The New Liberalism of C. F. G. Masterman, 1873–1927

  • Edward David


The political career of C. F. G. Masterman has frequently been dismissed as one of failure, of brilliant but unfulfilled promise.1 He was a junior minister at the age of thirty-four and in the cabinet before he was forty. Two years later he left office never to hold it again. Masterman’s electoral vicissitudes earned him a reputation for political ill-luck which seemed to amount to ineptitude. His ministerial career ended in 1915 and his reappearance in the House of Commons in 1923–4 was short-lived. Certainly there was some substance in the charges that his political demise was due to personal failings. He was capable of inspiring tremendous personal loyalty and affection but persistent ill-health, a tendency to melancholy and general untidiness meant that his brilliance and charm could easily be obscured by spasmodic brusqueness, a notably mordant wit, cynicism and an inability on occasion to suffer fools gladly.2 Yet he made a vigorous and eloquent contribution to the development of radical liberalism over more than a quarter of a century. As a liberal publicist he has been rather neglected. This role is perhaps of more enduring significance than his undoubted administrative ability, revealed in his work with Lloyd George and Winston Churchill as the architects of an embryonic welfare state between 1908 and 1914.


Minimum Wage Free Trade Social Reform Labour Government Labour Party 
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Copyright information

© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited 1974

Authors and Affiliations

  • Edward David

There are no affiliations available

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