Liberal Social Policy, 1905-14
WHEN Balfour resigned as Conservative Prime Minister in December 1905 it was partly on the expectation that a weak and disunited Liberal Party would fragment in office and therefore lose the next election. In fact the sensible Scottish Liberal leader Sir Henry CampbellBannerman was able by firm leadership to outgun the potential dissidents of the ‘aristocratic’ wing of his party (Asquith, Grey and Haldane), and in the event all three served in his very powerful Cabinet which on its radical wing included the promising figure of Lloyd George at the Board of Trade and the former trade union leader John Burns at the Local Government Board. Though Burns himself no longer had the ‘fire in his belly’ which had motivated the dockers’ leader of r889, his appointment was of enormous significance since he was the first working man to achieve Cabinet rank. He personally achieved little in his eight years in this post, but his very presence next to ‘marquises and belted knights’ symbolised a new democratic age and concern for the masses.
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