1906 Liberal landslide 1.1

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Election results

         Conservative     Liberal        Labour         

1892    314/47%        272/45% 

1895     411/49%       177/45.7%

1900    402/51.5%     184/44.6%    2/1.8%

1906   157/43.6%      401/49%       29/6%

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Factors weakening the Conservatives before 1906

Boer war

In the short term this idea of helping the conservatives in the short term never helped. In 1900 it helped for an electoral victory and was helped by the split in the Liberal party. But it was far more costly in lives than expected and in money. In addition moral outrage was caused. It revealed the extent of poverty and the need for social reform which people such as Chamberlain hadnt looked at

1902 Education Act

it caused the fury of the non conformists. Before 1902, Anglican and Catholic schools were funded by the churches but after this theyd be funded by local rates and they didnt agree that their taxes would be spent on something which they strongly objected. There was a great campaign against the act however due to various meetings with Lloyd George in Wales; and he suggested that they should refuse to pay taxes because they were in 'poor repair' and this wad made legal creating more opposition for the conservatives.


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Factors weakening the Conservatives before 1906

1904 Licensing Act

This also angered nonconformists. Its reduced the number of public houses and proposed brewrers would be compensated for the cancellation for licenses. Yet again their money would be spent on alcoholic related topics which they also didnt believe in. They denounced this as the 'brewers bill'. After this many nonconformists returned to voting liberal and they helped swing constituencies in areas such as wales. 

The chinese Labour issue

This issue between 1902 and 1904 was a scandal that damages the conservatives in the eyes of the trade unionists. Chinese labourers would work for low wages and were being transported from South Africa and trade unions feared employers may bring them to Britain, therefore reducing the number of jobs available and push down British wages. As unemployment was high, British people still felt they had inadequate support  so didnt support this issue.

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Factors weakening the Conservatives before 1906

The Taff Vale Case

They failed to take the part of the trade unionists over this case. In 1901 a dispute had broken out in Wales between the Taff Vale Railway Company and the rrailway workers trade union; this lead to court action when the company demanded compensation over profits lost during the strike. The house of lords ruled that the company was within its rights to sue the trade union but this wasnt good for the unions as they couldnt even call successful strikes. Only an act of parliament could override this and the conservatives refused to introduce legislation. This meant trade unions now supported Labour more.

Neglect of Social reform

There was a growing awareness that poverty was growing . The Boer war had exposed this and malnutrition in cities had led to concerns about the physical decline of the public. Liberals were exposing this and were already proposing ways to overcome social neglect; they would play more of a role in improving living standards and people such as the LRC were campaigning for reforms. The conservatives only produced the 1902 Education Act which was highly controversial.

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Factors weakening the Conservatives before 1906

Tariff Reform campaign

One of the conservatives biggest misjudgments. It was introduced by Chamberlain. He wanted to reintroduce triffs with a lower level of tariff for goods coming into Britian from the empire than non empire imports. This was known as Imperial Collectivism. He argues that it would protect jobs, help pay for social reforms and strengthen Britiains position by creating Britain as an effective unit. This wasnt supported as many voters, both middle and working class feared it would mean dearer foods and falls in living standards. It split the conservative party. It reunited Liberals due to their focus of free trade.

Conservative leadership

Balfour was a solitary, intellectual fitgure but was a poor speaker. He took the position fo Sailsbury in 1902. He wasnt sensitive to public opinion and lacked political skill and angered the working class on severl issures. He had angered the nonconformists with the 1902 Education Act and the Chinese Labour Scandal but never anticipated any back lash. He wasnt effective as a leader which helped Labour to expose these weaknesses 

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Attractions of the Liberal party


The Liberals were a reunited party. Issues that had divided them such as the Irish Home Rule had been put to one side and agreements over the leadership of the party were made. All Liberas were united over the banner of Free Trade and they were able to exploit this in the election campaign as it was literallt a 'bread and butter' issue that affects everybody's day-to-day life. Bannerman promoted them as a 'broad' party that wasnt dominated by one issue. They could exploit Conservatives mistakes due to trade union mistakes and misjudgments over education and licensing. They promised Welsh Distablishment which would mean the removal of the power of the Anglican church and removed the church's control over land and poverty

Lib-Lab pact

Liberals wouldnt oppose Labour candidates in the next general election in 30 selected constituencies in England and Wales. In return the LRC promised to restrict their candidates in constituencies to revent a split in an anti-Conservative vote. This would ensure no repetition of the 1901 election which may harm their result. Labout had an election fund of £150,000 and would reduce the Liberals cost in the election. They were both in broad agreement over social and working class reform and joint campaigns against the Conservatives helped this. They has similar ideas of Free Trade and they both agreed on international harmony. The LRC put up 50 candidated and managed to win 29 seats which allowed Labour to grow and push the conservatives out. 

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