Why was there a Liberal Government in Britain from 1905 until the First World War? And why was the Liberal party replaced by the Labour party so shortly afterwards? These are the kinds of problems which Dr Clarke examines in his study of the Edwardian Liberal revival in Lancashire. The vote in north-west England was largely responsible for bringing the Liberal Government into power and for maintaining its position, but it also produced almost half the new Labour M.P.'s in 1906. Thus, any satisfactory interpretation of electoral history in the early twentieth century must account for what happened in Lancashire.
Dr Clarke argues that politics underwent a fundamental change in the generation before 1914. Suggesting that the Liberal Party helped promote this change and put itself in a position to benefit from it, the author discusses the important roles played by C. P. Scott and Winston Churchill, and concludes that by 1910 the party's long-term prospects appeared much brighter than they had in Gladstone's time. This case is fully substantiated by an analysis of Lancashire's electoral history. Among subjects examined by the author are: the influence of religion; the cotton industry's attitude to Free Trade; the workings of the electoral system; the development of party organisation; and the relations between Liberalism and Labour.
This book calls into question many of the conventional assumptions about British politics in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. It will be of considerable interest not only to historians but also to those in the field of politics and political sociology.