Issue 35, 3rd Quarter 2018. August 2018
Available as a PDF, Problems 35 – Balfour on Cobden and Progress
Arthur James Balfour, 1st Earl of Balfour was a British Conservative politician, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom (1902-1905). He remained important up to 1929, holding a number of major government posts.
He had earlier earned the name ‘Bloody Balfour’ for his repression of Home Rule when Chief Secretary for Ireland. But he also helped resolve the Irish Land Question by a scheme for buying out the landlords.
He was also a considerable thinker for the version of conservatism that vanished with Thatcher, but had shaped the world in the decades before that.
He is mostly known nowadays for the 1917 Balfour Declaration, which paved the way for the creation of Israel in 1947. In this, however, he was acting as Foreign Secretary on behalf of the cabinet. It was not particularly his work, and is not dealt with in the magazine.
Incidentally, the Balfour Declaration was privately opposed by Edwin Samuel Montagu, an influential anti-Zionist Jew and Secretary of State for India. He was the only Jewish member of the British Cabinet, and wrote in a Cabinet memorandum:
“The policy of His Majesty’s Government is anti-Semitic in result and will prove a rallying ground for anti-Semites in every country of the world.” (Balfour Declaration, Wikipedia.)