Political attitudes towards the Boer war

  • Created by: naomi
  • Created on: 05-05-13 20:49

Political support for the Boer War - Liberal Union

  • Liberal Unionists were in full support of the Boer War
  • Being the Government that instigated the war they supported the war and their reasons for it
  • however, even some members of the party were horrified by events that took place in the Transvaal
  • although the Liberal Unionist party were the strongest supporters of the war, members of other parties were also in support:
  • due to a big divide in the Liberal party in whether they were in support of the war or not, some members of the Liberals were in support of the Boer War
  • e.g. Richard Haldae - member of the Libeal Party - supporter of the Boer War
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Political support for the Boer War - Joseph Chambe

  • arguably the strongest supporter of the Boer War was Joseph Chamberlain - Colonial secretary at the time
  • Chamberlain was a key figure, if not the leading figure argued by some, in the start of the Boer War
  • he tapped into the patriotic and imperialistic feelings of the public to gain their support for the war
  • in his support for the war Chamberlain made numerous speeches that did so and aimed to gain popular support from the public:
  • "After that extraordinary ultimatum which was adressed to the government, it is impossible for us to do any other than fight with all energy the war which has been thrust upon us... We are going to war in defence of the principles upon which this Empire has been founded"
  • Chamberlain's use of the Empire in his speeches tapped into the patriotic feeling amongst the public at the time
  • this gained Chamberlain and the Liberal Unionists support from much of the public 
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Political support for the Boer War

  • support can be demonstrated in the opposition the public showed to other party speeches that made anti-war and pro-Boer speeches
  • an example of this would be an anti-war speech made by David Lloyd George in Birmingham that soon turned violent when people started throwing things at him and not allowing him to speak as the public were singing and waving Union Jacks
  • this shows how influential Chamberlain's and the Liberal Unionist's speeches were over popular public opinion
  • it showed how influential political opinion could be over the public
  • this was also commented on in Beatrice Webb's diary when she commented in 1899 that "any criticism of the war is hopelessly unpopular"
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Political support for the Boer War

  • another e.g. of how influential politics and Chamberlain's speeches were over the public would be the Khaki election:
  • Chamberlain advised Lord Salisbury to take advantage of popular opinion the public had of the Liberal Unionist Partt
  • once the campaign started Chamberlain became a clear leader
  • he would often conduct many of the speeches made to increase support for the party
  • he took many public responsibilities from Lord Sainsbury and the election is said to have been known as 'Joe's election'
  • however the extent of this support can be questioned as the party did not win by as much of a majority as they anticipated
  • although there was much support for the war that was influenced by political figures such as Chamberlain there were also other politicans that were not in support of the war and had influence over the public also changing public opinion
  • this shows how split the government over the issue of the war as was the public 
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Political opposition to the Boer War

  • although there was much support fo the Boer War the government was still very divided over their opinion of the war
  • there was much opposition for the war and many political parties were in opposition of the war

The opposition came from:

  • the Irish Nationalists - often British defeats were celebrated in Irish towns
  • members of the Liberal Party - the party was divided at this time over the war
  • the Labour party - also in opposition but was not always as open opposition as that of the Liberals or Irish nationalists
  • many political figures that were part of anti-war groups - e.g. the Leage against Aggression and Militarisation - had numerous influential members including David Lloyd George
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Political opposition to the Boer War

  • the Liberal Party was very divided over the issue of the Boer War with some party members in support of the war, some staying neutral in their opinion of the war and others openly opposing it
  • one politican who was very openly in opposition was the politican and member of the Liberal party, David Lloyd George
  • he often made pro-Boer speeches to the public that were not always popular; however they seem to have influence over public opinion
  • the speeches made by Lloyd George showed clear opposition to the war and began to gain him support from the public, "in this particular instance war could have been avoided"
  • a good example of the support he gained is shown in the khaki election
  • although the Liberal Unionists won the election they did not gain the landslide vicotry they were expecting and this could be due to teh fact that much of the working class was influenced by Lloyd George in oppsition to the war 
  • this could also suggest why only 75% of the electorate voted as it suggests that there was a lack of support for the government and the war as a result of Lloyd George's speeches on the war and on the arrival of the Hobbhouse report 
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Political opposition to the Boer War

  • the report stated the awful coditions and use of concentration camps in the Transvaal
  • this lead to the Fawcett Commission by the government that brought back similar results, causing many more to oppose the war and politicians such as David Lloyd George to use this new found evidence against the Liberal Unionists and Chamberlain and to reiterate his opposition to the war
  • his influence over the public once the details of the Fawcett commission became known became stronger
  • the popular opinion amongst the public was that of opposition to the war and Liberal Unionists
  • evidence of this change in public opinion is shown in the 1906 general election when the Liberals achieved a landslide victory 
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Debate about the value of the Empire

The opinions on the value of the British Empire were polarised

Reasons people supported the Empire:

  • the empire was important to Britain in order for them to retain a major power both in military and economy
  • the empire was a valuable source of all raw materials such as oil and coal and other goods which could then be used by British manufacturers
  • it enabled British manufacturers to sell their products globally and allowed them higher levels of trade which gives Brits the choice to emigrate abroad, either to escape poverty or to seek adventure
  • many also believed that their empire was a natural result from the superiority of whites over other races, and had stemmed from the superioriy of their Anglo-Saxon cultures and values 
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Debate about the value of the Empire

Reasons people opposed the Empire:

  • people felt that the empire acted as a distraction from the political reforms that were needed in Great Britain
  • people also disapproved of the way that the empire was based on conquest and war and was seen to be mainly for economic benefits rather than considering the natives needs
  • the empire brought about war with conflicts occurring between Britain and countries wanting independence from he empire
  • many argued it was expensive, placing both economic and military burdens on Great Britain
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Imperial Sentiment

Decline in Imperial Sentiment:

  • many groups such as anti-war groups and religious groups opposed the war for its barbaric nature or fighting
  • Chamberlain failed to persuade the British public to support his schemes for imperial unity, as shown in 1908 when the idea of an officially recognised Empire Day was rejected in the commons by 68 votes
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Imperial Sentiment

Continued Strength in Imperial Sentiment:

  • there was a continued amount of imperial imagery in newspapers, advertisements and commerical packaging with many manufacturers using the image of heroic soldiers representing a great Britain to sell their products
  • young Britons were encouraged to have imperial pride with educational textbooks stressing British achievements. The young Britons were being prepared for careers in the army
  • the popular groups of the boy scouts emphasised obligation and rewarded displays of imperial attitude and citizenship
  • the Boer War brought public displayed of imperial sentiment in that any anti-war meetings were often targetted and broken up by patriotic mobs
  • there was also support for the war and imperialism shown in the number of men that volunteered to fight for their country, with the 450,000 strong army being made up by a majority of volunteers
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