Liberal Party (UK)
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The Liberal Party was one of the two
major Major (Commandant (rank), commandant in certain jurisdictions) is a military rank of commissioned officer status, with corresponding ranks existing in many military forces throughout the world. When used unhyphenated and in conjunction with ...
political parties A political party is an organization that coordinates candidates to compete in a particular country's elections. It is common for the members of a party to hold similar ideas about politics, and parties may promote specific political ideology ...
in the United Kingdom, along with the Conservative Party, in the 19th and early 20th centuries. Beginning as an alliance of Whigs,
free trade Free trade is a trade policy that does not restrict imports or exports. It can also be understood as the free market idea applied to international trade. In government, free trade is predominantly advocated by political parties that hold Econo ...
–supporting
Peelite The Peelites were a breakaway dissident political faction of the British Conservative Party (UK), Conservative Party from 1846 to 1859. Initially led by Robert Peel, the former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Prime Minister and Conservative ...
s and reformist Radicals in the 1850s, by the end of the 19th century it had formed four governments under
William Gladstone William Ewart Gladstone ( ; 29 December 1809 – 19 May 1898) was a British statesman and Liberal Party (UK), Liberal politician. In a career lasting over 60 years, he served for 12 years as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, spread ...
. Despite being divided over the issue of
Irish Home Rule The Irish Home Rule movement was a movement that campaigned for Devolution, self-government (or "home rule") for Ireland within the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. It was the dominant political movement of Irish nationalism from 1 ...
, the party returned to government in 1905 and won a landslide victory in the 1906 general election. Under
prime ministers A prime minister, premier or chief of cabinet is the head of the cabinet and the leader of the ministers in the executive Executive ( exe., exec., execu.) may refer to: Role or title * Executive, a senior management Senior management, ...
Henry Campbell-Bannerman Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman (né Campbell; 7 September 183622 April 1908) was a British statesman and Liberal Party (UK), Liberal politician. He served as the prime minister of the United Kingdom from 1905 to 1908 and Liberal Party (UK)#Liber ...
(1905–1908) and H. H. Asquith (1908–1916), the Liberal Party passed reforms that created a basic
welfare state A welfare state is a form of government in which the state (or a well-established network of social institutions) protects and promotes the economic and social well-being of its citizens, based upon the principles of equal opportunity Equa ...
. Although Asquith was the
party leader In a governmental system, a party leader acts as the official representative of their political party A political party is an organization that coordinates candidates to compete in a particular country's elections. It is common for the me ...
, its dominant figure was
David Lloyd George David Lloyd George, 1st Earl Lloyd-George of Dwyfor, (17 January 1863 – 26 March 1945) was Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1916 to 1922. He was a Liberal Party (United Kingdom), Liberal Party politician from Wales, known for lea ...
. Asquith was overwhelmed by the wartime role of
coalition A coalition is a group formed when two or more people or groups temporarily work together to achieve a common goal. The term is most frequently used to denote a formation of power in political or economical spaces. Formation According to ''A Gui ...
prime minister and Lloyd George replaced him in late 1916, but Asquith remained as Liberal Party leader. The split between Lloyd George's breakaway faction and Asquith's official Liberal Party badly weakened the party. The coalition government of Lloyd George was increasingly dominated by the Conservative Party, which finally deposed him in 1922. By the end of the 1920s, the Labour Party had replaced the Liberals as the Conservatives' main rival. The Liberal Party went into decline after 1918 and by the 1950s won as few as six seats at general elections. Apart from notable
by-election A by-election, also known as a special election in the United States The United States of America (U.S.A. or USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US) or America, is a country Continental United States, primarily located in No ...
victories, its fortunes did not improve significantly until it formed the SDP–Liberal Alliance with the newly formed Social Democratic Party (SDP) in 1981. At the 1983 general election, the Alliance won over a quarter of the vote, but only 23 of the 650 seats it contested. At the 1987 general election, its share of the vote fell below 23% and the Liberals and the SDP merged in 1988 to form the Social and Liberal Democrats (SLD), who the following year were renamed the Liberal Democrats. A splinter group reconstituted the
Liberal Party The Liberal Party is any of many political parties A political party is an organization that coordinates candidates to compete in a particular country's elections. It is common for the members of a party to hold similar ideas about politics ...
in 1989. Prominent intellectuals associated with the Liberal Party include the philosopher
John Stuart Mill John Stuart Mill (20 May 1806 – 7 May 1873) was an English philosopher, Political economy, political economist, Member of Parliament (United Kingdom), Member of Parliament (MP) and civil servant. One of the most influential thinkers in the ...
, the economist
John Maynard Keynes John Maynard Keynes, 1st Baron Keynes, ( ; 5 June 1883 – 21 April 1946), was an English economist whose ideas fundamentally changed the theory and practice of macroeconomics and the economic policies of governments. Originally trained in m ...
and social planner
William Beveridge William Henry Beveridge, 1st Baron Beveridge, (5 March 1879 – 16 March 1963) was a British economist and Liberal Party (UK), Liberal politician who was a Progressivism, progressive and social reformer who played a central role in designing ...
.
Winston Churchill Sir Winston Leonard Spencer Churchill (30 November 187424 January 1965) was a British statesman, soldier, and writer who served as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom twice, from 1940 to 1945 Winston Churchill in the Second World War, dur ...
authored ''Liberalism and the Social Problem'' (1909), praised by Henry William Massingham as "an impressive and convincing argument" and widely considered as the movement’s bible.


History


Origins

The Liberal Party grew out of the Whigs, who had their origins in an
aristocratic Aristocracy (, ) is a form of government that places strength in the hands of a small, privileged ruling class, the aristocracy (class), aristocrats. The term derives from the el, αριστοκρατία (), meaning 'rule of the best'. At t ...
faction in the reign of Charles II and the early 19th century Radicals. The Whigs were in favour of reducing the power of the Crown and increasing the power of
Parliament In modern politics, and history, a parliament is a legislative body of government. Generally, a modern parliament has three functions: Representation (politics), representing the Election#Suffrage, electorate, making laws, and overseeing ...
. Although their motives in this were originally to gain more power for themselves, the more idealistic Whigs gradually came to support an expansion of
democracy Democracy (From grc, δημοκρατία, dēmokratía, ''dēmos'' 'people' and ''kratos'' 'rule') is a form of government in which people, the people have the authority to deliberate and decide legislation ("direct democracy"), or to choo ...
for its own sake. The great figures of reformist Whiggery were
Charles James Fox Charles James Fox (24 January 1749 – 13 September 1806), styled ''The Honourable ''The Honourable'' (British English) or ''The Honorable'' (American English; American and British English spelling differences#-our, -or, see spelling d ...
(died 1806) and his disciple and successor Earl Grey. After decades in opposition, the Whigs returned to power under Grey in 1830 and carried the First Reform Act in 1832. The Reform Act was the climax of Whiggism, but it also brought about the Whigs' demise. The admission of the
middle class The middle class refers to a Social class, class of people in the middle of a social hierarchy, often defined by job, occupation, income, education, or social status. The term has historically been associated with modernity, capitalism and poli ...
es to the franchise and to the
House of Commons The House of Commons is the name for the elected lower house of the bicameral parliaments of the United Kingdom and Canada. In both of these countries, the Commons holds much more legislative power than the nominally upper house of parliament. T ...
led eventually to the development of a systematic middle class liberalism and the end of Whiggery, although for many years reforming aristocrats held senior positions in the party. In the years after Grey's retirement, the party was led first by
Lord Melbourne William Lamb, 2nd Viscount Melbourne, (15 March 177924 November 1848), in some sources called Henry William Lamb, was a British Whig Party, British Whig politician who served as Home Secretary (1830–1834) and Prime Minister of the United King ...
, a fairly traditional Whig, and then by
Lord John Russell John Russell, 1st Earl Russell, (18 August 1792 – 28 May 1878), known by his courtesy title A courtesy title is a title that does not have legal significance but rather is used through custom or courtesy, particularly, in the context of ...
, the son of a Duke but a crusading radical, and by
Lord Palmerston Henry John Temple, 3rd Viscount Palmerston, (20 October 1784 – 18 October 1865) was a British statesman who was twice Prime Minister of the United Kingdom in the mid-19th century. Palmerston dominated British foreign policy during the period ...
, a renegade Irish
Tory A Tory () is a person who holds a political philosophy known as Toryism, based on a British version of Traditionalist conservatism, traditionalism and conservatism, which upholds the supremacy of social order as it has evolved in the English cul ...
and essentially a
conservative Conservatism is a Philosophy of culture, cultural, Social philosophy, social, and political philosophy that seeks to promote and to preserve traditional institutions, practices, and values. The central tenets of conservatism may vary in r ...
, although capable of radical gestures. As early as 1839, Russell had adopted the name of "Liberals", but in reality his party was a loose coalition of Whigs in the
House of Lords The House of Lords, also known as the House of Peers, is the Bicameralism, upper house of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. Membership is by Life peer, appointment, Hereditary peer, heredity or Lords Spiritual, official function. Like the ...
and Radicals in the Commons. The leading Radicals were
John Bright John Bright (16 November 1811 – 27 March 1889) was a British Radicals (UK), Radical and Liberal Party (UK), Liberal statesman, one of the greatest orators of his generation and a promoter of free trade policies. A Quaker, Bright is mos ...
and
Richard Cobden Richard Cobden (3 June 1804 – 2 April 1865) was an English Radical Radical may refer to: Politics and ideology Politics *Radical politics, the political intent of fundamental societal change *Radicalism (historical), the Radical Movement th ...
, who represented the manufacturing towns which had gained representation under the Reform Act. They favoured social reform, personal liberty, reducing the powers of the Crown and the
Church of England The Church of England (C of E) is the State religion, established List of Christian denominations, Christian church in England and the mother church of the international Anglican Communion. It traces its history to the Christian church record ...
(many Liberals were Nonconformists), avoidance of war and foreign alliances (which were bad for business) and above all
free trade Free trade is a trade policy that does not restrict imports or exports. It can also be understood as the free market idea applied to international trade. In government, free trade is predominantly advocated by political parties that hold Econo ...
. For a century, free trade remained the one cause which could unite all Liberals. In 1841, the Liberals lost office to the
Conservatives Conservatism is a Philosophy of culture, cultural, Social philosophy, social, and political philosophy that seeks to promote and to preserve traditional institutions, practices, and values. The central tenets of conservatism may vary in r ...
under
Sir Robert Peel Sir Robert Peel, 2nd Baronet, (5 February 1788 – 2 July 1850) was a British Conservative Party (UK), Conservative statesman who served twice as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom (1834–1835 and 1841–1846) simultaneously serving as Cha ...
, but their period in opposition was short because the Conservatives split over the repeal of the
Corn Laws The Corn Laws were tariff A tariff is a tax imposed by the government of a country or by a supranational union on imports or exports of goods. Besides being a source of revenue for the government, import duties can also be a form of ...
, a free trade issue; and a faction known as the
Peelite The Peelites were a breakaway dissident political faction of the British Conservative Party (UK), Conservative Party from 1846 to 1859. Initially led by Robert Peel, the former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Prime Minister and Conservative ...
s (but not Peel himself, who died soon after) defected to the Liberal side. This allowed ministries led by Russell, Palmerston and the Peelite
Lord Aberdeen George Hamilton-Gordon, 4th Earl of Aberdeen, (28 January 178414 December 1860), styled Lord Haddo from 1791 to 1801, was a British statesman, diplomat and landowner, successively a Tory, Conservative Party (UK), Conservative and Peelite poli ...
to hold office for most of the 1850s and 1860s. A leading Peelite was William Gladstone, who was a reforming
Chancellor of the Exchequer The chancellor of the Exchequer, often abbreviated to chancellor, is a senior minister of the Crown within the Government of the United Kingdom, and head of HM Treasury, His Majesty's Treasury. As one of the four Great Offices of State, the Ch ...
in most of these governments. The formal foundation of the Liberal Party is traditionally traced to 1859 and the formation of Palmerston's second government. However, the Whig-Radical amalgam could not become a true modern political party while it was dominated by aristocrats and it was not until the departure of the "Two Terrible Old Men", Russell and Palmerston, that Gladstone could become the first leader of the modern Liberal Party. This was brought about by Palmerston's death in 1865 and Russell's retirement in 1868. After a brief Conservative government (during which the Second Reform Act was passed by agreement between the parties), Gladstone won a huge victory at the 1868 election and formed the first Liberal government. The establishment of the party as a national membership organisation came with the foundation of the National Liberal Federation in 1877. The philosopher
John Stuart Mill John Stuart Mill (20 May 1806 – 7 May 1873) was an English philosopher, Political economy, political economist, Member of Parliament (United Kingdom), Member of Parliament (MP) and civil servant. One of the most influential thinkers in the ...
was also a Liberal MP from 1865 to 1868.


Gladstone era

For the next thirty years Gladstone and Liberalism were synonymous. William Gladstone served as prime minister four times (1868–74, 1880–85, 1886, and 1892–94). His financial policies, based on the notion of
balanced budget A balanced budget (particularly that of a government) is a budget in which revenues are equal to expenditures. Thus, neither a budget deficit nor a budget surplus exists (the accounts "balance"). More generally, it is a budget that has no budget ...
s, low taxes and ''
laissez-faire ''Laissez-faire'' ( ; from french: laissez faire , ) is an economic system in which transactions between private groups of people are free from any form of economic interventionism (such as Subsidy, subsidies) deriving from special interest ...
'', were suited to a developing capitalist society, but they could not respond effectively as economic and social conditions changed. Called the "Grand Old Man" later in life, Gladstone was always a dynamic popular orator who appealed strongly to the
working class The working class (or labouring class) comprises those engaged in manual labour, manual-labour occupations or industrial work, who are remunerated via wage, waged or salary, salaried contracts. Working-class occupations (see also "Designation ...
and to the lower middle class. Deeply religious, Gladstone brought a new moral tone to politics, with his evangelical sensibility and his opposition to aristocracy. His moralism often angered his upper-class opponents (including
Queen Victoria Victoria (Alexandrina Victoria; 24 May 1819 – 22 January 1901) was Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland from 20 June 1837 until Death and state funeral of Queen Victoria, her death in 1901. Her reign of 63 years and 21 ...
), and his heavy-handed control split the Liberal Party. In foreign policy, Gladstone was in general against foreign entanglements, but he did not resist the realities of imperialism. For example, he ordered the occupation of Egypt by British forces in the 1882
Anglo-Egyptian War The British conquest of Egypt (1882), also known as Anglo-Egyptian War (), occurred in 1882 between Egyptian and Sudanese forces under Ahmed ‘Urabi and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, United Kingdom. It ended a ‘Urabi Revol ...
. His goal was to create a European order based on co-operation rather than conflict and on mutual trust instead of rivalry and suspicion; the
rule of law The rule of law is the political philosophy that all citizens and institutions within a country, state, or community are accountable to the same laws, including lawmakers and leaders. The rule of law is defined in the ''Encyclopedia Britannica ...
was to supplant the reign of force and self-interest. This Gladstonian concept of a harmonious
Concert of Europe The Concert of Europe was a general consensus among the Great Powers of 19th-century Europe to maintain the European balance of power, political boundaries, and spheres of influence. Never a perfect unity and subject to disputes and jockeying fo ...
was opposed to and ultimately defeated by a
Bismarckian Otto, Prince of Bismarck, Count of Bismarck-Schönhausen, Duke of Lauenburg (, ; 1 April 1815 – 30 July 1898), born Otto Eduard Leopold von Bismarck, was a conservative German statesman and diplomat. From his origins in the upper class of J ...
system of manipulated alliances and antagonisms. As prime minister from 1868 to 1874, Gladstone headed a Liberal Party which was a coalition of Peelites like himself, Whigs and Radicals. He was now a spokesman for "peace, economy and reform". One major achievement was the Elementary Education Act of 1870, which provided England with an adequate system of elementary schools for the first time. He also secured the abolition of the purchase of commissions in the British Army and of religious tests for admission to
Oxford Oxford () is a city in England. It is the county town and only city of Oxfordshire. In 2020, its population was estimated at 151,584. It is north-west of London, south-east of Birmingham and north-east of Bristol. The city is home to the Un ...
and
Cambridge Cambridge ( ) is a College town, university city and the county town in Cambridgeshire, England. It is located on the River Cam approximately north of London. As of the 2021 United Kingdom census, the population of Cambridge was 145,700. Cam ...
; the introduction of the
secret ballot The secret ballot, also known as the Australian ballot, is a voting method in which a voter's identity in an election or a referendum is anonymous. This forestalls attempts to influence the voter by intimidation, blackmailing, and potential vote ...
in elections; the legalization of
trade unions A trade union (labor union in American English), often simply referred to as a union, is an organization of workers intent on "maintaining or improving the conditions of their employment", ch. I such as attaining better wages and Employee ben ...
; and the reorganization of the
judiciary The judiciary (also known as the judicial system, judicature, judicial branch, judiciative branch, and court or judiciary system) is the system of courts that adjudication, adjudicates legal disputes/disagreements and interprets, defends, and app ...
in the Judicature Act. Regarding Ireland, the major Liberal achievements were land reform, where he ended centuries of landlord oppression, and the
disestablishment The separation of church and state is a philosophical and jurisprudential concept for defining political distance in the relationship between religious organizations Religious activities generally need some infrastructure to be conduct ...
of the (Anglican)
Church of Ireland The Church of Ireland ( ga, Eaglais na hÉireann, ; sco, label=Ulster Scots dialects, Ulster-Scots, Kirk o Airlann, ) is a Christian church in Ireland and an autonomous province of the Anglican Communion. It is organised on an all-Ireland bas ...
through the Irish Church Act 1869. In the 1874 general election Gladstone was defeated by the Conservatives under
Benjamin Disraeli Benjamin Disraeli, 1st Earl of Beaconsfield, (21 December 1804 – 19 April 1881) was a British statesman and Conservative Party (UK), Conservative politician who twice served as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. He played a centr ...
during a sharp economic recession. He formally resigned as Liberal leader and was succeeded by the Marquess of Hartington, but he soon changed his mind and returned to active politics. He strongly disagreed with Disraeli's pro- Ottoman foreign policy and in 1880 he conducted the first outdoor mass-election campaign in Britain, known as the Midlothian campaign. The Liberals won a large majority in the 1880 election. Hartington ceded his place and Gladstone resumed office.


Ireland and Home Rule

Among the consequences of the Third Reform Act (1884) was the giving of the vote to many
Irish Catholics Irish Catholics are an ethnoreligious group native to Ireland whose members are both Catholic Church, Catholic and Irish people, Irish. They have Irish diaspora, a large diaspora, which includes over 36 million Irish Americans, American citizens ...
. In the 1885 general election the
Irish Parliamentary Party The Irish Parliamentary Party (IPP; commonly called the Irish Party or the Home Rule Party) was formed in 1874 by Isaac Butt, the leader of the Nationalist Party (Ireland), Nationalist Party, replacing the Home Rule League, as official parliament ...
held the balance of power in the House of Commons, and demanded
Irish Home Rule The Irish Home Rule movement was a movement that campaigned for Devolution, self-government (or "home rule") for Ireland within the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. It was the dominant political movement of Irish nationalism from 1 ...
as the price of support for a continued Gladstone ministry. Gladstone personally supported Home Rule, but a strong Liberal Unionist faction led by
Joseph Chamberlain Joseph Chamberlain (8 July 1836 – 2 July 1914) was a British statesman who was first a radical Liberal Party (UK), Liberal, then a Liberal Unionist after opposing home rule for Ireland, and eventually served as a leading New Imperialism, i ...
, along with the last of the Whigs, Hartington, opposed it. The Irish Home Rule bill proposed to offer all owners of Irish land a chance to sell to the state at a price equal to 20 years' purchase of the rents and allowing tenants to purchase the land.
Irish nationalist Irish nationalism is a nationalist Nationalism is an idea and movement that holds that the nation should be congruent with the State (polity), state. As a movement, nationalism tends to promote the interests of a particular nation (a ...
reaction was mixed, Unionist opinion was hostile, and the election addresses during the 1886 election revealed English radicals to be against the bill also. Among the Liberal rank and file, several Gladstonian candidates disowned the bill, reflecting fears at the constituency level that the interests of the working people were being sacrificed to finance a costly rescue operation for the landed élite. Further, Home Rule had not been promised in the Liberals' election manifesto, and so the impression was given that Gladstone was buying Irish support in a rather desperate manner to hold on to power. The result was a catastrophic split in the Liberal Party, and heavy defeat in the 1886 election at the hands of
Lord Salisbury Robert Arthur Talbot Gascoyne-Cecil, 3rd Marquess of Salisbury (; 3 February 183022 August 1903) was a British statesman and Conservative Party (UK), Conservative politician who served as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom three times for a ...
, who was supported by the breakaway
Liberal Unionist Party The Liberal Unionist Party was a British political party that was formed in 1886 by a faction that broke away from the Liberal Party (UK), Liberal Party. Led by Spencer Cavendish, 8th Duke of Devonshire, Lord Hartington (later the Duke of Devonsh ...
. There was a final weak Gladstone ministry in 1892, but it also was dependent on Irish support and failed to get Irish Home Rule through the House of Lords.


Newcastle Programme

Historically, the aristocracy was divided between Conservatives and Liberals. However, when Gladstone committed to home rule for Ireland, Britain's upper classes largely abandoned the Liberal party, giving the Conservatives a large permanent majority in the House of Lords. Following the Queen, High Society in London largely ostracized home rulers and Liberal clubs were badly split.
Joseph Chamberlain Joseph Chamberlain (8 July 1836 – 2 July 1914) was a British statesman who was first a radical Liberal Party (UK), Liberal, then a Liberal Unionist after opposing home rule for Ireland, and eventually served as a leading New Imperialism, i ...
took a major element of upper-class supporters out of the Party and into a third party called Liberal Unionism on the Irish issue. It collaborated with and eventually merged into the Conservative party. The Gladstonian liberals in 1891 adopted The Newcastle Programme that included home rule for Ireland,
disestablishment The separation of church and state is a philosophical and jurisprudential concept for defining political distance in the relationship between religious organizations Religious activities generally need some infrastructure to be conduct ...
of the Church of England in Wales, tighter controls on the sale of liquor, major extension of factory regulation and various democratic political reforms. The Programme had a strong appeal to the nonconformist middle-class Liberal element, which felt liberated by the departure of the aristocracy.


Relations with trade unions

A major long-term consequence of the Third Reform Act was the rise of Lib-Lab candidates. The Act split all
county constituencies In the United Kingdom (UK), each of the electoral areas or divisions called constituencies elects one member to the House of Commons of the United Kingdom, House of Commons. Within the United Kingdom there are five bodies with members elected by ...
(which were represented by multiple MPs) into
single-member constituencies A single-member district is an electoral district represented by a single officeholder. It contrasts with a multi-member district, which is represented by multiple officeholders. Single-member districts are also sometimes called single-winner v ...
, roughly corresponding to population patterns. With the foundation of the Labour Party not to come till 1906, many trade unions allied themselves with the Liberals. In areas with working class majorities, in particular
coal-mining Coal mining is the process of extracting coal from the ground. Coal is valued for its energy content and since the 1880s has been widely used to generate electricity. Steel and cement industries use coal as a fuel for extraction of iron fro ...
areas, Lib-Lab candidates were popular, and they received sponsorship and endorsement from
trade union A trade union (labor union in American English), often simply referred to as a union, is an organization of workers intent on "maintaining or improving the conditions of their employment", ch. I such as attaining better wages and Employee ben ...
s. In the first election after the Act was passed (1885), thirteen were elected, up from two in 1874. The Third Reform Act also facilitated the demise of the Whig old guard; in two-member constituencies, it was common to pair a Whig and a radical under the Liberal banner. After the Third Reform Act, fewer former Whigs were selected as candidates.


Reform policies

A broad range of interventionist reforms were introduced by the 1892–1895 Liberal government. Amongst other measures, standards of accommodation and of teaching in schools were improved, factory inspection was made more stringent, and ministers used their powers to increase the wages and reduce the working hours of large numbers of male workers employed by the state. Historian Walter L. Arnstein concludes: :Notable as the Gladstonian reforms had been, they had almost all remained within the nineteenth-century Liberal tradition of gradually removing the religious, economic, and political barriers that prevented men of varied creeds and classes from exercising their individual talents in order to improve themselves and their society. As the third quarter of the century drew to a close, the essential bastions of Victorianism still held firm: respectability; a government of aristocrats and gentlemen now influenced not only by middle-class merchants and manufacturers but also by industrious working people; a prosperity that seemed to rest largely on the tenets of laissez-faire economics; and a Britannia that ruled the waves and many a dominion beyond.


After Gladstone

Gladstone finally retired in 1894. Gladstone's support for Home Rule deeply divided the party, and it lost its upper and upper-middle-class base, while keeping support among Protestant nonconformists and the Celtic fringe. Historian R. C. K. Ensor reports that after 1886, the main Liberal Party was deserted by practically the entire whig peerage and the great majority of the upper-class and upper-middle-class members. High prestige London clubs that had a Liberal base were deeply split. Ensor notes that, "London society, following the known views of the Queen, practically ostracized home rulers." The new Liberal leader was the ineffectual
Lord Rosebery Archibald Philip Primrose, 5th Earl of Rosebery, 1st Earl of Midlothian, (7 May 1847 – 21 May 1929) was a British Liberal Party (UK), Liberal Party politician who served as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from March 1894 to June 1895. ...
. He led the party to a heavy defeat in the 1895 general election.


Liberal factions

The Liberal Party lacked a unified ideological base in 1906. It contained numerous contradictory and hostile factions, such as imperialists and supporters of the Boers; near-socialists and laissez-faire classical liberals;
suffragette A suffragette was a member of an activist women's organisation in the early 20th century who, under the banner "Votes for Women", fought for women's suffrage, the right to vote in public elections in the United Kingdom. The term refers in part ...
s and opponents of
women's suffrage Women's suffrage is the women's rights, right of women to Suffrage, vote in elections. Beginning in the start of the 18th century, some people sought to change voting laws to allow women to vote. Liberal political parties would go on to gran ...
; antiwar elements and supporters of the military alliance with France. Nonconformists –
Protestants Protestantism is a Christian denomination, branch of Christianity that follows the theological tenets of the Reformation, Protestant Reformation, a movement that began seeking to reform the Catholic Church from within in the 16th century agai ...
outside the
Anglican Anglicanism is a Western Christian tradition that has developed from the practices, liturgy, and identity of the Church of England The Church of England (C of E) is the State religion, established List of Christian denominations, ...
fold – were a powerful element, dedicated to opposing the
established church A state religion (also called religious state or official religion) is a religion or creed officially endorsed by a sovereign state. A state with an official religion (also known as confessional state), while not secular state, secular, is not n ...
in terms of education and taxation. However, the non-conformists were losing support amid society at large and played a lesser role in party affairs after 1900. The party, furthermore, also included Irish Catholics, and secularists from the labour movement. Many Conservatives (including
Winston Churchill Sir Winston Leonard Spencer Churchill (30 November 187424 January 1965) was a British statesman, soldier, and writer who served as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom twice, from 1940 to 1945 Winston Churchill in the Second World War, dur ...
) had recently protested against high tariff moves by the Conservatives by switching to the anti-tariff Liberal camp, but it was unclear how many old Conservative traits they brought along, especially on military and naval issues. The middle-class business, professional and intellectual communities were generally strongholds, although some old aristocratic families played important roles as well. The working-class element was moving rapidly toward the newly emerging Labour Party. One uniting element was widespread agreement on the use of politics and Parliament as a device to upgrade and improve society and to reform politics. All Liberals were outraged when Conservatives used their majority in the House of Lords to block reform legislation. In the House of Lords, the Liberals had lost most of their members, who in the 1890s "became Conservative in all but name." The government could force the unwilling king to create new Liberal peers, and that threat did prove decisive in the battle for dominance of Commons over Lords in 1911.


Rise of New Liberalism

The late nineteenth century saw the emergence of New Liberalism within the Liberal Party, which advocated state intervention as a means of guaranteeing freedom and removing obstacles to it such as poverty and unemployment. The policies of the New Liberalism are now known as
social liberalism Social liberalism (german: Sozialliberalismus, es, socioliberalismo, nl, Sociaalliberalisme), also known as new liberalism in the United Kingdom, modern liberalism, or simply liberalism in the contemporary United States, left-liberalism ...
. The New Liberals included intellectuals like L. T. Hobhouse, and John A. Hobson. They saw individual liberty as something achievable only under favourable social and economic circumstances. In their view, the poverty, squalor, and ignorance in which many people lived made it impossible for freedom and individuality to flourish. New Liberals believed that these conditions could be ameliorated only through collective action coordinated by a strong, welfare-oriented, and interventionist state. After the historic 1906 victory, the Liberal Party introduced multiple reforms on range of issues, including
health insurance Health insurance or medical insurance (also known as medical aid in South Africa) is a type of insurance that covers the whole or a part of the risk of a person incurring medical expenses. As with other types of insurance, risk is shared among ma ...
,
unemployment insurance Unemployment benefits, also called unemployment insurance, unemployment payment, unemployment compensation, or simply unemployment, are payments made by authorized bodies to unemployment, unemployed people. In the United States, benefits are fun ...
, and
pension A pension (, from Latin ''pensiō'', "payment") is a fund into which a sum of money is added during an employee's employment years and from which payments are drawn to support the person's retirement from work in the form of periodic payments ...
s for elderly workers, thereby laying the groundwork for the future British
welfare state A welfare state is a form of government in which the state (or a well-established network of social institutions) protects and promotes the economic and social well-being of its citizens, based upon the principles of equal opportunity Equa ...
. Some proposals failed, such as licensing fewer pubs, or rolling back Conservative educational policies. The People's Budget of 1909, championed by
David Lloyd George David Lloyd George, 1st Earl Lloyd-George of Dwyfor, (17 January 1863 – 26 March 1945) was Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1916 to 1922. He was a Liberal Party (United Kingdom), Liberal Party politician from Wales, known for lea ...
and fellow Liberal
Winston Churchill Sir Winston Leonard Spencer Churchill (30 November 187424 January 1965) was a British statesman, soldier, and writer who served as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom twice, from 1940 to 1945 Winston Churchill in the Second World War, dur ...
, introduced unprecedented taxes on the wealthy in Britain and radical social welfare programmes to the country's policies. In the Liberal camp, as noted by one study, “the Budget was on the whole enthusiastically received.” It was the first budget with the expressed intent of redistributing wealth among the public. It imposed increased taxes on luxuries, liquor, tobacco, high incomes, and land – taxation that fell heavily on the rich. The new money was to be made available for new welfare programmes as well as new battleships. In 1911 Lloyd George succeeded in putting through Parliament his
National Insurance Act The National Insurance Act 1911 created National Insurance, originally a system of health insurance for industrial workers in Great Britain based on contributions from employers, the government, and the workers themselves. It was one of the foun ...
, making provision for sickness and invalidism, and this was followed by his Unemployment Insurance Act. Historian Peter Weiler argues: Contrasting Old Liberalism with New Liberalism,
David Lloyd George David Lloyd George, 1st Earl Lloyd-George of Dwyfor, (17 January 1863 – 26 March 1945) was Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1916 to 1922. He was a Liberal Party (United Kingdom), Liberal Party politician from Wales, known for lea ...
noted in a 1908 speech the following:


Liberal zenith

The Liberals languished in opposition for a decade while the coalition of Salisbury and Chamberlain held power. The 1890s were marred by infighting between the three principal successors to Gladstone, party leader William Harcourt, former prime minister
Lord Rosebery Archibald Philip Primrose, 5th Earl of Rosebery, 1st Earl of Midlothian, (7 May 1847 – 21 May 1929) was a British Liberal Party (UK), Liberal Party politician who served as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from March 1894 to June 1895. ...
, and Gladstone's personal secretary, John Morley. This intrigue finally led Harcourt and Morley to resign their positions in 1898 as they continued to be at loggerheads with Rosebery over Irish home rule and issues relating to imperialism. Replacing Harcourt as party leader was Sir
Henry Campbell-Bannerman Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman (né Campbell; 7 September 183622 April 1908) was a British statesman and Liberal Party (UK), Liberal politician. He served as the prime minister of the United Kingdom from 1905 to 1908 and Liberal Party (UK)#Liber ...
. Harcourt's resignation briefly muted the turmoil in the party, but the beginning of the
Second Boer War The Second Boer War ( af, Tweede Vryheidsoorlog, , 11 October 189931 May 1902), also known as the Boer War, the Anglo–Boer War, or the South African War, was a conflict fought between the British Empire and the two Boer Republics (the South ...
soon nearly broke the party apart, with Rosebery and a circle of supporters including important future Liberal figures H. H. Asquith, Edward Grey and Richard Burdon Haldane forming a clique dubbed the Liberal Imperialists that supported the government in the prosecution of the war. On the other side, more radical members of the party formed a Pro-Boer faction that denounced the conflict and called for an immediate end to hostilities. Quickly rising to prominence among the Pro-Boers was David Lloyd George, a relatively new MP and a master of rhetoric, who took advantage of having a national stage to speak out on a controversial issue to make his name in the party. Harcourt and Morley also sided with this group, though with slightly different aims. Campbell-Bannerman tried to keep these forces together at the head of a moderate Liberal rump, but in 1901 he delivered a speech on the government's "methods of barbarism" in South Africa that pulled him further to the left and nearly tore the party in two. The party was saved after Salisbury's retirement in 1902 when his successor,
Arthur Balfour Arthur James Balfour, 1st Earl of Balfour, (, ; 25 July 184819 March 1930), also known as Lord Balfour, was a British Conservative statesman who served as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom The prime minister of the United Kingdo ...
, pushed a series of unpopular initiatives such as the
Education Act 1902 The Education Act 1902 ( 2 Edw. 7 c. 42), also known as the Balfour Act, was a highly controversial Act of Parliament that set the pattern of elementary education in England and Wales England and Wales () is one of the three legal jurisdic ...
and Joseph Chamberlain called for a new system of protectionist tariffs. Campbell-Bannerman was able to rally the party around the traditional liberal platform of free trade and land reform and led them to the greatest election victory in their history. This would prove the last time the Liberals won a majority in their own right. Although he presided over a large majority,
Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman (né Campbell; 7 September 183622 April 1908) was a British statesman and Liberal Party (UK), Liberal politician. He served as the prime minister of the United Kingdom from 1905 to 1908 and Liberal Party (UK)#Liber ...
was overshadowed by his ministers, most notably H. H. Asquith at the Exchequer, Edward Grey at the Foreign Office, Richard Burdon Haldane at the War Office and
David Lloyd George David Lloyd George, 1st Earl Lloyd-George of Dwyfor, (17 January 1863 – 26 March 1945) was Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1916 to 1922. He was a Liberal Party (United Kingdom), Liberal Party politician from Wales, known for lea ...
at the Board of Trade. Campbell-Bannerman retired in 1908 and died soon after. He was succeeded by Asquith, who stepped up the government's radicalism. Lloyd George succeeded Asquith at the Exchequer, and was in turn succeeded at the Board of Trade by
Winston Churchill Sir Winston Leonard Spencer Churchill (30 November 187424 January 1965) was a British statesman, soldier, and writer who served as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom twice, from 1940 to 1945 Winston Churchill in the Second World War, dur ...
, a recent defector from the Conservatives. The 1906 general election also represented a shift to the left by the Liberal Party. According to Rosemary Rees, almost half of the Liberal MPs elected in 1906 were supportive of the 'New Liberalism' (which advocated government action to improve people's lives),) while claims were made that “five-sixths of the Liberal party are left wing.” Other historians, however, have questioned the extent to which the Liberal Party experienced a leftward shift; according to Robert C. Self however, only between 50 and 60 Liberal MPs out of the 400 in the parliamentary party after 1906 were Social Radicals, with a core of 20 to 30. Nevertheless, important junior offices were held in the cabinet by what Duncan Tanner has termed "genuine New Liberals, Centrist reformers, and Fabian collectivists," and much legislation was pushed through by the Liberals in government. This included the regulation of working hours,
National Insurance National Insurance (NI) is a fundamental component of the welfare state in the United Kingdom. It acts as a form of social security, since payment of NI contributions establishes entitlement to certain state benefits for workers and their famili ...
and welfare. A political battle erupted over the People's Budget, which was rejected by the
House of Lords The House of Lords, also known as the House of Peers, is the Bicameralism, upper house of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. Membership is by Life peer, appointment, Hereditary peer, heredity or Lords Spiritual, official function. Like the ...
and for which the government obtained an electoral mandate at the January 1910 election. The election resulted in a
hung parliament A hung parliament is a term used in legislatures primarily under the Westminster system to describe a situation in which no single political party or pre-existing coalition (also known as an alliance or bloc) has an Majority, absolute majority o ...
, with the government left dependent on the Irish Nationalists. Although the Lords now passed the budget, the government wished to curtail their power to block legislation. Asquith was required by King George V to fight a second general election in December 1910 (whose result was little changed from that in January) before he agreed, if necessary, to create hundreds of Liberals peers. Faced with that threat, the Lords voted to give up their veto power and allowed the passage of the
Parliament Act 1911 The Parliament Act 1911 (1 & 2 Geo. 5 c. 13) is an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom The Parliament of the United Kingdom is the Parliamentary sovereignty in the United Kingdom, supreme Legislature, legislative body of the Uni ...
. As the price of Irish support, Asquith was now forced to introduce a third Home Rule bill in 1912. Since the House of Lords no longer had the power to block the bill, but only to delay it for two years, it was due to become law in 1914. The Unionist
Ulster Volunteers The Ulster Volunteers was an Irish Unionism in Ireland, unionist, Ulster loyalism, loyalist paramilitary organisation founded in 1912 to block devolution, domestic self-government ("Home Rule Act 1914, Home Rule") for Ireland, which was then p ...
, led by Sir
Edward Carson Edward Henry Carson, 1st Baron Carson, Her Majesty's Most Honourable Privy Council, PC, Privy Council of Ireland, PC (Ire) (9 February 1854 – 22 October 1935), from 1900 to 1921 known as Sir Edward Carson, was an Unionism in Ireland, Irish u ...
, launched a campaign of opposition that included the threat of a provisional government and armed resistance in
Ulster Ulster (; ga, Ulaidh or ''Cúige Uladh'' ; sco, label=Ulster Scots dialects, Ulster Scots, Ulstèr or ''Ulster'') is one of the four traditional provinces of Ireland, Irish provinces. It is made up of nine Counties of Ireland, counties: si ...
. The
Ulster Protestants Ulster Protestants ( ga, Protastúnaigh Ultach) are an ethnoreligious group in the Provinces of Ireland, Irish province of Ulster, where they make up about 43.5% of the population. Most Ulster Protestantism in Ireland, Protestants are descendan ...
had the full support of the Conservatives, whose leader,
Bonar Law Andrew Bonar Law ( ; 16 September 1858 – 30 October 1923) was a British Conservative Party (UK), Conservative politician who served as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from October 1922 to May 1923. Law was born in the British colon ...
, was of Ulster-Scots descent. Government plans to deploy troops into Ulster had to be cancelled after the threat of mass resignation of their commissions by army officers in March 1914 (''see
Curragh Incident The Curragh incident of 20 March 1914, sometimes known as the Curragh mutiny, occurred in the Curragh, County Kildare, Ireland. The Curragh Camp was then the main base for the British Army in Ireland, which at the time still formed part of the U ...
''). Ireland seemed to be on the brink of civil war when the
First World War World War I (28 July 1914 11 November 1918), often abbreviated as WWI, was List of wars and anthropogenic disasters by death toll, one of the deadliest global conflicts in history. Belligerents included much of Europe, the Russian Empire, ...
broke out in August 1914. Asquith had offered the Six Counties (later to become
Northern Ireland Northern Ireland ( ga, Tuaisceart Éireann ; sco, label=Ulster Scots dialect, Ulster-Scots, Norlin Airlann) is a part of the United Kingdom, situated in the north-east of the island of Ireland, that is #Descriptions, variously described as ...
) an opt out from Home Rule for six years (i.e. until after two more general elections were likely to have taken place) but the Nationalists refused to agree to permanent
Partition of Ireland The partition of Ireland ( ga, críochdheighilt na hÉireann) was the process by which the Government of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland divided History of Ireland (1801–1923), Ireland into two self-governing polities: Northe ...
. Historian George Dangerfield has argued that the multiplicity of crises in 1910 to 1914, political and industrial, so weakened the Liberal coalition before the war broke out that it marked the '' Strange Death of Liberal England''. However, most historians date the collapse to the crisis of the First World War.


Decline

The Liberal Party might have survived a short war, but the totality of the Great War called for measures that the Party had long rejected. The result was the permanent destruction of the ability of the Liberal Party to lead a government. Historian
Robert Blake Robert Blake may refer to: Sportspeople * Bob Blake (American football) (1885–1962), American football player * Robbie Blake (born 1976), English footballer * Bob Blake (ice hockey) (1914–2008), American ice hockey player * Rob Blake (born 196 ...
explains the dilemma: Blake further notes that it was the Liberals, not the Conservatives who needed the moral outrage of Belgium to justify going to war, while the Conservatives called for intervention from the start of the crisis on the grounds of ''realpolitik'' and the balance of power. However, Lloyd George and Churchill were zealous supporters of the war, and gradually forced the old peace-orientated Liberals out. Asquith was blamed for the poor British performance in the first year. Since the Liberals ran the war without consulting the Conservatives, there were heavy partisan attacks. However, even Liberal commentators were dismayed by the lack of energy at the top. At the time, public opinion was intensely hostile, both in the media and in the street, against any young man in civilian garb and labeled as a slacker. The leading Liberal newspaper, the ''
Manchester Guardian ''The Guardian'' is a British daily newspaper. It was founded in 1821 as ''The Manchester Guardian'', and changed its name in 1959. Along with its sister papers ''The Observer'' and ''The Guardian Weekly'', ''The Guardian'' is part of the Gu ...
'' complained: Asquith's Liberal government was brought down in , due in particular to a crisis in inadequate artillery shell production and the protest resignation of Admiral Fisher over the disastrous Gallipoli Campaign against Turkey. Reluctant to face doom in an election, Asquith formed a new coalition government on 25 May, with the majority of the new cabinet coming from his own Liberal party and the Unionist (Conservative) party, along with a token Labour representation. The new government lasted a year and a half, and was the last time Liberals controlled the government. The analysis of historian A. J. P. Taylor is that the British people were so deeply divided over numerous issues, But on all sides there was growing distrust of the Asquith government. There was no agreement whatsoever on wartime issues. The leaders of the two parties realized that embittered debates in Parliament would further undermine popular morale and so the House of Commons did not once discuss the war before May 1915. Taylor argues: The 1915 coalition fell apart at the end of 1916, when the Conservatives withdrew their support from Asquith and gave it instead to Lloyd George, who became prime minister at the head of a new coalition largely made up of Conservatives. Asquith and his followers moved to the opposition benches in Parliament and the Liberal Party was deeply split once again.


Lloyd George as a Liberal heading a Conservative coalition

Lloyd George remained a Liberal all his life, but he abandoned many standard Liberal principles in his crusade to win the war at all costs. He insisted on strong government controls over business as opposed to the ''
laissez-faire ''Laissez-faire'' ( ; from french: laissez faire , ) is an economic system in which transactions between private groups of people are free from any form of economic interventionism (such as Subsidy, subsidies) deriving from special interest ...
'' attitudes of traditional Liberals. in 1915-16 he had insisted on conscription of young men into the Army, a position that deeply troubled his old colleagues. That brought him and a few like-minded Liberals into the new coalition on the ground long occupied by Conservatives. There was no more planning for world peace or liberal treatment of Germany, nor discomfit with aggressive and authoritarian measures of state power. More deadly to the future of the party, says historian Trevor Wilson, was its repudiation by ideological Liberals, who decided sadly that it no longer represented their principles. Finally the presence of the vigorous new Labour Party on the left gave a new home to voters disenchanted with the Liberal performance. The last majority Liberal Government in Britain was elected in 1906. The years preceding the First World War were marked by worker strikes and civil unrest and saw many violent confrontations between civilians and the police and armed forces. Other issues of the period included
women's suffrage Women's suffrage is the women's rights, right of women to Suffrage, vote in elections. Beginning in the start of the 18th century, some people sought to change voting laws to allow women to vote. Liberal political parties would go on to gran ...
and the
Irish Home Rule The Irish Home Rule movement was a movement that campaigned for Devolution, self-government (or "home rule") for Ireland within the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. It was the dominant political movement of Irish nationalism from 1 ...
movement. After the carnage of 1914–1918, the democratic reforms of the
Representation of the People Act 1918 The Representation of the People Act 1918 was an Act of Parliament passed to reform the elections in the United Kingdom, electoral system in Great Britain and Ireland. It is sometimes known as the Fourth Reform Act. The Act extended the Suffrage, ...
instantly tripled the number of people entitled to vote in Britain from seven to twenty-one million. The Labour Party benefited most from this huge change in the electorate, forming its first minority government in 1924. In the 1918 general election, Lloyd George, hailed as "the Man Who Won the War", led his coalition into a
khaki election In Westminster system, Westminster systems of government, a khaki election is any national election which is heavily influenced by wartime or postwar sentiment. In the 1900 United Kingdom general election, British general election of 1900, the Co ...
. Lloyd George and the Conservative leader
Bonar Law Andrew Bonar Law ( ; 16 September 1858 – 30 October 1923) was a British Conservative Party (UK), Conservative politician who served as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from October 1922 to May 1923. Law was born in the British colon ...
wrote a joint letter of support to candidates to indicate they were considered the official Coalition candidates—this "
coupon In marketing, a coupon is a ticket or document that can be redeemed for a financial discounts and allowances, discount or rebate (marketing), rebate when purchasing a product (business), product. Customarily, coupons are issued by manufacturers ...
", as it became known, was issued against many sitting Liberal MPs, often to devastating effect, though not against Asquith himself. The coalition won a massive victory: Labour increased their position slightly but the Asquithian Liberals were decimated. Those remaining Liberal MPs who were opposed to the Coalition Government went into opposition under the parliamentary leadership of Sir Donald MacLean who also became
Leader of the Opposition The Leader of the Opposition is a title traditionally held by the leader of the Opposition (parliamentary), largest political party not in government, typical in countries utilizing the parliamentary system form of government. The leader of the ...
. Asquith, who had appointed MacLean, remained as overall Leader of the Liberal Party even though he lost his seat in 1918. Asquith returned to Parliament in 1920 and resumed leadership. Between 1919 and 1923, the anti-Lloyd George Liberals were called Asquithian Liberals, Wee Free Liberals or Independent Liberals. Lloyd George was increasingly under the influence of the rejuvenated Conservative party who numerically dominated the coalition. In 1922, the Conservative backbenchers rebelled against the continuation of the coalition, citing, in particular, Lloyd George's plan for war with Turkey in the Chanak Crisis, and his corrupt sale of honours. He resigned as prime minister and was succeeded by
Bonar Law Andrew Bonar Law ( ; 16 September 1858 – 30 October 1923) was a British Conservative Party (UK), Conservative politician who served as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from October 1922 to May 1923. Law was born in the British colon ...
. At the
1922 Events January * January 7 – Dáil Éireann (Irish Republic), Dáil Éireann, the parliament of the Irish Republic, ratifies the Anglo-Irish Treaty by 64–57 votes. * January 10 – Arthur Griffith is elected President of Dáil Éirean ...
and 1923 elections the Liberals won barely a third of the vote and only a quarter of the seats in the House of Commons as many radical voters abandoned the divided Liberals and went over to Labour. In 1922, Labour became the official opposition. A reunion of the two warring factions took place in 1923 when the new Conservative prime minister
Stanley Baldwin Stanley Baldwin, 1st Earl Baldwin of Bewdley, (3 August 186714 December 1947) was a British Conservative Party (UK), Conservative Party politician who dominated the government of the Interwar Britain, United Kingdom between the world wars, serv ...
committed his party to protective tariffs, causing the Liberals to reunite in support of free trade. The party gained ground in the 1923 general election but made most of its gains from Conservatives whilst losing ground to Labour—a sign of the party's direction for many years to come. The party remained the third largest in the House of Commons, but the Conservatives had lost their majority. There was much speculation and fear about the prospect of a Labour government and comparatively little about a Liberal government, even though it could have plausibly presented an experienced team of ministers compared to Labour's almost complete lack of experience as well as offering a middle ground that could obtain support from both Conservatives and Labour in crucial Commons divisions. However, instead of trying to force the opportunity to form a Liberal government, Asquith decided instead to allow Labour the chance of office in the belief that they would prove incompetent and this would set the stage for a revival of Liberal fortunes at Labour's expense, but it was a fatal error. Labour was determined to destroy the Liberals and become the sole party of the left.
Ramsay MacDonald James Ramsay MacDonald (; 12 October 18669 November 1937) was a British politician who served as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, the first who belonged to the Labour Party (UK), Labour Party, leading Minority government, minority Labour ...
was forced into a snap election in 1924 and although his government was defeated he achieved his objective of virtually wiping the Liberals out as many more radical voters now moved to Labour whilst moderate middle-class Liberal voters concerned about socialism moved to the Conservatives. The Liberals were reduced to a mere forty seats in Parliament, only seven of which had been won against candidates from both parties and none of these formed a coherent area of Liberal survival. The party seemed finished, and during this period some Liberals, such as Churchill, went over to the Conservatives while others went over to Labour. Several Labour ministers of later generations, such as
Michael Foot Michael Mackintosh Foot (23 July 19133 March 2010) was a Labour Party (UK), British Labour Party politician who served as Leader of the Labour Party (UK), Labour Leader from 1980 to 1983. Foot began his career as a journalist on Tribune (magaz ...
and
Tony Benn Anthony Neil Wedgwood Benn (3 April 1925 – 14 March 2014), known between 1960 and 1963 as Viscount Stansgate, was a British politician, writer and diarist who served as a Cabinet minister in the 1960s and 1970s. A member of the Labour Party, ...
, were the sons of Liberal MPs. Asquith finally resigned as Liberal leader in 1926 (he died in 1928). Lloyd George, now party leader, began a drive to produce coherent policies on many key issues of the day. In the 1929 general election, he made a final bid to return the Liberals to the political mainstream, with an ambitious programme of state stimulation of the economy called ''We Can Conquer Unemployment!'', largely written for him by the Liberal economist
John Maynard Keynes John Maynard Keynes, 1st Baron Keynes, ( ; 5 June 1883 – 21 April 1946), was an English economist whose ideas fundamentally changed the theory and practice of macroeconomics and the economic policies of governments. Originally trained in m ...
. The Liberal Party stood in Northern Ireland for the first and only time in the 1929 general election, gaining 17% of the vote, but won no seats. The Liberals gained ground, but once again it was at the Conservatives' expense whilst also losing seats to Labour. Indeed, the urban areas of the country suffering heavily from
unemployment Unemployment, according to the OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development), is people above a specified age (usually 15) not being in paid employment or self-employment but currently available for Work (human activity), w ...
, which might have been expected to respond the most to the radical economic policies of the Liberals, instead gave the party its worst results. By contrast, most of the party's seats were won either due to the absence of a candidate from one of the other parties or in rural areas on the
Celtic fringe The Celtic nations are a cultural area In anthropology and geography, a cultural region, cultural sphere, cultural area or culture area refers to a geography with one relatively homogeneous human activity or complex of activiti ...
, where local evidence suggests that economic ideas were at best peripheral to the electorate's concerns. The Liberals now found themselves with 59 members, holding the balance of power in a Parliament where Labour was the largest party but lacked an overall majority. Lloyd George offered a degree of support to the Labour government in the hope of winning concessions, including a degree of electoral reform to introduce the alternative vote, but this support was to prove bitterly divisive as the Liberals increasingly divided between those seeking to gain what Liberal goals they could achieve, those who preferred a Conservative government to a Labour one and vice versa.


Splits over the National Government

A group of Liberal MPs led by Sir John Simon opposed the Liberal Party's support for the minority Labour government. They preferred to reach an accommodation with the Conservatives. In 1931 MacDonald's Labour government fell apart in response to the
Great Depression The Great Depression (19291939) was an economic shock that impacted most countries across the world. It was a period of economic depression that became evident after a major fall in stock prices in the United States. The Financial contagion, ...
. Macdonald agreed to lead a National Government of all parties, which passed a budget to deal with the financial crisis. When few Labour MPs backed the National government, it became clear that the Conservatives had the clear majority of government supporters. They then forced MacDonald to call a
general election A general election is a political voting election where generally all or most members of a given political body are chosen. These are usually held for a nation, state, or territory's primary legislative body, and are different from by-election ...
. Lloyd George called for the party to leave the National Government but only a few MPs and candidates followed. The majority, led by Sir Herbert Samuel, decided to contest the elections as part of the government. The bulk of Liberal MPs supported the government, – the Liberal Nationals (officially the "National Liberals" after 1947) led by Simon, also known as "Simonites", and the "Samuelites" or "official Liberals", led by Samuel who remained as the official party. Both groups secured about 34 MPs but proceeded to diverge even further after the election, with the Liberal Nationals remaining supporters of the government throughout its life. There were to be a succession of discussions about them rejoining the Liberals, but these usually foundered on the issues of free trade and continued support for the National Government. The one significant reunification came in 1946 when the Liberal and Liberal National party organisations in London merged. The National Liberals, as they were called by then, were gradually absorbed into the Conservative Party, finally merging in 1968. The official Liberals found themselves a tiny minority within a government committed to
protectionism Protectionism, sometimes referred to as trade protectionism, is the economic policy of restricting imports from other countries through methods such as tariffs on imported goods, import quotas, and a variety of other government regulations. ...
. Slowly they found this issue to be one they could not support. In early 1932 it was agreed to suspend the principle of
collective responsibility Collective responsibility, also known as collective guilt, refers to Social responsibility, responsibilities of organizations, groups and societies. Collective responsibility in the form of collective punishment is often used as a disciplinary m ...
to allow the Liberals to oppose the introduction of tariffs. Later in 1932 the Liberals resigned their ministerial posts over the introduction of the Ottawa Agreement on
Imperial Preference Imperial Preference was a system of mutual tariff reduction enacted throughout the British Empire following the British Empire Economic Conference, Ottawa Conference of 1932. As Commonwealth Preference, the proposal was later revived in regard to ...
. However, they remained sitting on the government benches supporting it in Parliament, though in the country local Liberal activists bitterly opposed the government. Finally in late 1933 the Liberals crossed the floor of the House of Commons and went into complete opposition. By this point their number of MPs was severely depleted. In the 1935 general election, just 17 Liberal MPs were elected, along with Lloyd George and three followers as independent Liberals. Immediately after the election the two groups reunited, though Lloyd George declined to play much of a formal role in his old party. Over the next ten years there would be further defections as MPs deserted to either the Liberal Nationals or Labour. Yet there were a few recruits, such as Clement Davies, who had deserted to the National Liberals in 1931 but now returned to the party during
World War II World War II or the Second World War, often abbreviated as WWII or WW2, was a world war that lasted from 1939 to 1945. It involved the World War II by country, vast majority of the world's countries—including all of the great power ...
and who would lead it after the war.


Near extinction

Samuel had lost his seat in the 1935 election and the leadership of the party fell to Sir Archibald Sinclair. With many traditional domestic Liberal policies now regarded as irrelevant, he focused the party on opposition to both the rise of
Fascism in Europe Fascism in Europe was the set of various fascist ideologies which were practised by governments and political organisations in Europe during the 20th century. Fascism was born in Italy Italy ( it, Italia ), officially the Italian Repub ...
and the
appeasement Appeasement in an international context is a diplomacy, diplomatic policy of making political, material, or territorial concessions to an aggressive power (international relations), power in order to avoid conflict. The term is most often appli ...
foreign policy of the National Government, arguing that intervention was needed, in contrast to the Labour calls for pacifism. Despite the party's weaknesses, Sinclair gained a high profile as he sought to recall the Midlothian Campaign and once more revitalise the Liberals as the party of a strong foreign policy. In 1940, they joined Churchill's wartime coalition government, with Sinclair serving as
Secretary of State for Air The Secretary of State for Air was a Secretary of State (United Kingdom), secretary of state position in the British government, which existed from 1919 to 1964. The person holding this position was in charge of the Air Ministry. The Secretar ...
, the last British Liberal to hold Cabinet rank office for seventy years. However, it was a sign of the party's lack of importance that they were not included in the
War Cabinet A war cabinet is a committee formed by a government in a time of war to efficiently and effectively conduct that war. It is usually a subset of the full executive cabinet of ministers, although it is quite common for a war cabinet to have senior ...
; some leading party members founded Radical Action, a group which called for liberal candidates to break the war-time electoral pact. At the 1945 general election, Sinclair and many of his colleagues lost their seats to both Conservatives and Labour and the party returned just 12 MPs to Westminster, but this was just the beginning of the decline. In
1950 Events January * January 1 – The International Police Association (IPA) – the largest police organization in the world – is formed. * January 5 – 1950 Sverdlovsk plane crash, Sverdlovsk plane crash: ''Aeroflot'' Lisunov Li-2 cr ...
, the general election saw the Liberals return just nine MPs. Another general election was called in 1951 and the Liberals were left with just six MPs and all but one of them were aided by the fact that the Conservatives refrained from fielding candidates in those constituencies. In 1957, this total fell to five when one of the Liberal MPs died and the subsequent by-election was lost to the Labour Party, which selected the former Liberal Deputy Leader Megan Lloyd George as its own candidate. The Liberal Party seemed close to extinction. During this low period, it was often joked that Liberal MPs could hold meetings in the back of one taxi.


Liberal revival

Through the 1950s and into the 1960s the Liberals survived only because a handful of constituencies in rural
Scotland Scotland (, ) is a Countries of the United Kingdom, country that is part of the United Kingdom. Covering the northern third of the island of Great Britain, mainland Scotland has a Anglo-Scottish border, border with England to the southeast ...
and
Wales Wales ( cy, Cymru ) is a Countries of the United Kingdom, country that is part of the United Kingdom. It is bordered by England to the Wales–England border, east, the Irish Sea to the north and west, the Celtic Sea to the south west and the ...
clung to their Liberal traditions, whilst in two English towns,
Bolton Bolton (, locally ) is a large town in Greater Manchester in North West England, formerly a part of Lancashire. A former mill town, Bolton has been a production centre for textiles since Flemish people, Flemish weavers settled in the area i ...
and
Huddersfield Huddersfield is a market town in the Kirklees district in West Yorkshire, England. It is the administrative centre and largest settlement in the Kirklees district. The town is in the foothills of the Pennines. The River Holme's confluence into t ...
, local Liberals and Conservatives agreed to each contest only one of the town's two seats. Jo Grimond, for example, who became Leader of the Liberal Party in 1956, was MP for the remote Orkney and Shetland islands. Under his leadership a Liberal revival began, marked by the Orpington by-election of March 1962 which was won by Eric Lubbock. There, the Liberals won a seat in the London suburbs for the first time since 1935. The Liberals became the first of the major British political parties to advocate British membership of the European Economic Community. Grimond also sought an intellectual revival of the party, seeking to position it as a non-socialist radical alternative to the Conservative government of the day. In particular he canvassed the support of the young post-war university students and recent graduates, appealing to younger voters in a way that many of his recent predecessors had not, and asserting a new strand of Liberalism for the post-war world. The new middle-class suburban generation began to find the Liberals' policies attractive again. Under Grimond (who retired in 1967) and his successor,
Jeremy Thorpe John Jeremy Thorpe (29 April 1929 – 4 December 2014) was a British politician who served as the Member of Parliament A member of parliament (MP) is the representative in parliament of the people who live in their electoral district. ...
, the Liberals regained the status of a serious third force in British politics, polling up to 20% of the vote, but unable to break the duopoly of Labour and Conservative and win more than fourteen seats in the Commons. An additional problem was competition in the Liberal heartlands in Scotland and Wales from the
Scottish National Party The Scottish National Party (SNP; sco, Scots National Pairty, gd, Pàrtaidh Nàiseanta na h-Alba ) is a Scottish nationalism, Scottish nationalist and social democracy, social democratic list of political parties in Scotland, political party ...
and
Plaid Cymru Plaid Cymru ( ; ; officially Plaid Cymru – the Party of Wales, often referred to simply as Plaid) is a Centre-left politics, centre-left to Left-wing politics, left-wing, Welsh nationalism, Welsh nationalist list of political parties in Wales ...
who both grew as electoral forces from the 1960s onwards. Although Emlyn Hooson held on to the seat of Montgomeryshire, upon Clement Davies death in 1962, the party lost five Welsh seats between 1950 and 1966. In September 1966, the Welsh Liberal Party formed their own state party, moving the Liberal Party into a fully federal structure. In local elections,
Liverpool Liverpool is a City status in the United Kingdom, city and metropolitan borough in Merseyside, England. With a population of in 2019, it is the List of English districts by population, 10th largest English district by population and its E ...
remained a Liberal stronghold, with the party taking the plurality of seats on the
elections An election is a formal group decision-making process by which a population chooses an individual or multiple individuals to hold Public administration, public office. Elections have been the usual mechanism by which modern representative ...
to the new Liverpool Metropolitan Borough Council in 1973. On 26 July 1973, the party won two by-elections on the same day, in the
Isle of Ely The Isle of Ely () is a historic region around the city of Ely in Cambridgeshire Cambridgeshire (abbreviated Cambs.) is a Counties of England, county in the East of England, bordering Lincolnshire to the north, Norfolk to the north-east, ...
(with Clement Freud), and
Ripon Ripon () is a cathedral city in the Harrogate (borough), Borough of Harrogate, North Yorkshire, England. The city is located at the confluence of two tributaries of the River Ure, the River Laver, Laver and River Skell, Skell. Historic countie ...
(with David Austick). In the February 1974 general election, the Conservative government of
Edward Heath Sir Edward Richard George Heath (9 July 191617 July 2005), often known as Ted Heath, was a British politician who served as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1970 to 1974 and Leader of the Conservative Party (UK), Leader of the Conserv ...
won a plurality of votes cast, but the Labour Party gained a plurality of seats. The Conservatives were unable to form a government due to the Ulster Unionist MPs refusing to support the Conservatives after the Northern Ireland
Sunningdale Agreement The Sunningdale Agreement was an attempt to establish a power-sharing Northern Ireland Executive (1974), Northern Ireland Executive and a cross-border Council of Ireland (1970s), Council of Ireland. The agreement was signed at Sunningdale Park l ...
. The Liberals obtained 6.1 million votes, the most it would ever achieve, and now held the balance of power in the Commons. Conservatives offered Thorpe the Home Office if he would join a coalition government with Heath. Thorpe was personally in favour of it, but the party insisted it would only agree pending a clear government commitment to introducing
proportional representation Proportional representation (PR) refers to a type of electoral system under which subgroups of an electorate are reflected proportionately in the elected body. The concept applies mainly to geographical (e.g. states, regions) and political divi ...
(PR) and a change of prime minister. The former was unacceptable to Heath's cabinet and the latter to Heath personally, so the talks collapsed. Instead, a minority Labour government was formed under
Harold Wilson James Harold Wilson, Baron Wilson of Rievaulx, (11 March 1916 – 24 May 1995) was a British politician who served as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom twice, from October 1964 to June 1970, and again from March 1974 to April 1976. He ...
but with no formal support from Thorpe. In the October 1974 general election, the Liberals total vote slipped back slightly (and declined in each of the next three) and the Labour government won a wafer-thin majority. Thorpe was subsequently forced to resign after allegations that he attempted to have his
homosexual Homosexuality is Romance (love), romantic attraction, sexual attraction, or Human sexual activity, sexual behavior between members of the same sex or gender. As a sexual orientation, homosexuality is "an enduring pattern of emotional, romant ...
lover murdered by a hitman. The party's new leader,
David Steel David Martin Scott Steel, Baron Steel of Aikwood, (born 31 March 1938) is a British politician. Elected as Member of Parliament (United Kingdom), Member of Parliament for Roxburgh, Selkirk and Peebles (UK Parliament constituency), Roxburgh, S ...
, negotiated the Lib-Lab pact with Wilson's successor as prime minister,
James Callaghan Leonard James Callaghan, Baron Callaghan of Cardiff, ( ; 27 March 191226 March 2005), commonly known as Jim Callaghan, was Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1976 to 1979 and Leader of the Labour Party (UK), Leader of the Labour Party ...
. According to this pact, the Liberals would support the government in crucial votes in exchange for some influence over policy. The agreement lasted from 1977 to 1978, but proved mostly fruitless, for two reasons: the Liberals' key demand of PR was rejected by most Labour MPs, whilst the contacts between Liberal spokespersons and Labour ministers often proved detrimental, such as between Treasury spokesperson John Pardoe and
Chancellor of the Exchequer The chancellor of the Exchequer, often abbreviated to chancellor, is a senior minister of the Crown within the Government of the United Kingdom, and head of HM Treasury, His Majesty's Treasury. As one of the four Great Offices of State, the Ch ...
Denis Healey Denis Winston Healey, Baron Healey, (30 August 1917 – 3 October 2015) was a British Labour Party (UK), Labour politician who served as Chancellor of the Exchequer from 1974 to 1979 and as Secretary of State for Defence from 1964 to 1970; he ...
, who were mutually antagonistic.


Alliance, Liberal Democrats and reconstituted Liberal Party

The Conservative Party under the leadership of
Margaret Thatcher Margaret Hilda Thatcher, Baroness Thatcher (; 13 October 19258 April 2013) was Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1979 to 1990 and Leader of the Conservative Party (UK), Leader of the Conservative Party from 1975 to 1990. S ...
won the 1979 general election, placing the Labour Party back in opposition, which served to push the Liberals back into the margins. In 1981, defectors from a moderate faction of the Labour Party, led by former Cabinet ministers
Roy Jenkins Roy Harris Jenkins, Baron Jenkins of Hillhead, (11 November 1920 – 5 January 2003) was a British politician who served as President of the European Commission The president of the European Commission is the head of the European Com ...
,
David Owen David Anthony Llewellyn Owen, Baron Owen, (born 2 July 1938) is a British politician and physician who served as Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs as a Labour Party MP under James Callaghan from 1977 to 1979, and late ...
and
Shirley Williams Shirley Vivian Teresa Brittain Williams, Baroness Williams of Crosby, (' Catlin; 27 July 1930 – 12 April 2021) was a British politician and academic. Originally a Labour Party (UK), Labour Party Member of Parliament (MP), she served in the L ...
, founded the Social Democratic Party (SDP). The new party and the Liberals quickly formed the SDP–Liberal Alliance, which for a while polled as high as 50% in the opinion polls and appeared capable of winning the next general election. Indeed, Steel was so confident of an Alliance victory that he told the 1981 Liberal conference, "Go back to your constituencies, and prepare for government!". However, the Alliance was overtaken in the polls by the Tories in the aftermath of the Falkland Islands War and at the 1983 general election the Conservatives were re-elected by a landslide, with Labour once again forming the opposition. While the SDP–Liberal Alliance came close to Labour in terms of votes (a share of more than 25%), it only had 23 MPs compared to Labour's 209. The Alliance's support was spread out across the country, and was not concentrated in enough areas to translate into seats. In the 1987 general election, the Alliance's share of the votes fell slightly and it now had 22 MPs. In the election's aftermath Steel proposed a merger of the two parties. Most SDP members voted in favour of the merger, but SDP leader
David Owen David Anthony Llewellyn Owen, Baron Owen, (born 2 July 1938) is a British politician and physician who served as Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs as a Labour Party MP under James Callaghan from 1977 to 1979, and late ...
objected and continued to lead a "rump" SDP. In March 1988, the Liberal Party and Social Democratic Party merged to create the Social and Liberal Democrats, renamed the Liberal Democrats in October 1989. Over two-thirds of Liberal members joined the merged party, along with all sitting MPs. Steel and SDP leader Robert Maclennan served briefly as interim leaders of the merged party. A group of Liberal opponents of the merger with the Social Democrats, including
Michael Meadowcroft Michael James Meadowcroft (born 6 March 1942) is a British author, politician and political affairs consultant. He served as the Member of Parliament (United Kingdom), Member of Parliament (MP) for Leeds West (UK Parliament constituency), Leeds ...
(the former Liberal MP for Leeds West) and Paul Wiggin (who served on
Peterborough City Council Peterborough City Council is the local authority for Peterborough Peterborough () is a City status in the United Kingdom, cathedral city in Cambridgeshire, east of England. It is the largest part of the City of Peterborough unitary authorit ...
as a Liberal), continued with a new party organisation under the name of the '
Liberal Party The Liberal Party is any of many political parties A political party is an organization that coordinates candidates to compete in a particular country's elections. It is common for the members of a party to hold similar ideas about politics ...
'. Meadowcroft joined the Liberal Democrats in 2007, but the Liberal Party as reconstituted in 1989 continues to hold council seats and field candidates in Westminster Parliamentary elections. None of the nineteen Liberal candidates in 2019 achieved 5% of the votes, resulting in all losing their deposits.


Ideology

During the 19th century, the Liberal Party was broadly in favour of what would today be called
classical liberalism Classical liberalism is a political tradition and a branch of liberalism Liberalism is a Political philosophy, political and moral philosophy based on the Individual rights, rights of the individual, liberty, consent of the governe ...
, supporting ''
laissez-faire ''Laissez-faire'' ( ; from french: laissez faire , ) is an economic system in which transactions between private groups of people are free from any form of economic interventionism (such as Subsidy, subsidies) deriving from special interest ...
'' economic policies such as
free trade Free trade is a trade policy that does not restrict imports or exports. It can also be understood as the free market idea applied to international trade. In government, free trade is predominantly advocated by political parties that hold Econo ...
and minimal government interference in the economy (this doctrine was usually termed Gladstonian liberalism after the
Victorian era In the history of the United Kingdom and the British Empire, the Victorian era was the period of Queen Victoria's reign, from 20 June 1837 until her death on 22 January 1901. The era followed the Georgian era, Georgian period and preceded ...
Liberal Prime Minister William Gladstone). The Liberal Party favoured social reform, personal liberty, reducing the powers of
the Crown The Crown is the state (polity), state in all its aspects within the jurisprudence of the Commonwealth realms and their subdivisions (such as the Crown Dependencies, British Overseas Territories, overseas territories, Provinces and territorie ...
and the
Church of England The Church of England (C of E) is the State religion, established List of Christian denominations, Christian church in England and the mother church of the international Anglican Communion. It traces its history to the Christian church record ...
(many of them were nonconformists) and an extension of the electoral franchise. Sir William Harcourt, a prominent Liberal politician in the Victorian era, said this about
liberalism Liberalism is a Political philosophy, political and moral philosophy based on the Individual rights, rights of the individual, liberty, consent of the governed, political equality and equality before the law."political rationalism, hostilit ...
in 1872:
If there be any party which is more pledged than another to resist a policy of restrictive legislation, having for its object social coercion, that party is the Liberal party. (Cheers.) But liberty does not consist in making others do what you think right, (Hear, hear.) The difference between a free Government and a Government which is not free is principally this—that a Government which is not free interferes with everything it can, and a free Government interferes with nothing except what it must. A despotic Government tries to make everybody do what it wishes; a Liberal Government tries, as far as the safety of society will permit, to allow everybody to do as he wishes. It has been the tradition of the Liberal party consistently to maintain the doctrine of individual liberty. It is because they have done so that England is the place where people can do more what they please than in any other country in the world. ..It is this practice of allowing one set of people to dictate to another set of people what they shall do, what they shall think, what they shall drink, when they shall go to bed, what they shall buy, and where they shall buy it, what wages they shall get and how they shall spend them, against which the Liberal party have always protested.''The Times'' (31 December 1872), p. 5.
The political terms of "modern", "progressive" or "new" Liberalism began to appear in the mid to late 1880s and became increasingly common to denote the tendency in the Liberal Party to favour an increased role for the state as more important than the classical liberal stress on self-help and freedom of choice. By the early 20th century, the Liberals stance began to shift towards "New Liberalism", what would today be called
social liberalism Social liberalism (german: Sozialliberalismus, es, socioliberalismo, nl, Sociaalliberalisme), also known as new liberalism in the United Kingdom, modern liberalism, or simply liberalism in the contemporary United States, left-liberalism ...
, namely a belief in personal liberty with a support for government intervention to provide social
welfare Welfare, or commonly social welfare, is a type of government support intended to ensure that members of a society can meet Basic needs, basic human needs such as food and shelter. Social security may either be synonymous with welfare, or refe ...
. This shift was best exemplified by the Liberal government of H. H. Asquith and his Chancellor
David Lloyd George David Lloyd George, 1st Earl Lloyd-George of Dwyfor, (17 January 1863 – 26 March 1945) was Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1916 to 1922. He was a Liberal Party (United Kingdom), Liberal Party politician from Wales, known for lea ...
, whose Liberal reforms in the early 1900s created a basic
welfare state A welfare state is a form of government in which the state (or a well-established network of social institutions) protects and promotes the economic and social well-being of its citizens, based upon the principles of equal opportunity Equa ...
. David Lloyd George adopted a programme at the 1929 general election entitled ''We Can Conquer Unemployment!'', although by this stage the Liberals had declined to third-party status. The Liberals as expressed in the '' Liberal Yellow Book'' now regarded opposition to state intervention as being a characteristic of
right-wing Right-wing politics describes the range of Ideology#Political ideologies, political ideologies that view certain social orders and Social stratification, hierarchies as inevitable, natural, normal, or desirable, typically supporting this pos ...
extremists. After nearly becoming extinct in the 1940s and the 1950s, the Liberal Party revived its fortunes somewhat under the leadership of Jo Grimond in the 1960s by positioning itself as a
radical centrist Radical centrism (also called the radical center, the radical centre or the radical middle) is a concept that arose in Western nations in the late 20th century. The ''radical Radical may refer to: Politics and ideology Politics *Radical polit ...
, non-
socialist Socialism is a left-wing Economic ideology, economic philosophy and Political movement, movement encompassing a range of economic systems characterized by the dominance of social ownership of the means of production as opposed to Private prop ...
alternative to the Conservative and Labour Party governments of the time.


Religious alignment

Since 1660, nonconformist Protestants have played a major role in English politics. Relatively few MPs were Dissenters. However the Dissenters were a major voting bloc in many areas, such as the East Midlands. They were very well organised and highly motivated and largely won over the Whigs and Liberals to their cause. Down to the 1830s, Dissenters demanded removal of political and civil disabilities that applied to them (especially those in the Test and Corporation Acts). The Anglican establishment strongly resisted until 1828. Numerous reforms of voting rights, especially that of 1832, increased the political power of Dissenters. They demanded an end to compulsory church rates, in which local taxes went only to Anglican churches. They finally achieved the end of religious tests for university degrees in 1905. Gladstone brought the majority of Dissenters around to support for Home Rule for Ireland, putting the dissenting Protestants in league with the Irish Roman Catholics in an otherwise unlikely alliance. The Dissenters gave significant support to moralistic issues, such as temperance and sabbath enforcement. The nonconformist conscience, as it was called, was repeatedly called upon by Gladstone for support for his moralistic foreign policy. In election after election, Protestant ministers rallied their congregations to the Liberal ticket. In Scotland, the Presbyterians played a similar role to the Nonconformist Methodists, Baptists and other groups in England and Wales. By the 1820s, the different Nonconformists, including Wesleyan Methodists, Baptists, Congregationalists and Unitarians, had formed the Committee of Dissenting Deputies and agitated for repeal of the highly restrictive Test and
Corporation A corporation is an organization—usually a group of people or a company—authorized by the State (polity), state to act as a single entity (a legal entity recognized by private and public law "born out of statute"; a legal person in legal ...
Acts. These Acts excluded Nonconformists from holding civil or military office or attending Oxford or Cambridge, compelling them to set up their own
Dissenting Academies The dissenting academies were schools, colleges and seminaries (often institutions with aspects of all three) run by English Dissenters, that is, those who did not conform to the Church of England The Church of England (C of E) is the Sta ...
privately.Iain MacAllister et al., "Yellow fever? The political geography of Liberal voting in Great Britain", ''Political Geography'' (2002) 21#4, pp. 421–447. The
Tories A Tory () is a person who holds a political philosophy known as Toryism, based on a British version of Traditionalist conservatism, traditionalism and conservatism, which upholds the supremacy of social order as it has evolved in the English cul ...
tended to be in favour of these Acts and so the Nonconformist cause was linked closely to the Whigs, who advocated civil and religious liberty. After the Test and Corporation Acts were repealed in 1828, all the Nonconformists elected to Parliament were Liberals. Nonconformists were angered by the
Education Act 1902 The Education Act 1902 ( 2 Edw. 7 c. 42), also known as the Balfour Act, was a highly controversial Act of Parliament that set the pattern of elementary education in England and Wales England and Wales () is one of the three legal jurisdic ...
, which integrated Church of England denominational schools into the state system and provided for their support from taxes. John Clifford formed the National Passive Resistance Committee and by 1906 over 170 Nonconformists had gone to prison for refusing to pay school taxes. They included 60 Primitive Methodists, 48 Baptists, 40 Congregationalists and 15 Wesleyan Methodists. The political strength of Dissent faded sharply after 1920 with the secularisation of British society in the 20th century. The rise of the Labour Party reduced the Liberal Party strongholds into the nonconformist and remote "Celtic Fringe", where the party survived by an emphasis on localism and historic religious identity, thereby neutralising much of the class pressure on behalf of the Labour movement. Meanwhile, the Anglican Church was a bastion of strength for the Conservative Party. On the Irish issue, the Anglicans strongly supported unionism. Increasingly after 1850, the Roman Catholic element in England and Scotland was composed of recent emigrants from Ireland who largely voted for the
Irish Parliamentary Party The Irish Parliamentary Party (IPP; commonly called the Irish Party or the Home Rule Party) was formed in 1874 by Isaac Butt, the leader of the Nationalist Party (Ireland), Nationalist Party, replacing the Home Rule League, as official parliament ...
until its collapse in 1918.


Liberal leaders


Liberal Leaders in the House of Lords

* Granville George Leveson-Gower, 2nd Earl Granville (1859–1865) *
John Russell, 1st Earl Russell John Russell, 1st Earl Russell, (18 August 1792 – 28 May 1878), known by his Courtesy titles in the United Kingdom, courtesy title Lord John Russell before 1861, was a British Whigs (British political party), Whig and Liberal Party (UK), Li ...
(1865–1868) * Granville George Leveson-Gower, 2nd Earl Granville (1868–1891) *
John Wodehouse, 1st Earl of Kimberley John Wodehouse, 1st Earl of Kimberley (7 January 18268 April 1902), known as The Lord Wodehouse from 1846 to 1866, was a British Liberal politician. He held office in every Liberal administration from 1852 to 1895, notably as Secretary of Stat ...
(1891–1894) * Archibald Philip Primrose, 5th Earl of Rosebery (1894–1896) *
John Wodehouse, 1st Earl of Kimberley John Wodehouse, 1st Earl of Kimberley (7 January 18268 April 1902), known as The Lord Wodehouse from 1846 to 1866, was a British Liberal politician. He held office in every Liberal administration from 1852 to 1895, notably as Secretary of Stat ...
(1896–1902) *
John Spencer, 5th Earl Spencer John Poyntz Spencer, 5th Earl Spencer, Order of the Garter, KG, Order of St Patrick, KP, Privy Council of the United Kingdom, PC (27 October 1835 – 13 August 1910), known as Viscount Althorp from 1845 to 1857 (and also known as the "Red Earl" b ...
(1902–1905) *
George Robinson, 1st Marquess of Ripon George Frederick Samuel Robinson, 1st Marquess of Ripon, (24 October 1827 – 9 July 1909), styled Viscount Goderich from 1833 to 1859 and known as the Earl of Ripon in 1859 and as the Earl de Grey and Ripon from 1859 to 1871, was a British po ...
(1905–1908) *
Robert Crewe-Milnes, 1st Marquess of Crewe Robert Offley Ashburton Crewe-Milnes, 1st Marquess of Crewe, (12 January 185820 June 1945), known as The Honourable Robert Milnes from 1863 to 1885, The Lord Houghton from 1885 to 1895 and as The Earl of Crewe from 1895 to 1911, was a British L ...
(1908–1923) *
Edward Grey, 1st Viscount Grey of Fallodon Edward Grey, 1st Viscount Grey of Fallodon, (25 April 1862 – 7 September 1933), better known as Sir Edward Grey, was a British Liberal Party (UK), Liberal statesman and the main force behind British foreign policy in the era of the First ...
(1923–1924) * William Lygon, 7th Earl Beauchamp (1924–1931) *
Rufus Isaacs, 1st Marquess of Reading Rufus Daniel Isaacs, 1st Marquess of Reading, (10 October 1860 – 30 December 1935) was a British Liberal politician and judge, who served as Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales, Lord Chief Justice of England, Governor-General of India, Vi ...
(1931–1936) *
Robert Crewe-Milnes, 1st Marquess of Crewe Robert Offley Ashburton Crewe-Milnes, 1st Marquess of Crewe, (12 January 185820 June 1945), known as The Honourable Robert Milnes from 1863 to 1885, The Lord Houghton from 1885 to 1895 and as The Earl of Crewe from 1895 to 1911, was a British L ...
(1936–1944) * Herbert Samuel, 1st Viscount Samuel (1944–1955) * Philip Rea, 2nd Baron Rea (1955–1967) * Frank Byers, Baron Byers (1967–1984) *
Nancy Seear, Baroness Seear Beatrice Nancy Seear, Baroness Seear (7 August 1913 – 23 April 1997) was a British social scientist and politician. She was leader of the Liberal Party (UK), Liberal Party in the House of Lords from 1984 to 1988, and Deputy Leader of the Liber ...
(1984–1989)


Liberal Leaders in the House of Commons

*
Henry John Temple, 3rd Viscount Palmerston Henry John Temple, 3rd Viscount Palmerston, (20 October 1784 – 18 October 1865) was a British statesman who was twice Prime Minister of the United Kingdom in the mid-19th century. Palmerston dominated British foreign policy during the period ...
(1859–1865) *
William Gladstone William Ewart Gladstone ( ; 29 December 1809 – 19 May 1898) was a British statesman and Liberal Party (UK), Liberal politician. In a career lasting over 60 years, he served for 12 years as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, spread ...
(1865–1875) * Spencer Cavendish, 8th Duke of Devonshire (1875–1880) * William Gladstone (1880–1894) * Sir William Harcourt (1894–1898) *
Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman (né Campbell; 7 September 183622 April 1908) was a British statesman and Liberal Party (UK), Liberal politician. He served as the prime minister of the United Kingdom from 1905 to 1908 and Liberal Party (UK)#Liber ...
(1899–1908) * H. H. Asquith (1908–1916)


Leaders of the Liberal Party

* H. H. Asquith, 1st Earl of Oxford and Asquith, 1925 (1916–1926) ** Donald Maclean, Acting Leader (1919–1920) *
David Lloyd George David Lloyd George, 1st Earl Lloyd-George of Dwyfor, (17 January 1863 – 26 March 1945) was Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1916 to 1922. He was a Liberal Party (United Kingdom), Liberal Party politician from Wales, known for lea ...
(1926–1931) * Sir Herbert Samuel (1931–1935) * Sir Archibald Sinclair (1935–1945) * Clement Davies (1945–1956) * Jo Grimond (1956–1967) *
Jeremy Thorpe John Jeremy Thorpe (29 April 1929 – 4 December 2014) was a British politician who served as the Member of Parliament A member of parliament (MP) is the representative in parliament of the people who live in their electoral district. ...
(1967–1976) * Jo Grimond, Interim Leader (1976) *
David Steel David Martin Scott Steel, Baron Steel of Aikwood, (born 31 March 1938) is a British politician. Elected as Member of Parliament (United Kingdom), Member of Parliament for Roxburgh, Selkirk and Peebles (UK Parliament constituency), Roxburgh, S ...
(1976–1988)


Deputy Leaders of the Liberal Party in the House of Commons

* Herbert Samuel (1929–1931) * Archibald Sinclair (1931–1935) * Post vacant (1935–1940) * Percy Harris (1940–1945) * Post vacant (1945–1949) * Megan Lloyd George (1949–1951) * Post vacant (1951–1962) * Donald Wade (1962–1964) * Post vacant (1964–1979) * John Pardoe (1976–1979) * Post vacant (1979–1985) * Alan Beith (1985–1988)


Deputy Leaders of the Liberal Party in the House of Lords

* Eric Drummond, 16th Earl of Perth (1946–1951) * Walter Layton, 1st Baron Layton (1952–1955) * Post vacant (1955–1965) *
Gladwyn Jebb Hubert Miles Gladwyn Jebb, 1st Baron Gladwyn (25 April 1900 – 24 October 1996) was a prominent British civil servant, diplomat and politician who served as the Secretary-General of the United Nations#Secretaries-General, acting secretary-g ...
, 1st Baron Gladwyn (1965–1988)


Liberal Party front bench team members

* 1945–1956 * 1956–1967 * 1967–1976


Electoral performance

; Notes


See also

* :Liberal Party (UK) MPs * List of Liberal Party (UK) MPs * Liberalism in the United Kingdom * Liberal Democrats * List of United Kingdom Liberal Party Leaders * List of United Kingdom Whig and allied party leaders (1801–59) * List of Liberal Chief Whips * President of the Liberal Party * List of UK Liberal Party general election manifestos


References


Further reading

* Adelman, Paul. ''The decline of the Liberal Party 1910–1931'' (2nd ed. Routledge, 2014). * Bentley, Michael ''The Climax of Liberal Politics: British Liberalism in Theory and Practice, 1868–1918'' (1987). * * Brack, Duncan; Ingham, Robert; Little, Tony, eds. ''British Liberal Leaders'' (2015). * Campbell, John ''Lloyd George, The Goat in the Wilderness, 1922–31'' (1977). * Clarke, P. F. "The Electoral Position of the Liberal and Labour Parties, 1910–1914." ''English Historical Review'' 90.357 (1975): 828–836
in JSTOR
* Cook, Chris. ''A Short History of the Liberal Party, 1900–2001'' (6th edition). Basingstoke: Palgrave, 2002. . * Cregier, Don M. "The Murder of the British Liberal Party," ''The History Teacher'' 3#4 (1970), pp. 27–3
online edition
* Cross, Colin. ''The Liberals in Power, 1905–1914'' (1963). * David, Edward. “The Liberal Party Divided 1916-1918.” ''Historical Journal'' 13#3 (1970, pp. 509–32, http://www.jstor.org/stable/2637886 online] * Dangerfield, George. ''The Strange Death of Liberal England'' (1935), a famous classi
online free
* Dutton, David. ''A History of the Liberal Party Since 1900'' (2nd ed. Palgrave Macmillan, 2013). * Fairlie, Henry. "Oratory in Political Life," ''History Today'' (Jan 1960) 10#1 pp 3–13. A survey of political oratory in Britain from 1730 to 1960. * Fahey, David M. “Temperance and the Liberal Party - Lord Peel’s Report, 1899.” ''Journal of British Studies'' 20#3 (1971), pp. 132–59
online
* Gilbert, Bentley Brinkerhoff. ''David Lloyd George: A Political Life: The Architect of Change 1863–1912'' (1987)' ''David Lloyd George: A Political Life: Organizer of Victory, 1912–1916'' (1992). * Goodlad, Graham D. “The Liberal Party and Gladstone’s Land Purchase Bill of 1886.” ''Historical Journal'' 32#3 (1989), pp. 627–41
online
* Hammond, J. L. and M. R. D. Foot.
Gladstone and Liberalism
' (1952) * Häusermann, Silja, Georg Picot, and Dominik Geering. "Review article: Rethinking party politics and the welfare state–recent advances in the literature". ''British Journal of Political Science'' 43#1 (2013): 221–24
online
* Hazlehurst, Cameron. "Asquith as Prime Minister, 1908–1916," ''The English Historical Review'' 85#336 (1970), pp. 502–53
in JSTOR
* Heyck, Thomas William. “Home Rule, Radicalism, and the Liberal Party, 1886-1895.” ''Journal of British Studies'' 13#2 (1974), pp. 66–91
online
* Hughes, K. M. “A Political Party and Education: Reflections on the Liberal Party’s Educational Policy, 1867-1902.” ''British Journal of Educational Studies'' 8#2, (1960), pp. 112–26
online
* Jenkins, Roy. "From Gladstone to Asquith: The Late Victorian Pattern of Liberal Leadership," ''History Today'' (July 1964) 14#7 pp 445–452. * Jenkins, Roy. ''Asquith: portrait of a man and an era'' (1964). * Jenkins, T. A. “Gladstone, the Whigs and the Leadership of the Liberal Party, 1879-1880.” ''Historical Journal'' 27#2 (1984), pp. 337–60
online
* Thomas Jones (civil servant), Jones, Thomas. ''Lloyd George'' (1951), short biography * Kellas, James G. “The Liberal Party in Scotland 1876-1895.” ''Scottish Historical Review'' 44#137, (1965), pp. 1–16
online
* Laybourn, Keith. "The rise of Labour and the decline of Liberalism: the state of the debate." ''History'' 80.259 (1995): 207–226, historiography. * Lubenow, W. C. “Irish Home Rule and the Social Basis of the Great Separation in the Liberal Party in 1886.” ''Historical Journal'' 28#1 (1985), pp. 125–42
online
* Lynch, Patricia. ''The Liberal Party in Rural England, 1885–1910: Radicalism and Community'' (2003). * MacAllister, Iain, et al., "Yellow fever? The political geography of Liberal voting in Great Britain," ''Political Geography'' (2002) 21#4 pp. 421–447. * McEwen, John M. “The Liberal Party and the Irish Question during the First World War.” ''Journal of British Studies,'' 12#1, (1972), pp. 109–31
online
* McGill, Barry. “Francis Schnadhorst and Liberal Party Organization.” ''Journal of Modern History'' 34#1 (1962), pp. 19–39
online
* Machin, G. I. T. "Gladstone and Nonconformity in the 1860s: The Formation of an Alliance." ''Historical Journal'' 17, no. 2 (1974): 347–64
online
* McCready, H. W. “Home Rule and the Liberal Party, 1899-1906.” ''Irish Historical Studies'' 13#52, (1963), pp. 316–48
online
* * Mowat, Charles Loch. ''Britain between the Wars, 1918–1940'' (1955) 694 pp. scholarly surve
online
* Packer, Ian. ''Liberal government and politics, 1905–15'' (Springer, 2006). * Parry, Jonathan. ''The Rise and Fall of Liberal Government in Victorian Britain'' (Yale, 1993) . * Poe, William A. “Conservative Nonconformists: Religious Leaders and the Liberal Party in Yorkshire/Lancashire.” ''Nineteenth Century Studies'', vol. 2, (1988), pp. 63–72
online
* Pugh, Martin D. "Asquith, Bonar Law and the First Coalition." ''Historical Journal'' 17.4 (1974): 813–836. * Pugh, Martin. “The Liberal Party and the Popular Front.” ''English Historical Review'' 121#494, (2006), pp. 1327–50
online
* Rossi, John P. “The Transformation of the British Liberal Party: A Study of the Tactics of the Liberal Opposition, 1874-1880.” ''Transactions of the American Philosophical Society'' 68#8, (1978), pp. 1–133
online
* Rossi, John P. “English Catholics, the Liberal Party, and the General Election of 1880.” ''Catholic Historical Review,'' 63#3, (1977), pp. 411–27
online[. * Russell, A.K. ''Liberal Landslide: The General Election of 1906'' (David & Charles, 1973). * Searle, G. R. “The Edwardian Liberal Party and Business.” ''English Historical Review'' 98#386, (1983), pp. 28–60, [http://www.jstor.org/stable/570163 online
* Searle, G. R. ''A New England? Peace and war, 1886–1918'' (Oxford University Press, 2004), wide-ranging scholarly survey * Thorpe, Andrew. "Labour Leaders and the Liberals, 1906–1924", ''Cercles'' 21 (2011), pp. 39–54
online">online[. * Russell, A.K. ''Liberal Landslide: The General Election of 1906'' (David & Charles, 1973). * Searle, G. R. “The Edwardian Liberal Party and Business.” ''English Historical Review'' 98#386, (1983), pp. 28–60, [http://www.jstor.org/stable/570163 online
* Searle, G. R. ''A New England? Peace and war, 1886–1918'' (Oxford University Press, 2004), wide-ranging scholarly survey * Thorpe, Andrew. "Labour Leaders and the Liberals, 1906–1924", ''Cercles'' 21 (2011), pp. 39–54. [http://www.cercles.com/n21/thorpe.pdf online
* Tregidga, Garry. “Turning of the Tide? A Case Study of the Liberal Party in Provincial Britain in the Late 1930s.” ''History'' 92#3 (2007), pp. 347–66
online">online">online[. * Russell, A.K. ''Liberal Landslide: The General Election of 1906'' (David & Charles, 1973). * Searle, G. R. “The Edwardian Liberal Party and Business.” ''English Historical Review'' 98#386, (1983), pp. 28–60, [http://www.jstor.org/stable/570163 online
* Searle, G. R. ''A New England? Peace and war, 1886–1918'' (Oxford University Press, 2004), wide-ranging scholarly survey * Thorpe, Andrew. "Labour Leaders and the Liberals, 1906–1924", ''Cercles'' 21 (2011), pp. 39–54. [http://www.cercles.com/n21/thorpe.pdf online
* Tregidga, Garry. “Turning of the Tide? A Case Study of the Liberal Party in Provincial Britain in the Late 1930s.” ''History'' 92#3 (2007), pp. 347–66, [http://www.jstor.org/stable/24428247 online
* Weiler, Peter. ''The New Liberalism: Liberal Social Theory in Great Britain, 1889–1914'' (Routledge, 2016). * Wilson, Trevor. ''The Downfall of the Liberal Party: 1914–1935'' (1966).


Historiography

* St. John, Ian. ''The Historiography of Gladstone and Disraeli'' (Anthem Press, 2016) 402 pp. [https://books.google.com/books?hl=en&lr=&id=ybo1DgAAQBAJ&oi=fnd&pg=PP1&ots=IcL5VXce3k&sig=WzQebEyOba7DeJ2n6qdfICzxOwk#v=onepage&q&f=false excerpt">online">online">online">online[. * Russell, A.K. ''Liberal Landslide: The General Election of 1906'' (David & Charles, 1973). * Searle, G. R. “The Edwardian Liberal Party and Business.” ''English Historical Review'' 98#386, (1983), pp. 28–60

* Tregidga, Garry. “Turning of the Tide? A Case Study of the Liberal Party in Provincial Britain in the Late 1930s.” ''History'' 92#3 (2007), pp. 347–66, [http://www.jstor.org/stable/24428247 online

* Weiler, Peter. ''The New Liberalism: Liberal Social Theory in Great Britain, 1889–1914'' (Routledge, 2016). * Wilson, Trevor. ''The Downfall of the Liberal Party: 1914–1935'' (1966).


Historiography

* St. John, Ian. ''The Historiography of Gladstone and Disraeli'' (Anthem Press, 2016) 402 pp. [https://books.google.com/books?hl=en&lr=&id=ybo1DgAAQBAJ&oi=fnd&pg=PP1&ots=IcL5VXce3k&sig=WzQebEyOba7DeJ2n6qdfICzxOwk#v=onepage&q&f=false excerpt
* Thompson, J. A. “The Historians and the Decline of the Liberal Party.” ''Albion' 22#1, (1990), pp. 65–83
online
* Searle, G. R. ''A New England? Peace and war, 1886–1918'' (Oxford University Press, 2004), wide-ranging scholarly survey * Thorpe, Andrew. "Labour Leaders and the Liberals, 1906–1924", ''Cercles'' 21 (2011), pp. 39–54. [http://www.cercles.com/n21/thorpe.pdf online
* Tregidga, Garry. “Turning of the Tide? A Case Study of the Liberal Party in Provincial Britain in the Late 1930s.” ''History'' 92#3 (2007), pp. 347–66, [http://www.jstor.org/stable/24428247 online
* Weiler, Peter. ''The New Liberalism: Liberal Social Theory in Great Britain, 1889–1914'' (Routledge, 2016). * Wilson, Trevor. ''The Downfall of the Liberal Party: 1914–1935'' (1966).


Historiography

* St. John, Ian. ''The Historiography of Gladstone and Disraeli'' (Anthem Press, 2016) 402 pp. [https://books.google.com/books?hl=en&lr=&id=ybo1DgAAQBAJ&oi=fnd&pg=PP1&ots=IcL5VXce3k&sig=WzQebEyOba7DeJ2n6qdfICzxOwk#v=onepage&q&f=false excerpt
* Thompson, J. A. “The Historians and the Decline of the Liberal Party.” ''Albion' 22#1, (1990), pp. 65–83, [https://doi.org/10.2307/4050257 online


Primary sources

* [https://archive.org/details/liberalmagazine01britgoog/page/n8 ''Liberal Magazine 1901''">online">online
* Searle, G. R. ''A New England? Peace and war, 1886–1918'' (Oxford University Press, 2004), wide-ranging scholarly survey * Thorpe, Andrew. "Labour Leaders and the Liberals, 1906–1924", ''Cercles'' 21 (2011), pp. 39–54
online
* Tregidga, Garry. “Turning of the Tide? A Case Study of the Liberal Party in Provincial Britain in the Late 1930s.” ''History'' 92#3 (2007), pp. 347–66
online
* Weiler, Peter. ''The New Liberalism: Liberal Social Theory in Great Britain, 1889–1914'' (Routledge, 2016). * Wilson, Trevor. ''The Downfall of the Liberal Party: 1914–1935'' (1966).


Historiography

* St. John, Ian. ''The Historiography of Gladstone and Disraeli'' (Anthem Press, 2016) 402 pp
excerpt
* Thompson, J. A. “The Historians and the Decline of the Liberal Party.” ''Albion' 22#1, (1990), pp. 65–83
online


Primary sources


''Liberal Magazine 1901''
in-depth coverage of 1900.
''Liberal Magazine 1900''
in-depth coverage of 1899. * Biographies and voting returns since 1880s. * Craig, Frederick Walter Scott, ed. (1975). ''British General Election Manifestos, 1900–74''. Springer.


External links


Liberal Democrat History Group

Catalogue
of the Liberal Party papers (mostly dating from after 1945) a
The Liberal Magazine Volume 2 1895

Liberal Magazine A Periodical for the Use of Liberal Speakers, Writers and Canvassers Volume 1 1893

Facts for Liberal Politicians By John Noble 1879

Proceedings in Connection with the Annual Meeting of the National Liberal Federation with the Annual Report By National Liberal Federation, 1881

Annual Report Presented at a Meeting of the Council By National Liberal Federation, 1887

Proceedings of the Annual Meeting of the Council By National Liberal Federation, 1895

Five Years of Liberal Policy and Conservative Opposition By George Charles Brodrick, 1874

The Liberal year book for 1908

The Government's record, 1906-1913 : seven years of Liberal legislation and administration By Liberal Publication Dept. (Great Britain)

The Yale Review Volume 4 1895

The Age of Lloyd George The Liberal Party and British Politics, 1890-1929 By Kenneth O. Morgan, 2021
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