Britian 1906-14 - The Liberal Landslide

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1906 General Election

  • Landslide victory for Liberal Party
  • Won majority in Commons + overall majority
  • 400 seats vs. Tories 157
  •   PM A. J. Balfour + most of Conservative cabinet lost seats
  •  1922 B4 Conservatives won election again.
  •  10 % 'swing' to Libs
  • Lancashire switched sides (heart of Britain's manufacturing district)
  • Gains in London & SE
  •  Birmingham loyal to Conservatives - local support for Joseph Chamberlain
  • Libsvictory surprising - not in government for 20 years - beaten 1900
  • Emergence of Labs in Commons
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Reasons for Conservative Defeat - The Boer War

·         1900 - helped Conservatives win election - patriotic support Cons + split Libs

·         Longer run – contributed to Cons defeat

·         More costly in lives and money than expected

·         Methods used caused moral outrage

·         Revealed effect of poverty in cities + need for social reforms

·         Libs gained support by claiming Cons neglected this.

·         Encouraged Joseph Chamberlain to push for tariff reform - divisions

·         End of war 1902 - Libs healed divisions + offered  strong alternative

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Reasons for Conservative Defeat - 1902 Education A

  •   Annoyed nonconformists - many reverted to Libs
  •   <1902 - Anglican & Catholic schools funded by churches
  •  1902 Act = all schools funded from local rates
  • Nonconformists didnt want to pay for schools they opposed.
  •  Campaign launched - english NCs refused to pay taxes & David Lloyd George led campaign in wales
  • Conference Cardiff 1903 - suggested Welsh refused & argued they were too rundown as excuse to make campaign legal
  • LG persuaded then to show disapproval by voting Libs in Welsh 1904 county council elections
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Reasons for Conservative Defeat - 1904 Licensing A

  • Aimed to reduce number of pubs
  •  Annoyed nonconformist voters - forced to compensate brewers & publicans for the cancellation of licences
  • 'Brewers' bill' - brewers support Tories
  •  Most NCs voted Liberal B4 & switched away over Home Rule
  • NCs strong in Wales - could swing vote
  • Libs support >ed in by lections after 1902 and 1904 Acts - revival of Libs after divisions over Boer War
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The Chinese Labour issue

  • Caused scandal - damaged Cons govt
  • Angered NCs & TUists
  • Chinese labourers imported into South Africa to work gold/diamond mines for low wages
  • Moral outcry from NCs
  • TUs feared they would come to B & push down wages
  • Unemployment high 1905 - no benefits
  • Cons lost > support
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Reasons for Conservative Defeat - Taff Vale Case

  • 1901 - dispute between Taff Vale Railway Company & railway workers' trade union & led to strike
  • Company took TU to cour t& demanded compensation for loss of profits
  • 1902 - Lords allowed company to sue trade union
  • TUs horrified - almost impossible to call strikes
  • Act of Parliament could over-rule Lords - Cons refused
  • TUs supported idea of Labour group in parliament and campaigned against Conservatives in election
  • Cons lost support - didnt support TUs
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Reasons for Conservative Defeat - Neglect of Socia

·        Growing awareness of poverty in early 1900s

·         Boer War exposed malnutrition esp. in cities

·    Concerns about decline of British race

·         Some Libs working on ‘New Liberalism’ -  would play >er role in >ing living standards for destitute

·         LRC also campaigning for  reforms

·         Cons only passed 1902 Education Act

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Reasons for Conservative Defeat - Tariff Reform

  • 1903 - launched in Birmingham by J Chamberlain.
  • Wanted to reintroduce tariffs- lower tariffs empire goods than for goods from elsewhere - Imperial Protectionism.
  • C argued this would protect British jobs, pay for social reforms & strengthen B's position
  • W & M/C feared tariffs would > food costs and < living standards.
  • Divided Conservatives - Churchill voted with Libs
  • Helped to reunite & strengthen Libs - believed in Free Trade

 

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Reasons for Conservative Defeat - Bad Leadership

·         A. J. Balfour lacked political skill

·         Not sensitive to public opinion

·         Indecisive on tariffs

·         Piloted 1902 Education Bill 

·         Misunderstood W/C men's reaction to tariff reform, Taff Vale & Chinese slavery

  • allowed Chamberlain to make tariff reform key policy

·   Responsible for timing of 1906 election - decided  his govt should step down December 1905

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Reasons for Liberal Victory - Attractions of the L

·        1905 - reunited party -  debated issues put to one side

·         Boer War over

·         Leadership agreed on

·       United by Free Trade - 'bread and butter' issue of elections

·        Henry Campbell-Bannerman promoted 'broad' party - not dominated by one issue

·    Exploit Cons mistakes - TU support

·    Nonconformist support - education and licensing acts

·        Promised Welsh Disestablishment.

·      Pro Home-Rule - Irish support 

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Reasons for Liberal Victory - Lib-Lab Pact

  • Libs forged agreement with LRC - would not oppose Labs in 30 selected constituencies where Labs more likely to win & vice versa
  • Split in anti-Tory vote NE Lanark by-election 1901 - Libs wanted to prevent this
  • Labour had election fund of £150,000
  • Reduced Libs election costs - < opposition·         
  • Agreement about social reform & WC reform - Lib/Lab campaigns against 1902 Education Act & Chinese slavery
  •  Shared similar ideas; Free Trade; 
  • Both promised cheap food & promoted idea of peace and 'international harmony'
  • Lab seemed safe allies - MacDonald moderate leader
  • LRC got organised, established constituency branches & drew up manifesto
  • 50 candidates & won 29 seats, 5 against Libs
  • New political power - renamed 'The Labour Party'.
  • >ed Cons defeat
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