The Liberal governments of Henry Campbell-Bannerman and H.H. Asquith included many ‘big beasts’. Sir Edward Grey served as Foreign Secretary and remains the longest-serving holder of the office. He maintained good relations with France and Russia at a time of great instability in Europe. When his efforts to avert conflict failed, in 1914, Grey persuaded a divided cabinet to support Britain’s entry to the First World War.
Richard Haldane was Secretary for War and created the Territorial Army and the British Expeditionary Force. As Lord Chancellor after 1912 he pursued a series of judicial reforms. He was also a co-founder of the UK university system.
Both have a credible case for being regarded as Liberal heroes. But Grey’s record has been strongly criticised in recent years and Haldane is largely forgotten.
Thomas Otte (University of East Anglia and author of Statesman of Europe: A Life of Sir Edward Grey) and John Campbell OBE (author of Haldane: The Forgotten Statesman Who Shaped Modern Britain) assess these Liberal politicians and their legacies. Chair: Layla Moran MP.