In the latest issue:

Real Men Go to Tehran

Adam Shatz

What Trump doesn’t know about Iran

Patrick Cockburn

Kaiser Karl V

Thomas Penn

The Hostile Environment

Catherine Hall

Social Mobilities

Adam Swift

Short Cuts: So much for England

Tariq Ali

What the jihadis left behind

Nelly Lahoud

Ray Strachey

Francesca Wade

C.J. Sansom

Malcolm Gaskill

At the British Museum: ‘Troy: Myth and Reality’

James Davidson

Poem: ‘The Lion Tree’

Jamie McKendrick

SurrogacyTM

Jenny Turner

Boys in Motion

Nicholas Penny

Jia Tolentino

Lauren Oyler

Diary: What really happened in Yancheng?

Long Ling

Short Cuts: Harry Goes Rogue

Jonathan Parry

Tired TitanA.B. Cooke
Close

Terms and Conditions

These terms and conditions of use refer to the London Review of Books and the London Review Bookshop website (www.lrb.co.uk — hereafter ‘LRB Website’). These terms and conditions apply to all users of the LRB Website ("you"), including individual subscribers to the print edition of the LRB who wish to take advantage of our free 'subscriber only' access to archived material ("individual users") and users who are authorised to access the LRB Website by subscribing institutions ("institutional users").

Each time you use the LRB Website you signify your acceptance of these terms and conditions. If you do not agree, or are not comfortable with any part of this document, your only remedy is not to use the LRB Website.


  1. By registering for access to the LRB Website and/or entering the LRB Website by whatever route of access, you agree to be bound by the terms and conditions currently prevailing.
  2. The London Review of Books ("LRB") reserves the right to change these terms and conditions at any time and you should check for any alterations regularly. Continued usage of the LRB Website subsequent to a change in the terms and conditions constitutes acceptance of the current terms and conditions.
  3. The terms and conditions of any subscription agreements which educational and other institutions have entered into with the LRB apply in addition to these terms and conditions.
  4. You undertake to indemnify the LRB fully for all losses damages and costs incurred as a result of your breaching these terms and conditions.
  5. The information you supply on registration to the LRB Website shall be accurate and complete. You will notify the LRB promptly of any changes of relevant details by emailing the registrar. You will not assist a non-registered person to gain access to the LRB Website by supplying them with your password. In the event that the LRB considers that you have breached the requirements governing registration, that you are in breach of these terms and conditions or that your or your institution's subscription to the LRB lapses, your registration to the LRB Website will be terminated.
  6. Each individual subscriber to the LRB (whether a person or organisation) is entitled to the registration of one person to use the 'subscriber only' content on the web site. This user is an 'individual user'.
  7. The London Review of Books operates a ‘no questions asked’ cancellation policy in accordance with UK legislation. Please contact us to cancel your subscription and receive a full refund for the cost of all unposted issues.
  8. Use of the 'subscriber only' content on the LRB Website is strictly for the personal use of each individual user who may read the content on the screen, download, store or print single copies for their own personal private non-commercial use only, and is not to be made available to or used by any other person for any purpose.
  9. Each institution which subscribes to the LRB is entitled to grant access to persons to register on and use the 'subscriber only' content on the web site under the terms and conditions of its subscription agreement with the LRB. These users are 'institutional users'.
  10. Each institutional user of the LRB may access and search the LRB database and view its entire contents, and may also reproduce insubstantial extracts from individual articles or other works in the database to which their institution's subscription provides access, including in academic assignments and theses, online and/or in print. All quotations must be credited to the author and the LRB. Institutional users are not permitted to reproduce any entire article or other work, or to make any commercial use of any LRB material (including sale, licensing or publication) without the LRB's prior written permission. Institutions may notify institutional users of any additional or different conditions of use which they have agreed with the LRB.
  11. Users may use any one computer to access the LRB web site 'subscriber only' content at any time, so long as that connection does not allow any other computer, networked or otherwise connected, to access 'subscriber only' content.
  12. The LRB Website and its contents are protected by copyright and other intellectual property rights. You acknowledge that all intellectual property rights including copyright in the LRB Website and its contents belong to or have been licensed to the LRB or are otherwise used by the LRB as permitted by applicable law.
  13. All intellectual property rights in articles, reviews and essays originally published in the print edition of the LRB and subsequently included on the LRB Website belong to or have been licensed to the LRB. This material is made available to you for use as set out in paragraph 8 (if you are an individual user) or paragraph 10 (if you are an institutional user) only. Save for such permitted use, you may not download, store, disseminate, republish, post, reproduce, translate or adapt such material in whole or in part in any form without the prior written permission of the LRB. To obtain such permission and the terms and conditions applying, contact the Rights and Permissions department.
  14. All intellectual property rights in images on the LRB Website are owned by the LRB except where another copyright holder is specifically attributed or credited. Save for such material taken for permitted use set out above, you may not download, store, disseminate, republish, post, reproduce, translate or adapt LRB’s images in whole or in part in any form without the prior written permission of the LRB. To obtain such permission and the terms and conditions applying, contact the Rights and Permissions department. Where another copyright holder is specifically attributed or credited you may not download, store, disseminate, republish, reproduce or translate such images in whole or in part in any form without the prior written permission of the copyright holder. The LRB will not undertake to supply contact details of any attributed or credited copyright holder.
  15. The LRB Website is provided on an 'as is' basis and the LRB gives no warranty that the LRB Website will be accessible by any particular browser, operating system or device.
  16. The LRB makes no express or implied representation and gives no warranty of any kind in relation to any content available on the LRB Website including as to the accuracy or reliability of any information either in its articles, essays and reviews or in the letters printed in its letter page or material supplied by third parties. The LRB excludes to the fullest extent permitted by law all liability of any kind (including liability for any losses, damages or costs) arising from the publication of any materials on the LRB Website or incurred as a consequence of using or relying on such materials.
  17. The LRB excludes to the fullest extent permitted by law all liability of any kind (including liability for any losses, damages or costs) for any legal or other consequences (including infringement of third party rights) of any links made to the LRB Website.
  18. The LRB is not responsible for the content of any material you encounter after leaving the LRB Website site via a link in it or otherwise. The LRB gives no warranty as to the accuracy or reliability of any such material and to the fullest extent permitted by law excludes all liability that may arise in respect of or as a consequence of using or relying on such material.
  19. This site may be used only for lawful purposes and in a manner which does not infringe the rights of, or restrict the use and enjoyment of the site by, any third party. In the event of a chat room, message board, forum and/or news group being set up on the LRB Website, the LRB will not undertake to monitor any material supplied and will give no warranty as to its accuracy, reliability, originality or decency. By posting any material you agree that you are solely responsible for ensuring that it is accurate and not obscene, defamatory, plagiarised or in breach of copyright, confidentiality or any other right of any person, and you undertake to indemnify the LRB against all claims, losses, damages and costs incurred in consequence of your posting of such material. The LRB will reserve the right to remove any such material posted at any time and without notice or explanation. The LRB will reserve the right to disclose the provenance of such material, republish it in any form it deems fit or edit or censor it. The LRB will reserve the right to terminate the registration of any person it considers to abuse access to any chat room, message board, forum or news group provided by the LRB.
  20. Any e-mail services supplied via the LRB Website are subject to these terms and conditions.
  21. You will not knowingly transmit any virus, malware, trojan or other harmful matter to the LRB Website. The LRB gives no warranty that the LRB Website is free from contaminating matter, viruses or other malicious software and to the fullest extent permitted by law disclaims all liability of any kind including liability for any damages, losses or costs resulting from damage to your computer or other property arising from access to the LRB Website, use of it or downloading material from it.
  22. The LRB does not warrant that the use of the LRB Website will be uninterrupted, and disclaims all liability to the fullest extent permitted by law for any damages, losses or costs incurred as a result of access to the LRB Website being interrupted, modified or discontinued.
  23. The LRB Website contains advertisements and promotional links to websites and other resources operated by third parties. While we would never knowingly link to a site which we believed to be trading in bad faith, the LRB makes no express or implied representations or warranties of any kind in respect of any third party websites or resources or their contents, and we take no responsibility for the content, privacy practices, goods or services offered by these websites and resources. The LRB excludes to the fullest extent permitted by law all liability for any damages or losses arising from access to such websites and resources. Any transaction effected with such a third party contacted via the LRB Website are subject to the terms and conditions imposed by the third party involved and the LRB accepts no responsibility or liability resulting from such transactions.
  24. The LRB disclaims liability to the fullest extent permitted by law for any damages, losses or costs incurred for unauthorised access or alterations of transmissions or data by third parties as consequence of visit to the LRB Website.
  25. While 'subscriber only' content on the LRB Website is currently provided free to subscribers to the print edition of the LRB, the LRB reserves the right to impose a charge for access to some or all areas of the LRB Website without notice.
  26. These terms and conditions are governed by and will be interpreted in accordance with English law and any disputes relating to these terms and conditions will be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales.
  27. The various provisions of these terms and conditions are severable and if any provision is held to be invalid or unenforceable by any court of competent jurisdiction then such invalidity or unenforceability shall not affect the remaining provisions.
  28. If these terms and conditions are not accepted in full, use of the LRB Website must be terminated immediately.
Close
The Factory of Grievances: Devolved Government in Northern Ireland, 1921-1939 
by Patrick Buckland.
Gill and Macmillan, 365 pp., £13
Show More
Show More

Most British politicians were distinctly uninterested in retaining control of six Irish counties while giving up the rest of the country. Nevertheless, strange and misleading interpretations were placed on their behaviour in 1921-22, when withdrawal from Ireland at last became a practicable policy in Britain. Lloyd George’s Cabinet was accused of deliberately creating a puppet regime in Belfast, charged with the duty of seeking to influence events throughout Ireland as a whole, in the name of British imperialism. No very strenuous efforts were made in Britain to refute such misconceptions, which were sedulously fostered by Irish Republican leaders, partly in order to reconcile their followers to the disagreeable necessity of partition. In London, the growth of yet another Irish legend could be tolerated, if it helped to shore up the Irish settlement of 1921-22.

British pragmatism, then as now, suggested that it was altogether too much to expect Republican politicians to admit openly that Ulstermen, not Britain, blocked the path to a 32-county state. In conniving with Dublin in this way, however, Britain not only permitted wide misunderstanding of the true facts of the situation in Ulster to flourish, but also concealed most effectively from the public at large her lack of interest in playing any important part in Irish affairs in the future. In this work, Patrick Buckland, previously known for his books on Irish Unionism, shows how weary the Titan had become of the whole Irish burden by 1921.

There was not even a substantial right-wing movement (as distinct from the odd diehard) bent upon saving Ulster from the wreckage of the Anglo-Irish war. British Unionism, as it was understood in the great houses of England (if not on public platforms), had always accepted the possibility of total surrender: it made little or no provision for partial defeat. Men as temperamentally dissimilar as Arthur Balfour and the 15th Earl of Derby had agreed that Pitt’s Act of Union provided a framework for the government of Ireland which deserved, on its merits, to last for ever: but they also recognised that the time might come when Irish recalcitrance could make it necessary to undo Pitt’s handiwork. That point was reached in 1921. Since the campaign which had been lost had attempted to save all Ireland for the Union, the whole country should, if possible, be included in the new order. The authentic tone of British Unionism as it resigned itself to total surrender in Ireland is captured in this book. The much-abused reactionary Home Secretary Joynson-Hicks, whom no one ever accused of a lack of patriotism, is quoted as saying in 1925 that ‘Englishmen including himself were tired of paying money to Irishmen.’ Austen Chamberlain, more explicitly, denounced Northern Ireland as ‘illogical and indefensible … You could not raise any army in England to fight for that as we could for Crown and Empire.’

British Unionists were not to be deterred from staging an Irish retreat by the existence of a different kind of Unionism in Ulster, with which they had never in any case felt a deep sense of kinship because of its intolerance and sectarianism. The 1920 Government of Ireland Act, which was in reality no more than a fairly modest measure of devolution, came to be regarded in Britain as a formula for withdrawal. The Northern Ireland Government was expected to balance its budget as best it could. A part of the United Kingdom from which Britain had largely withdrawn should not be allowed to sponge off the British taxpayer. (That at any rate was the theory, though in practice hand-outs were grudgingly provided from the earliest days.)

It was not felt that the province should play any part in the formulation of British economic or social policy: its task was to reconcile itself to the consequences of decisions taken in the interests of Great Britain, even if, as a result, the linen industry should collapse. Just occasionally, eyebrows were raised in Westminster at the supposed excesses of the Northern Ireland Government, particularly where the Catholic minority was concerned. In 1922, protests were lodged: but only to placate the Southern Government during sensitive negotiations. The British Government never imagined that it was any part of its function to encourage the growth of a non-sectarian, liberal democracy in Ulster, so that the province could be integrated more closely into the life and traditions of the rest of the United Kingdom. Whenever possible, it was treated as no more than a nominal British responsibility.

Indeed, by their indifference, particularly in 1921, the British helped to retard still further the prospects of achieving ‘British standards’ of tolerance and good will in Ulster. They set the stage for the creation of a sectarian security policy. Policemen in Ulster could not deal adequately by themselves, in the summer of 1921, both with a continuing IRA campaign (after a truce had been enforced elsewhere) and with the Protestant backlash which that campaign inevitably provoked. Yet, on the orders of the outgoing British administration in Dublin, the British Army in the province did its best to remain invisible, leaving the Police to cope as best they could. Since they lacked the resources for a war on two fronts, their reputation for impartiality in dealing with terrorism was lost. As one police officer wrote in 1922: ‘Any drastic action in loyal areas for the sake of punishing a few rogues might incite an outbreak of outrages on a large scale.’ Drastic action, therefore, was not taken.

In Buckland’s view, the Union of Great Britain and Northern Ireland was held together chiefly by red tape. Officials from Ulster had regular and convivial meetings with their counterparts in Britain: their respective political masters rarely met. It was the civil servants who settled the details of the little schemes and expedients which kept Northern Ireland solvent in the pre-Keynesian age (apathetic Chancellors of the Exchequer did what they were told). Again, it was Ulster’s bureaucrats who stood guard over the province’s industry and agriculture. The politicians were quite unable to manage such matters properly on their own. When the Prime Minister, Lord Craigavon, insisted on working out by himself Ulster’s price for acquiescing in the 1938 Anglo-Eire Treaty, he achieved much less than his officials would have done if they had been allowed to marshal their well-argued briefs.

The Northern Ireland Civil Service is the hero of this book. From the province’s departmental archives of the inter-war period, which he was the first to use, Buckland has fashioned a fine memorial to the one institution in Ulster which has managed to escape censure and reproach. It was not that the Civil Service succeeded in creating the equal partnership between Protestant and Catholic which has consistently eluded the politicians. In 1943, only 6 per cent of the senior administrative posts in the province were held by Catholics. Nevertheless, officials fearlessly pursued the common good. At the Ministry of Agriculture, for example, they transformed the habits of Ulster’s deeply conservative farmers through their compulsory marketing schemes, achieving a measure of control and discipline unknown in England. At least one blot was removed from the fair name of Ulster: its exports of eggs and bacon ceased to excite the contempt of the housewives of England.

But how much more might have been done but for the moral cowardice of politicians and the parsimony of ratepayers! It is at this point that Buckland reveals a clear didactic purpose. He is not one of your unassuming historians, cultivating a reputation for impartiality by refusing to say anything distinctive about the present. In his view, Ulster should avoid recreating legislative and executive institutions, through which, in the past, it lost far more than it gained. It should instead seek salvation by means of administrative devolution.

Under such a system, local politicians would be denied opportunities to repeat the mistakes made by their predecessors: mistakes which would not have been avoided by power-sharing (had anyone ever thought of such a thing before 1971?), since Nationalists were no more capable than Unionists of measuring up to the high standards set by the civil servants. The case against Parliamentary devolution in Northern Ireland has hitherto been argued mainly by people like Mr Powell who are deeply concerned about some rather abstruse constitutional points. Conventional wisdom on the matter – enthusiastically upheld in the Northern Ireland Office at present – has now been called into question by what the archives have to tell about Ulster’s problems during her first two decades of devolution. Buckland lends no encouragement to the kind of political initiative that is being canvassed. He believes that Ulster’s needs could be satisfied if it had its own version of St Andrew’s House in Edinburgh, where the administrative branch of the Scottish Office is located.

Here, then, is a manifesto based on a study of devolved government in Northern Ireland, as seen from the Stormont Cabinet room after the Ministers have departed, leaving the civil servants to gather up their excellent briefs, which will now have to await the arrival of an appreciative historian like Dr Buckland before their full value is savoured: for the Ministers, as usual, have hardly glanced at them. There is no suggestion in this account that anything significant ever happened at a Cabinet meeting, or even that important political discussion went on out of earshot of the officials.

It would be interesting to know what the Ministers thought of the province’s little tin gods. Unfortunately, they have left no more than a few unrelated and fragmentary documents to set against the detailed and well-ordered archives of the bureaucracy. The one fairly substantial political diary on which Buckland has been able to draw was kept by the Permanent Head of the Ministry of Finance. Accidents of this sort mean that Ulster’s civil servants are able to deliver posthumous judgments on the Ministers for whom they worked, while the Ministers are unable to reply. The politicians will continue to be known chiefly for the vices popularly ascribed to them: as men who fostered ill-feeling and betrayed their trust. In reality, they were probably much like politicians elsewhere – preoccupied mainly with the job of keeping their parities together (a difficult task in Ulster). So far, those Ulster politicians who have shown ‘courage’ by affronting their supporters with unpopular ideas have merely destroyed their own influence.

Send Letters To:

The Editor
London Review of Books,
28 Little Russell Street
London, WC1A 2HN

letters@lrb.co.uk

Please include name, address, and a telephone number.

Letters

Vol. 1 No. 5 · 20 December 1979

SIR: I was surprised to find that A.B. Cooke’s review of Patrick Buckland’s A Factory of Grievances (LRB, 8 November) failed to mention the fact that Northern Ireland Cabinet records have been withheld from non-Unionist historians, something which is already causing a minor storm among Irish historians generally. Many critics and observers tend to regard books about the Irish past as boring, obsessive and far too numerous. However, the Northern Ireland authorities, perhaps in an unconscious tribute to the influence of the historian over future generations, appear to be positively terrified at the thought of what might be uncovered by ‘errant’ historians, perhaps like myself. Strange to think that Karl Marx never had this problem back in the 1850s. Perhaps the Belfast PRO has been told what his labours in the British Museum later gave rise to.

Tom Gallagher
School of Peace Studies, Bradford University

send letters to

The Editor
London Review of Books
28 Little Russell Street
London, WC1A 2HN

letters@lrb.co.uk

Please include name, address and a telephone number

Read anywhere with the London Review of Books app, available now from the App Store for Apple devices, Google Play for Android devices and Amazon for your Kindle Fire.

Sign up to our newsletter

For highlights from the latest issue, our archive and the blog, as well as news, events and exclusive promotions.