Marx-Engels Correspondence 1885

Engels To Wilhelm Liebknecht


Source: Marx & Engels on the Irish Question, Progress Publishers, Moscow 1971, p. 348;
Transcribed: by Einde O'Callaghan.

December 1, 1885

The elections here are proceeding very nicely. [350] It is the first time that the Irish in England have voted en masse for one side, and in fact for the Tories. They have thus shown the Liberals the extent to which they can decide the issue even in England. The 80 to 85 Home Rulers — Liverpool, too, has elected one — who occupy the same position here as the Centre Party does in the Reichstag [351] can wreck any government. Parnell must now show what he really is.

Incidentally, a victory has also been won by the new Manchester School [352], that is, the theory of aggressive tariffs, although it is here even more absurd than in Germany, but after eight years of commercial stagnation the idea has taken possession of the young manufacturers. Then there is Gladstone’s opportunist weakness and the clumsy manner of Chamberlain, who first throws his weight about and then draws in his horns; this has called forth the cry: the Church in danger! Finally, Gladstone’s lamentable foreign policy. The Liberals profess to believe that the new county voters will vote for them. There is, indeed, no telling how these voters will act, but in order to obtain an absolute majority the Liberals would have to win 180 of the 300 still outstanding districts, and that will hardly happen. Parnell will almost certainly wield dictatorial powers in Great Britain and Ireland.


350. The general election in England was held between November 23 and December 19, 1885. As a result of this first election after tile 1884 Parliamentary Reform, the Liberals obtained 331 seats, losing 20, the Conservatives — 249 and supporters of Home Rule for Ireland — 86.

351. Centre — a political party of the German Catholics founded in 1870-71. It generally held intermediate positions, manoeuvring between the parties supporting the government and the Left opposition factions in the Reichstag. Under the banner of Catholicism it united various sections of the Catholic clergy, landowners, bourgeoisie, some of the peasants, predominantly in the small and medium-sized states in West and South-West Germany — that is, people of very different social status — and supported their separatist trends. The Centre was in opposition to Bismarck’s government but voted for his measures directed against the labour and socialist movement.

352. “New Manchester School” — in the late seventies and early eighties, when England encountered growing competition from the U.S.A. and Germany on the world market, the English bourgeoisie who had hitherto supported the “Manchester School” began to change their attitude and press for the introduction of protective tariffs.