Monday, 29 November 2010

Background: Scottish Politics in 1914

Sir Henry Campbell Bannerman. MP for Stirling and Prime Minister after the Liberal victory in 1906. He symbolised Liberal dominance in Scottish politics. He died in 1908 after leading the Liberal Party to its greatest ever election victory.

The Liberals dominated Scottish politics before WW1. Their appeal was based on moral issues such as Temperance, land reform and Free Trade (which placed them in opposition to the great landowners) and changes in the UK Constitution such as Home Rule for Ireland.

1910 Election showed Liberal dominance: Libs 57 Cons 10 Lab 3.

Why the Liberals?

Seemed to stand up for middle classes and workers against aristocracy and big businessmen against the landowners.
After 1906, New Liberalism led to minimum wages pensions and sickness and unemployment benefits.

Why vote Liberal?

After 1882 Reform Act, new voters in the working classes voted for them.
There was no Labour Party till 1900.
The Young Scots were an energetic group in the party that took the message through leaflets to peoples’ homes and onto the streets.
In 1910 this young Scot group had 2500 members, nearly as big as the entire Independent Labour Party.

Conservative and Unionist Party.

Associated with big landowners and landlords who profited from huge rents to town dwellers.
Cons wanted to protect British wheat farming by putting up trade barriers to foreign competition. This would lead to higher food prices.
Scotland needed foreign trade and did not want trade barriers.

The Labour Party

James Keir Hardie was the first to stand as an Independent Labour Candidate in 1884. He lost.
He believed the Liberals would never do enough for workers.
In 1888 the Scottish Labour Party was created.
It campaigned for health and safety in mines, an eight hour working day, votes for women and home rule for Scotland.
In 1900 this party and other groups got together to create the Labour Party.
Before 1914 the Labour Party was very small in Scotland and had little impact. Yet ten years later it all but replaced the Liberals in Scotland as the main party for Scots.