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The Liberal Party was one of the 2 significant political parties in the UK with the opposing Conservative Party in the 19th and early 20th centuries. The party occurred from an alliance of Whigs and open market- supporting Peelites and the reformist Radicals in the 1850s. By the end of the 19th century, it had formed 4 governments under William Gladstone.
Under prime ministers Henry Campbell-Bannerman (19051908) and H. H. Asquith (19081916), the Liberal Party passed the welfare reforms that created a standard British welfare 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 Buddy 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 welfare system (particularly medical insurance coverage, joblessness insurance coverage, and old-age pensions, largely spent for by taxes on high earnings and on the land).
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The federal government of Lloyd George was dominated by the Conservative Party, which finally 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 entered into decline after 1918 and by the 1950s won no greater 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 objected to. 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 include the theorist John Stuart Mill, the economist John Maynard Keynes and social planner William Beveridge. The Liberal Party grew out of the Whigs, who had their origins in an aristocratic faction in the reign of Charles II and the early 19th century Radicals.
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Although their intentions in this were originally to gain more power on their own, the more optimistic Whigs slowly pertained to support an expansion of democracy for its own sake. The fantastic figures of reformist Whiggery were Charles James Fox (died 1806) and his disciple and successor Earl Grey. After years in opposition, the Whigs went back to power under Grey in 1830 and carried 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 development of a systematic middle class liberalism and completion of Whiggery, although for several years reforming aristocrats held senior positions in the party. In the years after Grey’s retirement, the party was led initially by Lord Melbourne, a relatively traditional Whig, and after that by Lord John Russell, the child of a Duke but a crusading radical, and by Lord Palmerston, a renegade Irish Tory and basically a conservative, although capable of radical gestures.
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The leading Radicals were John Bright and Richard Cobden, who represented the manufacturing towns which had acquired representation under the Reform Act. They favoured social reform, personal liberty, lowering the powers of the Crown and the Church of England (many Liberals were Nonconformists), avoidance of war and foreign alliances (which were bad for organisation) and above all open market.
In 1841, the Liberals lost office to the Conservatives under Sir Robert Peel, but their period in opposition was short due to the fact that the Conservatives split over the repeal of the Corn Laws, a complimentary trade problem; and a faction known as 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 the majority of these governments. The formal foundation of the Liberal Party is generally traced to 1859 and the development of Palmerston’s second federal government. However, the Whig-Radical amalgam might not end up being a real modern political party while it was dominated by aristocrats and it was not up until the departure of the “2 Dreadful Old Men”, Russell and Palmerston, that Gladstone might end up being the very first leader of the modern Liberal Party.
After a brief Conservative federal government (during which the Second Reform Act was gone by contract in between the parties), Gladstone won a big triumph at the 1868 election and formed the very first Liberal federal government. The establishment of the party as a nationwide membership organisation came with the foundation of the National Liberal Federation in 1877.
For the next thirty years Gladstone and Liberalism were synonymous. William Ewart Gladstone served as prime minister 4 times (186874, 188085, 1886, and 189294). His monetary policies, based on the concept of balanced budget plans, low taxes and, were suited to an establishing capitalist society, but they might not react successfully as economic and social conditions changed.
Deeply spiritual, Gladstone brought a brand-new moral tone to politics, with his evangelical sensibility and his opposition to upper class. His moralism frequently angered his upper-class challengers (consisting of Queen Victoria), and his heavy-handed control split the Liberal Party. In foreign policy, Gladstone remained in basic against foreign entanglements, but he did not withstand the truths of imperialism.
His goal was to produce a European order based on co-operation instead of conflict and on shared trust instead of rivalry and suspicion; the rule of law was to supplant the reign of force and self-interest. This Gladstonian principle of a harmonious Concert of Europe was opposed to and ultimately beat by a Bismarckian system of manipulated alliances and antagonisms.