“The Hollowest Political Cant”: British Parties, Home Rule, and the Parliament Act, 1909–July 1911
This chapter examines the reemergence of home rule during the 1909–1910 election campaign and how Irish self-government became a practical possibility through the Parliament Act’s reduction of the House of Lords’ powers. A firm British Liberal-Irish nationalist alliance and another home rule bill are sometimes described as inevitable, but Rast argues this was a distrustful partnership based on common opposition to the Lords. British Unionists helped to radicalize the home rule debate and raised the idea of treating Ireland’s majority-Protestant northern province of Ulster separately under home rule. Yet, many wanted to cooperate with Liberals on constitutional questions, including Irish governance. These attempts failed, and Liberal reforms, supported by Irish nationalists, drove British and Irish unionists closer and made them more willing to countenance violence.