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A great party is in danger…

…A charismatic politician – once a supporter – is now it’s greatest foe. It’s members have abandoned the beliefs that made the party an electoral force. It’s enemies smell blood. Annihilation beckons.

I am, of course, talking about 1924. The party is the Liberal Party. The politician is Winston Churchill. The beliefs are liberal beliefs: property rights, low taxation, low regulation, sound money.

At this point the similarities with anything more modern start to end. The great shift in politics over the previous quarter of a century had been the rise of the Labour Party. Helped by the socialist take over of the trade unions and the extension of the franchise, Labour found themselves in government albeit as a minority administration.

The Liberal response to the rise of the Labour Party had been to steal its clothes. Hence, Lloyd George’s People’s Budget of 1909. This introduced state pensions, a state-run GP service and a limited unemployment benefit scheme. Worse still, a lot of the Liberal Party’s members gave up on the very idea of liberalism. Hence Lord Haldane, one-time Liberal Minister of War could became a Labour Lord Chancellor.

Churchill’s role in this was to identify socialism as the great threat. His argument was that Liberals and Conservatives (or Unionists as they tended to call themselves in those days) needed to put aside their differences to fight the greater enemy. As I write this, a hundred years ago Churchill is inching his way towards becoming a Conservative but – Churchill being Churchill – his first step in that journey is to fight a by-election against an official Conservative candidate.

12 comments to A great party is in danger…

  • jgh

    Aye, back in them days in local government the “Progressive Alliance” were Liberals and Conservatives co-operating to keep the Socialists out.

  • Nicholas (Unlicensed Joker) Gray

    A small point- should we contract ‘Classic Liberals’ into ‘Cliberals’? Or will socialoids find a way to pervert that?

  • Stuart Noyes

    I’d like to think I’m conservative. I do however agree with old age pension and the national health service.

  • Hugh

    “Six shillings a week for cheating death is what Lloyd George gives me”

    At 65. It was a merciful provision for those who really were past working. In those days.

  • Stuart Noyes

    I happen to know for a fact many of my ancestors had to work until they dropped. Spent their last days in the workhouse, that was part hospital.

  • Stonyground

    My take on the NHS.
    No one has to worry about health insurance or expensive medical bills.
    Everything else.

    As I see it, the pro part is a real biggy and that is why, no matter how bad the service becomes, the majority of people will remain in favour of it.

  • Roué le Jour

    The NHS problem is that people conflate “taxpayer funded” with “owned and operated by the state”. They are not the same thing at all. The state wishes run healthcare because it is a mass employer and thus provides the state with an army of supporters. Exactly the same thing is true of education.

    The state owning and operating schools, hospitals and broadcasters is straight up communism and overdue for reform. The State’s involvement should be limited to signing the cheques.

  • Paul Marks

    Ironically in his younger years Winston Churchill had helped push along the intellectual decline of the Liberal Party.

    John Morley (the friend and biographer of Gladstone) had helped convince Churchill to join the Liberal Party – – but the studies of John Morley showed that the “New Liberalism”, statism “Social Reform”, made things worse (worse – not better) than they otherwise would be.

    Young Winston refused to accept that truth – and allied himself with David Lloyd-George and the other “New Liberals” or “Social Reformers”.

    Some of what they did also, I am afraid, strikes me as dishonest – not just economically wrong. For example, they denied that their 1906 Trade Union Act (heaping even more powers on unions – as if Disraeli’s Act of 1875 had not done enough harm) would increase unemployment – but they set up “Labour Exchanges” in a futile effort to deal with anticipated…. well anticipated what? Anticipated higher UNEMPLOYMENT – the very thing they denied that their 1906 Act would lead to.

    Such things as the 1909 state pensions and the 1911 “national insurance” Act they said were NOT for the purpose of undermining the Friendly Societies (the mutual aid fraternities) – yet in private they openly admired the Prussian-German system were the state (not mutual aid fraternities) dealt with old age and sickness (even the Prussian system did not subsidise unemployment – that twist was added by the British “New Liberals” in 1911 – who seemed fanatically determined to undermine British economy and society).

    It was not just the thought and study of John Morley that was rejected – it was also the experience of people who had spent their lives helping the poor, at their own expense.

    The classic example is the Poor Law report – there were two reports into the Poor Law.

    The “Majority Report” written by people who had spent their lives (their own time as well as their own money – sometimes ruining their own health in the process) helping the poor – and the “Minority Report” (written by socialists – such the totalitarian “wolves disguised as sheep” Fabians) – the Majority Report warned that state benefits were already been handed out too freely, the Minority Report wanted an orgy of more state schemes.

    Guess which report the “New Liberals” or “Social Reformers” of the early 1900s agreed with.

  • Paul Marks

    As for the present situation – what is there to say about a man whose main contribution to public life is, by his own admission, that he spent vast amounts of money (money created from nothing – hence the later cost of living crises of inflation) paying people NOT to work (the “furlough scheme” – part of the counter productive “lockdown” policy which did NOT reduce the Covid death rate). Yes all political parties supported these terrible policies, and yes the policies were really handed down by international bodies – but some national governments (even some American State Governors) said NO and stuck to NO.

    I am told that he is, personally, a nice man who loves his wife and children – there is nothing else that one can say about the Gentleman, so I will stop here.

  • Paul Marks

    On the idea of government paying for private health care – that does not work well in the United States where Medicare and Medicaid are totally out of control, and the regulations that (inevitably) come with state funding, meant that, for a long period of time, doctors who treated their patients for Covid were punished (yes punished) – because the government and the vast corporations (which are joined at the hip – they are basically the same entity now) did NOT want Early Treatment as it might mean they did not get to push their Covid “vaccines”.

    Sorry, but the American Corporate State is not a good idea – not because it is American, but because a Corporate State, in any country or “historical period”, is a bad idea – it does harm.

    For example, anyone who has worked with corporations providing public services (for example road repairs) in Britain (and I have) knows what a rip-off “contracting out” (and all the rest of it) has proved to be – sorry IEA and ASI, but you have no practical experience of what you preach.

    The free market way is for customers to pay direct – not via the state, but that is another discussion.

  • Paul Marks

    I really must stress that government getting involved with corporations ends up as a terrible swindle of the taxpayers.

    Whether it is “PFI” (Private Finance Initiative – beloved of Gordon Brown), “private providers” in children’s social care, road repairs, or anything else – the taxpayer gets ripped off, on a truly dreadful scale. And the service provided is very bad.

    “The government will pay – but we will get corporations in to do the job” is the road to utter ruin.

    Unlike the IEA or the ASI I have the blessing, or the curse, of knowing what I am talking about.

  • Stuart Noyes

    Westminster is an integrity free zone. The political parties have two goals – to survive and be in government. They don’t have any principles or ideologies. They will fight to maintain their monopoly in the establishment.

    There is no perfect solution. PR and Direct Democracy both have flaws.

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