–84; Miles Taylor, ‘Imperium et Libertas? Rethinking the Radical Critique of Imperialism during the Nineteenth Century’, Journal of Imperial and Commonwealth History, 19 (1991), 1–23. 65 See in particular Ronald Hyam, ‘The Myth of the “Magnanimous Gesture”: The Liberal Government, Smuts and Conciliation, 1906’, in Ronald Hyam and Ged Martin, eds, Reappraisals in British Imperial History (London, 1975), 167–86. 66 These ideas are expanded upon in Simon Mackley, ‘British Liberal Politics, the South African Question, and the Rhetoric of Empire’, PhD thesis, University of Exeter, 2016. 67 On the ability of rhetorical acts to reshape the politically feasible, see Richard Toye, ‘Words of Change: The Rhetoric of Commonwealth, Common Market and Cold War, 1961–3’, in Larry Butler and Sarah Stockwell, eds, The Wind of Change: Howard Macmillan and British Decolonization (Basingstoke, 2013), 140–58. 68 These ideas are explored in Elizabeth Borgwardt, ‘“When You State a Moral Principle, You Are Stuck With It”: The 1941 Atlantic Charter as a Human Rights Instrument’, Virginia Journal of International Law, 46 (2006), 501–62. 69 The legacy of the Midlothian campaign is discussed in Durrans, ‘A Two-Edged Sword’, 278. © The Author [2017]. Published by Oxford University Press. All rights reserved. For Permissions, please email: journals.permissions@oup.com

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Twentieth Century British HistoryOxford University Press

Published: Mar 1, 2018

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