Reasons for the Liberal Decline 1924? (British Politics 1918-1929)(British Period Study: Britain 1918-1951)(Britain 1900-1951)

  • Created by: oanderton
  • Created on: 01-09-20 10:37


The 1924 election concilliated the downfall of the Liberal party.

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Loss in the 1924 Election - Why?

1924 Election

  • Brough pro-Lloyd George Conservatives back into the mainstream.
  • First decisive victory of the 20th century with an overall majority.
  • Liberals lost heavily

The Liberal vote was split between Labour & Conservative

  • Liberals voted Conservative because...
    • Concerned about...
      • Socialism
      • The rise in the power of the state.
      • Unrealistic foreign policies
    • Voted Conservative as an alternative to Labour, who emboded those concerns.
  • Liberals voted Labour because...
    • Admired progressive and peaceful foreign policy & domestic reforms.
      • Characterised the Labour government 1924.
    • Were concerned about growing class divisions.
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ii. Loss in the 1924 Election - Why?

Labour was the new alternatve to the Conservatives, not the Liberals

  • 1924 government showed Labour was a credible governing party.
    • Now had government experience.
    • Already had cabinet experience in Coalition.

Liberals lost their strength as a party

  • Free trade disappeared as an issue
    • Had been the major political idea of the Liberals.
    • Could no longer unite behind it.
  • Lloyd George left as a party chairman.
    • Had little hope of regaining power
  • Asquith lost his seat in 1924, made a lord in 1925
    • Led the reunited Liberals until 1926, died in 1928
  • Had no strong leaders or strong issues to back.
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Long Term Factors

  • Liberals no longer represented major economic interests
    • Trade unionists saw Labour as their party.
    • Business, industrial and finanical interests did not see Liberals as defending them against socialism and state control.
    • Free trade no longer a key issue.
  • Had to give up traditional values during the war.
    • Peace, retrenchment and reform.
    • Were leading bigger war ever fought by Britain; conflicted value of peace.
    • Built enormous national war debt; coflicuted with value oif retrenchment.
    • High levels of taxation and expenditure
    • Reforms had to be put on hold due to the war.
    • Freedom had to be sacrificed to the state
      • Conscription 1916
      • Controlling transport.
      • Nationalising mines.
      • Dominating industrial production - Munitions of War Act 1915
      • DORA
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ii. Long Term Factors

  • Liberals found their needs by other parties.
    • Working class & trade unionists now had Labour.
    • Representation of the People Act 1918 - electorate now inlcluded working class men and women.
      • Tended to favour Labour & Conservatives.
  • Liberal party fatally split during war. Lloyd George & Asquith.
    • Weakened the party.
  • Lloyd George Liberals associated with repressive actions in Ireland 1918-1922.
  • Lloyd George & Liberals associated with Geddes Axe Cuts and abandonment of domestic reforms. 
    • Weakened support for Liberalism.
    • More trusting in MacDonald to reform, given his domestic efforts in 1924.
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Short Term Factors

  • Free trade ceased to be a political issue in 1924.
    • Baldwin dropped the policy by promoting Churchill, a strong free-trader to the key post of Chancellor.
    • Liberals could not unite behind this issue in 1924, as they had successfully in previous elections.
  • Coupon Election split the Liberals 
    • Lloyd George Liberals & Asquith Liberals.
    • Reconciliation in 1924, but it was too late.
    • Splits were too deep to maintain public confidence in the party.
  • Rise of Labour too strong to challenge
    • MacDonald established himself as a credible national leader in 1924 government. Liberals looked weak in joining the Labour government.
    • Looked irresponsible by bringing it down
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