LibLink: Christine Jardine: Campbell-Bannerman, School Meals Pioneer

There has been some controversy about Nick Clegg’s sudden announcement last September that schoolchildren would get a hot meal every day at school for the first 3 years. Some within the Party feel that resources could be better spent. Others argue that it does make a difference, having a direct effect on children’s learning ability.

Clegg though, is not the first liberal to be associated with such a policy, as former Special Adviser Christine Jardine wrote in the Scotsman this week:

Exactly a century ago, the last Liberal government to win a majority at Westminster made their policy compulsory to ensure councils across the country offered free school meals to all children.

Scots prime minister Henry Campbell-Bannerman had included the measure in his party’s programme of reforms in 1906, but councils resisted its implementation. Sound familiar?

Fast-forward 100 years and here we are again. Liberals at Westminster implement a policy to ensure infant classes have a hot meal during the school day and an SNP administration at Holyrood refuses to follow suit, until forced to bow to public pressure and provide free meals for primaries 1 to 3.

Christine argues that Campbell-Bannerman is not honoured sufficiently in his home city of Glasgow, having become a forgotten Prime Minister:

I first became intrigued by the city’s apparent ambivalence about one of its most successful sons when my daughter started secondary school. There, in the building at Anniesland Cross, was the bust of a politician whose achievements had played such a big part in influencing my own political ideology. In a city which rightly trumpets its contribution to the birth and development of this country’s Labour movement, there seemed little else of significance to mark the contribution to the shape of modern Britain of a man some have dubbed the first truly radical politician of the 20th century.

I’ve no doubt there are other memorials, perhaps at the University of Glasgow, maybe somewhere in the City Chambers. But surely it is time, more than a century after his death, that the city of his birth did something on a larger scale to mark Campbell-Bannerman’s achievements.

Perhaps when the Liberal Democrats return to Glasgow for their federal conference this year, the city fathers should take the opportunity to suggest some sort of joint celebration of his life and political contribution. Glasgow could perhaps launch some wider project to establish a permanent new landmark or memorial to all its citizens who have made a major political contribution to shaping modern Britain.

You can read the whole article here.

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2 Comments

  • Perhaps when the Liberal Democrats return to Glasgow for their federal conference this year, the city fathers should take the opportunity to suggest some sort of joint celebration of his life and political contribution

    How about honouring Campbell-Bannerman by announcing the end of The Coalition ?
    I am sure he would have enjoyed the prospect of being the starting point for an all-out attack on the Conservatives.

  • For those who have nocluewho he was –

    Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman, Liberal Leader 1905 to 1908. Born 1836, Kelvinside House, Glasgow

    Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman was the first man to be given official use of the title ‘Prime Minister’. Known as CB, he was a firm believer in free trade, Irish Home Rule and the improvement of social conditions.

    Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman was the son of the Lord Provost of Glasgow, and was educated at Glasgow High School and at Glasgow and Cambridge universities.

    In 1868 he was elected the Liberal MP for Stirling Burghs. William Ewart Gladstone appointed him Financial Secretary at the War Office, and then Secretary of State for War in his next 2 governments. He held the position again under Lord Rosebery. Later, he became the Liberal leader, and was seen as ‘a safe pair of hands’.

    The Liberals split over the Boer War, with David Lloyd George joining Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman in condemning the campaign. He himself caused a public uproar by refusing to take back his remarks about Kitchener’s “methods of barbarism” being used to win the war.

    Following Arthur James Balfour’s resignation in 1905, Edward VII invited Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman, as leader of the next largest party, to form a government. He accepted the King’s offer.

    His government became known for being strong and efficient, and he skilfully ensured that it embraced all wings of the Liberal party.

    Possibly his best quote –
    “Personally I am an immense believer in bed, in constantly keeping horizontal: the heart and everything else goes slower, and the whole system is refreshed.”

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