Forgotten Liberal Heroes: Sir Edward Grey and Richard Haldane

The Liberal governments of Henry Campbell-Bannerman and H.H. Asquith, from 1905 to 1916, included many ‘big beasts’. Sir Edward Grey served as Foreign Secretary 1905–16 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 1905–12 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.

Lib Dem Voice readers are welcome to join 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) to assess these Liberal politicians and their legacies. Chair: Layla Moran MP.

The meeting will take place at 7.00pm on Monday 30 January 2023. It will be a hybrid meeting, with attendance possible in person at the National Liberal Club (1 Whitehall Place, London SW1A 2HE) and online, via Zoom. Please click here to register to participate by Zoom. For in-person attendance, there is no need to register.

The meeting will be preceded by the Liberal Democrat History Group’s Annual General Meeting, at 6.30pm – all details as above. All subscribers are welcome to join us, either in-person or online. The agenda and background papers for the AGM are now available here on our website.

And, finally, a new Journal of Liberal History has just been published – issue 117 (winter 2022-23). Contents include:

Herbert Lewis and the South African war, 1899–1902. Those Liberals MPs who opposed the Boer War sometimes experienced uneasy relationships with their constituencies and local parties. Brendon Jones examines one particular case.
Sefton and Derby: Politics, principle and opportunity. Hugh Gault traces the political careers of two aristocratic neighbours in the late nineteenth century.
Lloyd George’s French connection. Kenneth O. Morgan analyses the record – so far largely overlooked – of Lloyd George’s interest in France and French policy.
Lib Dems in the cities. Why was the Liberal Democrat performance in large cities in May 2022 so poor? by Michael Meadowcroft.
The New Liberalism. In the first of a new series of short introductory articles, Duncan Brack reviews the New Liberalism of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, an important development in Liberal politics and philosophy.

Plus meeting reports, book reviews and more. The new Journal is now available to our digital subscribers on our website. For print subscribers, the Journal will be in the post to you later this week. If you’re not a subscriber, you can buy Individual issues, or take out a subscription (£25 a year / £15 unwaged, either print or digital) here.

* Duncan Brack is the Editor of the Journal of Liberal History and a member of the Federal Policy Committee.

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