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WHAT WAS THE SIGNIFICANCE OF THE LIBERAL ELECTION VICTORY OF 1906

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Introduction

WHAT WAS THE SIGNIFICANCE OF THE LIBERAL ELECTION VICTORY OF 1906? "A quiet, but certain, revolution, as revolutions come in a constitutional country" was how Lloyd George hailed the election victory of 1906. The significance of the Liberal election victory of 1906 is that it laid down solid foundations to provide the welfare state we have today. It also saw the rise of the Labour Party, giving the working class its own political voice. The results of the 1906 election were literally a reversal of the 1900 election. The Liberals enjoyed the landslide victory that the conservatives had six years earlier. The 1900 election gave the Conservatives 402 seats to the Liberals 183 seats continuing the Conservative dominance, in the last twenty years the Liberals had only seen three years in government. The 1906 election result gave the Conservatives only 157 seats, former Conservative Prime Minister, Balfour, lost his Manchester seat. The Liberals won 401 seats; these included 24 Lib-Lab MPs; the Liberals would also have the support of 29 Labour members and 82 Irish Nationalists. This was an excellent result which gave the new Government a majority of 356. Although the Conservatives were overwhelmingly defeated, their proportion of the votes did not go down compared to the election in 1900. ...read more.

Middle

Seebolm Rowntree found similar conditions in York. The Conservative's laissez-faire (leave alone) approach to government would have to change. State intervention was the only way forward if the people of Britain were to have a better standard of living. However the laissez-faire approach meant that taxes were low. The Poor Law held a stigma; people were reluctant to apply as there was a moral shame in receiving Poor Law help. This was deliberately done in the 1834 revision of the Poor Law, so there was a need for an alternative. These changes would need finance and some form of tax would be needed to be applied, but the outcome would be beneficial to the population. The Liberal Reforms were to benefit five categories of the population, the children, the sick and injured, the unemployed, the elderly and the workers. In December 1906 the Education (Provision of Meals) Act became law. This bill was actually introduced by a labour back-bencher and meant that the local authorities would provide free school meals to needy children. This became an issue during the Boar War when while recruiting men for the army, it was found that the health of quite a lot of men was so poor they could not enlist. ...read more.

Conclusion

Asquith opposed the belief of several leading members of the government that women should be granted the right to vote. Asquith, however, said that if he was returned to power in 1910 he would make sure that women with property would be granted the franchise. In November 1911 Asquith changed his mind and announced legislation that would allow all adult men to vote. This led to the Women's Social and Political Union organising a window breaking campaign, including an attack on Asquith's home. The suffragettes gained publicity notoriously, chining themselves to railings, committing arson, Emily Davidson committed suicide at the Epsom Derby by throwing herself under the Kings horse. Women who were jailed for their part in these protests went on hunger strike. They were forcibly fed until the Cat and Mouse Act of 1913, this allowed the release of severely emaciated women, and they would then be re-arrested when there health had improved. It was not until 1918 that woman over thirty with property were allowed to vote, it was 1927 before women were given the same voting rights as men. There are many significances of the 1906 General Election victory, the Liberals faced the problems that poverty brought. They provided for the poorest of society, the next generation and the elderly. They laid down solid foundations for a welfare state that could be improved on in years to come. ...read more.

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