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Liberal Governments - life for the working

Uploaded by azurefyre on Jul 09, 2001

With what success did the Liberal Governments attempt to improve the quality of life of the working?

The 1906 election, and subsequent landslide victory for the Liberals, was the first step toward the introduction of a welfare state. The Conservatives who were in power up to 1906 had basically ignored the concept of social reform; this had led to them losing the worker's vote and had also led to a decline in the standards of living for the working class. The New Liberals argued for more government intervention to help impoverished society and therefore created the first movements of a social reform. However, the new legislation was only a mediocre success in improving the quality of life for working class people.

"New Liberalism", differing slightly to Gladstonian Liberalism, was essentially state intervention in order to reduce poverty and therefore improve living and working conditions for the working classes. Up until the turn of the century, it was believed that poverty was self-inflicted, and extremely easy to eradicate if the people concerned just tried a little harder. However by the 1906 election, studies on poverty had been completed by Booth and Rowntree, and ideas on the origins of poverty were beginning to change. These studies provided evidence to suggest that no matter how hard certain people tried, they could not lift themselves out of poverty, and needed assistance in the form of state benefits and legislations.

As New Liberalism involved more government intervention, people were wary of it as it was a new concept, and the previous Conservative governments had been unconcerned with most aspects of helping the people. At this time people were scared of change, and many did not understand the benefits of schemes like the National Insurance Act of 1911, where there wasn't a guaranteed payoff and people did not understand why, or to whom, they were paying money. However, as the idea of "deserving" poor and "undeserving" poor still existed even with New Liberalism, not all groups of people received aid. Therefore the new legislation and reforms were not quite as successful as they could have been.

This was partly because the Liberals were more concerned with their political status than increasing legislation for the good of the people. The Liberals were in fear of a potential threat from the newly-formed Labour Party, who relied on votes from the working-class population. The Liberals were also reliant upon the support of...

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Uploaded by:   azurefyre

Date:   07/09/2001

Category:   European History

Length:   4 pages (980 words)

Views:   1824

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