The Unionist Hegemony 1886–1902
The general elections of 1910 provided the first verdict on the Liberal renaissance ushered in by the great Liberal victory of 1906. They were also a final verdict, for by the time the electors were appealed to again the Liberal Party had broken asunder. As a result of this split, the Liberals forfeited for ever their entrenched electoral position as one of the two ruling parties in the system, a position they had possessed and exploited in 1910. But the elections of 1910 were not merely the last significant popular judgements on a united and dominant Liberal Party. They were also the last general elections of Edwardian England; the last general elections fought under the electoral system designed in 1884–5; and the last general elections fought within the party system moulded by the events of 1885–6, and only marginally modified by the intrusion of the Labour Party. As such they provide a final perspective on the politics of a generation.
KeywordsFair Trade Electoral Politics Great BRITAIN Liberal Party Conservative Party
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- 1.For this development see Paul Smith, Disraelian Conservatism and Social Reform (London, 1967); E.J. Feuchtwanger, Disraeli, Democracy and the Tory Party (Oxford, 1968), particularly ch. iv; James Cornford, ‘The Transformation of Conservatism in the Late Nineteenth Century’, Victorian Studies, vii (1963) 35–66; and J. P. D. Dunbabin, ‘Parliamentary Elections in Great Britain, 1869–1900: A Psephological Note,’ English Historical Review, lxxxi (1966) 82–92.Google Scholar
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