Why did the Liberals win the 1906 General Election by a landslide?
After the Conservative Prime Minister (A. J. Balfour) resigned, the Liberals called a general election in 1906, and won by a ‘landslide’. Whether the Liberals won the election by such a large margin by their own success or the failure of the Conservatives is debatable. Many factors contributed to the outcome of this.
Those who see it as a positive win for the Liberals argue it is due to the bringing in on New Liberalism and its plans on Social Reform, at a time when the welfare of the majority of citizens, the working class, was becoming a key concern. The issues that had split the Liberal Party had been put to one side, like Irish Home Rule and The Boer War was over, which meant the party was stronger because there was agreement throughout. They were strongly united over the issue of Free Trade which was very popular among voters, especially working class, as they feared food prices would increase from Tariff Reform. The Liberals also cleverly used the downfalls of the Conservatives and exploited them at this time, for example, they using the Conservatives misjudgements regarding education and licensing and promising Welsh Disestablishment they were able to win the votes of a lot of non-conformists. Another key factor in the Liberals win was the Lib-Lab pact, by making this deal, they tried to ensure a majority vote for the centre and left wing parties which was a smart move.
However, others have argued that rather than showing a positive reaction to progressive Liberalism, the result reflected an overwhelming rejection of Conservative policies. The main and perhaps one of the most damaging issue for the Conservatives was the Boer War; though it had originally benefited the Conservatives in 1900, promoting patriotism and helping them win the 1900 election, by 1906 there had been more deaths than Britain expected and it had been much more drawn out. The Boer War also helped unveil the...
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