By Chris Cook
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Additional resources for A Short History of the Liberal Party 1900–88
The early days of the new government lent strength to these Radical hopes. There were persistent rumours that CampbellBannerman was moving increasingly to the Left. The King's Speech, in February 1906, tended to reinforce this optimism. It promised a reduction in armaments and a major legislative programme of twenty-two Bills for the new session. However, despite so many factors in its favour, the CampbellBannerman administration never really fulfilled the high hopes of the early days of 1906. What, then, had gone wrong?
The heyday of the caucus was over. Although the Liberals had been soundly defeated in the 1895 election, the party remained a potent force at Westminster. Despite the crippling divisions among the party leaders, the Liberals were able to prevent the Conservatives getting their education proposals through the Commons. At the same time, however, there were optimistic signs of reviving Liberal fortunes in a series of by-election victories in such seats as Southampton and Reading after 1895. Overshadowing these encouraging signs, however, were the changes and struggles within the leadership of the party.
360-383. 2 Gladstone to Campbell-Bannerman, 21 Jan. 1906, quoted in Harris and Hazlehurst, op. cit. A Short History of Ike Liberal Party Lords. Balfour had already declared, in his Nottingham speech, his intention of blocking social reform in the Upper House. The Lords faithfully carried out that pledge. During 1906 the Lords destroyed Birrell's Education Bill, designed to remove Nonconformist objections to the 1902 Education Act. A Bill to abolish plural voting met a similar fate. During 1907 a variety of land reform measures were similarly blocked, including the Small Holdings Bill, the Evicted Tenants (Ireland) Bill, the Small Landowners (Scotland) Bill and the Land Values (Scotland) Bill.
A Short History of the Liberal Party 1900–88 by Chris Cook