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Election days: 1910 - Asquith rejects foreign interference

Updated Wednesday 31st May 2017

Campaigning for re-election in Scotland, Prime Minister Herbert Asquith tells foreign nations to keep their opinions to themselves...

Herbert Asquith Copyright free image Icon Copyright free: Bain News Service Asquith

During the run-up to the 2017 General Election, we're dipping into the archives to bring you a collection of events from elections past - noteworthy, amusing or just plain bemusing. You can catch up on the 2017 election in our dedicated hub.

Mr Asquith, continuing his tour of the constituency, last night addressed a meeting of electors at Ceres, the centre of an agricultural district of the county. He had here, as elsewhere, an enthusiastic reception.

Mr Asquith said:

"Scotland has, so far as it has polled, set an admirable example to the rest of the United Kingdom in this election. I ventured to point out last night at Leven the remarkable fact that, so far as the elections have now gone, the unique and outstanding feature of them is that with one or two exceptions the great leading representative centres of industry in this country have pronounced emphatically and, indeed, overwhelmingly on the side of Free Trade.

(Loud cheers)

"I am very glad to be able tonight to add as endorsers the next two great constituencies, the capital city of Scotland, Edinburgh, and their neighbours across the Tay, Dundee.

(Renewed cheers)

"Here in Fife we are not much moved by what people do elsewhere. 'We gang oor ain gait'. Whatever may be the rise or fall in the political barometer, whatever tha act in the currents of the political ocean, whatever the shifting of the political wind, we always stand to the same faith and the same cause; and I am certain, when the polling day comes next Tuesday, that I can count upon you, who have supported me loyally, generously, indulgently, for the best part of a quarter of a century, in bad weather and in good weather, to render such a verdict on the great constitutional and financial issues now before the country as is worthy of your past traditions and history.

(Loud cheers)

"There is one feature which I notice for a moment, and I notice it to deprecate it, in some of the criticisms which are now being pressed upon our electoral struggle and which, I think, is new and I hope will not be repeated. I speak now not as a party man. I should like, if I could, to speak in the same sense of both parties, and, indeed, of all parties, in this country, when I say that to import into our domestic constitutional and Parliamentary struggles the opinion of foreign countries as to what they desire or wish in regard to the issue is a novelty of dangerous and certainly a most objectionable character.

(Cheers)

"I do not care whether it be Germany, France, or Italy, whether the supposed opinion of these countries is in favour of one party or against another party in this country - I do not care and I do not think you care - I hold most strongly that the electors of this country should exercise their judgement as they have done in the past, and as I believe they will always do in the future, by a regard to their own interests - for, after all, they know better than other people what concerns themselves - and with a complete indifference to the opinion of the rest of mankind.

(Loud cheers)

Still less legitimate is it to impart as an element or factor into our election controversies the supposed opinion of the Colonies. We are agreed in our affection for the Colonies, and in our desire in every way compatible with the interest of the people of this country and of the Empire to cement the fabric, tighten the band, and deepen the common-sense attachment of loyalty and affection; but the Colonies, those wise and prudent and farsighted statesmen who govern their destinies, would be the first to deprecate that any kind of pressure should appear to be exercised by them on the free judgement of the people of this country.

(Cheers)

Originally published by The Times, January 20th, 1910

 

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