By Chris Cook (auth.)
Chris prepare dinner lifts the lid at the 'third Party;' charting their attention-grabbing trip during the last century, from the landslide victory of 1906 below Asquith, through their descent into divisions and decline within the interwar years, to in-depth research of the 2010 British Election and their go back to executive within the Conservative-Lib Dem coalition.
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Extra resources for A Short History of the Liberal Party: The Road Back to Power
All these difﬁculties were aggravated by the loss of working-class support for the Liberals. The handling of the Featherstone strike, together with the low priority given to industrial legislation at a time of worsening industrial relations, all served to alienate the trade union and working-class supporters within the party. It was, perhaps, symbolic that Keir Hardie’s Independent Labour Party was formed in 1893. It was hardly surprising, against this background both in Parliament and in the country, that Rosebery’s administration was short-lived.
In many respects, the defeat of 1886 marked a divide in the evolution of the party. 4 A steady tide of by-election successes from 1886 to 1891, and very clear signs that the Conservative–Liberal Unionist alliance was a troubled one, gave hope to Gladstonians that they would soon see the victory of their cause. The party, however, could not afford to stand still and wait. The 1886 defeat implied the need to develop appeals that went beyond the cry of ‘Justice for Ireland’. While the party was to make valuable political 24 A Short History of the Liberal Party capital out of the unpopularity of Balfour’s repressive Irish policy, and the popularity that Parnell won out of his vindication by the Commission set up to investigate The Times articles (which had suggested that he condoned the Phoenix Park murders), Liberals were concerned to maintain their image as the party of progressive reform on a wider front – and in ways with which the GOM was not always wholly in sympathy.
The Education Act of 1902, followed by the argument over the tax on the importation of corn and later by the 1904 Licensing Act, represented attacks on Liberal principles that had been part of the party’s heritage. In the face of these measures the party found a new unity. Rosebery’s call for a review of the basic philosophy of the party could be forgotten. Liberal enthusiasm to ﬁght in defence of its old principles was rekindled. By mid-1903 only a handful of constituencies lacked Liberal candidates eager to give battle on the 1902 Education Act.
A Short History of the Liberal Party: The Road Back to Power by Chris Cook (auth.)