David Lloyd George: the legacy

One of the greatest Liberal prime ministers, David Lloyd George, was born 150 years ago. Come and discuss his legacy, for the country and for Liberalism, with his biographer Kenneth O. Morgan and David Howarth. Chair: Lady Celia Thomas. A Liberal Democrat History Group / Lloyd George Society meeting.

The progressive coalition that never was lessons from the Ashdown-Blair ‘project’

Between 1994 and 1999, Paddy Ashdown and Tony Blair led a process of collaboration between the Liberal Democrats and the Labour Party, with the aim not merely of defeating the Conservatives but of establishing clear common ground between the progressive parties in British politics. Some of the outcomes of this process – ‘the project’, in […]

The Liberal Party, Unionism and political culture in late 19th and early 20th century Britain

A one-day seminar organised by Newman University College and the Journal of Liberal History. The late 19th and early 20th centuries saw great changes in British political culture. The gradual emergence of a mass electorate informed by a popular press, debates about the role of the state in social policy, Imperial upheavals and wars all […]

The Day Parliament Burned Down

In the early evening of 16 October 1834, a huge ball of fire exploded through the roof of the Houses of Parliament, creating a blaze so enormous that it could be seen by the King and Queen at Windsor, and from stagecoaches on top of the South Downs. In front of hundreds of thousands of […]

Mothers of liberty: how modern liberalism was made by women

Thanks to their exclusion from the right to vote and to stand for Parliament before 1918, the role of women in Liberal history is often overlooked. Yet many women played crucial roles, from the earliest days of Liberal history, as organisers, campaigners and theorists. This meeting analysed and celebrated the importance of women to the […]

Winston Churchill: Tory or Liberal?

“I am an English Liberal. I hate the Tory Party, their men, their words and their methods.” These were Winston Churchill’s own words in 1903. As a Liberal, Churchill held high government office and, along with Lloyd George, was regarded as one of the driving forces of Asquith’s reforming administration. Was Liberalism his true political […]

Whatever happened to ‘Orpington Man’?

The Orpington by-election of March 1962 was a political landmark: a stunning victory for Jo Grimond’s Liberal Party, as Eric Lubbock turned a Conservative majority of 14,760 into a Liberal majority of 7,855. The term ‘Orpington Man’ was coined by the press to identify a new type of voter, young, white-collar, skilled, well-educated and upwardly […]

Peace, Reform and Liberation: launch of new Liberal history book

Peace, Reform and Liberation is a comprehensive history of Liberal politics in Britain. Drawing on the most recent scholarly research, the Liberal Democrat History Groups new book examines the roots of Liberal thinking in the revolutionary tumult of the seventeenth century, the history of Whig politics, how the Liberal Party was formed in the mid-nineteenth […]

Forgotten heroes for a governing party

Some forgotten figures of Liberal history may deserve their obscurity, but most remain an unmined source of reference, quotation and inspiration for the contemporary Liberal Democrat – especially now, when the party is participating in national government for the first time in more than a generation. At this year’s Liberal Democrat History Group summer meeting, […]

Riding the tiger – the Liberal experience of coalition governments

A one day seminar organised by the Archives Division of the London School of Economics, the British Liberal Political Studies Group and the Journal of Liberal History. The distinguished psephologist Dr David Butler has pointed out that coalitions between unequal partners can turn out to be like the relationship between the tiger and the young […]

Lords Reform 1911-2011

The 1911 Parliament Act, introduced in the wake of the rejection by the House of Lords of Lloyd George’s People’s Budget and the two general elections of 1910, was the first successful reform of the powers of the upper house and gave constitutional supremacy to the elected House of Commons. Now, one hundred years after […]

The Great Reform Act of 1832: its legacy and influence on the Coalition’s reform agenda

Soon after becoming Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg promised “the most significant programmes of reform by a British government since the 19th century…. the biggest shake-up of our democracy since 1832.” But how do the Coalition governments constitutional changes actually compare to the changes brought in by the Great Reform Bill of 1832? Dr Philip […]

Election 2010 in historical perspective

The 2010 election must rank as one of the strangest in the history of the Liberal Democrats or its predecessor parties. Britains first-ever television debates saw the party catapulted into the front rank of news coverage. Yet after successive opinion polls regularly showed the Lib Dems in at least second place, the result was a […]

Thomas Paine and the radical liberal tradition

To coincide with the publication of the special issue of the Journal of Liberal History on Liberalism and the Left (summer 2010), we are delighted to welcome Prof Edward Royle and Dr Edward Vallance to the History Group for an evening focusing on the life, works and influence of Thomas Paine. In the two centuries […]

Red Guard versus Old Guard? The influence of the Young Liberal movement on the Liberal Party in the 1960s and 1970s a witness seminar

In the 1960s and early 1970s the press coined the phrase the “Red Guard” to describe the radical politics of the youth wing of the Liberal Party. At the 1966 Party Conference in Brighton, the Red Guard sponsored an anti-NATO resolution. Over the next decade the YLs were active on a number of foreign policy […]

What’s left of Gladstonian Liberalism in the Liberal Democrats?

Since the publication of The Orange Book: Reclaiming Liberalism edited by David Laws and Paul Marshall in 2004, there has been an ongoing discussion in the Liberal Democrats about whether the party needs to return to the nineteenth-century Gladstonian inheritance of non-interventionism in economic and social affairs, self-help and an emphasis on personal and political […]

A celebration and exploration of aspects of the life, career and thought of John Stuart Mill

In 1859, the philosopher and leading liberal theorist of Victorian Britain, John Stuart Mill, published his most important and enduring work On Liberty. In this essay Mill set out the principle, still acknowledged as universal and valid today, that only the threat of harm to others could justify interfering with anyones liberty of action. The […]

A delicate balance

The long-term decline in popularity of Labour and the Conservatives, and the growth in the number of third-party MPs at Westminster including mostly notably those of the Liberal Democrats means that a Parliament with no single-party overall majority is now arithmetically much more likely. Any third party holding the balance of power in Parliament finds […]

The strange birth of Liberal England

One hundred and fifty years ago, on the 6 June 1859, at Willis Rooms in St James, Westminster, Radical, Peelite and Whig Members of Parliament met to formalise their Parliamentary coalition to oust the Conservative government and finally brought about the formation of the Liberal Party. To commemorate the compact made at Willis Rooms in […]