• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

“Assess the reasonsfor and the success of the Liberal Welfare Reforms” (1906-14)

Extracts from this document...


"Assess the reasons for and the success of the Liberal Welfare Reforms" (1906-14) British politics' History Essay Following the unsuccessful electoral campaigns of 1890s the Liberals gradually began to accept the need for greater state intervention and more social reform. Following the 1906 electoral victory the Liberal party unintentionally set out to install a series of welfare reforms. According to the analysis of J. A. Hobson and L. T. Hobhouse the economic conditions in Britain caused inequality, inefficiency and the rise of radical pressure groups. In response to this 'New Liberalism' neglected the policy of laissez-fair and sought political and electoral co-operation from the Labour and Socialist intellectuals. Subsequently New Liberalism was constructed on the basis of state intervention and a gradual installation of a basic social service system, which increasingly worried the bourgeois section of society. Since George Dangerfield's influential study of the British society under the Liberal government, 'The Strange Death of Liberal England (1935)', many political historians produced coherent and successful attacks against New Liberalism. According to Dangerfield's interpretation the Liberal reforms of 1906-14 were rather limited if not doomed. Contrary to Daingerfield's criticism Peter Clarke's publication, 'Lancashire and the New Liberalism (1970)', emphasised the importance of the Liberal programme. According to Clarke the Liberal reforms, although meagre in essence, proved to be the first ever steps to modernise the infrastructure of the British society. ...read more.


As maintained by Murray both acts "gradually had an impact despite their opponents", who discredited the Liberal approach as being destructive by undermining the independence of the working class family. In spite of this it can thus be argued that the Liberal government took gradual steps to ensure that the disadvantaged section of society had access to basic education, medical care and free school meals, which arguably formed the foundation for a collective, welfare state and underlined the development of 'New Liberalism'. 'New Liberalism' was a radical, new attitude towards the state, which in many ways contradicted the classical approach of 'Gladstonian Liberalism'. Based on the conventional principles of laissez-faire and individualism 'Gladstonian Liberalism' dislocated the government from the economic affairs of the state. This meant that the role of the government had to be small, which as recalled by Potter "restricted the provision of limited social services." Contrary to this line of thought, many Liberals realised the need for more social reform especially to help the unemployed, the old and the sick. Influenced by the economist J. A. Hobson and the sociologist L. T. Hobhouse many government intellectuals accepted the fact that the Liberal party had to abandon the orthodox nature of 'Gladstonian Liberalism' in order to tackle the nationwide social problems. The introduction of Old Age Pension was an important component, which was part of the Liberal welfare package and the new line approach. ...read more.


Little was in order for the agricultural labourers who remained with unsustainable source of income. Between 1900 and 1914 the 'minimum wage standards' rose very little, and the Trade Unions were not impressed by the reforms, as they abandoned the somewhat drawn-out Liberal approach. Another disturbing fact was that in 1914 the percentage of army volunteers rejected as physically unfit was as high as it had been in 1900. However this as Lowe reinforces "was only to be expected". The sudden change made by the benefits of the 'new state aid' would have been unrealistic, there was bound to be a time lag. The deployment of criticism does not require much effort but it is important to remember that the Liberals had faced determined opposition from the Conservatives and sometimes from the right wing of the Liberal party itself. The danger of being perceived as socialists was ultimately there and the fact that many external groups still sustained the belief in individualism added to the pressure. In spite of this, the fact that the Liberals were willing to act upon the public needs should be granted recognition. Jo Grimond argues that "the Liberal reforms were so novel for the times they established all necessary basic principles and therefore as good as created the Welfare state." The vitally important point was that the government had laid the foundations for a welfare state, which Lloyd George and Churchill intended to build later. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE Politics section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related GCSE Politics essays

  1. In detail describe the historical development of the welfare state since 1945 and how ...

    rather than pay high taxes to pay for services such as the NHS. Her radical ideas greatly affected the welfare state between the years of 1979-1997 as the government introduced means testing and selective welfare. One of the first things Margaret Thatcher did was privatise public services and sold off

  2. 1. Why was 'a welfare state' introduced after the War (note here that the term ...

    Labour's universalistic strategy appealed to the people hungry for social change through jobs, better housing and free health care and education. While any coalition government might have been forced to accept the peoples' wishes it was Labour that took the initiative in assessing the political and social atmosphere at the time and pouncing with widespread social reforms.

  1. Critically evaluate/assess the achievements of Sergei Witte and their consequences for the social groups ...

    trial after that he announced that no law would become operative without the approval of the state Dumas; The revolution in 1905 created work unions but also People in professions and businesses joined together in a "union of unions" and set up a central committee to organize it called the St Petersburg Soviet.

  2. Conflict Analysis: Angola

    With this poor record of co-operation on both sides throughout 1997, the aim at fully implementing the peace process by the end of February 1998 was unrealistic. Despite common knowledge to the contrary, UNITA declared it had demobilised on March 6th.

  1. The Negative Impact Of World War 1 On Italy: Weaknesses Of The Liberal State, ...

    The true extent of the 'socialist threat' has been exaggerated but what matters here is what conservatives thought. Their political enemies (socialists) and social inferiors (poorer people) seemed to be in the ascendancy and they increasingly felt abandoned by the Liberal governments.

  2. The Creation of the Welfare State

    needed to be enough people and so they should try and keep clean as mush as they can. The picture is simple because many of the workers were uneducated and it was important that message was conveyed to the illiterate ones as they have little knowledge of how a little

  1. The Impact of Electoral Design on the Legislature.

    The rank order on the party list determines which candidates are elected, for example the top ten to fifteen names. Party Lists may also be national as in Israel, where all the country is one constituency divided into 120 seats.

  2. Free essay

    Consider the view that the liberal government reforms 1906-1914 were more concerned with the ...

    The fact that there had all of a sudden grown a strong emergence of the labour party in the house of commons is extremely important when it comes to arguing that social reforms passed in this period were concerned with the maintenance of Edwardian society.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work