Conscription and the Liberal Party

The issue of conscription rocked the Liberal Party to its very core during the first part of the Great War, as Liberal parliamentarians struggled to justify the needs of war and necessity of compulsion against the concepts of individualism and laissez faire which they held so dear.

Realignment of the left

The end of Jo Grimond's leadership in 1967 heralded a bleak period for the Liberal Party. His successor, Jeremy Thorpe, was never assured of the complete confidence of his parliamentary colleagues. Unlike Grimond, he displayed little interest in ideas, though he was an accomplished organiser, fund-raiser and speaker.

Times report on the meeting in Willis Rooms

The following report from The Times describes the meeting that took place at Willis' Rooms in St James Street, London on the 6th June 1859, when the Liberal Party was finally formed.

The Hawarden Kite

In November 1885 the Irish Nationalist leader, Charles Stewart Parnell proposed an independent constitution for Ireland and although the Liberal leader, William Gladstone, believed in the necessity of Home Rule by this time, he was also convinced that he needed further time to persuade his Party of this.

The ‘Buckingham Palace plot’, 1916

Edwin Montagu, Minister of Munitions and confidant of both Asquith and Lloyd George lamented that the two great men of England were being slowly but surely pushed apart during the winter of 1916.

Formation of the SDP

Launching the new Social Democratic Party (SDP) on the 26th March 1981, the former Labour Home Secretary, Roy Jenkins announced that the aim of the new party was to get away from the politics of outdated dogmatism and class confrontation and to release the energies of those who were fed up with the old slanging match.

Personal account of the meeting in Willis’ Rooms

The following letter from Sidney Herbert to his wife is a personal account of the meeting that took place at Willis' Rooms in St James Street, London on the 6th June 1859, when the Liberal Party was finally formed.

Liberal Unionists

Gladstone’s decision to pursue a policy of Home Rule for Ireland in 1886 divided the Liberal Party to the core and prompted the departure of the Liberal Unionists, who subsequently formed a separate political party, under the leadership of the Marquess of Hartington.

The Maurice debate, 9 May 1918

According to A J P Taylor, the historic Liberal Party committed suicide on 9 May 1918 in a parliamentary debate which saw the former Liberal Prime Minister, Herbert Henry Asquith openly inferring that his former Liberal colleague and wartime Premier, David Lloyd George had misled the House of Commons about the number of British troops serving on the Western front during a German attack in March of that year.

Gladstonian Liberalism

Few statesmen left a deeper and more permanent mark on British Liberalism than William Ewart Gladstone (1809-1898). What secured a unique place for him in the history of Liberalism was not simply the fact that he was Prime Minister four times (1868-74, 1880-85, 1886 and 1892-94), having previously served as Chancellor of the Exchequer for most of the years between 1853 and 1866. It was especially his ability to speak to the hearts and minds of successive generations of Liberals both men and women motivating them to political action as a matter of moral obligation.

The Easter Rising

The issue of Home Rule returned to haunt the Liberals following the rebellion of Irish republicans during the Easter of 1916, at a time when the Party was at its most fragile. As the head of the wartime government, Asquith had already faced criticism over a series of disasters on the battlefield and his complacent approach to warfare.

The Liberal – SDP merger

The poor performance of the Liberal-SDP Alliance at the June 1987 election prompted the Liberal leader, David Steel to call for the unity of both wings, after only 22 seats were secured by both sides.