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Upto the Second Reform Act, atmosphere of corruption + bribery. Declined during 1860s-70s – legislation under Gladstone and Disraeli limited corruption successively. Public speeches relatively modern event, introduced by Gladstone



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.



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.



almost half of the Liberal MPs elected in 1906 were supportive of the 'New Liberalism'



Minority argument not important – the core of "genuine New Liberals, Centrist reformers, and Fabian collectivists" were already in the cabinet – most important forum for change



Liberals suffered from ideological arteriosclerosis - resistance to introduce collectivism was a weakness and a cause of the introduction of socialism. Soul searching post-Gladstone shows the inherent incoherence of Liberal Party



Liberal reforms not necessarily desirable – workers preferred stable, regular and well paid work. Foresters - “The aim of the working class ought to be to bring about economic conditions in which there should be no need for distribution of state alms



Pensions extremely well received, effectively added 967,000 more voters to voting ranks. Post-Office mechanism important for discretion. Adopted by all parties post-1910. A measure to refute Tory method of paying for pensions



Supports importance of religion pre-WWI. Identifies the religious origins of Charles Booth and Rowntree, who were agitators for wider social reform. Wald provides statistical support for the case for this based on electoral data.



Joyce, poststructuralist, takes the case that historians have generally been blinded by the language of class – more likely a dichotomous relationship in place.



Identifies pre-1906 framework of social provision – i.e. Poor Law, Birimingham, friendly societies etc.; taxation avoided to allow money to ‘fructify’. Sandra Den Otter provides suggestion that new notions of community bridge old and new liberalism.


Searle (7)

1. Marxist interpretation – liberalism party of bourgeoisie, could not sustain itself in period of mass-democracy. 2. Revisionist interpretation – the liberal party did not decline, but successfully adapted to the challenge of democracy in the 20th C. 3. Radicals chief target – natural monopoly of land, enlargement of liberty – through repeal of corn laws, attacking land market. Chamberlain championed Cobdenite principles. 4. Newcastle Programme – land reform, HoL reform, temperance, disestablishment. Post-Gladstone – “Party of Protest”. 1884 attributed to class based politics. 5. “Liberalism favoured the achievement of social progress through benevolence and the application of rationality”. 6. “We have been put in power by the nonconformists” - Campbell Bannerman. “paying off debts” Education Bill to challenge the Balfour Bill – blocked. 1908. 7. "Edwardian liberalism, in short, was 'Janus-faced' - it looked back to the great radical tradition of Cobden and Bright, but it also looked forward to the social democratic policies promulgated by later 20th C. Governments."



Devon – New Liberalism did not exist – about peace, retrenchment and reform



Death toll prior to 1914 – due to suffrage, unions, Tories and Ulster Unionists •"Floundering over Ireland between 1911-1914 was a symbol of the failure of liberalism. At same time, suffragette militism escalated, leading to the argument behind the Strange Death of Liberal England that the country had become ungovernable under the traditional Liberal lines"



1. Democracy was a big theme during the Victorian era - notably recognized by Erskine May as “no political question of the present time excites more profound interest than the progress of Democracy" 2. The First World War is narrated as a struggle for Democracy. 3. The Second Reform act saw huge numbers of people enter franchise - 1880 - 3.6 million votes 1865 - 859,000 1868 - 2.3 million 4. Britain did not become a democracy - there was no moment of conversion, what happened in the 19th Century was the negotiation between the language of democracy and the established principles of British politics. The exchange was shaped by strategic pressure as by the teachings of classical literature. Chartists used the language of democracy as class identity, whereas anti-reformers used democracy to smear electoral reform



1. Liberals gave the impression they were not sufficiently sympathetic to the Labour cause - though they did not ignore industrial reform during their time in the ministries of 1886 and 1892-95 shows 2. The use of troops in 1893 during strikes shows liberals to be defenders of capitalism rather than protectors of Labour. Disagreements over the Trade Disputes Bill are indicative of the tensions between Labour forces and the Liberals in the 1890s and early 1900s


Lawrence - Wolverhampton Study

1. Wolverhampton - diversified economic structure - coal and iron production. Moved from Liberal to Conservative - like Birmingham, Manchester, Sheffield, Nottingham Suburbia expanded in zones like this, however bear in mind middle class bound to Liberals through commitment to Nonconformism - esp. due to Wesleyan and Congregational churches. 2. Working class Toryism - credentials - like Joseph Lawrence, Jeremiah Mason 3. Liberals were far from consistent in their organisation when compared to the organisation and spectacle offered by Tories - who had mediums such as the Primrose League and the Working man Clubs, summer carnivals 3. Abiathar Weaver - shoemaker - Tory answer to Labour representation - bringing together union interests, as well as non-union interests 4. Emphasises the shift through ideological (discrete) positions 5. Victorian politics dominated by fear of wire-pullers The former triggered support of populist conservatism - defence of national traditional ways of life - such as robust traditional way of life in labouring Wolverhampton Plebeian Radicals and the Labour activists who succeeded them represented a distinct, isolated section of the working class



Chamberlain’s adoption of Tariff Reform on the heels of the Boer war confirmed a longstanding radical analysis of the causal connection between war, protectionism and oligarchy. Free Trade culture was not so much the virtues of the market as so much about the virtues of the market as a remarkable trust in civil society, its ability to thrive in an open economy, to raise civic-minded consumers and to escape the dreaded materialism and selfishness associated with protectionist societies



Leeds demonstrates, villa Toryism was not the political expression of a socially homogeneous, innately conservative suburban middle class. Popular Conservatism, it is argued, was a protean and socially heterogeneous political culture, of which villa toryism was one distinctive strand. Villa toryism was the suburban incarnation of respectable, self-reliant, hierarchical, and domesticated popular Conservatism.



Randolph Churchill is often synonymous with Tory democracy - more myth than fact, but down in popular history


Lawrence on Radicalism

Radicalism believes in rolling effect towards democracy and progress, however socialism was more specific about human relations and behaviour. Also touches on villa Toryism - argues that the people were inherently Tory. Cited Birmingham - transitioning from Liberal to Tory between 1870-1890. Through efforts of Chamberlain - but also experienced in Liverpool, Sheffield and Wolverhampton.



Empirical analysis of data shows religion was still vital up to 1914. Failure due to “elite mismanagement”. Engels – “the tail of the great Liberal party” – WC “Class politics, in much their modern form, appeared in England before the First World war” - Clarke, Electoral Sociology, pg.51 - supporting this, Wald implicates “The process of social differentiation by parties began almost immediately with the Great Reform Act of 1832” - the Tories represented the land, the whigs, the industrial capitalist. Tensions between nonconformists and Anglicans manifested in conflict between liberal and conservative parties, probably reached its peak in 1910. For the nonconformists, the Liberal assault on the House of Lords (AKA the Beerage) marked an opportunity to pay back an institution that had persistently obstructed the removal of nonconformist disabilities and prevented the passage of the social legislation they favored.


Taylor, M.

Urquhart - pastiche of political colours - Whig and Radicals - performed well when parties were divided - 1853 over Corn Law



Tichborne case about pursuit of justice and integrity - the defence of an aristocrat cheated of land - seen as absurd by historian. Survival of Radicalism post Chartism



Following Chartism, not the rise of independent socialist movement, but working class motion committed to the tenets of Liberalism. Despite the threat of socialist politics, the lib labs continued to dominate political relations in the TUC. Lib-Labs is contemporary term. Members saw themselves first and foremost as Labour representatives. Local level - in coal mining regions, middle class elite refused to support working class due to class and social profile - chief example - Ramsay MacDonald. Lib-Labs critiqued by socialists for divided loyalties - 1887 Hardie attack of Broadhurst .



Reid - “The Labour party… should be seen neither as an entirely new departure in working class politics nor as the demise of socialism in the deadly embrace of ‘old unionism’, but rather as a dynamic recomposition of popular radicalism in adaptation to a new political environment" 1906 - Jowett - only labour MP to win against liberal opposition on a platform of free school meals, poverty alleviation and unemployment solutions (Bradford) Unemployment triggered movement to labour - in Leicester, where unemployment was significant in 1902-04 Labour abandoned class for the language of community and gave less emphasis to nationalisation of industry (1890s) Although the liberals conflicted with labour, they did not enter coalition with the conservatives. MacDonald - thought marxian analysis of England too simplistic - not just two economic classes. Rejected inevitability of political response to Social and economic conditions. Rejected PR. Rainbow circle - of which MacDonald was part of - saw themselves as the true inheritors of the mantle of philosophic radicalism, recast in a socialist mode. The insistence upon the need for a reciprocal, participatory relationship between the state and citizen embodied a shift from old racial theory of rights. Rights were no longer natural, but gained through participation


Tanner on MacDonald

Ramsey McDonald has often been seen as a liberal. Yes McDonald, is also inherently a moderate socialist. MacDonald hoped to create a social system in which welfare reforms were just part of a society which allowed people independence, self respect and dignity. State as not to be a source of income. State charity is not socialism but it's greatest threat. The popular radical hostility to welfare, as opposed to wages, to charity as opposed to independence, is equally apparent in the support which many skilled unions gave to reforms which MacDonald and the liberals supported, and which Jowett opposed. Labour represented not one but two major political outlooks. These contained common principals, but drew on different aspects of past traditions, and different aspects of new ideas and approaches.



Conservative growth was not just because of Liberal failure on Home Rule and the popular appeal of Disraeli in 1890s, rather, there is a need to focus on specific electoral issues and changes in the urban class structure (weberian class). Cornford influenced by 1960s sociological preoccupation with embourgeoisement.Middle class Toryism is attributed to the greater residential segregation in cities following the Redistribution Act 1885 leading to ‘villa Toryism’. Middle class floated to the Tories during the 1890s



Whereas religion and denominator factors influenced voting in the 19th C., Liberals had to use populist ideal interests to maintain the vote in Lancashire- Free Trade and social reform - realigning to the Operational Collectives. Clarke presents Lancashire as the cockpit of the Liberal reforms. Microcosmic? Debatable


What are the origins of the Liberal Party?

Composite of former Whig and Radical politicians (in Lords and commons respectively) Whig downfall triggered by the success of the First reform act – brought about the rise of middle class liberal movement