Unionist Rally 1913
In July 1913, a joint meeting of Junior Unionists and the Primrose League was
held in Lytham Hall Park.
JOINT UNIONIST DEMONSTRATION IN LYTHAM HALL PARK.
MR. TALBOT CLIFTON'S CRITICISM OF THE GOVERNMENT.
A joint demonstration of Junior Unionists and
members of the Primrose League Habitations, in Lancashire and Cheshire, was held in Lytham Hall
Park, on Saturday.
Fifty-five habitations were represented, and there was a
good muster of the residents of St. Annes and Lytham.
Mr. J. Talbot Clifton presided, and he was supported by Col.
Allen J. Sykes, M.P. for the Knutsford Division; Mr. Gerald Arbuthnot, vice-chancellor of the
Primrose League; Mr. B. S. Townroe, Unionist candidate for the Middleton Division; Messrs. A. E.
Smith, Wm. Thompson and J. Prestwich, St. Annes ; Talbot Fair, J. A. S. Fair, J.P., J. Elton, E.
W. Mellor, J.P., J. Pearson, Marcos Rea, Lytham ; Aid. Brodie; Blackpool Rev. A. W. M. Holme,
Weeton ; and Mr. Jarratt, Provincial Secretary of the League.
LETTER FROM MR. ASHLEY:
In a letter expressing his inability to be present, Mr. Ashley
wrote:--"It is a subject of deep regret to myself that a private engagement—settled on long
ago—must prevent my being with you on Saturday, and that I shall not have the pleasure of taking
part in this important demonstration. If only it had been possible to postpone the gathering
till a later date I should have made a point of being present, but I quite understand that,
taking all the circumstances into consideration, such a course has been found impossible. It is
a gratifying and healthy sign in the Unionist party that the Primrose League and kindred
organisations are showing such activity at the present moment with a view to educating public
opinion on the political questions of the day. This education must be persisted in—though the
lessons to be taught are simple—indeed large bodies of the electors have already learnt them by
bitter experience. (Hear, hear).
Since the Liberals assumed the reins of office they have
openly discarded their pretensions to be the party of retrenchment and sane finance, and by
prodigal expenditure necessitating heavy extra taxation, have made the tax collectors; official
communication even more unwelcome than before. (Hear, hear.) All
sections of the community are hit, the landowner is treated as a public enemy, the licensed
trade is crushed by vindictive legislation, the wages of the working classes are attacked, and
even money devoted to religious uses is not held sacred. On the other hand, to vote oneself a
salary out of public money is meritorious—(laughter)—and to operate on the Stock Exchange
a laudable and natural pastime, for Ministers. (Laughter.)
But this is not all; the Constitution has been shattered,
our schools have been attacked and danger looms large for next year, and, finally, with an
ignorance of the situation which is inconceivable or an obstinacy which is criminal, the Government
are so handling the Home Rule question that unless they change their policy civil war in this
country must come next year. If any Government—without first consulting the people—dares to thrust
out of the community a loyal and prosperous' population whose only crime is their desire, to retain
the same political status and liberties in which they were born and which we now enjoy, then I say
there is no length to which they would not be justified in going. (Hear, hear.) In fighting for these liberties they will be supported by the Unionist party
and public opinion of the country. (Applause.)
LETTER FROM SIR E. CARSON.
Sir Edward Carson, M.P., wrote: "Dear Mr. Jarrett, I hope you will have a successful gathering on the 12th inst. We have
just witnessed the second stage in the endeavours of a discredited Government to force the Home
Rule Bill into law by sheer weight of their mechanical majority in the House of Commons, in
spite of the manifest disapproval of the people of this country, demonstrated at one
bye-election after another.
The Irish Unionist members of Parliament have had the
opportunity of testing the opinion of the people of England and Scotland in our recent tour, and
I am deeply impressed by the enthusiasm with which we were received at every town, we visited. I
am sure that the people of this country will never tolerate the betrayal of the loyalists in
Ireland into the power of a Parliament at Dublin, composed of men who, by speech and action,
have proved themselves disloyal to the Crown and enemies to progress and prosperity in Ireland.
I take this opportunity of making an appeal to the members of the Lancashire and Cheshire
Habitations of the Primrose League and kindred associations to do all in their power to avert
the passage into law of this infamous Home Rule Bill."
MR. CLIFTON’S SPEECH.
Mr. Talbot Clifton said they were met on that occasion as
fellow-members of the Primrose League, to suppose a great agency for the promotion of certain
principles which had done good work in the past and was, he ventured to think, still destined to
play an invaluable part in the future, in the furtherance of Unionist aims. This was a time in
which those certain principles were being assailed in every direction by the most unscrupulous
gang of place-hunters, who had ever held office--(hear, hear)—who seemed utterly regardless of
the interests of the Empire entrusted to their care. There was practically no institution,
however sacred or time-honoured, which seemed safe from their vandal attacks; hence, not content
with having destroyed the House of Lords as a bulwark of the Constitution they had reduced the
House of Commons to a degrading apparatus for registering the decrees of the despotic cabinet.
(Hear, hear.) It was a sort of penny-in-the-slot machine. (Laughter.)
A minister dropped in a Bill and out came a lump of legislation,
very difficult to digest and very badly baked. They might not like it, but after two years they
had got to swallow it whether they liked it or not. It was in this way that we had received a
very choice piece of legislation which aimed at establishing in Ireland a queer kind of
Parliament. It was in the same way that the community was called upon to rob the Welsh Church of
its land endowments—an enactment quite unparalleled in shabbiness in the history of this
country; and it was much in the same way that an ill-digested measure of insurance had been
forced upon a reluctant people. It was sufficient to say of one item alone that if it was
.persisted in it must inevitably lead to civil war. There was no shadow of doubt that Ulster
would fight to avert Home Rule with all the strength at its command, and that she would be
supported by the entire strength of the Unionist party. (Hear, hear.)
Meanwhile they had the sorry spectacle of ministers in this
country with no thought except gaining tittles and salaries, and no hesitation in dishonouring
their office. He thought this Government should be known as the "stick- fast
Government”—determined to stick to office for all they were worth and to take more than they
were worth. However, they had already been defeated in the House of Commons; they had been
defeated before the tribunal of public opinion, and they were certain to be defeated in the most
ignominious manner the moment they submitted themselves to the verdict of the polls. (Hear,
hear.) Therefore there was abundant reason for exultation, for there was no question that
victory was in sight, and that under their trusted leader, Mr. Bonar Law, they were marching to
decisive victory. (Applause.)
Col. Allen Sykes, in his address, appealed to members of the
Primrose League and Junior Unionists to work together. That would help them to wipe out the
black spot, politically, that Lancashire and the surrounding district was. Proceeding, he said
the House of Commons had come to the penny in the slot. They did not seem to be able to do much
good except to register their votes against the autocratic decrees of Mr. Asquith and his
Government. They put a penny in the slot and turned out unbaked, ill digested acts, such as the
Insurance Act. And why was it unbaked? When they put a penny in a gas meter they had to get
their cooking done before they had finished with the gas, and if the Government had not turned
out the Insurance Bill in the requisite time Mr. Redmond would have turned out the gas and the
Government would have been turned out of office. (Applause.) Col. Sykes alluded,
sympathetically, to the serious loss sustained by the deaths of Mr. George Wyndham and Mr.
Alfred Lyttleton, and also referred to the discharge of a pop-gun in the House, on Friday, and
said he did not think that any more harm had been done by the discharge than by Mr. Lloyd
George’s throwing of "javelins" at his oppressors. In regard to that luncheon speech, he was
inclined to think that they were not javelins, but boomerangs that Mr. Lloyd George threw.
(Applause.) Touching on the Marconi question, as affecting the Chancellor of the Exchequer of
this country, and not the individual Col. Sykes said he thought that the Opposition had rightly
said the Chancellor had been extremely ill-advised and foolish in touching Marconi in the first
instance, and in the way he had handled the question afterwards. There was
NOTHING CORRUPT IN "A FLUTTER"
in stocks, but the country did not expect to see him having "a
flutter." He dared to say some of the Chancellor’s apologists would say it was not "a flutter,"
but an investment. He (the speaker) would not dispute the statement of the Chancellor that he
bought the shares for an investment, but he made a profit of over £700 on the sale of 1,000 of
them three days after he bought them. Lawyers argued about the borderline between investment and
speculation; and there could be argument as to when day turned into night, but a fellow would be
a fool if he did not know when it was night. In the past, Chancellors of the Exchequer had not
been paid large salaries in order that they might invest or speculate—he thought that was really
the correct term on the Stock Exchange—but they were paid those salaries so that they should be
above suspicion; and it was because those Ministers had not carried out the old traditions of
the country that the Unionist party said, "No, there is no corruption, but you have not carried
out the old traditions of the country; and, as Ministers, you are not worthy of your hire." The
speaker next touched on the uncertainty of dissolution of the Government, because of being kept
in power by the persons to whom they had doled out £400 a year; and, touching on the Budget
which levied land taxes, he said he thought that Mr. Lloyd George might have given up some of
his unearned increment on Marconis. (Applause.) However, it did not cost the country anything to
collect, but it had cost the Government a little in honour and prestige. Yet, so long as they
stayed in power, he did not think that was of importance to them. (Laughter). Dealing with the
cost of collection of land taxes, Col. Sykes said that in the commercial figures of to-day—"9d.
for 4d."—(laughter) it cost in 1912 9d. to collect ¾d. (Laughter.) That was not a good
commercial transaction; and he was not sure that it was any better transaction than some of the
clauses of the Insurance Act. The figures for the year ending March last showed that the cost
was proportionately about the same. The Home Rule question was dealt with, the speaker
emphasising that a Parliament in Dublin would cost the English people £2,000,000 a year; and the
measure would probably cause Civil war in North-east Ulster and would disintegrate the Empire.
Mr. Gerald Arbuthnot called upon the Leagues to become a real
fighting force; and remarked that there were some leagues which, for political purposes were
useless. They must make up their minds that social work, desirable though it might be, was only
a means to an end. The time was ripe for a forward political movement, as the country was sick
of the present Government, and their legislation and their methods. In preparation fop the next
general election, upon which the future of the country depended, he asked that there should be
good work done, and that efforts should be directed towards sending more Unionist members for
Lancashire and Cheshire.
Mr. B. S. Townroe also addressed the meeting, dealing with the
need for a strong Navy, and also referring to the Housing Question .
Mr. Talbot Fair proposed a vote of thanks to the speakers, and
remarked that there was a great deal of work to be done, but he was sorry to say that those
people who ought to work would not do so. He hoped that all would take to heart what had been
said, and that at the next election they would have a thumping Unionist majority.
Mr. E. W. Mellor, J.P., seconded, and the vote was cordially
On the motion of Mr. Jarratt, seconded by Mr. A. E. Smith (Ruling
Councillor of the St. Annes Primrose League), thanks were also given to Mr. and Mrs. Clifton,
for their granting the use of the Park for the demonstration.