chapter  3
16 Pages

THE DECLINE OF THE LIBERAL PARTY 1914–40

One argument is that the Liberal party had been exhausted by the array of problems which confronted it before 1914. This is put especially strongly by George Dangerfield in his influential work The Strange Death of Liberal England. Between 1910 and 1914 the Liberal governments faced a series of debilitating crises involving conflicts with the House of Lords, militant trade unions and the suffragettes. These battered the whole array of Edwardian Liberalism into submission so that ‘by the end of 1913 Liberal England was reduced to ashes’. Indeed, these problems ‘slowly undermined England’s parliamentary structure until, but for the

providential intervention of a world war, it would have certainly collapsed.’1