Britain’s major political parties, and the policies they have adopted when in government, have always been subject to a variety of influences. Smaller parties have found it hard to prosper under the ‘first past the post’ electoral system, so the large parties have accommodated many shades of opinion among their MPs and activists. The views of business and other pressure groups have been recognised as legitimate influences on policy. Britain’s strongly entrenched Civil Service has meant that the views of senior civil servants have been a significant factor. The press has also been important. In the 1900s, local papers were far more concerned with politics than most are now: the Conservatives had been increasing their influence in the national and local press, but many newspapers still followed a Liberal tradition. Politicians used the press to ‘place’ stories in order to gauge public opinion or to bring an issue into the open. Relationships between politicians and the newspapers which supported them were probably closer, and less critical, than today. Lloyd George, for instance, had links with several, such as the high-minded Manchester Guardian (the ancestor of today’s Guardian) and the less high-minded News of the World.