A Short History of the Liberal Party: The Road Back to Power by Chris Cook (auth.)

By Chris Cook (auth.)

Chris cook dinner lifts the lid at the 'third Party;' charting their interesting trip during the last century, from the landslide victory of 1906 below Asquith, through their descent into divisions and decline within the interwar years, to in-depth research of the 2010 British Election and their go back to executive within the Conservative-Lib Dem coalition.

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Sample text

In 1900 his outspoken sympathy with the Boers had made him a Radical hero. His period at the Board of Trade after 1906 showed his administrative ability. By 1908 Lloyd George’s journey into Liberal politics had brought him from the mists and hills of North Wales to 11 Downing Street. The reconstructed ministry under Asquith faced a troubled political outlook. In the last days of the Campbell-Bannerman Government, the party had suffered a severe blow in the Peckham by-election on 24 March 1908, when a Liberal majority of 2,300 was easily overturned.

Other proposed reforms included site value taxation, smallholdings legislation, modernisation of the Poor Law, relief of overcrowding and action to end ‘sweated’ labour. In a later speech at Stirling, although again stressing Free Trade, Campbell-Bannerman promised ‘a course of strenuous legislation and administration, to secure those social and economic reforms which have been too long delayed’. The message, or so it appeared, was that the Liberals were to be the party firmly committed to social reform.

Hence, after 1886 the progressive image was cultivated to the extent of defending those accused after the ‘Bloody Sunday’ affair in Trafalgar Square, and inserting a commitment to an Employers’ Liability Bill in the party programme. The Liberals ran many working-class candidates where conditions favoured this (notably in Birmingham by-elections against Chamberlainite Unionists), and by 1892 were calling for the payment of MPs to allow further working-class representation in the House. If the withdrawal of the Whigs allowed a resurgence of radicalism in the Party, it also had another interesting consequence: it encouraged the rise of younger men through the party in a most un-Gladstonian fashion.

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