Thursday, May 13, 2010

Fair play for Lord North!

The previous post sent Malcolm in search of what brought down Lord North's government. He was vaguely sure that it wasn't a full-blown vote of confidence (and, even if it were, in those days if that would have been terminal).

So here's the key bit from the DNB, written by Peter Thomas (who published the still-current biography in 1976:

The last act of North's ministry was played out on the appropriate stage of the House of Commons, during February and March 1782. Only once, on 27 February, was the ministry defeated, over a motion to end offensive war in America. The vain hope that George III would allow North to negotiate peace kept him from resigning, but he now lost the backing of MPs who had supported his stand against American independence. After his majority fell to nine on 15 March, a group of independent MPs informed him they were withdrawing support, and, facing defeat on the next vote of confidence on 20 March, he thereupon informed the king that he must resign:
The Parliament have altered their sentiments, and as their sentiments whether just or erroneous must ultimately prevail, Your Majesty, having persevered, as long as possible, in what you thought right, can lose no honour if you yield at length, as some of the most renowned and most glorious of your predecessors have done, to the opinions and wishes of the House of Commons. (Correspondence of George III, 5.395)

Only with ungracious reluctance on 20 March itself did George III accept this constitutional lesson, accusing North of desertion. He, by contrast, in his Commons resignation speech that day, behaved with ‘equanimity, suavity and dignity’, diarist Wraxall recalled, thanking the house for its long and steady support, and declaring his readiness to answer for ‘his public conduct’.
On the other hand, North was a rank and unreconstructed aristocratic bastard: both his American and Irish policies were disastrous.

So, let's not take this "fair play" thing too far. Sphere: Related Content

No comments:

Subscribe with Bloglines International Affairs Blogs - BlogCatalog Blog Directory
Add to Technorati Favorites