The Tories and Ireland : Andrew Bonar Law and Conservative strategy towards the third Home Rule bill 1911-1914
Bonar Law was a much more capable and tenacious leader than most previous accounts have suggested. He had inherited a very unfavourable position with the party badly demoralised and frustrated: few members had greeted his selection as leader with enthusiasm, and both Long and Chamberlain were hopeful of replacing him in the near future. Bonar Law's response was to try and regroup the party, and his own position, around a tough campaign to resist Home Rule. A campaign which he hoped would force an election, principally on the issue of whether Ulster should be forced under a Dublin Parliament. This line he pursued with great determination: though he remained sensitive to party tensions and differences, and always concerned with the public perception of party tactics. Yet it was a perilous course to follow; threatening the Government with support for civil war in Ireland if it did not hold an election before implementing the bill: an approach to opposition rarely contemplated by the party both before and since. Though one we are denied seeing the full consequences of with the sudden outbreak of war in Europe and Britain's entry into it on August 4th 1914.