The Liberal Party, Unionism and political culture in late 19th and early 20th century Britain

A one-day seminar organised by Newman University College and the Journal of Liberal History.

The late 19th and early 20th centuries saw great changes in British political culture. The gradual emergence of a mass electorate informed by a popular press, debates about the role of the state in social policy, Imperial upheavals and wars all had their impact on political culture. Political parties got more professional, labour more organised, regional identities sharpened. To accompany this turmoil a new political party, the Liberal Unionists, was formed to oppose Gladstones policy of Irish Home Rule policy, splitting the Liberal family and causing a re-appraisal of what it meant to be a Unionist. The seminar will examine some of the key changes in the political culture of this period against the background of the formation of the Liberal Unionists and the new party and political alignments this brought about.


Professor Robert Colls, University of Leicester – Political culture in Britain 1884-1914

Dr Ian Cawood, Newman UC, Birmingham – The impact of the Liberal Unionists, 1886-1912

Dr Matthew Roberts, Sheffield Hallam University – A terrific outburst of political meteorology: by-elections and the Unionist ascendancy in late Victorian England

Dr James Thompson, Bristol University -The Liberal Party, Liberalism and the visual culture of British politics c.1880-1914

Dr Kathryn Rix, History of Parliament Trust – Professionalisation and political culture: the party agents, 1880-1914

Dr James Owen, History of Parliament Trust – Labour and the caucus: working class radicalism and organised Liberalism in England

The cost of the seminar will be £20 (students and unwaged £10) to include morning refreshments and buffet lunch. Other refreshments will be available to purchase from the coffee bar after the conference closes.

To register please contact Tracy Priest, History Department at Newman University College, Birmingham B32 3NT, 0121 476 1181,

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