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Explain Why the Liberal Party Won a Landslide Victory in the 1906 General Election

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Submitted By CGregory09
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Explain why the Liberal Party won a landslide victory in the 1906 general election

There were many factors that enabled the victory of the Liberal Party in the 1906 election, most importantly, due to the neglect of social reforms when the Conservatives were in power between 1885 and 1906. Also, the Liberals used the disregard from the Conservatives for the tariff reform campaign in 1903 to encourage many citizens to vote Liberal, this links to the fact the Liberals mostly gained a lot of support by portraying the conservatives to be untrustworthy and only having concern to the aristocrats, rather than discussing new reforms to help citizens, of which, mostly were in poverty. This is supported by the fact the Liberals had 244 more seats than the Conservative Party commencing the election in 1906.
The most significant reason for the Conservatives defeat in 1906, was due to their neglect of social reform, and with 35% of people in London in poverty and 10% of people below the poverty line, discovered by Charles Booth and Rowntree’s, through their research, social reform was needed, but was ignored by the conservatives, encouraging those of lower class to vote against the Conservatives as they would not be affected positively by them being in power once again. This is further emphasised during the Boer War between 1899 and 1902 where it was found two thirds of soldiers were unfit to fight, causing outrage in Britain as there were no social reforms raised to help this. However, the Liberal Party were discussing the need of social reform due to the findings of Booth and Rowntree, which ensured the minimum standard of living for those who were vulnerable, thus encouraging people to vote for the Liberal party, as they sought a better standard of living and wanted a party who cared more about their lower class citizens.
In addition, the Tariff reform campaign, launched by Joseph Chamberlain, from 1903 feared a large proportion of citizens, as they believed living standards would decrease. The conservatives thought this complain would protect the British jobs and its position in the world but this was one of their biggest misjudgments, as it could also mean dearer food, thus decreasing living standards as poorer people would have insufficient funds to buy food. Therefore, this showed the Conservative party to be unconcerned to the working class. This campaign caused such fury among citizens that it had divided the conservative government and encouraged Winston Churchill to vote liberal. Due to this campaign it had encouraged many initial conservative supporters to vote liberal. Also, as Winston Churchill was an influential figure during 1906 it was possible he influenced others to vote liberal too, therefore, contributing to the landslide victory for the Liberal Party in the election.
Furthermore, the 1902 Education Act, campaigned by David Lloyd George had angered non- conformists, encouraging them to revert to the Liberal Party. This act meant local taxes raised would be sent on religious schools, which was why non-conformists were enraged by this. Similarly to this, the licensing Act of 1904 infuriated non-conformists as it went against their views by compensating brewers and publicans for the cancellation of their licences. This encouraged many non-conformists to again revert to the Liberal Party and because they were strong in areas such as Wales it helped divert the vote in marginal constituencies, therefore, contributing to the Liberals landslide victory.
Moreover, the Taff Vale case had helped significantly to the Liberal Party in gaining support as it depicted the conservatives to be untrustworthy. The Conservative Party failed to be involved in the trade unions in 1901 with a dispute between the Taff Vale Railway Company and its workers which meant people could strike but their union had to compensate their losses discouraging strikes and therefore, not allowing citizens to demand changing, showing that the Conservatives were unconcerned for the working class people. Therefore, people who were of working class voted against conservatives, securing the victory for the Liberals.
Overall, I think that the landslide victory for the Liberal Party was due to their negative campaign against the Conservative Party, attacking their previous reforms. In my opinion, I think it can be argued that their victory wasn’t a landslide and although they gained 244 more seats than the Conservatives they only gain 5% more votes than the party, this was partly due to the fact that the Liberal Party were not making new reforms but manipulating the Conservatives mistakes.…...

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