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The Liberal Party was among the two significant 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 open market- 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 well-being reforms that created 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 role of union prime minister and Lloyd George changed him as prime minister in late 1916, but Asquith stayed as Liberal Party leader.
In The Oxford Companion to British History, historian Martin Pugh argues: Lloyd George made a greater effect on British public life than any other 20th-century leader, thanks to his pre-war introduction of Britain’s social well-being system (particularly medical insurance coverage, unemployment insurance coverage, and old-age pensions, mostly spent for by taxes on high incomes and on the land).
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The 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 changed the Liberals as the Conservatives’ main competitor. The Liberal Party entered into decrease after 1918 and by the 1950s won no greater than 6 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 below 23% and the Liberals and Social Democratic Party merged in 1988 to form the Liberal Democrats.
Prominent intellectuals associated with the Liberal Party include the thinker John Stuart Mill, the economic expert John Maynard Keynes and social coordinator 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 motives in this were originally to acquire more power on their own, the more idealistic Whigs gradually came to support an expansion 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 decades 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 Home of Commons led eventually to the development of a methodical 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 first by Lord Melbourne, a relatively traditional Whig, and then by Lord John Russell, the boy of a Duke but a crusading radical, and by Lord Palmerston, a renegade Irish Tory and essentially a conservative, although capable of extreme gestures.
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The leading Radicals were John Bright and Richard Cobden, who represented the production towns which had gotten 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 company) 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 because the Conservatives split over the repeal of the Corn Laws, a totally free trade issue; and a faction called the Peelites (but 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 the majority of these federal governments. The formal structure of the Liberal Party is typically traced to 1859 and the formation of Palmerston’s 2nd government. However, the Whig-Radical amalgam might not end up being a true modern political party while it was dominated by aristocrats and it was not until the departure of the “2 Terrible Old Men”, Russell and Palmerston, that Gladstone might end up being the very first leader of the modern Liberal Party.
After a brief Conservative government (during which the Second Reform Act was gone by contract between the celebrations), Gladstone won a substantial success at the 1868 election and formed the very first Liberal government. The facility of the party as a national subscription organisation featured the structure of the National Liberal Federation in 1877.
For the next thirty years Gladstone and Liberalism were associated. William Ewart Gladstone acted as prime minister four times (186874, 188085, 1886, and 189294). His financial policies, based upon the notion of well balanced budgets, low taxes and, were fit to a developing capitalist society, but they might not react efficiently as economic and social conditions changed.
Deeply religious, 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 split the Liberal Party. In diplomacy, Gladstone was in general against foreign entanglements, but he did not resist the realities of imperialism.
His goal was to create a European order based upon co-operation instead of dispute 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 idea of a harmonious Concert of Europe was opposed to and eventually defeated by a Bismarckian system of controlled alliances and antagonisms.