Section 6 - History


Liberal Decline

  • By 1886 = Gladstone's powers were diminishing
  • Leader of the Liberals for 20 years
  • Became party leader at a time when the main ideas were Liberalism, Individualism, Laissez-faire and free trade appealed the many sectors of society
  • Insistence to Home Rule caused a cataclysmic split in the Liberal Party 
  • Out of office for the 20 years
  • Many believed it was time for a change at the top
  • Many had a deep and unwavering sense of loyalty to the 'Grand Old Man' 
  • Continued to support Gladstone for that reason 
  • He was convinced that Home Rule would once and for all solve the Irish problem
  • Appared to ignore all dangers signs 
  • Neglected any meaningful programme of social reform 
  • New political party emerged = Labour party
  • Most damaging challenge to the revived 20th century Liberal Party
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Liberal Party Split

  • Gladstone's conversion was a staggering blow to the Liberals 
  • Unable to recover for 20 years
  • Chamberlain left the Liberal Party over the Home Rule Bill
  • Lord Hartington and a group of Whigs decided to vote against HR and split from the Liberals
  • Defecting Liberals = Liberal Unionists 
  • Objective was to keep Ireland in union with Britain 
  • By 1895 = Chamberlain, the old Whigs and Hartington were absorbed into the Conservatives 
  • Became the Conservative and Unionist Party
  • Liberal split 'grabbed the headlines'
  • Already other funamental differences brewing within the party
  • Liberal policies ove colonial expansion caused dissent within the party and created a rift between the older laissez-faire Liberals and Radical Liberals 
  • Before 1885 election = Chamberlain put together a programme of radical social reform
  • Known as the 'unofficial programme'
  • Won the votes of the new rural labouring electorate and secured Liberal victory 
  • Programme based on = greater State intervention, free education, graduated income tax, reform of the local government and land refoorm
  • Gladstone was out of touch the electorate 
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Liberal Party Split

  • Time was ripe for a welfare policy to tackle the immense problem of poverty among the unskilled working class
  • Antipathy between Gladstone and Chamberlain was deep seated and destructive 
  • If Gladstone had overcome his personal prejudices and rewarded Chamberlain with a good Cabinet position, the outcome may have been very different 
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Gladstone's Fourth Ministry

  • Liberals narrowly won the 1892 election
  • They were weak and entirely dependent on which was the Irish Nationalists voted
  • Gladstone introduced Home Rule and it was defeated
  • Resigned for the final time in 1894
  • Successor = Lord Rosebery
  • Keen and clever, but inexperienced in the Commons 
  • Artistocratic background counted against him at the Radical, Nonconformist end 
  • Attempts to introduce legislation were thrown out
  • 1895 election = crushing defeat
  • Little of interest to attract the mass of working class voters to whom they haad given a political voice only 10 years earlier 
  • 1898 = Liberals appointed Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman 
  • He was no match for Lord Salisbury 
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Conservative Election Success

  • 1886 election = Conservatives won a clear majority
  • Retained support in Parliament of most of the 79 Liberal Unionists 
  • No formal alliance between the two parties at this stage
  • Lord Salisbury became PM for the second time 
  • Gathered around him an intellectually indifferent Cabinet 
  • Remained in office except for a brief interlude during Gladstone's last term of office between 1892 and 1894 
  • 1895 election = Salisbury and the Conservatives won with 314 seats ove the Liberals' 177
  • Additional support from the 70 Liberal Unionists 
  • 82 Irish Nationalists were ineffective
  • Alliance between the Conservatives and the Liberal Unionists became formalised, with the inclusion of Chamberlain in the Cabinet 
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Salisbury's Domestic Policies

  • 1886 electorate = increased size and altered composition
  • Nearly 3 million new voters, mostly rural workers, agricultural labourers and miners 
  • Out of a total of 6 million 
  • Yet to develop voting habits and party allegiance, but welfare issues were high on their agenda and so it would seem logical to capture their vote
  • Neither Liberals nor Conservatives had much to offer for social reform 
  • Salisbury's moest domestic programme of his Second Ministry appears to have been sufficient to increase
  • Surprising = Salisbury disliked democracy and disapproved of too much education 
  • Light of widening democracy in Britain
  • Shrewd enough to keep the Liberal Unionists on side and it is their influence that can be detected 
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Reasons for Conservative Domination

  • Difficult to draw clear conclusions as to why it occured
  • Some historians now 'minimise the importance of Home Rule' 
  • Appears to be a starting point for 'Conservative Ascendancy'
  • Defection of the Liberal Unionists strengthened the Conservative position in Parliament
  • Middle-class vote had been moving gradually towards the Conservatives 
  • Seen as the party that 'resisted' too much change
  • 1865 = No Conservative was returned for London borough
  • 1900 = 67 out of 75 London seats were Conservative
  • Known as 'Villa Tories' because their substantial dwelling created the smart suburbs
  • Position on Imperialism worked in the Conservatives favor
  • Liberals had no consensus, the Conservative trumpeted the 'Age of Imperalism'
  • Popular sentiment and enthusiasm helped to sustain the Conservative vote
  • Party organisation came under the control of Richard Middleton from 1885 to 1903
  • These dates concide with Conservative success at the polls
  • Middleton was sensitive to the slightest changes in political mood and his advice helped
  • Revamped the National Union and promoted the activities of the Primrose League
  • Legislative record for Salisbury's Second Government was more sympathetic to the people
  • Still ignored the growing gap between the population 
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Reasons for Conservative Domination

  • Government action on mass meetings and demonstrations was always swift 
  • Any incitement to violence was prosecuted 
  • Firm approach did not damage their electoral appeal
  • Salisbury's Third Ministry had the advantage of a talented front bench
  • Churchill had advocated 'Tory Democracy' as a means of capturing the vote
  • The package offered was better than Liberals 
  • Liberals had become a one-issue party with little appeal
  • Helped to keep the Conservatives in office for almost two decades 
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The Development of the Labour Movement

  • Latter half of the 19th century = Labour gained strength
  • Movement grew quickly out of the political, social and economic changes
  • Also from the development of Trade Unionism
  • Signified the struggle of working people to achieve a common objective of creating fairer, more just and a more equal society 
  • Process of industrialisatin brought many working men and women together 
  • Opinions were exchanged on the factory floor 
  • Discussions took place on unacceptable working conditions, hours and pay
  • Working classes realised they could start to change and improve their conditions if they were well organised enough to negotiate with their employers
  • Factory floor = working class organisations started to emerge, many in the form of trade unions
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Political Reform and the Labour Movement

  • Extension fo the franchise to include working classes became one of the main focuses of the trade union movement during the 1860s and 1870s
  • Trade unions political activists helped to set up the Reform League in 1865 
  • Put pressure on the government for franchise reform 
  • Junta = formed the London Council who had influence over the unionist movement as a whole
  • Granting of the vote to working class men was a crucial step towards the Labour movement attaining some political influence 
  • Election that followed = no working-class candidates, despite the fact thatt there was no longer a property qualification for MPS - this should have made it easier 
  • 1884 Reform Act = strengthened the status of the working classes
  • It became more important for the Conservative and Liberal parties to go and seek supporters
  • No longer afford to displease the working class electorate 
  • 1880s = political reform was stimulating the development of a Labour movement increasingly motivated to form a political party for the working-classes 
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Contribution of the New Unions

  • Old Craft Unions:
    • Reputation had been raised by preference to bargain and not strike
    • Established a policy of mutual cooperation beween the different unions 
    • Gained considerable political influence 
    • They continued to support laissez-faire and self-help
    • Little sympathy with the mass of the working class 
  • Unions emerged representing the large unskilled and low-paid worker force
  • Distinguished themselves from the older unions
  • Membership was not dependent on trade
  • Became known as New Unions
  • Use their funds to help Labour candidates win a seat in parliament
  • Encouraged leaders of unskilled unions to cooperate with the formation of the party
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The Spread of Socialist Thinking

  • Led to the formation of several socialist societies in Britain
  • Formed by middle-class intellectuals, rather than working class people
  • Referred to themselves as Socialists
  • Most influential = Fabian Society set up by Sidney and Beatrice Webb in 1884
  • Believed Socialism  would come about gradually and not through revolution
  • Fabian recognised a kinship between Socialism and Liberalism
  • Sense that Socialism was the next step on from Liberalism 
  • Karl Marx interested Socialists
  • The Social Democratic Federation (SDF) and th Socialist League were more extreme - membership small
  • Did not wish to bring about change by violent revolution 
  • Preferred to work on the theory that if they made socialist ideas respectable, then the public would accept them
  • Wanted to create a separate socialist party that could come to power legitimately through the ballot box
  • Gave Labour some of their basic beliefs when arguing in favor of public ownership of institutions 
  • Encouraged working-class education
  • Rising influence was important in the development of the Labour movement
  • Help open-air meetings, and stood and preached outside factory gates 
  • Workers were entitled to a better life 
  • Began to organise strikes 
  • Influenced the formation of the Labur Representation Committee in 1900 
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The Needs of the Working Classes

  • Neither the Liberals nor the Conservatives satisfied the needs of the working classes
  • Gladstone believed in reforms to a limited extent but was too preoccupied with Ireland 
  • Still held the principles of laissez-faire, self help and philanthropy 
  • Refused to accept Chamberlain's plan to tackle social reform in the 1880s 
  • Salisbury had little direct interest in sociall reform - too interest in foreign affairs
  • Growing problems of povery were largely neglected
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The Emergence of the Independent Labour Party

  • First emerged in Bradford in 1893
  • Keir Hardie = chief insigator 
  • As a result of his past experience, he formed the Scottish Labour Party which spurred on other working men to form local Labour groups across the country 
  • Mostly in the north of Englang, the Midlands and Central Scotland 
  • 1893 = Hardie helped to form a new socialist group, the ILP
  • Stood for practical reforms that would benefit working people
  • Demanded the end of child labour, an eight hour working day, a national scheme of unemployment and sickness insurance, and a tax on unearned income 
  • 1895 = none of the 28 ILP candidates won a seat
  • Major set back
  • Hardie continued to attempt to broaden the appeal of the ILP by cooperating with trade unions, recruiting new members and promoting women's movements
  • TUC = dominated by crat unions who were against the ILP
  • Future looked unpromising 
  • Small, under-funded and alcked essential union support 
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The Labour Representation Committee

  • 1899 = Changes in the trade union movement as it became increasingly dominated by the big new mass union, whose main aim was to improve the conditions of workers
  • These unions had become well organised with a network of branches 
  • Number grew rapidly, helped by a low subscription rate of 1d a year 
  • Expanding membership kept the funds in a healthy state
  • The Craft Unions watched the mass unions with anxiety, realised they could lose control of the TUC
  • Began to fear their own job security
  • Decided to adapt to meet the changed circumstances
  • Allowed the recruitment of unskilled workers at a lower subscription 
  • Prepared to be more militant
  • Also began to come around to socialist ideas and recognise the need for social reform
  • Appeared to acknowledge that the self-help philosophy was not practical in times of depression 
  • Weakened their faith in laissez-faire
  • Keir Hardie believed that the various trade unions and socialist groups should join forces to create one party
  • Still opposition rom the craft union leaders to the idea of a separate working class party
  • 1899 = the Annual Conference of the TUC voted a slim majority to hold a conference of labour groups, societies and union representatives to discuss how to increase parliamentary representation
  • Negotiations began immediately and resulted in the formation of the Labour Representation Committee (LRC)
  • Political organisation whose purpose was to represent working-class interests in parliament 
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The Labour Representation Committee

  • 1900, the LRC was fromed from = union representatives; the ILP; Local Labour Parties; The Cooperative Society and members of socialist societies such as the Fabians, the Socialist League and the SDF 
  • Several craft unions refused their support - still not convinced by socialist arguments
  • Left the LRC short of much-needed funds and additional organisational skills and leadership
  • The Taff Vale Judgement of 1901 and the refusal of legislation to protec tthe unions finally convinced the craft unions that they needed a working-class party in parliament to protect their interests 
  • Finally joined the LRC
  • LRC was renamed the Labour Party in 1905 
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Impact of the Home Rule Issue

  • After he returned from Klmainham goal, Parnell turned his attention directly to a campaign to fight for Ireland's right for some measure of political independence
  • Home Rule Movement was a power political force that had dramatic and far-reaching repercussions on a variety of aspects of British and Irish, politcal, social and cultural life
  • Irish Nationalist Party gained the majority of Irish seats that have previously been held by Liberals or Conservatives and created a third party in Parliament
  • Parnell was able to make or break governments
  • Short period of political instability with long-term effects
  • 1885 = Liberals and Conservatives were dealing with radical challenges from within party ranks 
  • Chamberlain's 'unofficial programme' and Churchill's 'Tory Democracy'
  • Parnell's irritation over Gladstone led to the Irish Nationalist Party voting Conservative 
  • Realised Salisbury would not vote Home Rule, he switched back to Gladstone
  • Liberals won the 1886 election but could be held ransom by the Irish Nationalists 
  • Gladstone had no option but to resign after the defeat
  • Liberals failed to focus on the serious problems of poverty as a result of HR
  • Damaged Liberal reputation among working-clas speople 
  • Began to look towards Labour 
  • Caused a deep and long-lasting split in the Liberal Party 
  • Allowed Conservatives to dominate for 20 years 
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Impact of the Home Rule Issue

  • Liberals lost Chamberlain 
  • Defecting Liberals were absorbed into the Conservative and Unionist Party
  • 1892 = Gladstone was entirely dependent on Irish Nationalist Support
  • Home Rule was eventually passed by the Commons but thrown out by the Lords
  • Raised the question of the constitutional position of the Lords and its ability to veto 
  • Created deep animosiy between Nationalists in the South and Unionists in the North
  • 'Bitter polarisation' culminated in an armed uprising in 1916 
  • Broguht religious tensions to the surface 
  • HR campaign was severely disrupted when Parnell became involved in a divorce scandal
  • Rocked the party to its foundations but he clung to power until he died the following year
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The aftermath of the Home Rule Defeat

  • Violence was never far away
  • Parnell had suffered disappointment over the Home Rule Bill
  • In Ireland, a 'plan of campaign' was seized on by two MPs
  • All the tenants of one landlord would act together to refuse to pay the high rents demanded and give support to anyone who was evicted as a result
  • Rerun of the Land Wars
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Salisbury and Ireland

  • Salisbury entered office in June 1886
  • Determined to give Ireland 'resolute government' and limit Parnell's influence
  • Salisbury thought the government had become too soft on Ireland
  • Adopted a hard-line policy from the stat 
  • Planning to use tough action to deal with the perpetrators of the violence and unrest
  • Only then would it be appropriate to address Irish grievances 
  • Appointed Balfour as Secretary for Ireland in 1887
  • Introduced a generous Land Act (1887) 
  • Outlawed the plan of campaign and follow this up with a new Crimes Act 
  • Violence escalated with a riot at Michelstown in 1887
  • Police shot and killed three of the demonstrators 
  • 'Blood Balfour'
  • Never flinched when carrying out tough measures 
  • Levels of violence subsided and rents were paid
  • 1890 = Balfour relaxed the Crimes Act and tried a rescue plan to deal with unemployment 
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Salisbury and Ireland

  • Parnell's time of triumph was short lived
  • A few months later he divorced and Parnell was ruined 
  • HR campaign was seriously jeopardised 
  • Case upset the Catholic Church and weakened its support for Home Rule 
  • Gladstone refused to work with the Irish Nationalists as long as Parnell was its leader
  • Irish Nationalist Party split in the 1890s 
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