Landslide for the Left

Massive Tory defeat …. sweeping opposition landslide victory …. major gains by small third party …. but what does the new government stand for other than opposition to unpopular Conservative policies?

The outcome of the 1997 general election? No – it happened in 1906, when Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman led the Liberal Party to a crushing victory over Arthur Balfour’s Unionists, with the newly-formed Labour Party making important gains on the back of an electoral pact with the Liberals. And despite the lack of any clear Liberal election programme other than reversal of unpopular Tory policies, the following eight years were to see one of the most sustained periods of political and social reform of the twentieth century, as the Government put into practice the thinking and policies of the New Liberalism.

Nine decades later, were similar ingredients in place once again? The topic was discussed by Andrew Adonis, Political Editor of the Observer; John Grigg, biographer of Lloyd George; and Earl Russell, historian and Lords spokesman on social security.