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Title: British Liberal politics, the South African question, and the rhetoric of Empire, 1895-1907
Author: Mackley, Simon Edward
ISNI:       0000 0004 5989 0749
Awarding Body: University of Exeter
Current Institution: University of Exeter
Date of Award: 2016
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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’.
Supervisor: Toye, Richard ; Thomas, Martin Sponsor: Leverhulme Trust
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available