As a precursor to my piece about nationalist agitation in a recent post I cited the famous speech of Speaker of the House of Keys, J D Qualtrough, who did not pull any punches when he addressed the Keys in January 1944 and spoke of the status of the Isle of Man being not much better than a client state of the Axis. Qualtrough’s comments were all the more surprising because they came at a crucial time in World War 2 and when many Manx people were committed to the fighting.
The piece prompted a few enquiries for more information and I found this link on the Tynwaldwebsite:
Tynwald list him as a patriot but as far as I can see very little appears to be done to promote the memory of such forthright Manxmen as he.
Qualtrough was born near Hango Hill so perhaps he garnered some enthusiasm for the Island having greater control of its own affairs from the memory of Illiam Dhone executed at that place centuries earlier.
The Isle of Man is a strange place in that we like to commemorate people like Captain Quilliam who sailed a boat around for the English during the Napoleonic wars and yet we don’t remember folk from more recent times who had a pivotal influence on our lives.
Speaker Qualtough also appears to have had a great love of Castletown where he was born and a sense of humour citing (around 1950) an old Manx saying:
“Ramsey for Royalty
Peel for Antiquity
Castletown for History
Douglas for Iniquity”
Nothing changed there then!
Sadly we don’t celebrate great Manxmen like this enough. Still I doubt he would have liked to end up on a plinth outside ‘Costa’ as apparently Quilliam is going to do.The section of Speaker Qualtroughs I quoted can be found on page 142 of this Hansard link:
He also said:
“It may be all right for us as a conquered State, or a State that is subject to another; but I feel very strongly that the position to-day is not in consonance with the theory of democracy which prevails throughout the British Empire. It is not democratic, and is contrary to what we believe to be the sincere and real object of the British people, to give free self-government to all parts of the British Empire as soon as they are capable of exercising it. I would express surprise that this question has not been raised in the Isle of Man before. That is why our first committee decided, after having carefully looked at the Constitution and realised exactly what it was, that instead of going for what at all events may be regarded as matters of secondary importance, they should raise direct the question of Home Rule or no Home Rule —whether we are to govern ourselves or be governed from outside. We have raised a question of first-class importance—whether the Manx people are or are not to be associated with the Island’s executive government, I admit that this right is so important that we may possibly never achieve it; it may be refused to us. Nevertheless, we have decided to ask for it, and we believe it “is right and just.”
Goodness if only we had politicians with that ‘metal’ now!
Image: Speaker J D Qualtrough
AGS Celtic League (05/10/20)