Study of the debate on Scottish Home Rule, 1886-1914
Kane, Nathan Paul
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This thesis explores arguments for Scottish Home Rule, and the place these arguments were given during elections. It also discusses the interactions between Scottish Home Rulers with other Home Rule movements within the United Kingdom as well as attempts to build international support in the colonies and United States. Finally it examines the cultural and scientific manifestations of nationalism and how they were embraced by a Home Rule movement which was eager to identify evidence for devolution. The position of Scottish Home Rule before the Great War was very complex. Although the Scottish Liberal Association adopted it as a policy as early as 1888 the most ardent of Scottish Home Rulers were continually disappointed by the failure of the Liberal Party’s leadership to commit to a time frame for introducing legislation. Despite this difficulty Scottish Home Rulers fought an uphill battle to keep the issue before the public through a significant body of pamphlets, journals, letters, and even in motions in the House of Commons. Between the second 1910 election and the Great War, the issue was kept in front of the Scottish Electorate and featured in almost all of the Liberal and Labour candidates’ campaigns during the fourteen by-elections which occurred during the period. Culturally new expressions of ‘Scottishness’ can be seen in the establishment of bodies such as the Royal Scottish Geographic Society, the Scottish Historical Review and the Scottish National Antarctic Expedition. When these Scottish institutions ran into conflict with larger bodies based in England, usually associated with funding, the question of Scotland’s relationship with the rest of the United Kingdom came into question. At these times nationalists within and without of these institutions could co-opt these concerns in order to further their appeals for greater Home Rule. Although Scottish Home Rule was never a dominant movement within Scottish politics before the war it did manage to find acceptance among a wide body of individuals and groups such as the Scottish Liberal Association, Young Scots’ Society, Convention of the Royal Burghs of Scotland, Highland Land League, Scottish Labour League and Scottish Liberal Women’s Association . This thesis will attempt to place Scottish Home Rule within the context of a time which saw the development of so many other great reforms and argue that although those who supported Scottish Home Rule did so for a variety of pragmatic reasons, the nationalistic ideology that Scotland should be governed by Scots, still found expression.