Bonar Law

former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom (1858-1923)

Andrew Bonar Law (16 September 185830 October 1923) was a Conservative British statesman and Prime Minister from 1922 to 1923.

A. Bonar Law LCCN2014715818 (cropped).jpg


  • We who represent the Unionist Party in England and Scotland have supported, and we mean to support to the end, the loyal minority [in Ireland]. We support them not because we are intolerant, but because their claims are just.
    • Speech in the Albert Hall (26 January 1912)
  • As I crossed a few hours ago from Scotland I said to myself,—"The majority there are Radicals. They are going to vote next week for the Home Rule Bill. What would they say to a proposal which was to subject them to the same kind of Government or the same kind of men to which, for the sake of party interests, they are willing to sacrifice you?" They would never accept it. I know Scotland well, and I believe that, rather than submit to such a fate, the Scottish people would face a second Bannockburn or a second Flodden.
    • Speech in Belfast (8 April 1912), quoted in The Times (9 April 1912), p. 7
  • These people in the North-east of Ireland, from old prejudices perhaps more from anything else, from the whole of their past history, would prefer, I believe, to accept the government of a foreign country rather than submit to be governed by honourable gentlemen below the gangway [i.e. the Irish Nationalist Party].
    • Speech in the House of Commons (1 January 1913) rejecting the Home Rule Bill
  • Whatever steps you may feel compelled to take, whether they are constitutional, or whether in the long run they are unconstitutional, you have the whole Unionist Party, under my leadership, behind you.
    • Message sent to Belfast (12 July 1913)
  • I remember this, that King James had behind him the letter of the law just as completely as Mr. Asquith has now. He made sure of it. He got the judges on his side by methods not dissimilar from those by which Mr. Asquith has a majority in the House of Commons on his side. There is another point to which I would specially refer. In order to carry out his despotic intention the King had the largest army which had ever been seen in England. What happened? There was no civil war. Why? Because his own army refused to fight for him.
    • Speech in Dublin (28 November 1913), quoted in The Times (29 November 1913), p. 10
  • We cannot alone act as the policeman of the world. The financial and social condition of this country makes that impossible.
    • Letter to The Times during the Chanak Crisis, printed in The Times (7 October 1922), p. 11
  • I think, perhaps, it would be useful if I repeat again to you the words which I used in the first speech when I became leader of our party [in 1911]...“No government of which I am a member will ever be a government of reaction...” That was my view then and it is my view today, and if I thought the Unionist Party was or would ever become a party of that kind I would not be a member of it.
    • Speech in the Public Baths, Old Kent Road (7 November 1922), quoted in The Times (8 November 1922), p. 14

Quotes about Bonar LawEdit

  • Mr Bonar Law was Prime Minister. He was one of the greatest men ever I met, very able and very sincere. He was a true House of Commons man. On one occasion we were in a hot debate. I sat for seven hours without leaving my seat. Bonar Law was there all the time. He was looking ill and languid. Then he rose to reply. Without a note, he took up and answered seven speeches in detail. I could not believe my ears and eyes. He spoke as if he had the speeches in front of him. A week later we interrupted business for two hours with a constant barracking: “What are you going to do about unemployment?” It was a violent attack. We won some concessions. Bonar Law showed no resentment. He remained calm and unruffled. Afterwards we happened to meet face to face in the Lobby. He stopped and said: “You Clyde boys were pretty hard on me today. But it's fine to hear your Glasgow accent. It's like a sniff of the air of Scotland in the musty atmosphere of this place.” What could a man do in the face of such a greeting?
  • The public have never realised the creative common-sense of Bonar Law—he was the most constructive objector that I have ever known.

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