ABSTRACT

In their heyday – during the half-century preceding the 1880s – the Liberal Party and liberalism appeared to be one, incorporating a moral code of generalized appeal, buttressed by a confidence nourished on class, culture, and a belief in progress that offered clear directives for political action. For political theorists, this intellectual development, resulting in a set of beliefs termed the new liberalism, is an exciting metamorphosis of the liberal tradition, fashioning new vessels to contain an historic creed, and occasionally replenishing their contents, though not unrecognizably. The new liberals had to address a plethora of issues. The permeation of a nonpartisan concept of socialism into political discourse, as in Sir William Harcourt’s ‘we are all socialists now’, signalled a general acceptance among progressives of the advantages, and not merely the necessity, of human interaction.