The New Liberalism

The values Liberals and Liberal Democrats have emphasised agree quite well with their definition of liberal. First, and most simply, because there was no alternative agenda on offer. The electoral defeats of the previous decade and the withdrawal of the old Whigs had left something of a vacuum in the Liberal Party, in terms both of ideas and men. Many of the new radicals were able to gain nominations to parliamentary candidatures relatively easily, often being helped by Herbert Gladstone, who played a key part in placing radical candidates in winnable seats and supporting them financially. Outside the Liberal Party, the Conservatives were in significant disarray in the wake of the Chamberlainite split over tariff reform and the electoral disaster of 1906, and the Labour Party had no distinctive programme of its own and was in practice indistinguishable from advanced Liberals.

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