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The Challenges to Voluntary Deference (1911–1945)

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Abstract

With the advent of democracy, rational deference became an instrument of continuity amidst change. The Parliament Act of 1911 marked the beginning of a new era in which the concept of voluntary deference was slowly undermined. Politicians and judges started questioning the system, and whether an over-powerful executive, the role of the establishment, and the aristocratic organisation of power undermined the egalitarian demands of a democratic structure. The birth of a new party represented the demands of a new class in which some regarded any type of deference with contempt. Being deferential meant submitting to the establishment which defended the interests of the higher classes. However, what is examined here is how deferential the nation and the newcomers in power remained, and why.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    Laski (1945, p. 38).

  2. 2.

    Ibid.

  3. 3.

    There is a well-known amusing 1865 cover from Punch, in which a delighted old Mr Punch is seen taking his toys out of a play box in the shape of the Palace of Westminster after the opening of Parliament. The puppets are those of Gladstone and Disraeli and other political figures of the time. The caption reads: ‘Our Play Box. Mr Punch’s Delight at Finding his Dear Old Puppets where he left them in July.’ It is also the cover chosen for T. A. Jenkins, Parliament, Party and Politics in Victorian Britain, Manchester and New York, Manchester University Press, 1996, cover page.

  4. 4.

    Bogdanor (2009, p. 15). The bold characters are those of the author.

  5. 5.

    The first minority Labour government led by Ramsay MacDonald was formed in January up to October 1924 with the help of the Liberals. The second Labour government, also a minority government, was formed in 1929 up to 1931. From 1931 to 1935, Ramsay MacDonald was reappointed as head of a national coalition to deal with the economic crisis.

  6. 6.

    Crossman (1993, pp. 48–49).

  7. 7.

    Ibid., pp. 50–51.

  8. 8.

    Mackintosh (1962) and Hailsham (1978).

  9. 9.

    This, in itself, was not a ‘new’ vision and goes as far as Plato.

  10. 10.

    Laski (1950, pp. 143–144).

  11. 11.

    This is Lord Bingham’s expression. See Bingham (2010, p. 10).

  12. 12.

    R. v. Halliday, ex p. Zadig, [1917] 260 AC.

  13. 13.

    Ibid., pp. 292–293.

  14. 14.

    Marriott (1925).

  15. 15.

    Cannadine (1999a, p. 298).

  16. 16.

    See Chapter 7: ‘The ‘Corruption of Public Life’ in: ibid., pp. 297–340.

  17. 17.

    On George V’s reaction to David Lloyd George’s Honours Lists, see Rose (1983, p. 250).

  18. 18.

    See Kinnear (1973, pp. 120–135).

  19. 19.

    Hattersley (2010, pp. 559–576).

  20. 20.

    See Crosby (2014, p. 369).

  21. 21.

    Laski (1950, p. ii).

  22. 22.

    ‘By Liberty, I mean the eager maintenance of that atmosphere in which men have the opportunity to be their best selves.’ Ibid., p. 142.

  23. 23.

    Ibid., pp. 149–150.

  24. 24.

    Ibid., p. 150.

  25. 25.

    Laski (1945, p. 23).

  26. 26.

    Ibid., p. 29.

  27. 27.

    Laski (1950, pp. 171–172).

  28. 28.

    Laski (1945, p. 57).

  29. 29.

    Laski (1950, p. 160).

  30. 30.

    Ibid.

  31. 31.

    Laski (1945, p. 40).

  32. 32.

    Ibid., p. 41.

  33. 33.

    Laski (1950, p. 164).

  34. 34.

    Ibid., p. 305.

  35. 35.

    Ibid.

  36. 36.

    Bradley notes that ‘Laski’s views on constitutional matters came close to those of Jennings, but Laski’s were based on a commitment to Marxist theory which Jennings never shared’. See: Bradley (2004, p. 718).

  37. 37.

    The French constitutionalist Emile Boutmy described the British Constitution with this wonderful and poetic expression: ‘un chemin qui marche’ (Boutmy 1885, p. 2).

  38. 38.

    Laski (1950, p. iv).

  39. 39.

    Mount (1992, pp. 39–92). See also Bogdanor (2009, p. 272).

  40. 40.

    Jennings (1968, p. 203).

  41. 41.

    For a comparison between Dicey and Jennings, see Meslin (2012).

  42. 42.

    Jennings (1955, p. 135).

  43. 43.

    Tomkins (2003a, p. 13).

  44. 44.

    Jennings (1955, p. 80).

  45. 45.

    Ibid., p. 162.

  46. 46.

    Jennings (1964, p. 151).

  47. 47.

    Jennings (1968, p. 11).

  48. 48.

    Ibid., p. 209.

  49. 49.

    Ibid., p. 211.

  50. 50.

    Jennings (1964, p. 28).

  51. 51.

    Ibid., pp. 28–29.

  52. 52.

    Laski (1945, p. 370).

  53. 53.

    Tomkins (2003a, p. 23).

  54. 54.

    Lord Hewart of Bury (1929).

  55. 55.

    Loughlin (2013, p. 96).

  56. 56.

    Lord Hewart of Bury (1929, p. 11).

  57. 57.

    Laski (1945, p. 372).

  58. 58.

    Ibid., p. 392.

  59. 59.

    Ibid., p. 430.

  60. 60.

    ‘The King gave way to unusual, if not unprecedented, ministerial pressure; it would not be unreasonable to call this an act of coercion. He agreed to give a secret guarantee to create peers. It was a decision that he was to regret for the rest of his life’ (Le May 1979, p. 207).

  61. 61.

    Walter Bagehot, The English Constitution (1867) in St John-Stevas (1965–1986, vol. 5, p. 253).

  62. 62.

    Tomkins (2003a, p. 62).

  63. 63.

    See Martin (1962, pp. 56–57).

  64. 64.

    Ibid., p. 57.

  65. 65.

    Ibid.

  66. 66.

    Ibid., p. 87.

  67. 67.

    Ibid.

  68. 68.

    Quoted in Nicolson (1952, pp. 465–466). See also Bogdanor (1995, pp. 104–112).

  69. 69.

    Bogdanor (1995, p. 110).

  70. 70.

    The National Government got a majority of 242 seats out of 615 seats. See http://researchbriefings.files.parliament.uk/documents/CBP-7529/CBP-7529.pdf, accessed 5 February 2017.

  71. 71.

    Laski (1945, pp. 392–393).

  72. 72.

    Norman St John Stevas, ‘The Political Genius of Walter Bagehot’ in St John Stevas (1965–1986, vol. 5, p. 85).

  73. 73.

    Rose (1983, pp. 212–214).

  74. 74.

    Hear George V’s 1932 Xmas message at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bf30P_PbcZo, accessed 5 February 2017.

  75. 75.

    George V cited by Mackintosh (1962, p. 515).

  76. 76.

    In the end, it is a paradox that he became a father figure for the nation in spite of being a rather poor father for his own children.

  77. 77.

    Laski (1945, p. 16).

  78. 78.

    Since then, conventions have evolved. The present Prince of Wales, Charles, was allowed to marry Camilla Parker-Bowles (in a civil ceremony followed by a service of prayer and dedication) in April 2005 even though they were both divorced and her husband was still alive (Diana, Princess of Wales, had died in 1997). Since 2002, the Church of England has considered remarriages in church as acceptable.

  79. 79.

    Marquess of Zetland (1956, pp. 213–214). Also cited in Bogdanor (1995, p. 143).

  80. 80.

    ‘I want you to know that the decision I have made has been mine and mine alone.’ Edward VIII, 11 December 1936, http://www.britishpathe.com/video/abdication-speech-by-edward-viii, accessed 21 June 2017.

  81. 81.

    Martin (1962, p. 114).

  82. 82.

    James Maxton, http://hansard.millbanksystems.com/commons/1936/dec/12/his-majestys-declaration-of-abdication#S5CV0318P0_19361212_HOC_20, col. 2208, accessed 4 February 2017.

  83. 83.

    George Hardie, http://hansard.millbanksystems.com/commons/1936/dec/12/his-majestys-declaration-of-abdication#S5CV0318P0_19361212_HOC_20, col. 2219, accessed 4 February 2017.

  84. 84.

    Bogdanor (1995, p. 144).

  85. 85.

    Bryan III and Murphy (1979, p. 292).

  86. 86.

    Ibid., col. 1160.

  87. 87.

    Ibid., col. 1168.

  88. 88.

    Ibid., col. 1160–1161.

  89. 89.

    Ibid., col. 1160.

  90. 90.

    Winston Churchill, 28 October 1943, http://www.parliament.uk/about/living-heritage/transformingsociety/private-lives/yourcountry/collections/churchillexhibition/churchill-and-ww2/hoc-rebuilding/, Hansard, 5th series, vol. 393, col. 404, accessed 9 February 2017.

  91. 91.

    Ibid., col. 405.

  92. 92.

    The majority of the Labour Party in the 1945 July general election was of 183 seats. Several figures of the Conservative Party lost their seats.

  93. 93.

    See both posters online: the first on the Imperial War Museum archive online: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/29129 (accessed 28 February 2017) and the second on the Online archive of California, http://oac.cdlib.org/ark:/28722/bk0007t5r8x/?brand=oac4&layout=metadata (accessed 28 February 2017).

  94. 94.

    Arnold (1903, pp. 26–27).

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      Marshall, C. (2021). The Challenges to Voluntary Deference (1911–1945). In: Political Deference in a Democratic Age. Palgrave Macmillan, Cham. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-62539-9_6

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