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The Liberal Party was among the two major political celebrations in the United Kingdom with the opposing Conservative Party in the 19th and early 20th centuries. The party developed from an alliance of Whigs and totally free trade- supporting Peelites and the reformist Radicals in the 1850s. By the end of the 19th century, it had formed four governments under William Gladstone.
Under prime ministers Henry Campbell-Bannerman (19051908) and H. H. Asquith (19081916), the Liberal Party passed the well-being reforms that produced a basic British well-being state. Although Asquith was the party’s leader, its dominant figure was David Lloyd George. Asquith was overwhelmed by the wartime function of coalition prime minister and Lloyd George replaced him as prime minister in late 1916, but Asquith remained as Liberal Party leader.
In The Oxford Companion to British History, historian Martin Pugh argues: Lloyd George made a higher effect on British public life than any other 20th-century leader, thanks to his pre-war intro of Britain’s social well-being system (specifically medical insurance, joblessness insurance, and old-age pensions, mostly spent for by taxes on high earnings and on the land).
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The government of Lloyd George was dominated by the Conservative Party, which lastly deposed him in 1922. By the end of the 1920s, the Labour Party had replaced the Liberals as the Conservatives’ primary competitor. The Liberal Party went into decline after 1918 and by the 1950s won no more than six seats at basic elections.
At the 1983 basic election, the Alliance won over a quarter of the vote, but just 23 of the 650 seats it contested. At the 1987 basic election, its share of the vote fell below 23% and the Liberals and Social Democratic Party combined in 1988 to form the Liberal Democrats.
Prominent intellectuals connected with the Liberal Party consist of the thinker John Stuart Mill, the financial expert John Maynard Keynes and social organizer William Beveridge. The Liberal Party outgrew the Whigs, who had their origins in an noble faction in the reign of Charles II and the early 19th century Radicals.
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Although their motives in this were initially to acquire more power on their own, the more idealistic Whigs gradually pertained to support a growth of democracy for its own sake. The terrific figures of reformist Whiggery were Charles James Fox (died 1806) and his disciple and follower Earl Grey. After years in opposition, the Whigs went back to power under Grey in 1830 and brought the First Reform Act in 1832.
The admission of the middle classes to the franchise and to the House of Commons led eventually to the advancement of a methodical middle class liberalism and the end of Whiggery, although for lots of years reforming aristocrats held senior positions in the party. In the years after Grey’s retirement, the party was led first by Lord Melbourne, a relatively standard Whig, and then by Lord John Russell, the kid of a Duke but a crusading radical, and by Lord Palmerston, a renegade Irish Tory and basically a conservative, although capable of extreme gestures.
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The leading Radicals were John Bright and Richard Cobden, who represented the manufacturing towns which had gotten representation under the Reform Act. They favoured social reform, individual liberty, reducing the powers of the Crown and the Church of England (lots of Liberals were Nonconformists), avoidance of war and foreign alliances (which were bad for company) and above all totally free trade.
In 1841, the Liberals lost office to the Conservatives under Sir Robert Peel, but their duration in opposition was brief due to the fact that the Conservatives split over the repeal of the Corn Laws, an open market problem; and a faction called the Peelites (but not Peel himself, who died not long after) defected to the Liberal side.
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A leading Peelite was William Ewart Gladstone, who was a reforming Chancellor of the Exchequer in most of these governments. The formal structure of the Liberal Party is typically traced to 1859 and the formation of Palmerston’s second government. Nevertheless, the Whig-Radical amalgam could not become a true modern political party while it was dominated by aristocrats and it was not until the departure of the “Two Horrible Old Men”, Russell and Palmerston, that Gladstone could become the first leader of the modern Liberal Party.
After a brief Conservative government (throughout which the Second Reform Act was gone by agreement in between the celebrations), Gladstone won a big victory at the 1868 election and formed the first Liberal government. The facility of the party as a nationwide membership organisation featured the structure of the National Liberal Federation in 1877.
For the next thirty years Gladstone and Liberalism were associated. William Ewart Gladstone worked as prime minister four times (186874, 188085, 1886, and 189294). His monetary policies, based on the notion of well balanced budgets, low taxes and, were matched to a developing capitalist society, but they could not react efficiently as financial and social conditions altered.
Deeply spiritual, Gladstone brought a brand-new moral tone to politics, with his evangelical perceptiveness and his opposition to aristocracy. His moralism frequently outraged his upper-class opponents (consisting of Queen Victoria), and his heavy-handed control split the Liberal Party. In foreign policy, Gladstone was in basic versus foreign entanglements, but he did not withstand the realities of imperialism.
His goal was to develop a European order based on co-operation rather than dispute and on mutual trust instead of competition and suspicion; the rule of law was to supplant the reign of force and self-interest. This Gladstonian principle of an unified Performance of Europe was opposed to and eventually defeated by a Bismarckian system of manipulated alliances and antagonisms.