The Liberals in Power, 1905-1914

The Liberals in Power, 1905-1914

The Liberals in Power, 1905-1914

The Liberals in Power, 1905-1914

Excerpt

This book attempts to present an at once comprehensive and brief account of the work of the Liberal government which held office in Great Britain before the 1914 war. The emphasis throughout is on the constructive work of that government, particularly its social legislation. Foreign policy is dealt with very cursorily and only to the extent needed to form a background for the description of the government's other work. The story begins with the formation of the Liberal government in December 1905, and ends with the outbreak of war in August 1914. The Liberals did, of course, stay in office after 1914, but the problems they faced in waging the first total war were of a radically different nature from those they had faced earlier. In telling the story I make no apology for stressing the personalities and idiosyncrasies of the politicians and civil servants primarily involved. Unlike the 1945-51 Labour government, which in many ways it resembles, the Liberal government came to office with very little in the way of an agreed programme for social reform. It was the personal initiative of reform-minded ministers like Lloyd George and Winston Churchill which made it so rich in legislative achievement and caused it to lay the foundations of the future welfare state. No period has offered more scope for the initiative of the brilliant individual.

For the sake of simplicity I have used the word "Conservative" to describe what at the time was generally known as the Unionist Party. The Conservatives and Liberal Unionists . . .

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