Causes of the Liberal Reforms.

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National Security

Boer War 

  • Took place in 1899-1902.
  • Many signed up.
  • 25% of people that signed up were unfit to fight in any war.
  • Britain struggling to beat unorganised farmers.
  • With Britain losing to small countries, how did the future of them keeping the Empire look?

German Army

  • The German Army were on the rise.
  • Britain had to keep up or risk losing colonies.
  • The British population were in no state to fight a war.
  • They had fears that they could not defend their colonies against Germany.

"The Boer War left many in Britain with doubts about the quality of the working class male" - Potter.

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National Efficiency

America and Germany

  • By 1908, both America and Germany had overtaken Britain in terms of industrial production.
  • Germany now had the industry needed to back a full-scale war.
  • Britain now knew they could not defend themselves against Germany.
  • Changes had to be made to defend the national security of the nation.


  • If Britain wanted to support its empire, it needed the industry to back it.
  • Changes had to made to create an industry large enough to back the empire.

"If Britain was to compete and maintain its position as a world power, then it had to be run efficiently" - Murphy

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The New Liberals

New Members

  • From 1908, the Liberals underwent changes in personnel.
  • Herbert Asquith - PM.
  • David Lloyd George - Chancellor.
  • Winston Churchill - President of the Board of Trade.
  • They believed they should take more interest in other people's lives.
  • No laissez-faire.
  • Without new Liberals and new ideas, there would not have been a push for change.

"Liberals underwent a change of emphasis rather than aims"

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Poverty Reports

Rowntree and Booth

  • From 1889-1903.
  • Seebohm Rowntree investigated poverty in London.
  • Charles Booth investigated poverty in York.
  • They both aimed to see how many people were impoverished in their respective cities.


  • 30% of the population lived below the poverty line.
  • It was not the people's fault that they were in poverty. The causes were preventable.
  • This showed that with correct help, many people could be lifted above poverty.

"Seebohm Rowntree highlighted unprecedented levels of poverty in different parts of England" - Textbook.

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Political Pragmatism


  • Around 1900, Kier Hardy created the Labour Party.
  • He was a normal working person who wanted a voice for the working class.
  • The Liberals would now lose votes if they didn't begin to change thir policies towards the poor.
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Municipal Socialism


  • The liberals raised local taxes in order to build great things.
  • For example, they used Loch Katrine as a reservoir to provide fresh water for Glasgow.
  • If these changes benefitted those in a local community and raised living standards, there could have been even greater benefits for the nation as a whole.
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