Tag Archives: asquith

Book review: Peace, Reform and Liberation – “the first port of call for anyone wishing to learn more about Liberal and Liberal Democrat history”

There has long been a need for a single volume history of the Liberal and Liberal Democrat parties covering the entire period from its roots in the constitutional struggles of the seventeenth century to the present day.

While Liberal history has received plenty of attention from historians, previous studies of the party have been limited to a specific eras or themes. In many ways of course the party has several histories. This includes the origins of the Liberal tradition in the Whigs of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, the heyday of Liberal government in the middle of the nineteenth century, the party’s decline and near extinction between the 1920s and 1950s, its recovery in the second half of the twentieth century, and now the challenges of governing in coalition with the party’s historic enemies, the Conservatives.

So it is welcome that the Liberal Democrat History Group has sought to fill a gap with Peace, Reform and Liberation.

Posted in Books | Also tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , and | 16 Comments

Want to hear Asquith’s defence of the 1909 People’s Budget?

Of course you do. So listen to Asquith here.

(And you can find out more about the 1909 People’s Budget and why it is so famous courtesy of the Liberal Democrat History Group website.)

Posted in News | Also tagged | 1 Comment

History doesn’t repeat itself: why the Lib Dems won’t split

“A healthy pedestrian mowed down by a runaway omnibus” – Trevor Wilson’s metaphor to describe the fall of the Liberal Party between 1916 and 1931 is quoted approvingly by Professor John Shepherd, co-director of the Labour Research Unit at Anglia Ruskin University, in a fascinating article in the summer issue of the Journal of Liberal History.

One of the Coalition memes doing the rounds among some of the commentariat is that, by embarking on a partnership with the Conservatives, the Lib Dems have sealed their own fate, that a split is inevitable. After all, the argument goes, Lloyd George’s …

Posted in Op-eds | Also tagged , , and | 86 Comments

“When two ride astride, one must ride behind”

Okay, the poster’s exactly 100 years old – and the issue highlighted here is Asquith’s Liberal government’s attempts to reform the House of Lords – but somehow it was the caption which to me seemed to resonate down the years into these Coalition days:


(From the LSE archives: COLL MISC 0519-053).

For others it may bring to mind Ming Campbell’s nag in Five Days that Changed Britain: “If you have a dog… for long enough, eventually you begin to look like your pet. Well, if you have a coalition …

Posted in Humour | Also tagged | 10 Comments

Is Gordon Brown Labour’s Lloyd George?

There’s a fascinating article in today’s Financial Times by Peter Clarke, drawing the comparisons between Asquith/Tony Blair and Lloyd George/Gordon Brown – two Prime Minister and Chancellor ‘political couples’ separated by a century, who helped their parties back into government after a couple of decades in the wilderness, dominating the political landscape, but whose personal rivalry triggered their parties’ decline. Here’s an excerpt:

It was when the Liberals’ failure of leadership left them divided that Labour saw its chance, and opted to fight for and by itself. The split between Asquith and Lloyd George thus had consequences that neither man

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DLT: Liberal Summer School (now Keynes Forum)

For the past year, Duncan Brack and Ed Randall, authors of the Dictionary of Liberal Thought, have kindly agreed to let us publish extracts on Lib Dem Voice. Last month’s instalment was Keynesianism, following on John Maynard Keynes; this month, the Liberal Summer School. You can read previous chapters on LDV here. The entire book is available on Amazon here and can also be bought at the Westminster Bookshop.

Liberal Summer School (now Keynes Forum)

Founded in 1921 as an annual week-long residential school to develop innovative Liberal policies, domestic and international, for the post-war world, the Liberal Summer Schools were the source of the Liberal ‘Yellow Book’ and helped to develop the thinking behind Beveridge’s proposals for the reform of welfare provision. The School now survives as an annual one-day seminar, in 2004 renamed the Keynes Forum, and run by CentreForum.

The Liberal Summer Schools movement in the 1920s originated in the apparently disparate strands of Nonconformist (q.v.) Manchester liberalism, as represented by Ernest Simon (q.v.) and C. P Scott (1846–1932), social and industrial reformers from Toynbee Hall and the LSE (including William Beveridge (q.v.) and Seebohm Rowntree (1871–1954)); and John Maynard Keynes’s (q.v.) Cambridge- and Bloomsbury-based circle of young economists (including Hubert Henderson (1890–1952), Walter Layton (q.v.) and Dennis Robertson (1890-–1963)).

In 1920 Liberals were simultaneously faced with a world that seemed both dangerously disintegrated and full of exciting promise, and with the disastrous Asquith–Lloyd George (q.v.) split. Recognising the urgent need for positive Liberal polices to fill this vacuum, the powerful Manchester Liberal Federation under Ernest Simon and the chief national party agent, Thomas Tweed, initiated the movement which ‘recruited intellectuals to the Liberal Party, and provided a forum at which experts could float their ideas about contemporary economic, social, and industrial questions’.

The first Summer School was held at Grasmere in 1921, on the lines of the Fabian Summer Schools. The founders included the historians Ramsay Muir (q.v.) and Philip Guedalla (1889–1944), and the economists Keynes, Henderson and Layton, supported by Simon’s friend and Lloyd George loyalist, C. P. Scott of the Manchester Guardian. Eleanor Rathbone (1872–1946), herself from a Manchester Nonconformist Liberal dynasty, spoke on ‘Women and the Family’. ‘What a party!’ Simon noted in his diary at about this time: ‘No leaders. No organisation. No policy. Only a Summer School!’

The format, retained for many years, was a residential ‘school’ where Liberals and sympathisers met in a university setting to hear and discuss lectures on topical issues, domestic and international. The ‘school’ structure remained through the 1920s and ’30s; the programme was described as a ‘Syllabus’, with the emphasis on discussion rather than received wisdom, and a recommended reading list. The week included cultural excursions, concerts, a dance, a garden party and sometimes a satirical revue by School members.

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  • User Avatarn hunter 2nd Jun - 4:01pm
    noncomformistradical article is VERY interesting. I also found revealing the articles on Raab and McVey. It helps you to know where/who the Tory brexiteers are...
  • User AvatarDavid Franks 2nd Jun - 3:44pm
    Jo Grimmond's principles were the reason I joined the party all those years ago and now I want a leader whose performance will remind me...
  • User AvatarJohn Marriott 2nd Jun - 3:42pm
    Last weekend the leader of a once great country sat in a bunker in its capital city, tweeting out commands to imaginary forces to come...
  • User AvatarPeter Martin 2nd Jun - 3:38pm
    @ Adrian May, "From a bird’s eye view, of the major parties the Liberal Democrats are arguably the most universally in-tune with the current zeitgeist."...
  • User AvatarLorenzo Cherin 2nd Jun - 3:37pm
    Adrian, read Sue sutherland, probably the finest example of values this party site has within it, and proof, as with mr p holmes, that the...
  • User AvatarLorenzo Cherin 2nd Jun - 3:28pm
    A very good article. I agree with nearly every part. I advocated these thorough changes before the party became a single issue one. Nobody cared....