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Reasons for the Liberal Landslide
Issues arising at the beginning of the 20th Century
Free Trade vs. Protectionism; rife, and opinions of it split amongst many
Imperialism vs. Liberalism; the two were deeply contrasting, making the government suffer
Rights of Individual vs. State Intervention /Laissez-faire vs. Social Welfare; questions of how to run the
Workers vs. Employers; workers want better pay/ less hours, whereas employers sought greater profit
Women vs. Government; Women want to vote, and to gain social emancipation
North vs. South Ireland; South want Home Rule, however the North campaign for Unionism and loyalty
British Imperialism vs. International Powers; Other countries such as Germany were increasing their industrial
Lack of Social Reforms in the Conservative period
Balfour and Salisbury's lack of understanding; they both didn't get the needs of their voters. They were too tied up in
their higher class standing, and the royalties that came along with this
There was a need for change due to the findings of Rowntree and Booth. It was shown that
Other countries such as Germany had created successful regimes for health and insurance, making Britain appear out-dated
and behind the times.
Balfour was cold and detached. He was unaware of the needs of the people, and although he was incredibly
intelligent, he lacked political skill. It was a great change from Salisbury who was sensitive to the people's
needs. Balfour made a series of wrong decisions in the party; allowing Chamberlain to cause a split in his party,
piloting the 1902 Education Act, and most importantly didn't see the issues with the Chinese labourers.
He also made a huge mistake in resigning the party before the election. In December 1905, the government
stepped down. He wanted to watch the Liberals crumble, however this wasn't the case. It is therefore Balfour as a
leader that fuelled the Liberal landslide of 1906.
Unpopular Reforms and Acts
The Taff Vale Case
This showed the Conservatives lack of empathy with the common man. It saw the Conservatives dominate the
House of Lords, something which had become an issue for a while.
In 1901, the Taff Vale Railway Company and the workers union had a dispute, leading to a strike by the workers.
The company sued the workers for the money that they had lost out on while the workers had been striking, and
the House of Lords said that this was allowed. This angered unions as it meant they could not strike as they could
face bankruptcy. The Government would be able to intervene in this, but the Conservatives chose not to. This
ultimately led to a decline in Conservative support, and an increase of support for Labour and the Liberals.
The Boer War
This showed that social reforms were a necessity. At first, the Boer War was a success for the Conservatives, as they
appeared patriotic standing behind it, and they used the split within the Liberals as their propaganda. However, it
soon was realised that the war was costly, not only in money but also in lives. The Boers were stronger than
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British public thought they would be, and blamed their failings on military incompetence. Those who did
return from the war were unhealthy, and it was realised that there were serious health issues that needed to be
tackled. This stimulated the Liberals to create reforms, and also Chamberlain to make his tariff reforms, which
weakened the Conservatives even further.
Chamberlain's Tariff Reforms
Britain's title of an industrial monopoly was coming to an end with other countries such as Germany and the USA
upping their game.…read more
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Irish Nationalists 83
Labour 29…read more