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The New Liberalism and the Challenge of Labour: The Welsh Experience, 1885–1929

  • Kenneth O. Morgan

Abstract

The Welsh experience in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries sheds a particularly revealing light on the fortunes of the Liberal Party. For politics and social change in Wales in this period pursued a markedly different course from that prevalent elsewhere in Britain. Recent Welsh politics have been dominated by two major characteristics — first, the completeness of the liberal ascendancy in Wales in the years down to 1914; and secondly, the unrelieved nature of the liberal decline ever since. Unlike much of England and Scotland, Wales has shown no consistent sign of a liberal revival since 1918, in the face of the mounting challenge from labour. There was no liberal recovery in Wales in the late 1950s or the early 1960s — no Welsh Torringtons, Orpingtons or Roxburghs. After the general election of 1966, the liberals retained only one seat in Wales, that of Montgomeryshire; the 1970 election brought no further success.’ The Liberal Party has long since been supplanted by labour in industrial south Wales. In the later 1960s the resurgence of Plaid Cymru posed a new threat to what survived of Welsh liberalism in the rural hinterland also.

Keywords

South Walis Social Reform Labour Party Liberal Party Conscientious Objector 
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Notes

  1. 2.
    For a discussion of the change in one Welsh county see Kenneth O. Morgan, ‘Cardiganshire Politics: the Liberal Ascendancy, 1885–1923’, Ceredigion V (1967), pp. 330–1. The liberals gained a majority of 37 to 10 in the elections for the Cardiganshire County Council in January1889. Their 37 councillors included 13 tenant farmers, 11 small businessmen and 4 Nonconformist ministers.Google Scholar
  2. 4.
    See N. Masterman, The Forerunner (1972). chapter 2, for a searching and sensitive discussion of Ellis’s Oxford days.Google Scholar
  3. 5.
    Kenneth O. Morgan, ‘D. A. Thomas: the Industrialist as Politician’, Glamorgan Historian, III (1966) pp. 46–7.Google Scholar
  4. 8.
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  5. 9.
    Among the major documents for the ‘new liberalism’ are J. A. Hobson, Imperialism: a Study (1902);Google Scholar
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  11. 10.
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  13. 13.
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  14. 14.
    Cambria Daily Leader 29 January 1906. See also T. Morgan, Darlithiwr Enwocaf Cymru: sef y Parch. J. Gomer Lewis (1914) ; and Kenneth O. Morgan, ‘The Gower Election of 1906’, Gower XII (1959) pp. 15–20.Google Scholar
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    For example, ‘Open Letter to the Ministers of the Gospel in the Merthyr Boroughs’, Merthyr Pioneer, 17 June 1911.Google Scholar
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    For example, G. D. H. Cole, A Short History of the British Working Class Movement (1927) vol. 3, pp. 70–7, 101–2.Google Scholar
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    See Kenneth O. Morgan, ‘Twilight of Welsh Liberalism: Lloyd George and the “Wee Frees”, 1918–35’, Bull. Bd. Celtic Studies, XXII (May 1968) pp. 389–91.Google Scholar
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    Kenneth O. Morgan, ‘Lloyd George’s Stage Army: the Coalition Liberals, 1918–22’, in A. J. P. Taylor (ed.), Lloyd George: Twelve Essays (1971) pp. 240–2.Google Scholar
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  27. 62.
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  29. 65.
    J. E. Jones, Tros Cymru (1970) pp. 25–36. A. Butt-Philip, ‘The Political and Sociological Significance of Welsh Nationalism since 1945’ (Oxford D. Phil., 1971) gives an excellent account of the origins of Plaid Cymru. This Thesis is shortly being published by the University of Wales Press.Google Scholar
  30. 72.
    See G. J. Jones, Wales and the Quest for Peace (1970) pp. 97–124.Google Scholar
  31. 73.
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  32. 76.
    Kenneth O. Morgan, ‘Wales and the Boer War-a Reply’, Welsh History Review IV (December 1969) p. 367 if.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited 1974

Authors and Affiliations

  • Kenneth O. Morgan

There are no affiliations available

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