2016. Issue 4 (35)

on .

Adamov D. P. The liberal party in british political system, 1918-1924: decline and survival (.pdf)

 

The essay analyzes the transformation of the Liberal Party from one of two main forces in British politics on the eve of the First World War to a marginal third party by 1924. It examines two sets of factors that led to the decline. Among them, there were, firstly, the results of the decisions of political actors, such as the schism between the supporters of Henry Herbert Asquith and David Lloyd George, the retention of the Coalition into peacetime, the failure of the Liberals to formulate a positive policy, and the decision to support the minority Labour government in 1923. Secondly, there were objective factors, such as the disenchantment of a large section of the British population with Liberal ideals, an unfavorable economic situation, and the partial collapse of the traditional Liberal electorate. It is noted that the separation between Independent and Coalition Liberals was not along ideological lines, but rather those of tactics and personal conflicts. Both parts of the fractured party included classical and social liberals. However, neither side managed to articulate a compelling Liberal vision, with the arguable exception of Lloyd George’s attempt to create a new reformist centrist party. Nor did reunification, in 1923, manage to change that, as the Liberals were reunited in purely negative opposition to the protectionist plans of the Conservatives. The Liberals held the balance of power in the Parliament after the 1923 election as a close third party, but failed to adequately use their position and fell victim to another premature election in 1924 that completed their marginalization. However, the survival of the Liberal Party, despite the factors working against it, indicates both the strength of party loyalty in British political culture and the persistent appeal of the Liberal ideology to a part of the population.

 

Key words: British history, interwar period, David Lloyd George, party system, Liberalism, Liberal Party.

 

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