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The Liberal Party was among the two major political celebrations in the UK with the opposing Conservative Party in the 19th and early 20th centuries. The party developed from an alliance of Whigs and free trade- supporting Peelites and the reformist Radicals in the 1850s. By the end of the 19th century, it had formed four federal 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 role of coalition prime minister and Lloyd George replaced him as prime minister in late 1916, however Asquith remained as Liberal Party leader.
In The Oxford Buddy to British History, historian Martin Pugh argues: Lloyd George made a greater influence on British public life than any other 20th-century leader, thanks to his pre-war intro of Britain’s social welfare system (specifically medical insurance, joblessness insurance, and old-age pensions, mostly paid 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 lastly deposed him in 1922. By the end of the 1920s, the Labour Party had replaced the Liberals as the Conservatives’ main competitor. The Liberal Party entered into decrease after 1918 and by the 1950s won no greater than six seats at general elections.
At the 1983 general election, the Alliance won over a quarter of the vote, however only 23 of the 650 seats it objected to. At the 1987 general election, its share of the vote fell listed below 23% and the Liberals and Social Democratic Party combined in 1988 to form the Liberal Democrats.
Prominent intellectuals associated with the Liberal Party include the philosopher John Stuart Mill, the economic expert John Maynard Keynes and social planner William Beveridge. The Liberal Party grew out of the Whigs, who had their origins in an stylish 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 get more power for themselves, the more optimistic Whigs gradually concerned 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 follower Earl Grey. After years in opposition, the Whigs returned 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 Home of Commons led eventually to the development of an organized 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 son of a Duke however a crusading radical, and by Lord Palmerston, a renegade Irish Tory and essentially a conservative, although efficient in radical gestures.
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The leading Radicals were John Bright and Richard Cobden, who represented the production towns which had gained representation under the Reform Act. They favoured social reform, individual liberty, reducing the powers of the Crown and the Church of England (numerous Liberals were Nonconformists), avoidance of war and foreign alliances (which were bad for service) and above all free trade.
In 1841, the Liberals lost workplace to the Conservatives under Sir Robert Peel, however their period in opposition was brief because the Conservatives split over the repeal of the Corn Laws, a totally free trade concern; and a faction referred to as the Peelites (however not Peel himself, who died right 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 federal governments. The official foundation of the Liberal Party is traditionally traced to 1859 and the formation of Palmerston’s second federal government. Nevertheless, the Whig-Radical amalgam might not become a real modern political party while it was dominated by aristocrats and it was not till the departure of the “2 Dreadful Old Men”, Russell and Palmerston, that Gladstone might become the first leader of the modern Liberal Party.
After a short Conservative federal government (throughout which the Second Reform Act was passed by arrangement in between the celebrations), Gladstone won a substantial success at the 1868 election and formed the first Liberal federal government. The facility 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 worked as prime minister four times (186874, 188085, 1886, and 189294). His financial policies, based on the concept of balanced spending plans, low taxes and, were suited to a developing capitalist society, however they might not react effectively 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 aristocracy. His moralism often angered his upper-class opponents (including Queen Victoria), and his heavy-handed control split the Liberal Party. In foreign policy, Gladstone remained in general against foreign entanglements, however he did not withstand the realities of imperialism.
His goal was to create a European order based on co-operation instead of dispute and on shared trust rather of competition and suspicion; the guideline of law was to supplant the reign of force and self-interest. This Gladstonian concept of a harmonious Concert of Europe was opposed to and ultimately defeated by a Bismarckian system of manipulated alliances and antagonisms.