"Asquith and the Liberals were solely responsible for the failure to solve the crisis over the Third Home Rule Bill by September 1914". How far would you agree with this statement?

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“Asquith and the Liberals were solely responsible for the failure to solve the crisis over the Third Home Rule Bill by September 1914”. How far would you agree with this statement?

Many believe that Asquith and the Liberals were solely responsible for the failure due to their ignorance to Ulster, although, there are other reasons of why the Ulster Crisis was yet solved by September 1914, such as the Conservatives and Ulster’s resistances to Home.

Regarding Asquith, he neglected the Ulster question, when in 1912 he first introduced the Third Home Rule Bill he stuck to the Gladstonian Principle and did not give Ulster any special treatment, as Asquith reminded the House of Commons that four-fifths of the Irish MPs wanted Home Rule and only an “irreconcilable minority” in Ulster. Their wishes, he argued, could not be allowed to deny the majority in Ireland their rights. Thus, finance, not Ulster, was considered to be a real potential difficulty in any Home Rule Scheme believed Asquith. In fact, it was not until February 1912, when the general framework of the Bill had already been decided, that the cabinet focused its attention on Ulster. On 6th February Lloyd George and Churchill suggested exclusion of Ulster but Asquith rejected this. In the end, Asquith reported to the King that Home Rule was a go ahead but significantly, a proviso was added. It was apparent that the government did not rule out special treatment for Ulster as a matter of principle, but “Asquith preferred to hold back, waiting to see if any compromise was necessary” – Rees. Yet in considering this eventuality the government was greatly handicapped by its lack of detailed knowledge about the situation in Ulster. On the one hand the government was hearing from Redmond, the IPP leader, that all talk of Ulster resistance was “mere bluff” – whilst on the other hand, the administration, having initially failed to consider Ulster as a serious difficulty, then failed to garner accurate intelligence about the likelihood of trouble in Ulster if Home Rule was imposed. Ultimately the responsibility of this rested on Asquith but his strategy, Rees believes, “was to ignore Ulster and hope that Carson’s dire warnings turned out to be nothing more than empty rhetoric”. Asquith always preferred to sit on the side lines with his famous phase, “we had better wait and see”, and even though this was effective in the constitutional crisis, Jalland’s believes that this fails Asquith and in her opinion Asquith should have seized the initiative in 1912, when a compromise based on some form of Ulster exclusion may have been possible.

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Furthermore, whilst Asquith waited about, Ulster was only getting stronger. The success of extra-parliamentary opposition from Unionists - such as: “Ulster Day” in September 1912 and the Solemn League and the formation of the Ulster Volunteer Force in 1913 - was boosted by an overflow Ulster Unionists propaganda across Great Britain. Ulster now became the main issue in British politics. “It was no longer a question of our coercing Ulster”, said one Liberal, “it was a question of our preventing Ulster from coercing us”. The Curragh Incident and the formation of the Irish Volunteers worsened the situation, as did the ...

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