A Short History of the Liberal Party 1900–88 by Chris Cook

By Chris Cook

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The Marquis of Ripon warned Campbell-Bannerman of this on 28 November. The prospect of the MarquIs of Lansdowne, Joseph Chamberlain or, worse still, Rosebery forming a government decided the issue. The net result was that when King Edward sent for Campbell-Bannerman on 5 December the offer was speedily accepted. The one problem that remained on 5 December concerned whether it should be Asquith or Campbell-Bannerman who led the party in the House of Commons. This had already been the subject of intrigue by Asquith, Grey and Haldane at a meeting at Relugas (Grey's fishing lodge in north-east Scotland) as early as September 1905.

He created not only the General Staff, but by the Territorial and Reserve Forces Act of 1907 revised the whole organisation of the Army. Haldane's energy was at least equalled by the dynamism of Lloyd George at the Board of Trade. His most constructive achievements were the Merchant Shipping Act of 1906 and the Port of London Authority Act which, although it did not become law until Lloyd George had moved to the Treasury, had been prepared by him. A third source of energy came from Winston Churchill, the Under-Secretary at the Colonial Office.

T. Ritchie. In due course these ideas provided the basis for the programme of social reform of the 1905 to 1914 era. The reaction to the power of the National Liberal Federation which set in after 1895 was hardly unexpected. By 1898 the NLF was ready to disavow any claim to be the policy-making centre of the party. Its resolutions recognised that the Federation was not to 'interfere with the 30 A Short History of the Liberal Party time or order in which questions are taken up'. Similarly, the Federation agreed that its relationship with the official leadership was purely advisory.

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