British Liberal politics, the South African Question, and the Rhetoric of Empire, 1895-1907
Mackley, Simon Edward
Thesis or dissertation
University of Exeter
Embargo 18 months. Following this period, individuals or organisations should not copy, remix, modify or redistribute the material in any medium or format without prior permission of the author. Whilst citations and short quotations are allowed, you must give appropriate credit and not do so in any way that suggests the author endorses you or your use. You may not use the material for commercial purposes.
Reason for embargo
The author wishes to publish papers using material drawn substantially from the thesis (as stated on submission form).
This thesis examines the public politics of Empire at the fin de siècle. Taking as its focus the relationships between the Liberal Party, imperial rhetoric and the South African question in British politics from the Jameson Raid of 1895 through to the Transvaal Colony elections of 1907, it analyses key episodes such as the 1899 outbreak of the South African War, the ‘methods of barbarism’ controversy of 1901 and the politics of ‘Chinese slavery’ in the run up to the general election of 1906. Eschewing a traditional focus on high politics, personal motivation and imperial thought, this thesis explores the public rhetoric of leading Liberal politicians, as evidenced in newspaper records and parliamentary proceedings. In doing so, this study identifies the key themes, languages and arguments which served as the framework through which Liberal speakers articulated both their specific responses to events in South Africa and advanced a wider Liberal approach to the politics of Empire. In focusing on Liberal politics as distinct from liberalism as political philosophy and avoiding a narrow factional focus, this thesis aims to further understandings of the role played by Empire within late-Victorian and Edwardian Liberal political culture. It argues that for all the internal divisions within the Liberal Party, Liberal speakers nonetheless maintained a largely consistent rhetoric of Empire in response to the South African question, emphasising the ideals of British imperial rule and the extent to which the Unionist government and the Boers respectively failed to meet such expectations. This thesis further suggests that the evidence explored provides a wider insight into the imperial factor in British political history, and challenges some of the assumptions of more minimalist accounts of the impact of the British Empire ‘at home’.
Leverhulme Trust (studentship attached to 'The Rhetoric of Empire' major research project).
PhD in History