New PDF release: A Short History of the Liberal Party 1900–88

By Chris Cook

ISBN-10: 0333448847

ISBN-13: 9780333448847

ISBN-10: 1349198927

ISBN-13: 9781349198924

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A second factor in the equation lay in the character of the Parliamentary Liberal Party elected in the 1906 landslide. An analysis of the 377 Liberals in the new Parliament soon dispels the myth that the Liberals represented left-wing reforming radicalism. The occupational background (by group) was: barristers, 64; service officers, 22; 'gentlemen', 69; established businessmen, 80; self-made businessmen, 74; solicitors, 21; writers and journalists, 25. The remaining 22 were made up of 9 teachers, 8 trade unionists and 5 doctors.

In addition, there was the important consideration that any entente which provided for straight LR~onservative contests in 35 constituencies would not only save the Liberal Party £15,000 but win 10 seats from the Conservatives. After detailed discussion and negotiation between Herbert Gladstone and Ramsay MacDonald, by March 1903 the agreement was settled. On 13 March, Gladstone provided Campbell-Bannerman with a detailed memorandum outlining the terms of the secret alliance. 1 An agreed number of Labour candidates were to fight the next election with Liberal support.

In his Chesterfield speech ofl5 December 190 1, Rosebery came out with an appeal for a total revision of the objects of the party. Instead of the 'fly-blown phylacteries' of the old Liberal creed (notably the commitment to Home Rule, but by implication extending to the rest of the Gladstonian programme) the party must build up a new programme from a 'clean slate'. Rosebery talked of a government based on 'national efficiency', and an ending of the old party antagonisms. The Liberal League, formed in 1902 and involving Rosebery (as president), Asquith, Fowler, Haldane and Grey (as vice-presidents), served to maintain these divisions, but the younger Imperialists saw its function as an internal pressure group within the party rather than as a separatist body.

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A Short History of the Liberal Party 1900–88 by Chris Cook

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