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The Liberal Party was among the two major political parties 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 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 developed a fundamental 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 union prime minister and Lloyd George replaced him as prime minister in late 1916, however Asquith remained as Liberal Party leader.
In The Oxford Companion to British History, historian Martin Pugh argues: Lloyd George made a higher influence on British public life than any other 20th-century leader, thanks to his pre-war intro of Britain’s social well-being system (especially medical insurance coverage, joblessness insurance coverage, and old-age pensions, largely spent for by taxes on high incomes 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 competitor. The Liberal Party entered into decline after 1918 and by the 1950s won no more than 6 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 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 connected with the Liberal Party consist of the theorist 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 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 gain more power on their own, the more optimistic Whigs gradually concerned support an expansion of democracy for its own sake. The great figures of reformist Whiggery were Charles James Fox (passed away 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 House of Commons led eventually to the development 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 initially by Lord Melbourne, a relatively standard Whig, and then by Lord John Russell, the child of a Duke however 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 gained representation under the Reform Act. They favoured social reform, individual liberty, decreasing 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 service) and above all open market.
In 1841, the Liberals lost office to the Conservatives under Sir Robert Peel, however their duration in opposition was short due to the fact that the Conservatives divided over the repeal of the Corn Laws, a complimentary trade problem; and a faction referred to as the Peelites (however not Peel himself, who passed away 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 official foundation of the Liberal Party is generally traced to 1859 and the development of Palmerston’s second federal government. However, the Whig-Radical amalgam could not become a true modern-day political party while it was controlled by aristocrats and it was not till the departure of the “2 Awful Old Guy”, Russell and Palmerston, that Gladstone could become the very first leader of the modern-day Liberal Party.
After a short Conservative federal government (throughout which the Second Reform Act was gone by contract between the parties), Gladstone won a big success at the 1868 election and formed the very first Liberal federal government. The establishment of the party as a nationwide subscription organisation included the foundation 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 upon the idea of well balanced budget plans, low taxes and, were matched to a developing capitalist society, however they could not react effectively as economic and social conditions altered.
Deeply religious, Gladstone brought a new moral tone to politics, with his evangelical perceptiveness and his opposition to aristocracy. His moralism typically outraged his upper-class opponents (including Queen Victoria), and his heavy-handed control divided the Liberal Party. In foreign policy, Gladstone remained in general versus foreign entanglements, however he did not withstand the truths of imperialism.
His goal was to create a European order based upon co-operation instead of dispute and on shared trust rather of competition and suspicion; the rule of law was to supplant the reign of force and self-interest. This Gladstonian principle of a harmonious Show of Europe was opposed to and eventually defeated by a Bismarckian system of controlled alliances and antagonisms.