By Chris Cook (auth.)
Chris prepare dinner lifts the lid at the 'third Party;' charting their attention-grabbing trip during the last century, from the landslide victory of 1906 below Asquith, through their descent into divisions and decline within the interwar years, to in-depth research of the 2010 British Election and their go back to executive within the Conservative-Lib Dem coalition.
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Extra info for A Short History of the Liberal Party: The Road Back to Power
Scotland and the large cities showed most enthusiasm for the war. The result was of little comfort for Campbell-Bannerman, who now found himself in the unenviable position of an opposition leader who had led his party to a crushing electoral defeat, and whose most able colleagues openly followed the lead of a rival statesman. And yet, although the election had exposed Liberal divisions, curiously the result of the election was to make the chances of a real breakaway from the party less likely. Both Chamberlain and Salisbury had sought to brand the The Liberals in Opposition: 1900–1906 33 entire party with the pro-Boer label; yet the Liberals had not lost ground in terms of their parliamentary representation.
The Liberal League (formed in February 1902 as the ofﬁcial organisation of the Liberal Imperialists) was still, despite CampbellBannerman’s hostility, a potentially powerful organisation. But Balfour’s attempts to woo the League, and thereby reopen the party split, came to nothing. If for no other reason, the Liberal Imperialists realised that their best hope of ofﬁce remained with the Liberal Party. Balfour’s failure with the Liberal Imperialists seemed as if it might be offset by a revival of Liberal divisions over Home Rule.
Even extreme Radicals could see reason in the Gladstonian argument that the total removal of the Irish problem would leave the ﬁeld open for a comprehensive reform of domestic institutions, all the more possible now that the recalcitrant Liberalism in Eclipse 23 Whigs had removed themselves from the rest of the party. Eventually, the numbers Chamberlain was able to carry into the lobby against the Home Rule Bill were small. A section of the hostile vote was made up of ‘Hartingtonians’ and Conservatives as well as committed ‘Radical Unionists’.