The Liberal Party in South-West Britain since 1918: Political Decline, Dormancy and Rebirth

The Liberal Party in South-West Britain since 1918: Political Decline, Dormancy and Rebirth

The Liberal Party in South-West Britain since 1918: Political Decline, Dormancy and Rebirth

The Liberal Party in South-West Britain since 1918: Political Decline, Dormancy and Rebirth

Synopsis

The decline of the Liberal party is one of the most controversial subjects in twentieth-century British politics, and this book makes a distinctive contribution to the debate by focusing on the South West, where Liberalism remained a powerful force after 1918. During the 1920s it was one of the few areas where the party survived as a major force. By the early 1950s, when the Liberals were fighting for their very existence, it was their early revival in the far west which provided morale and purpose. Victories in Cornwall and Devon after 1958 improved the party's credibility and effectively heralded the national Liberal revival. In recent years the regional Liberal Democrats have built on these historic foundations to emerge on equal terms with the Conservatives at Westminster and as the dominant party in local government. By concentrating on one region, this book offers fresh insight into issues relating to the UK as a whole. It moves away from the conventional focus on urban Britain to the neglected world of rural and small-town politics, and explores differences within the South West itself, from Celtic Cornwall in the far west to modern 'Wessex' in the east.

Excerpt

by The Rt. Hon. Charles Kennedy MP Leader of the Liberal Democrats

Much has been written over the years about the decline of the Liberal Party in the first half of the last century. Yet, very little has been written about areas where Liberals continued to be strong in the inter-war years. Even less about the relative revival of Liberalism and Liberal Democracy in the last fifty years, most memorably highlighted in the Liberal Democrat breakthrough in the 1997 General Election.

Nowhere was this resurgence more notable than in the south west of Britain where Liberal Democrats now dominate local government and in 1997 swept to parliamentary power in an almost unbroken run from Land’s End to the borders of Wiltshire. The South West holds a special place in the hearts of many Liberal Democrats as a bastion of liberal revival and a sign of the party’s new strength.

This book’s focus on the significance of regionalism in political fortune is important. While political historiography has been moving in a regional direction recently, Garry Tregidga rightly asserts that the South West ‘region’, and for that matter any other, is not populated by homogeneous country dwellers with identical aspirations and political beliefs, but by a rather more diverse people. That is why he gives a rather more sophisticated analysis of the reasons for Liberal Democrat success in an area which encompasses the four counties of Cornwall, Devon, Somerset and Dorset.

Moreover, as a Highlander, I have some empathy with those . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.