Skip to main content

The Dilemma(s) of Voluntary Deference in the Fin De Siècle

  • 75 Accesses

Abstract

Disraeli appears on the conservative side of Bagehot’s liberal coin. Disraeli’s understanding of the constitution, the role of parties, elites and deference is analysed here, along with A. V. Dicey’s shifting ideas from the 1880s to World War I. Dicey accepted Bagehot’s historical interpretation of deference without defining it, and added to it the three pillars of the English constitution, which all require a certain degree of political deference in an uncodified system. Little has been said over the last century about how Bagehot and Dicey’s emphasis on the supremacy of Parliament entailed deference to the whole system and how, without deference, the ‘historical’ British constitution could not function. In this chapter, however, the crucial function of deference for Bagehot, Disraeli, and Dicey is explained.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Buying options

Chapter
USD   29.95
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • DOI: 10.1007/978-3-030-62539-9_5
  • Chapter length: 30 pages
  • Instant PDF download
  • Readable on all devices
  • Own it forever
  • Exclusive offer for individuals only
  • Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout
eBook
USD   109.00
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • ISBN: 978-3-030-62539-9
  • Instant PDF download
  • Readable on all devices
  • Own it forever
  • Exclusive offer for individuals only
  • Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout
Softcover Book
USD   139.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)
Hardcover Book
USD   139.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)

Notes

  1. 1.

    See Mount (1992, p. 15).

  2. 2.

    The monarchy did not however work in the way in which Bagehot described it at the time and only came to resemble his description in the twentieth century with Elizabeth II.

  3. 3.

    Bogdanor (2009, p. 20).

  4. 4.

    Ibid., p. 21. Such an interpretation of the constitution was eventually challenged because its misty charm, based on history, was increasingly used to justify anything, especially the abuse of the executive in the twentieth century.

  5. 5.

    Winch (1996, pp. 194–5).

  6. 6.

    Ibid., p. 700.

  7. 7.

    Benjamin Disraeli, Vindication of the English Constitution in a Letter to a Noble and Learned Lord (1835) in: Hutcheon (1914, pp. 124–125).

  8. 8.

    Parry (Sept 2000, p. 700).

  9. 9.

    Tucker (February 1962, p. 4).

  10. 10.

    Quoted in: Jennings (1931, p. 182).

  11. 11.

    Jennings (1931, p. 196).

  12. 12.

    Feuchtwanger (1968, pp. xiv–268).

  13. 13.

    Jennings (1931, p. 195).

  14. 14.

    William E. Gladstone, Speech, Liverpool, England, 28 June 1886 quoted in Matthew (2001, p. 349).

  15. 15.

    Jennings (1931, p. 195).

  16. 16.

    Benjamin Disraeli, Vindication of the English Constitution in a Letter to a Noble and Learned Lord (1835) in: Hutcheon (1914, p. 185).

  17. 17.

    St John (2010, p. 112).

  18. 18.

    Ibid.

  19. 19.

    Hawkins (1989, p. 666).

  20. 20.

    Ibid., p. 668.

  21. 21.

    For Mount, Walter Bagehot, A. V. Dicey and Sir Ivor Jennings are the three simplifiers of the English/British Constitution. See: Mount (1992, pp. 39–92).

  22. 22.

    See: Tomkins (2003a, p. 223).

  23. 23.

    Ibid.

  24. 24.

    Bogdanor (2009, p. 15).

  25. 25.

    Dicey’s word. Dicey (1982, p. 296).

  26. 26.

    For a concise history of the differences between the Independent Labour Party created in 1893 and the Labour Party in context see: McKibbin (1974, pp. xv–xviii).

  27. 27.

    Dicey (1982), based on the eighth edition 1915, cxlviii–435 pages.

  28. 28.

    See: Adam Tomkins, Public Law, op. cit., pp. 21–23.

  29. 29.

    Dicey (2008, p. 115).

  30. 30.

    Dicey (1982, p. 280).

  31. 31.

    Ibid., pp. 293–294.

  32. 32.

    Ibid., p. 285.

  33. 33.

    See: ‘But they [the conventions] are much more than that.’ Jennings (1955, p. 86).

  34. 34.

    A. V. Dicey, Introduction to the Study of the Law of the Constitution, op. cit., p. 282. Sir William Blackstone, Commentaries on the Laws of England, London, 1765, I, p. 232.

  35. 35.

    The executive in the United Kingdom acts with legal authority based on either statute law or prerogative powers. The problem with the latter is that they are ill-defined and can lead to very few checks in courts, thereby undermining the rule of law. See Adam Tomkins, Public Law, op. cit., pp. 81–83.

  36. 36.

    A. V. Dicey, Introduction to the Study of the Law of the Constitution, op. cit., p. 297.

  37. 37.

    Ibid., p. 304.

  38. 38.

    Ibid.

  39. 39.

    See Tomkins’ comparison between Bagehot and Dicey in: Tomkins 2003b, pp. 742–747).

  40. 40.

    It offers insight into his type of Benthamite laissez-faire liberalism in the Edwardian period. See: A. V. Dicey, Lectures on the Relation between Law and Public Opinion in England during the Nineteenth Century, op. cit., http://oll.libertyfund.org/titles/2119, accessed 10 August 2016.

  41. 41.

    Following Stefan Collini in Liberalism & Sociology, I have chosen to keep the capital letters for ‘Individualism’ and ‘Capitalism’, as was done at the time. See: Collini (2009, p. 13).

  42. 42.

    Ibid, pp. 212–213.

  43. 43.

    Kahan (2003, p. 154).

  44. 44.

    See: McLean (2010, pp. 128–140) & Weill (2003, pp. 474–493).

  45. 45.

    See: Jessop (2011, p. 287); McKenzie and Silver (1968, pp. xi–295).

  46. 46.

    Cannadine (2000, p. 158).

  47. 47.

    Cannadine (1999a, p. 38).

  48. 48.

    See: Steele (1999, pp. xv–455).

  49. 49.

    ‘Disintegration’, The Spectator, 20 October 1883, p. 6. http://archive.spectator.co.uk/article/twentieth-october-1883/5/-disintegration, accessed 15 August 2016.

  50. 50.

    See: Comstock Weston (1995, p. 242). See also: Weston (1982, pp. 103–129).

  51. 51.

    It has to be noted that the House of Lords was itself undergoing change as ‘between 1886 and 1914 some two hundred people entered the ranks of the hereditary peerage for the first time’. See David Cannadine, The Decline and Fall of the British Aristocracy, op. cit., p. 196.

  52. 52.

    The new majority in Parliament, albeit reduced, was made up of the Liberals (who had lost a great number of seats), the Labour Party and the Irish nationalists.

  53. 53.

    His opposition to the extension of the suffrage as well as to the female vote was expressed in no uncertain terms in his three anti-home-rule books and in Letters to a Friend on Votes for Women (1909). See: Dicey (1913, pp. x–132, 1893, pp. xii–239, 1886, pp. viii–311, 1909, pp. vii–93).

  54. 54.

    Robert Gascoyne-Cecil, 3rd Marquess of Salisbury, was Arthur James Balfour’s uncle, and his nephew (later Lord Balfour) succeeded him as Prime Minister in 1902 (up to 1905). This is where the expression ‘Bob’s your uncle’—meaning ‘political arrangements have been made, so everything will go as planned’—most certainly comes from. See: Trahair (1994, p. 72).

  55. 55.

    Quoted in: Blanche Dugdale, Arthur James Balfour, London, Hutchinson, 1936, vol. II, p. 24.

  56. 56.

    John Simon, http://hansard.millbanksystems.com/commons/1907/jun/26/house-of-lords, col. 1445–1446, accessed 17 January 2017.

  57. 57.

    Arthur Henderson, http://hansard.millbanksystems.com/commons/1907/jun/25/house-of-lords, col.1197, accessed 17 January 2017.

  58. 58.

    David Lloyd George, ‘Limehouse Speech’, 30 July 1909, Parliamentary Archives, LG/C/33/2/11. http://www.parliament.uk/about/livingheritage/evolutionofparliament/houseoflords/parliamentacts/collections/limehouse/image-3/, accessed 15 August 2016.

  59. 59.

    Herbert Du Parcq (ed), Life of David Lloyd George, London, Caxton Publishing Company, 1912, vol. IV (speeches), p. 696.

  60. 60.

    Lord Loreburn, http://hansard.millbanksystems.com/lords/1909/nov/22/finance-bill-1, col. 751, accessed 15 August 2016.

  61. 61.

    See: McLean (2010, pp. 128–140).

  62. 62.

    Dicey (2003, p. 486).

  63. 63.

    Iain McLean, ‘The Contradictions of Professor Dicey’ in: What’s Wrong with the British Constitution? op. cit., p. 130.

  64. 64.

    Iain McLean, ‘Causes and Consequences of the Unionist Coup d’Etat’ in: What’s Wrong with the British Constitution? op. cit., p. 148.

  65. 65.

    Iain McLean, What’s Wrong with the British Constitution? op. cit., p. 213.

  66. 66.

    The General Election of January–February 1910 brought back to power 274 Liberals, 272 Unionists, 82 Irish Nationalists and 40 Labour MPS. The General Election of December 1910 brought back to power 271 Liberals, 272 Unionists, 84 Irish Nationalists and 42 Labour MPS. For the results, see: http://www.politicsresources.net/area/uk/edates.htm, accessed 15 Jan. 2017.

  67. 67.

    Nicolson (1952, p. 62).

  68. 68.

    Peter Hennessy in The Hidden Wiring. Unearthing the British Constitution (1995) inserted a picture of a page of the future King George V’s notebook showing how he wrote down and underlined the passages of Bagehot’s famous work. He underlined especially the three powers of the Crown as Bagehot expressed them in The English Constitution: ‘the right to be consulted, the right to encourage, the right to warn.’ In the case of the crisis of 1909–1911, George V certainly acted according to these rights, giving them force and setting the mark for future monarchs. See: Hennessy (1996), inserted between pp. 86–87. See also: Walter Bagehot, The English Constitution (1867) in: St John-Stevas (1965–1986, p. 253).

  69. 69.

    The 1949 Parliament Act amended that of 1911 and limited the power of delay to one year instead of two.

  70. 70.

    Cannadine (1999a, p. 53).

  71. 71.

    See: http://www.parliament.uk/about/living-heritage/evolutionofparliament/houseoflords/parliamentacts/from-the-parliamentary-collections-the-parliament-act/parliament-act-1911/page-2/, accessed 17 January 2017.

  72. 72.

    Le May (1979, pp. 214–215).

  73. 73.

    From the Royal Archives, quoted in: Ibid., p. 218.

  74. 74.

    Ibid., p. 217.

  75. 75.

    See: A. V. Dicey, A Fool’s paradise, being a constitutionalist’s criticism of the Home Rule Bill of 1912, op. cit.; A. V. Dicey, A Leap in the Dark; or, our New Constitution, op. cit.; A. V. Dicey, England’s Case against Home Rule, op. cit.

  76. 76.

    A. V. Dicey, A Leap in the Dark; or, our New Constitution, op. cit., p. 6.

  77. 77.

    Ibid., pp. 202–203.

  78. 78.

    A. V. Dicey, A Fool’s paradise, being a constitutionalist’s criticism of the Home Rule Bill of 1912, op. cit., p. 110.

  79. 79.

    Ibid.

  80. 80.

    Herbert Du Parcq (ed.), Life of David Lloyd George, op. cit., vol. IV, p. 696.

  81. 81.

    Balfour (1974, p. xxiv).

Bibliography

Primary Sources

    Works

    • Dicey, A.V. 1886. England’s Case against Home Rule, viii–311. London: J. Murray.

      Google Scholar 

    • ———. 1893. A Leap in the Dark; or, Our New Constitution, xii–239. London: J. Murray.

      Google Scholar 

    • ———. 1909. Letters to a Friend on Votes for Women, vii–93. London: J. Murray.

      Google Scholar 

    • ———. 1913. A Fool’s Paradise, Being a Constitutionalist’s Criticism of the Home Rule Bill of 1912, x–132. London: J. Murray.

      Google Scholar 

    • ———. 1982. Introduction to the Study of the Law of the Constitution (1885). Indianapolis: Liberty Fund, 8th ed., 1915, cxlviii–435 pages.

      Google Scholar 

    • ———. 2008. Lectures on the Relation between Law and Public Opinion in England during the Nineteenth Century (1905). Edited and with an Introduction by Richard Vande Wetering. Indianapolis: Liberty Fund. Accessed 10 August 2016. http://oll.libertyfund.org/titles/2119.

    • Jennings, Sir Ivor. 1955. The Law and the Constitution (1933). London: University of London Press (Based on the 4th ed.), xix–327.

      Google Scholar 

    • Jessop, Bob. 2011. Traditionalism, Conservatism and British Political Culture (1974). London: Routledge Revivals. 287 pages.

      Google Scholar 

    • McKenzie, R.T., and A. Silver. 1968. Angels in Marble. Working-Class Conservatives in Urban England 1958–1960, xi–295. London: Heinemann.

      Google Scholar 

    Secondary Sources

      Works: Classical Texts

      • Balfour, Arthur. 1974. Introduction (1927). In The English Constitution (1867), ed. Walter Bagehot, v–xxvi. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

        Google Scholar 

      Works

      • Bogdanor, Vernon. 2009. The New British Constitution, xiii–319. Oxford and Portland: Hart Publishing.

        Google Scholar 

      • Cannadine, David. 1999a. The Decline and Fall of the British Aristocracy (1990), xv–813. New York: Vintage Books.

        Google Scholar 

      • ———. 2000. Class in Britain (1998), xiii–249. London: Penguin Books.

        Google Scholar 

      • Collini, Stefan. 2009. Liberalism and Sociology. L. T. Hobhouse and Political Argument in England 1880–1914 (1979), viii–281. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

        Google Scholar 

      • Comstock Weston, Corinne. 1995. The House of Lords and Ideological Politics: Lord Salisbury’s Referendal Theory and the Conservative Party, 1846–1922. Philadelphia: American Philosophical Society. 242 pages.

        Google Scholar 

      • Feuchtwanger, E.J. 1968. Disraeli Democracy and the Tory Party: Conservative Leadership and Organization after the Second Reform Bill, xiv–268. Oxford: Clarendon Press.

        Google Scholar 

      • Hennessy, Peter. 1996. The Hidden Wiring. Unearthing the British Constitution (1995), x–278. London: Indigo.

        Google Scholar 

      • Hutcheon, William, ed. 1914. Whigs and Whiggism. Political Writings by Benjamin Disraeli, viii–476. New York: Macmillan Company.

        Google Scholar 

      • Kahan, Alan S. 2003. Liberalism in Nineteenth Century Europe. The Political Culture of Limited Suffrage. New York: Palgrave Macmillan. 239 pages.

        CrossRef  Google Scholar 

      • Le May, G.H.L. 1979. The Victorian Constitution. Conventions, Usages and Contingencies, viii–243. London: Duckworth.

        Google Scholar 

      • Matthew, H.C.G. 2001. Gladstone 1809–1898 (1997). Oxford: Oxford University Press. 706 pages.

        Google Scholar 

      • McKibbin, Ross. 1974. The Evolution of the Labour Party, 1910–1924, xviii–261. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

        Google Scholar 

      • McLean, Iain. 2010. What’s Wrong with the British Constitution? vi–384. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

        Google Scholar 

      • Mount, Ferdinand. 1992. The British Constitution Now. Recovery or Decline? viii–289. London: Heinemann.

        Google Scholar 

      • Nicolson, Harold. 1952. King George V. His Life and Reign, xxiii–570. London: Constable.

        Google Scholar 

      • St John, Ian. 2010. Disraeli and the Art of Victorian Politics, xiv–243. London and New York: Anthem Press.

        Google Scholar 

      • St John Stevas, Norman, ed. 1965–1986. The Collected Works of Walter Bagehot: Volumes 1–15. The Economist/Harvard University Press.

        Google Scholar 

      • Steele, David. 1999. Lord Salisbury. A Political Biography, xv–455. London: UCL Press.

        Google Scholar 

      • Tomkins, Adam. 2003a. Public Law, ix–231. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

        Google Scholar 

      • Trahair, Richard C.S. 1994. From Aristotelian to Reaganomics: A Dictionary of Eponyms with Biographies in the Social Sciences. Westport and London: Greenwood Press. 723 pages.

        Google Scholar 

      • Winch, Donald. 1996. Riches and Poverty. An Intellectual History of Political Economy in Britain, 1750–1834, xi–428. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

        Google Scholar 

      Articles

      • Hawkins, Angus. 1989. ‘Parliamentary Government’ and Victorian Political Parties, c. 1830–c. 1880. The English Historical Review 104 (412): 638–669.

        CrossRef  Google Scholar 

      • Jennings, W.I. 1931. Disraeli and the Constitution. Journal of Comparative Legislation and International Law 13 (4): 182–198.

        Google Scholar 

      • Parry, Jonathan Philip. 2000. Disraeli and England. The Historical Journal 43 (3): 699–728.

        CrossRef  Google Scholar 

      • Tomkins, Adam. 2003b. The Republican Monarchy Revisited. Constitutional Commentary 19: 737–760.

        Google Scholar 

      • Tucker, Albert. 1962. Disraeli and the Natural Aristocracy. The Canadian Journal of Economics and Political Science 28 (1): 1–15.

        CrossRef  Google Scholar 

      • Weill, Rivka. 2003. Dicey Was Not Diceyan. The Cambridge Law Journal 62 (2): 474–493.

        CrossRef  Google Scholar 

      • Weston, Corinne C. 1982. Salisbury and the Lords, 1868–1895. The Historical Journal 25 (1): 103–129.

        CrossRef  Google Scholar 

      Download references

      Author information

      Authors and Affiliations

      Authors

      Corresponding author

      Correspondence to Catherine Marshall .

      Rights and permissions

      Reprints and Permissions

      Copyright information

      © 2021 The Author(s), under exclusive license to Springer Nature Switzerland AG

      About this chapter

      Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

      Cite this chapter

      Marshall, C. (2021). The Dilemma(s) of Voluntary Deference in the Fin De Siècle. In: Political Deference in a Democratic Age. Palgrave Macmillan, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-62539-9_5

      Download citation

      • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-62539-9_5

      • Published:

      • Publisher Name: Palgrave Macmillan, Cham

      • Print ISBN: 978-3-030-62538-2

      • Online ISBN: 978-3-030-62539-9

      • eBook Packages: HistoryHistory (R0)