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Why did the Liberals win a landslide election in 1906?

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Introduction

Why did the Liberals win a landslide election in 1906? In 1906, the era of Conservative dominance that had lasted for almost a decade ended with a liberal landslide vote that overturned the politics of the day. The Liberal Party won by a majority of 399 seats, compared to 157 for the Conservative and Unionist governments. The party then held this position of power up to and beyond the outbreak of war in 1914. Despite these statistics, however, the Liberal victory was not as great as it seems. There was in fact not much discrepancy between votes, with 2,727,000 for the Liberals and 2,451,000 votes in favour of the Conservatives. The 'first past the post' system definitely worked in the Liberal's favour. ...read more.

Middle

Statistics focussing on the different issues covered in the 1906 election show that the maintenance of free trade was mentioned in 98% of Liberal Election addresses, supporting the opinion that this was the major issue in 1906.2 There were many other issues that also made the Conservative party unpopular with the British public. Foreign policy in particular was a large contributing factor to their defeat. The Boer war in 1899 was significant in making the conservative party look bad and made the Liberals seem a very strong, coordinated and humanitarian party in comparison to them. Issues such as the cruelty of treatment of prisoners during the Boer war, the Chinese Slavery quandary in South Africa brought the government under attack. The ways in which the Conservative Party dealt with issues on social reform also contributed to their reputation of being inhumane. ...read more.

Conclusion

Non-conformists in particular supported the Liberals because they opposed many of the Conservative policies that alienated this sector of society. Groups in Scotland and Wales in particular were affected by the highly pro-Church of England legislations. The newly founded Labour party also aided the Liberals in their success. The run-up to the election became a battle of 3'Rich v. Poor'. The Unionists and Tories were branded 4'Plutocratic parties'. Many of the Conservative gains and acts up to this point were 5'represented as a victory for privilege. It was to no purpose that the Unionist candidates argued one point or another. There was no escaping the general impression.' The success of the Labour party would later become the major aspect to threaten the Liberal Party. 1 Quoted in Pearce and Stewart's British Political History 1867-1990 2 From A.K. Russell, Liberal Landslide: the General Election of 1906 3From Quarterly Review (April 1906) 4 ibid. 5 ibid. Rachel Holmes ...read more.

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