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The Liberal Party was one of the 2 major 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 complimentary trade- supporting Peelites and the reformist Radicals in the 1850s. By the end of the 19th century, it had formed 4 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 developed a fundamental 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 union prime minister and Lloyd George replaced him as prime minister in late 1916, but Asquith stayed 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, unemployment insurance coverage, and old-age pensions, mainly paid for by taxes on high earnings and on the land).
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The federal government of Lloyd George was controlled 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 rival. The Liberal Party entered into decrease after 1918 and by the 1950s won no more than six seats at general elections.
At the 1983 general election, the Alliance won over a quarter of the vote, but only 23 of the 650 seats it contested. At the 1987 general election, its share of the vote fell listed below 23% and the Liberals and Social Democratic Party merged in 1988 to form the Liberal Democrats.
Prominent intellectuals related to the Liberal Party include the philosopher John Stuart Mill, the financial expert John Maynard Keynes and social coordinator William Beveridge. The Liberal Party grew out of 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 originally to get more power for themselves, the more idealistic Whigs slowly pertained to support an expansion of democracy for its own sake. The excellent figures of reformist Whiggery were Charles James Fox (passed away 1806) and his disciple and successor Earl Grey. After years in opposition, the Whigs returned 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 ultimately to the development of an organized middle class liberalism and completion of Whiggery, although for numerous 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 fairly traditional Whig, and after that by Lord John Russell, the son of a Duke but a crusading radical, and by Lord Palmerston, a renegade Irish Tory and basically 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 acquired representation under the Reform Act. They favoured social reform, individual liberty, decreasing the powers of the Crown and the Church of England (numerous Liberals were Nonconformists), avoidance of war and foreign alliances (which were bad for organisation) and above all complimentary trade.
In 1841, the Liberals lost workplace to the Conservatives under Sir Robert Peel, but their period in opposition was short due to the fact that the Conservatives divided over the repeal of the Corn Laws, a totally free trade problem; and a faction understood as the Peelites (but not Peel himself, who passed away 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 formal structure of the Liberal Party is typically traced to 1859 and the development of Palmerston’s 2nd federal government. However, the Whig-Radical amalgam could not become a real modern-day political party while it was controlled by aristocrats and it was not till the departure of the “Two Terrible Old Male”, Russell and Palmerston, that Gladstone could become the first leader of the modern-day Liberal Party.
After a quick Conservative federal government (during which the Second Reform Act was passed by agreement in between the parties), Gladstone won a huge triumph at the 1868 election and formed the first Liberal federal government. The facility of the party as a national membership organisation included the structure of the National Liberal Federation in 1877.
For the next thirty years Gladstone and Liberalism were associated. William Ewart Gladstone served as prime minister 4 times (186874, 188085, 1886, and 189294). His financial policies, based on the idea of well balanced spending plans, low taxes and, were suited to a developing capitalist society, but they could not respond successfully as economic 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 often angered his upper-class opponents (including Queen Victoria), and his heavy-handed control divided the Liberal Party. In diplomacy, Gladstone remained in general against 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 conflict and on mutual trust instead of rivalry 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 controlled alliances and antagonisms.