Liberal Reforms 1906 1914 1. Amount Of Poverty 19th century attitudes to poverty • People believed poverty was a sign of personal weakness, as a result of idleness or genetic inheritance. • Poor were treated as semi criminals and blamed for their own misfortune. • ‘Self help is the root of all genuine growth’ • Norman Pearson said poor people were:‘seldom capable of reform’ Charles Booth • Charles Booth discovered that almost 30% of London’s population was extremely poor. • The reports of Charles Booth and Seebohm Rowntree provided politicians with evidence to suggest that no matter how hard certain people tried, they could not lift themselves out of poverty. • Poverty was shown by the reports to have causes, the cures for which were beyond the individual efforts of the poor. Changing Attitudes To Poverty!! • It was becoming increasingly clear that the poor could not deal with circumstances beyond their control. • The assumption that poverty was in some way the fault of the individual was being questioned more and more. • The idea of ”laissez-faire” was being challenged. • There was various charities that were set up to help the poor. 2. National Stock & Efficiency National Security KU: Concerns grew after Britain became involved in a war in South Africa in 1899. Army recruits were needed, however almost 25% of volunteers were rejected due to being physically unfit to serve in armed forced. A: Politicians and the public were concerned over whether or not Britain could survive a bigger war when the ‘fighting stock’ of young men were so unhealthy. National Security KU: In response an Interdepartmental committee on Physical Deterioration was created to examine the problem of ill health in England and Wales. A: The committee recommended in their 1904 reports that diets should be improved and overcrowding should be reduced. They also recommended free school meals (1906) and medical examinations for school children (1912). National Efficiency KU: By the end of the 19th century Britain was facing serious competition from new industrial nations such as Germany. A: Concerns grew over Britain's position as a strong industrial power being threatened and they needed a fit, healthy workforce if they were to compete against Germany. National Efficiency KU: The liberals opened the first labour exchanges to minimise the time a worker was unemployed. A: This increased the efficiency of the labour market which increased the efficiency of the workforce. • ‘If we see a drowning man we do not drag him to the shore. Instead, we provide help to allow him to swim ashore’ – Winston Churchill • Churchill believed that the liberals were trying reduce the unemployment to provide permanent support rather than temporary solution. 3. Fear of Labour and Socialist Parties A ‘New Liberalism’ • A new type of Liberalism had emerged by 1906, and it was this 'new liberalism' which provided the inspiration for the reforms. • New Liberals, such as Lloyd George, Winston Churchill and Herbert Asquith, argued that there were circumstances in which it was right for the state to intervene in people's lives. Lloyd George Herbert Asquith Winston Churchill Popular Socialism • The Labour Party had just been established and it was winning public support for its campaigns for social welfare policies (e.g. old age pensions and unemployment benefits). • The ruling Liberal Party recognised the threat this new party posed to its traditional support in many working class areas. • To counter the threat from the socialist and Labour movement, the Liberals realised that they had to instigate social reforms or risk losing political support from the working classes. 'Gas and water socialism' • Little groups were locally helping the poor so Chamberlain purchased Birmingham's waterworks and also the gas works as the water supply was considered dangerous to public health. • Public works schemes to improve living conditions and public health had been established in the late 19th century, often set up and run by Liberals. • These small, local schemes raised the possibility of similar schemes being a success on a national scale. • This was a selfish motive by the Liberals to stay in power 4. Political advantage and New Liberalism KU and ANALYSIS • KU- Labour was competing for the same voters as the Liberal party. • A- had to change attitudes to reach a new type of voters. • KU- ‘Old Liberal’ – poverty due to personal defects of character • KU- ‘New Liberal’ – state intervention was necessary • A- Liberals had no welfare manifesto, they changed their attitudes to appeal to working class voters • KU- Liberalism was changing long before the formation of the Labour Party in the 1900s. However, there were disagreements over the extent of the reform and some were wary about the reform • A- The party was already changing in an attempt to gain more working class voters as the party had been out of power since 1886. • KU- The Liberal Party began to control local authorities and were deeply involved in social welfare programmes such as: parks, schools, libraries, transport, water and gas supply. • A- The party had already started to introduce welfare reform at a local level, financed by local taxation • KU: By the second half of the 19th Century, society was beginning to get used to increasing levels of government intervention with parties introducing laws such as, the ‘Factory Acts’ and ‘Public Health Acts’ • A- Public attitudes had changed and they now expected increasing amounts of government intervention, which led to the ‘cradle to the grave’ system.