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With what success did New Liberalism use state intervention to improve living conditions between 1906 and 1914?

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Introduction

With what success did New Liberalism use state intervention to improve living conditions between 1906 and 1914? Before the large Liberal gains that were made in the 1906 elections and subsequent large majority in government the Liberals had maintained a lassiez fraire approach to government which extends all the way back to its implementation with Gladstone, therefore fittingly it was named Gladstonian liberalism. However with the landslide election victory of 1906 the liberals had a working majority to implement social reform. This emphasis on social reform came about in no small part thanks to the tireless work of a group of men. Among them was Charles Booth who's work "Life and Labour of the people of London" in this survey booth ascertained that worryingly 30 percent of the population lived below the "poverty line". With this work from Booth was the work of Rowntree whose "study of town life" showed that the same mass unemployment problem and unacceptable level of poverty was also rife in York. Coupled with this was "Unemployment: A Problem of Industry (1909) a book written by civil servant William Beveridge, he believed that unemployment was an inevitable part of the capitalist system. As well as identifying the fundamental flaws in society concerning the working classes, these influential publications also helped change emphasis about its causes. ...read more.

Middle

I have shown the improvements attempted in the first area concerning children, these attempted improvements were made after reports from the committee on physical deterioration. The next area tackled was that of matters affecting the old was based primarily on the findings of Rowntree and Booth who concluded that old age was a major factor for the poverty being felt by Britain's working class population. Britain had been very slow in introducing pensions and in doing so release he burden of debt from the old age members of the lower classes. Countries such as Germany and New Zealand had introduced them as early as the 1880's and this idea was taken up quickly by other countries around the world. The British government should have been right behind them in implementing this policy what with the reports from Booth, Rowntree and its own committees in outlining the problems with old age poverty and supporting the implementation of old age pensions. Unfortunately early attempts to introduce a pension system had failed despite the support of political heavyweights such as Joseph Chamberlain, because of the staunch defiance of the treasury who argued the scheme would cost too much money. Another major obstacle in earlier attempts to set up a pension scheme was the charity organization something which was set up in 1869 because middle class people were worried that to much charitable aid was being given to those who didn't deserve it. ...read more.

Conclusion

For example the Trade Disputes Act reversed the Taff Vale judgment of 1901 which meant that trade unions were no longer liable for damages caused by pickets. All these measures then add up to paint a rosy picture for Liberal social reform but just how effective was this reform? The answer to that is not clear, however what is clear is that the welfare state lay in the future, the old fashioned ideas and philosophies of some ministers meant that state intervention was not as effective as it could have been. Changes were often modest in scope and some areas of society remained unformed and therefore ineffective. The attack of Liberal schemes in this period often came from the left and tried to show Liberal reform was not far reaching enough and demonstrate the need for a Labour party. Some critics also argue that reform was only really the work of two men Churchill and Lloyd George who dragged the Liberal party behind them. Even men such as Lloyd George were portrayed as men with a shrewd political mind who realized the importance of gaining the lower class vote and so made sum concessions to them rather than wanting actual social change. Finally however, it is clear that the Liberal government had made a hue departure from the laissez faire Liberalism of Gladstonian politics and tried to make a positive intervention and for this they should be commended!! 1,730 words Jordan Anderson ...read more.

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