As I work through C.P. Scott’s correspondents, (alphabetically), I am encountering a raft of renowned names, my own personal highlights to date include: Margot Asquith, Herbert Barker, the bone setter, Winston Churchill, Charlotte Despard, socialist reformer, Benjamin De Jong Van Beek en Donk, pacifist and writer, and Katharine Furse, nurse and founder of the English Voluntary Aid Detachment force.
The correspondence with the regular contributors and staff members of the Manchester Guardian has proved to be of equal interest, producing gems such as Mrs White Fishenden, the industrialist researcher who contributed sunrise and sunset tables for the paper, and James Drysdale, the parliamentary correspondent who completed his copy one evening, was taken suddenly ill, and died at his post in the House of Commons in 1924.
However, as might be expected, it is the significant events that are witnessed by these correspondents that are the most exciting. Scott, as a Liberal politician, and advocate of home rule for Ireland, cultivated and supported John Dillon, an Irish MP, and leader of the Irish Parliamentary Party. Dillon was a supporter of land reform, attended the Buckingham Palace peace conference, and was in Dublin during the Easter Rising. He contributed letters on Ireland to the Manchester Guardian, and his private correspondence with Scott covers many of the events in this turbulent period of Irish history.
The letter selected for this month’s blog post is part of a discussion between Scott and Dillon on proposals for a referendum on the Home Rule Bill, 1914.
The comments made by Scott on the use of referendums as a political tool seem particularly apposite to current political events. Since 1973, there have been 11 referendums held in the UK, the majority of which were related to devolution, and the first national referendum was not held until 1975. Their employment can therefore be regarded as, relatively, a recent occurrence, and the views held by Scott on this issue are arguably as relevant in 2016 as they were in 1914.
There are 10 letters between Dillon and Scott in Scott’s editorial correspondence, written between 1912 and 1925, archive reference: GDN/A/D37/1-10.