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government affording to all classes guarantees against either revolution or reaction. He said that we could not afford to return to party warfare; the organised propaganda of Socialism was a political danger of the gravest kind.
Sir Gordon Hewart, at the same conference, said that they were seeking to form, not a new party, but a new organisation. They were out, uncompromisingly, for a policy of free trade. It was a primary part of their policy to cut down expenditure, and they looked forward with confident hope to an early remission of taxation.
Mr. Lloyd George himself addressed a National Liberal Conference on January 21. He asked who had started the talk about a General Election, saying that he had not, nor had he made up his mind upon the matter. The Coalition Liberals were as much pledged to reform of the House of Lords as any other Liberals. No single conference had settled European entanglements, but each conference was a rung in the ladder that led to ultimate peace. There were some who would go back to the old diplomacy, but he contended for meetings face to face. If men of all nations would go to Genoa determined to remove difficulties and not to create them, there would be a great pact of peace. He referred to the report of the Geddes Committee (see ANNUAL REGISTER, 1921, pp. 85 and 150), which, he said, would involve drastic and ruthless cutting down, and would provoke resistance, but it was necessary to take risks if they were to avoid the greater risk of bankruptcy. In an appeal for national unity he said that more depended on Britain than on any other land if Europe were to be restored.
Further speeches were delivered on January 23 by Mr. Asquith and by Lord Grey of Fallodon, who had now definitely emerged from his long retirement from the political arena. Lord Grey affirmed that the Supreme Council had undermined the trust and confidence which existed between ourselves and France for so many years.
The re-establishment of good relations with France was the most vital thing in European politics at the present time. The old confidence restored between the two nations would be the starting-point for the security of peace and reconstruction in Europe. He believed it was absolutely essential to restore wholesome, straightforward politics in this country, and the most important thing to do was to resuscitate and strengthen the Liberal Party. But he welcomed the co-operation of anyone outside the Liberal Party who felt, as they did, the necessities of the situation.
There was a difference between co-operation arising from agreement, and agreement arising from a desire to co-operate. The Prime Minister's speech had no relation to facts. Who was going to vote for the Government? Business men, labour, farmers, Ulster, the Diehards did not trust them. Did they trust each other? There would be no difficulty about an alternative Government; more than one was in sight.
At the same meeting Mr. Asquith stated that out of about 400 representative Liberal organisations in England 320 had openly declared themselves with the Independent Liberal Party. Free Liberals could afford to regard a dissolution, whenever it came, with perfect equanimity; no protest would come from them. To represent the Irish settlement as a triumph for men who acquiesced in reprisals until it was no longer possible, and who then claimed to have carried out the Gladstone tradition, was a piece of political effrontery. The Government, which was now for ruthless economy, had been guilty of profligate expenditure, and vast, top-heavy, lopsided, and hopelessly incompetent bureaucratic experiments. Let the electors ask Coalition Liberals at the election if they would vote for the immediate repeal of the Safeguarding of Industries Act. The country needed a real Government that it could trust, with settled and coherent principles, and a vigilant and well-organised opposition. The first thing was to get rid of the Coalition. He concluded by saying that the Liberals were pledged to attempt a better constituted Second Chamber, but it must not be allowed to usurp the authority of the directly elected House.
Another important speech was delivered by Mr. Winston Churchill on January 25. He insisted that, as regards Ireland, the Government had not only got as good a record, but a better record than either Mr. Gladstone or the present Liberal Leader. Referring to the Geddes Report, he said that it was a fine, massive, comprehensive piece of work. He was satisfied that there would be, during the present year, reductions in expenditure on an enormous scale. This task must be executed in a relentless spirit, and Liberals and Conservatives must co-operate in it. No doubt it was much harder to co-operate with the Government than to criticise, but because a Liberal chose the more difficult path he should not be considered inferior to the Liberal who chose the easier. The five years since Mr. Lloyd George had assumed office had been a period of stupendous and unexampled difficulty. Mr. Asquith and Lord Grey simply sought in their speeches to excite partisanship on worn-out party lines by means of fault-finding against à Government confronted with world events of prodigious and unprecedented complexity. While the whole world was infected by the doctrines of Russian Bolshevism, efforts were made to seize political power in this country through the agency of a general strike. The Government had succeeded in breaking up that formidable confederacy. He appealed for union with their Conservative allies so long as the country extended to them its confidence and support.
Irish affairs occupied an important place in politics throughout the year. On January 3 Dail Eireann resumed the debate adjourned from December 22, 1921, which was to end in acceptance or rejection of the Anglo-Irish Treaty. It was soon apparent that the unanimity which had been hoped for would not be realised. The debate proceeded placidly, speeches for the Treaty alternating with speeches against the Treaty. Mr. Michael Collins suggested that a division might be avoided if opponents of the Treaty would allow the motion before them to go through, permit the establishment of the Provisional Government, and then, if they wished, fight the Provisional Government. The suggestion brought no response, however, Mr. de Valera remarking that if the Treaty were ratified the line of policy proposed was that which could be followed in any case. On the following day Mr. de Valera issued an impassioned proclamation to the people of Ireland, including a vigorous attack on the Irish Press. At the same time he gave notice of an amendment to the motion for approval of the Treaty.
When it became apparent that the parties in the Dail were still sharply divided, nine deputies, realising the danger of so complete a split, formed themselves into an unofficial committee to see if they could find some common ground of agreement. They did succeed in reaching substantial agreement over a number of vital points, but the leaders on either side found themselves unable to accept the committee's report. It was decided, however, that the committee should meet again in the hope that an acceptable basis of agreement might be established, and the Dail suspended its session so as to afford an opportunity for so desirable an event. The efforts of the committee, however, were futile. On the morning of January 6 the Dail met privately, but as soon as it resumed in public Mr. de Valera tendered the resignation of his office as President. The resignation was offered in order that Mr. de Valera might seek reelection, with power to reconstruct his Cabinet and replace Ministers who supported the Treaty by other deputies who shared his own views. This re-election would, of course, have meant the end of the Treaty. Another very important matter was also at issue. If he was to have the responsibility of office, Mr. de Valera declared, he must have all the powers of government to be able to execute the duties of his oftice properly. Not only must he have a Cabinet which would think with him, but he would “have to have the full use of all the resources of the Republic to defend the Republic.” The effect of Mr. de Valera's procedure in asking the Dail to accept his resignation, and proceed to a new election of an Executive head was fully realised by Mr. Arthur Griffith, who submitted that the motion before the House was for the approval of the Treaty, and that until a vote had been taken they could not discuss the tendered resignation. After some discussion Mr. de Valera withdrew from the position that he had taken up, saying that he was sick and tired of politics, so sick that no matter what happened he was going back to private life. Thereupon the consideration of the Treaty was resumed. The vote was taken on January 8, when the Treaty was approved by 64 votes against 57.
The majority of seven was small, but there was no doubt that it repre
sented an immense majority of the people of Ireland, and the Treaty was therefore regarded as safe and the foundations of the Irish Free State as secure.
As soon as the result was announced Mr. de Valera rose to resign his office as Chief of the Executive. There were cries of dissent, and Mr. de Valera added that he wished to say a word to the country and to the world. The Irish people, he continued, established the Irish Republic. The present vote simply approved of a certain resolution, and the Republic could only be disestablished by the Irish people. He submitted that whatever happened the Republic was the supreme sovereign body of the nation and must remain until the nation had dissolved it. Mr. Collins, who followed, made it plain that he did not regard the passing of the motion as being any sort of triumph over the other side, and the only request he had to make was that, whatever contention there might be about the Republic and the Government in being, they should unite and do their best to preserve the public safety. In times of change, he said, in all countries that were passing from peace to war or from war
peace there were elements that made for disorder and chaos, and this was as true of Ireland as of any other country. He suggested that the vote should be regarded as determining a majority and a minority, and that it might be possible to form some sort of joint Committee to tide them over a difficult period. Mr. de Valera, rising again, asked those who voted against the motion and supported the Republic to meet him on the following day at the Mansion House. He spoke of a glorious record of four years, of magnificent discipline in the nation, and was proceeding with a speech on those lines when he broke down and resumed his seat. Sympathetic applause from the deputies gave way to a scene of excitement, when a man in the public part of the hall called for three cheers for the President of the Republic. Mr. de Valera made no attempt to speak again, but walked out of the Chamber, and the Speaker then declared the Dail to be adjourned.
It resumed on January 9. Mr. de Valera resigned his office as President, but accepted nomination for re-election. After a prolonged discussion, which was in effect a fresh debate on the Treaty, associated with an appeal that the Republic and all its resources should be kept intact during the period preceding the definite establishment of the Irish Free State, a vote was taken on the motion that Mr. de Valera be re-elected as President of the Irish Republic. This motion was defeated by 60 votes to 58. There was no doubt that the motion was intended by the Republican group to be an instrument to wreck the Treaty. They relied on the personal popularity of Mr. de Valera to attract votes which would have led to a situation in which the head of a minority would have been placed in a position to nominate his own Cabinet and to assume control of the Republican Army and the Sinn Fein funds. Mr. Barton, and another deputy who voted for the Treaty, supported the re-election of the President. Two private members did not vote, and Mr. de Valera himself took no part in the division. Mr. Griffith made it clear that the vote was not taken against Mr. de Valera, but that it was a vote to help the Treaty, adding that no man thought more highly of Mr. de Valera than he did himself. Mr. de Valera, speaking before the vote was taken, said that he allowed his name to go forward because he believed it was the right thing to do, and because it would tend to keep up the unity and discipline of the nation. He referred to suggestions of fratricidal strife as being nonsense. The other side had work to do for Ireland, and to get through a portion of that work they would need the help of his side, and he would be with them against any outside enemy. In the meantime, he added, “ you must simply regard us as an auxiliary army with an objective which is the complete independence of Ireland. In every step you take on that road we shall feel it our duty to be behind.' The approval of the Treaty by Dail Eireann was warmly welcomed throughout Ireland, and there were few discordant notes outside the Dail itself.
On January 10 Mr. Arthur Griffith was elected President of Dail Eireann, and he appointed the following Ministers chosen from supporters of the Treaty:
Mr. Michael Collins,
Mr. de Valera and the minority party in the Dail, with the knowledge that the motion to elect Mr. Griffith would be carried, refused to vote, and walked out of the Chamber before the division was taken.
The debate was opened by Mr. de Valera, who asked Mr. Griffith whether, in the event of his election as President, he intended to act and function as the Executive of the Republic. The Government of Dail Eireann, he asserted, was the Government of the Irish Republic and nothing else. Mr. Griffith replied that he would use his position to give effect to the constitutional vote of the assembly approving of the Treaty. He would use the resources at their disposal for keeping public order and security until they had an election for the Free State Parliament, and then let the will of the people decide whether they would have the Free State. This did not satisfy Mr. de Valera, and he told Mr. Griffith that if he wanted to be elected as President of the Dail he would have to act as chief Executive officer of the Republic. The Republic of Ireland, Mr. Griffith replied, remained in being until the Free State came into operation. If he was elected he would occupy the position that Mr. de Valera occupied. The position was not that of Presi