Liberal Club official opening and the Home Rule debate
Below is an account of the official opening of Hathern Liberal Club held in the Skittle Alley a 'commodious' building at the rear of the the club folowing a sit-down meal in the Co-op for 100 persons. The Hon. F.Strutt was in the chair and the star turn was Mr. J.A.Jacoby M.P. for mid-Derbyshire. The Strutt family of Belper had built their wealth in hosiery being sometime partner the financial backer of Richard Arkwright and of particular interest to Hathern inventor of the 'Derby Rib' hand-operated knitting frame, a rare example of which is now held in J.Alex Swift's factory after being recovered from a house on The Green and recently rebuilt though not yet in workingorder. One of the Strutt residences is Kingston Hall. The main political issue discussed was the question of Ireland - the Liberals supporting a limited version of Home Rule within the United Kingdom.
Nottingham Evening Post - Monday 19 September 1887
THE LOUGHBOROUGH DIVISION. MR, JACOBY, M.P., HATHERN. On Saturday evening the Liberal Club in Dovecote Street, Hathern, was formally opened.
At five o'clock about 100 sat down to dinner in the Cooperative Hall, and at seven o'clock a public meeting was held in the large hall behind club premises. Although the formal opening took place on Saturday night, the club has been opened since December last when a house and plot of ground were purchased for £275 and on the ground the back of the house a large hall suitable for public meetings has been erected. There was large attendance the meeting on Saturday evening, and the chair was occupied the Hon. F. Strutt. Amongst those present were—Mr. J. A. Jacoby, M.P. for Mid-Derbyshire, Messrs. F. Winser, F. Rothera (Kegworth), A. Bumpus, J. Peer (Loughborough), F. Fuller, Isaac Swift, H. Mitchell, J. E. Tollington, W. Fuller, Wm. Tollington, C. Randon, and J. Spencer (Hathern). Letters regretting inability to be present were read from Sir B. W. Foster, M-P., for llkeston Division Mr. J. E. Ellis, M.P. for Rushcliffe Division; Mr. J. E. Johnson-Ferguson, the unsuccessful Liberal candidate for the Loughborough Division at the last election ; and others.
The Chairman, who was cordially received, said that in commencing the proceedings they would perhaps allow him to say what great pleasure it gave him to be once more amongst them. (Applause.) He had not often been at Hathern meeting but he saw many faces there which he was glad to see again, and he might also say he saw a few that were glad to see him. (Applause.) They should in all these days make a point if they called themselves Liberals of attending a Liberal meeting. He thought he could safely say that never before in his life had he felt the condition of the country to be such anxious one, and he had felt it more important than any other occasion to show what Liberals could do. Had any of them read the account of the Mitchelstown affair--(shame)—and had not felt shame to think that was the English Government which had dared to interfere with that meeting—(shame)—in the way in which it had? There was no doubt whatever that the police massacred and murdered those people without any just or really important provocation of any sort whatever. If the Conservative party could not succeed in preserving order it was to be hoped that before long the Liberal party might return to power and would find some way of restoring order and peace in Ireland without in any way destroying the unity of Great Britain. (Applause.) They were a United Kingdom, but let them be a United Kingdom in every sense of the word. He saw no reason to fear Home Rule, for it meant that Ireland, Scotland, Wales, or England, should, if they wished, have a small Parliament for managing purely local affairs, as far as he could understand it. At the same time, there might be an Imperial Parliament, existing at present, meeting once a year in London for the purpose of managing the army and navy, the Budget, and the Imperial Government. It seemed to him that such a state of things would not in any way interfere with the unity of the United Kingdom. (Applause.)
Mr. F. Winser, Kegworth, moved " That this meeting of Liberals of Hathern hereby records its protest and indignation at the unjust and cruel treatment now being practised on the Irish people, and, further, call upon all true Liberals to stand faithfully by the Irish nation its struggle for the right of public meeting and legitimate political combination." (Applause.)
Mr. A. A. Bumpus, Loughborough, seconded the resolution, and said it was simply monstrous, and hardly needed discussion to carry that fact home to the people of this country, that a Parliament which was the assembled representatives of this kingdom should find during the last session no better work than to go right in the face of 5,000,000 of people, in order to force them to comply with the arbitrary exactions of a small handful. It was monstrous, he contended, that the whole time and labour of the Government should be monopolised in that utterly injurious policy, which could not with the barest plausibility be supposed to be a policy devised in the genuine, interest of that 5,000,000 people.
Mr. J. A. Jacoby, M.P., who was cordially received, observed that when he was honoured by the kind invitation to come there that evening to officially open their Liberal Club, he was induced by various considerations to accept the invitation. The first consideration was only the pleasure he had in taking part at any Radical assembly the country (applause)—and the second was because he had always felt that the Loughborough Division, and the division which he had the honour of representing in Parliament, had very much of what was alike. In the first place they had the great advantage of the careful attention of their friend the chairman. (Applause.) He (Hon. F. Strutt) would pardon him if he likened him to a political parent, the result of whose political marriage had been two offsprings, both healthy children resembling their political father in robustness and vigour, of good Radical principles— (laughter and applause) —and fairly starting along a healthful political life. Unfortunately one these children was temporarily ill, suffering from a fit of blues (laughter)—but to judge from the indication of that meeting the indisposition was of temporary character and would vie with its twin brother, if he might describe as such, Mid-Derbyshire, to again send a true "supporter of their great leader to the Imperial Parliament. (Applause) He never thought it right political meetings to make personalities of any kind, and anything he had to say of the gentleman who misrepresented them Parliament would be said entirely in a political sense. He had had the opportunity—he could not claim it as advantage—of sitting for many nights opposite Mr. de Lisle—(groans)—and he was bound say that his conduct in the Imperial Parliament was not such as to be to a credit either to himself or the party which he was a member. There was hardly a disturbance the House of Commons in which Mr. de Lisle was not either directly or indirectly interested and over and over again late at night when some the gilded young Tories had returned from their clubs and dinners in all that splendid attire of dinner dress, they heard amongst the turmoil that came from the Tory side under the gangway, Mr. de Lisle as a kind of extempore leader of that noisy party, whenever Irish gentleman was speaking for hundreds and thousands of poor people who were suffering great wrong. That could be heard going on, and above the din they could hear Irish members and others crying out, "Silence, de Lisle." (Laughter.) He only wished that Mr. Lisle would apply to himself some of the virtue of the poet Burns—
O wad some power the giftie gie us
To see oursels as ithers see us.
—(Laughter.) He had also had opportunity of seeing something of the gentleman who, he firmly believed, was going to be their member at the next election. He believed that that in Mr. Ferguson they had a thorough, thoughtful, and earnest Liberal, and he believed that he was a progressive Liberal. He did not know that he was the Radical that he (Mr. Jacoby) was, but there was material in him that would make him Radical, if they would only try. He (Mr. Jacoby) had listened with great pleasure to the able speech he made in the House of Commons on the Railway Bill introduced by Mr. Mundella, and he could tell them that on that occasion Loughborough might have been proud of the man she had sent to Parliament. (A Voice: She was.) The session which had been so much wasted, and in which there had been so much obstruction from the Tory side of the House, had come to end. The first business of the session was the necessary instrument to gag Parliament. They had some excellent rules proposed for the management of the debates in Parliament, but after the Tory party had got the first rule passed, that would enable them by majority of 200 members present to close a debate, they droppedall the resolutions which they had introduced, and which they had led the House Commons to suppose would be placed before them for consideration, and they ran away and commenced coercion for Ireland. When Mr. Balfour introduced his Coercion Bill—(groans)—it was remarked and complained of that he never introduced it on any facts. They were treated to long string of anonymous anecdotes. It was said at that time that Mr. Balfour was in his " anecdotage." There was no doubt that up to this day the Government had not made out a single case for a measure of the drastic character of the Coercion Bill. But they had not carried out the coercion proposals as they originally intended. Outrageous as the measure was it was not so outrageous as they had attempted make it. (Hear, hear.) Mr. Jacoby contended that the measure of coercion from the Tory Government was against public opinion and against freedom of speech, and that was the reason why the Liberals had opposed it, and it was the reason why they should continue to oppose it. He did not think they could connect the National League with crime. He had carefully gone over the evidence for and against and he came to the conclusion that the National League was as constitutional a body as the Hathern Liberal Association. But what was their great complaint ? it was against what was known as exclusive dealing or boycotting. He admitted that boycotting was serious thing but it was a symptom of serious 'social condition of things in Ireland. They must not look at boycotting merely, but they must look at what lay behind and what caused it. As regarded, boycotting itself it was excusable in a great national struggle for freedom and for justice. But could it be explained away by Tory squires and country rectors and noble lords who used it, to force their own political creed willingly or unwillingly down the throats of the people ? (Hear, hear.) The first speech he had the honour of making in the House of Commons was on the question of boycotting. His friend, the member for Newmarket drew attention to the subject, and he spoke in support,, and one after another of the Radicals got up and challenged the Government on the point, but there a pleasant silence on the Conservative side. In conclusion, he said he had great hope in the future, and self-denying qualities of the people of this country. Their general might be old, but he was vigorous. There were many captains round him who under his wise supervision were buckling on their swords and meant to deal a deadly stroke at the enemy. But what was of far greater consideration than general and officers was that the rank and file of the people of the country were themselves true and earnest of what they were about, knowing that they united the great cause of Liberalism, the cause of humanity, the cause of Godliness and freedom must be triumphant. (Applause.)
The resolution was then put and carried without dissent. Mr. Rothera moved "That we, the Liberals this division, beg to tender our hearty congratulations to Mr. Strutt on his happy recovery from the injuries caused by his dangerous accident, and to express delight at once more including him amongst us." Mr. F. Fuller seconded, and this was also carried unanimously.
The Hon. F. Strutt having responded, a vote of thanks was moved to Mr. Jacoby and the chairman the motion of Mr. J. Peer, seconded by Mr. Mitchell.