Scotland and the Liberal Party, 1880-1900 : Church, Ireland and empire : A family affair

McLeod, Ian (1978) Scotland and the Liberal Party, 1880-1900 : Church, Ireland and empire : A family affair. MLitt(R) thesis, University of Glasgow.

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At the turn of the century, Scottish Literalism had coma a great distance from where it had stood in the glory days of Midlothian. Battered and riven with factional divisions, it had loner since lost its old position as the national party of Scotland. By the end of 1900, it would even have ceased to be the majority party of Scotland. The very nature of politics had changed. No longer were parties lead by titans as they had been in 1880. Instead, leadership had fallen into the hands of lesser beings who, in the case of the Liberals seemed wholely engaged in an endless and tiresome series of sectional feuds. Politics increasingly divided upon class lines. While the active politicians of the Liberal Party in Scotland tended to continue to be drawn from the middle and upper ranks of society, their electoral support was now almost entirely drawn from the lower orders. The old issues were gone. In the place of struggles for free trade and free, institutions were the rising demands of social reform and working class politics. As a result, political controversy in Scotland, by 1900, had become almost indistinquishable from that of England. In 1880, matters could turn on things specifically Scottish but twenty years later, "Scottish politics" had been reduced to disputes between Scots over issues identical in Birmingham or Glasgow. For Liberalism, the 1890's were at once a period of steady disintegration and of fundamental re-orientation. Between the crash of 1886 and the resurqent triumph of 1906 the intellectual essence of the party was recast. in the midst of these movements it is not surprising that many of the years in between display an appearance of enormous and desperate confusion, Labels, terminology and identifications were all thrown open to the wind as old and new, insuirgent and relic fought for the spoils of the future. In Scotland, the particular strength of the Roseber-yites, the weakness of Lib-Labism, the enduring influence of the old middle class radicals, the strength of national feeling and the depth of emergent talent such a C-B and Sir Robert Reid lent a particularly powerful cast to this whirl of confused alarms and excursions. Perhaps the most striking aspect of Liberalism in Scotland after the Khaki election of 1900 was that the party should have survived as well as it did. While loss of majority status was a tremendous psychological below, the overall pattern of results, given the circumstances, was not all that discouraging. In the face of a campaign of vilification well beyond any of the Home Rule battles, compounded by the stab in the back of the Irish schools question, the Liberals had managed to generally hold their own outside of the Clyde and the Highlands where special factors dominated. That they managed to accomplish this without the benefit of an accented leadership or even much in the way of party unity speaks well of their residual strength. what the party lacked was a 'calling' , a new sense of purpose and direction, and a leader to sew the party together behind it. It was not to be long before a Scotsman, Campbell-Bannerman would voice the cry of methods of barbarian' to begin the long road back. But for Scotland, even in the flush of the triumph of 1906, and a cabinet filled with her sons, the age of independent Scottish political life was nearly over, drowned in tide flood tide of the new politics.

Item Type: Thesis (MLitt(R))
Qualification Level: Masters
Keywords: European history, Political science
Date of Award: 1978
Depositing User: Enlighten Team
Unique ID: glathesis:1978-72021
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 17 May 2019 13:22
Last Modified: 17 May 2019 13:22

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