Then and Now!

MR. LLOYD GEORGE ANSWERS THE PRIME MINISTER.

Ireland is now suffering from organised military reprisals. Mr. Lloyd George in 1900 was strongly opposed to the method on the ground that

REPRISALS VIOLATED THE PRINCIPLES OF JUSTICE.

Now, in 1920, however, Mr. Lloyd George is responsible for this very policy. In 1900 it was the Boer women and children who suffered.
Now it is the Irish.
The method is the same.

MR LLOYD GEORGE, AT CONWAY ON DECEMBER 28TH, 1900, SAID:—

“What justice was there in punishing one man for offences committed by others over whom he had no control. The ‘clearing of the country’ was an even more serious matter than the burning of farms.” …

The British Army had been engaged in denuding the country of cattle and sheep, and the homes of food supplies, and in burning farms. He made no charges against the British troops who were carrying out orders. But he did blame the Statesmen at home who made it absolutely necessary that the troops should engage in the work which they loathed.

He had seen letters from British officers who said they were disgusted with the work imposed upon them.

MR. LLOYD GEORGE, IN THE HOUSE OF COMMONS ON DECEMBER 15th, 1900. SAID:—

“I do not believe the House or the country fully realise what is going on. I took the trouble a day or two ago to go through the columns of ‘The Times’ for the last couple of months with reference to the war, and I was astonished at the devastation to which we own up with reference to the burning of farms. The Colonial Secretary endeavoured to minimise it the other day, but he cannot possibly have read the evidence transmitted from South Africa. There is another very important admission in the statement that two villages were burned. Bothaville, with the exception of one or two public buildings, was burned, the reason assigned being that there was sniping of British troops from the village….

“I am sure that if hon. Members read the proclamations they would come to the conclusion that proceedings are sanctioned by them which they could not possibly approve of. But, at any rate, we have got to govern the country later on. We have made it part of the British Empire, and the first thing we have got to impress the inhabitants with is that, at any rate, we are a just people.

I ask you, is there any justice in punishing one man for the offence of another? General Botha, General Delarey, and General De Wet, or some of their neighbours living, it may be, 200 miles from the spot, swoop suddenly down and cut the railway. You do not punish De Wet because you cannot catch him, but you burn the farms, possibly occupied by women and children, of all those people who have had nothing to do with the raid and the cutting of the railway….

It is not a military question at all. It is a question of understanding the ordinary influences that govern human nature. Here you have a pastoral people and everything which naturally leads them to action — love of their property, intense love of their farms, which they have practically made, and of their houses (it may be said that these houses are only worth £50 or £60, but they cost a lifetime of work) — all these sentiments and love of country and of wife and children might have been utilised by us as a means of inducing them to restorate their farms. But, instead of that, we convert all these feelings into a terrific weapon, and incite them to desperation and to greater deeds of anger against us.

It is simply a perversion of statesmanship. We are providing a famine and possibly a native (Kaffir) insurrection. How long will the civilised world stand this?”

MR. LLOYD GEORGE, IN THE HOUSE OF COMMONS ON FEBRUARY 18TH, 1901,
vigorously denounced the conduct of the South African War by the Government and said it was brutalising the English people.

After reading many vivid descriptions from various sources of the desolation produced by farm burning, he declared that the British General who had burned villages and left women and children homeless in districts cleared of food, where they were bound to starve, was a brute and a disgrace to any uniform.

REPRISALS AN OBSTACLE TO PEACE.

MR. LLOYD GEORGE, IN THE HOUSE OF COMMONS IN FEBRUARY, 1901, SAID:—

“There is another reason why at the present moment it is exceedingly difficult to arrange peace with the Boers. The conduct of the war during the past six or nine months has exasperated them beyond measure. (Ministerial laughter.) Hon. Members see nothing except what is a matter of merriment in the burning of Boer homes and the turning of women and children into the wilderness. As long as that spirit remains I despair of any terms being made with the Boers.

“I do criticise and censure the conduct of men who, for the treachery of others, burn the homes over their heads of people who are perfectly innocent.” …

MR. LLOYD GEORGE, IN THE HOUSE OF COMMONS ON JUNE 17th, 1901, SAID:—

“The worst of this method of warfare is that the burden of it is falling not upon the man in the field but on the weak and innocent who are outside. The men are our enemies…. We are bound to fight them according to the rules of civilised nations, and by every rule of every civilised nation it is recognised that women and children are non-combatants. We are bound to treat them as neutrals whatever their feelings or whatever their sympathies, which must be with their own people.

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Source: University of Warwick Library – Digital Collections