The Peterloo Massacre and Nineteenth-Century Popular Radicalism

On 16 August 1819, 60,000 peaceful protesters gathered on St Peter’s Fields in Manchester to demand the right to elect their own MPs. The demonstration ended when local militia on horseback charged the protesters and cut them down with sabres, leaving at least eleven dead and hundreds injured. The episode became known as ‘The Peterloo […]

Liberalism in the north

Despite its decline after the First World War, the Liberal Party managed to hang on in Yorkshire and Lancashire, contributing to its eventual revival. Discuss why this was with William Wallace, Tony Greaves and Michael Meadowcroft. Chair: Baroness Kath Pinnock. A fringe meeting at the Liberal Democrat spring conference (no conference pass necessary).

Gladstone’s first government 1868–74

One hundred and fifty years ago, in December 1868, William Ewart Gladstone became Prime Minister for the first time. Over the following six years, from 1868 to 1874, his government produced a series of lasting reforms, including nationwide primary school education, the secret ballot, legalisation of some trade union activities and the disestablishment of the Church […]

Europe: the Liberal commitment

Why have the Liberal Democrats, and their Liberal and SDP predecessors, always supported the European project and membership of the EU? The historical origins of the Liberal commitment to Europe stretch back to the nineteenth century. The next Liberal Democrat History Group meeting will feature a discussion on the issues with Anthony Howe (Professor of Modern History, University of East […]

The 1918 coupon election and its consequences

In November 1918, just 24 hours after the Armistice had been signed with Germany, the Liberal Prime Minister, David Lloyd George, announced his decision to hold a general election. Selected coalition candidates received a signed letter of endorsement from Lloyd George and the Conservative leader Andrew Bonar Law. The 1918 election thus became known as […]

The Liberal Party and Women’s Suffrage

2018 marks 100 years since the Representation of the People Act 1918 was passed under Liberal Prime Minister David Lloyd George, beginning the enfranchisement of women. While the vast majority of Liberal MPs supported the change, this support was not unanimous, however: the party had been divided for many years over the issue, and the […]

Election 2017 – a missed opportunity?

The Liberal Democrats entered the 2017 general election campaign with high hopes: they were the only major UK-wide party unequivocally to oppose Brexit, and the campaign followed months of encouraging local government by-election results. But the outcome was a disappointment: a further fall in the vote from the catastrophic result in 2015, and four losses […]

Liberals in local government 1967 – 2017

The Association of Liberal Democrat Councillors (ALDC) was founded, as the Association of Liberal Councillors, fifty years ago. At this meeting, organised in conjunction with ALDC, we celebrate its 50th anniversary and discuss the role of Liberals and Liberal Democrats in local government. What has the party achieved in local government? To what extent has […]

The Leadership of Charles Kennedy

Under Charles Kennedy’s leadership, from 1999 to 2006, the Liberal Democrats won a record number of seats in the Commons – but in January 2006 he was forced to resign by the party’s MPs. When he died, in August 2015, he was mourned deeply by the party he once led. This meeting will assess Kennedy’s achievements […]

Who Rules? Parliament, the People or the Prime Minister?

Parliamentary supremacy, hard won in the seventeenth century, is being challenged by the government response to Brexit, placing under question whether Parliament or the executive – or the popular will, expressed through a referendum – should have the ultimate say. Discuss the Liberal approach to who rules with English Civil Wars historian Professor Michael Braddick […]

‘Jeremy is Innocent’ : The Life and Times of Jeremy Thorpe and Marion Thorpe

Jeremy Thorpe led the Liberal Party over three general elections from 1967 to 1976. Immensely charismatic, under his leadership the Liberal vote at general elections more than doubled. Yet following a scandal, his career ended in a criminal court case. Why? On the fiftieth anniversary of Thorpe’s rise to the party leadership, Ronald Porter (obituarist […]

Coalition: Could Liberal Democrats have handled it better?

The 2015 election decisively ended the Liberal Democrats’ participation in government. Did what the party achieved in coalition between 2010 and 2015 justify the damage? Could the party have managed coalition better? The meeting marks the publication of the autumn Journal of Liberal History, a special issue on the policy record of the coalition. Speakers: […]

The legacy of Roy Jenkins

NOTE: START TIME CHANGED TO 7.00pm Roy Jenkins is best remembered in Liberal Democrat circles as one of the ‘Gang of Four’ who established the Social Democratic Party, the SDP’s first leader, and then a staunch supporter of merger with the Liberal Party. But even as a Labour politician he had a liberal record. In […]

The ideas that built the Liberal Democrats

What do Liberal Democrats believe? And what stems from our historical legacy? Against the background of the ‘Agenda 2020’ review of values and beliefs, discuss the party’s ideological inheritance with David Boyle, Teena Lashmore and Nick Thornsby at the History Group’s fringe meeting at the York Liberal Democrat conference. Chair: David Howarth.

Europe: The Liberal commitment

How and why did the Liberal Party, SDP and Liberal Democrats all end up as the strongest supporters of Britain’s membership of the European Economic Community and its successor institutions? Has it helped or hindered the party’s political achievements? Have developments in Europe since the EEC’s founding Treaty of Rome in 1958 reflected the party’s […]

Liberal leaders and leadership

Party leaders matter: they embody a party’s present, while also shaping its future. This is particularly important in the values-based Liberal tradition. A total of twenty-five individuals led the Liberal Party, SDP and Liberal Democrats between Earl Grey’s assumption of the leadership of the Whig opposition in 1828 and Nick Clegg’s resignation in 2015. What did it take to […]

Catastrophe: The 2015 Election Campaign and its Outcome

NOTE VENUE AND START TIME CHANGE The venue of this meeting has changed from the National Liberal Club to the House of Lords (Committee Room 1), and the start time from 6.30pm to 6.45pm. There are several votes in the Lords on Monday, and our chair and one of our speakers are both Liberal Democrat […]

Community politics and the Liberal revival

The famous community politics resolution, adopted by the Liberal Party at its 1970 Assembly, helped to lay the foundations for revival after the party’s loss of half its seats in the 1970 election.

The Liberal-Tory Coalition of 1915

As we enter the final months of the present Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition government it is an appropriate time to look back to a previous partnership between the two parties in the 100th anniversary of its formation.