Skip to main content

Letter to Lord Willoughby de Broke

This letter exhorts Richard Greville Verney, 19th Baron Willoughby de Broke (1869-1923), to 'Fight On Fight On' in the battle over the Parliament Bill, in the face of opposition from Lord Curzon. Lord Curzon coined the phrase 'Ditchers' when he told Unionist peers ‘to fight in the last ditch' in the face of the threat to the Lords veto. Lord Willoughby de Broke took these words literally, becoming one of the leading figures of the movement. A landowner with an enthusiasm for fox-hunting, he brought to politics the same competitiveness he displayed on the hunting field.  He joined the diehards who shared his view that the Parliament Bill was paramount to class warfare.

However Curzon sensed the Government held the upper hand with their threat to create new Liberal peers, and broke from the ‘ditchers'. He formed a ‘Judas Group' who lobbied peers to support the bill or abstain from voting. Curzon received an earldom in the 1911 coronation honours. Willoughby de Broke turned his attentions to Irish Home Rule and in 1913 founded the ‘British League for the Support of Ulster and the Union.'