Why Were The Liberals Out Of Power For So Long Between 1889 1905?

1332 words - 6 pages

There were many reasons why the liberals lost power during these years, most notable the split in the party over Irish home rule, and the fact that chamberlain left the party. Also, with the conservatives growing in numbers and a reform of the electoral system the liberals had little hope of winning again, despite their best efforts to fix votes.The liberal's main problem was their prime minister, Gladstone. He was perpetually pushing for home rule in Ireland, something that people in mainland Britain either didn't care about or opposed - hardly a vote winner. He tried to pass the first home rule bill in 1886 at an age of 75. In this first home rule bill he proposed that Ireland establish a ...view middle of the document...

It was his successor to be who won them most popularity in Britain. Chamberlain was a young, charismatic man who was in touch with the people. He was the liberal party's only chance at success, and so when he left the party to form the Liberal Unionists the party was doomed, with only about 25 radical Gladstone supporters left in 1886.As well as a split party there were other factors leading to the decline of the liberal party, The Whigs, along with Chamberlain and some others who were opposed to the liberal views branched off towards the conservatives, strengthening them greatly. They called themselves the liberal unionists, those who were opposed to the home rule bill, and eventually they joined the conservative party greatly strengthening the party as an opposition to the liberals.Also an important factor was the 1884 3rd Reform Act and the 1885 Redistribution of Seats Act. The Redistribution of Seats Act 1885 was a piece of electoral reform legislation that redistributed the seats in the House of Commons again in an attempt to equalize representation across the UK. It was associated with, but not part of, the Reform Act 1884.The Act made the following changes:* 79 towns with populations smaller than 15,000 lost their right to elect an MP;* 36 towns with populations between 15,000 and 50,000 lost one of their MPs and became single member constituencies;* towns with populations between 50,000 and 165,000 were given two seats;* larger towns and the country constituencies were divided into single member constituenciesAs support of the Irish members was needed by both major parties, the representation of Ireland in Parliament was not reduced, even though it had suffered a relative loss of population compared with the rest of the United Kingdom, due to emigration and famine.This new system meant that instead of the Liberals managing to get all three MP's in their most popular areas they now had to fight for one MP. This greatly favoured the Conservatives who had support from most areas of Britain. Votes in an area would be split up into three segments, the aristocrats, working class and the rural areas. The liberals now had to try and secure votes for three of their members from all three sections of society just to make sure that one person would go forward into the House of Commons.As the liberals were outdated and drab it was hard, no matter how much vote fixing they tried to do, to get a majority in certain areas. This strengthened the Conservatives and weakened the Liberal force because different parties were more popular in different areas of a...

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