Evolution of the British Party System: 1885-1940

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Routledge, Jul 30, 2014 - History - 230 pages
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By the end of the nineteenth century, reform and development of the British electoral system had inaugurated a new style of mass politics which fundamentally transformed the face of the British party system. This book traces the evolution of recognisably modern parties from their roots in the 1880s through half a century of dramatic change in organisational structure, electoral competition and constitutional thought.
In the House of Commons the Labour Party replaced the Liberals as the radical answer to the Conservative Party. In the country at large the complex web of Victorian social, regional and religious allegiances gave way to a cruder but more dynamic model of modern political loyalties.
The transformation at Westminster and in the constituencies is surveyed in relation to changes to the franchise (including the vote for women), class consciousness, political organisation and doctrine. The comprehensive account explains the varying fortunes of the parties in the face of mass democracy, collectivism, the First World War and economic uncertainty. It also provides a critical insight into the debates and conflicts of interpretation which surround this pivotal period in British political history.
 

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Contents

1 Introduction
1
2 Development of the electoral system before 1914
6
3 The rise of modern party organisation
21
4 Party realignment and Unionist ascendancy 18851905
41
5 The challenge of New Liberalism 19061914
69
6 War and the party system
99
7 The Lloyd George Coalition 19181922
124
8 Threeparty confusion in the 1920s
140
9 The National Governments
176
Select Bibliography
207
Index
211
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About the author (2014)

Robert C. Self is Senior Lecturer in Politics at London Guildhall University.

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