Liberal Landslide: The 1906 General Election

Robert Pearce seeks to provoke thought on the origins of a momentous election result.

The general election of 1906 produced a remarkable transformation of the political scene in Britain. An era of Conservative and Unionist hegemony ended, and what turned out to be a period of Liberal reform began. It was the first 'landslide' victory of the 20th century. Yet textbooks accounts sing very much in unison (the main exception being that one author assigns the contest to 1905!) and rob the victory of the controversy it certainly excited at the time. Two culprits are singled out, the inadequate prime minister A.J. Balfour and his maverick colleague Joseph Chamberlain, so that the election was lost by the Conservatives rather than won by the Liberals. It will be argued here that such a view is simplistic and that the origins of the victory were far more diverse than is often assumed.
The Results
The starting point must be a study of the results of the 1906 election in comparison with the previous contest, held in 1900.

To continue reading this article you will need to purchase access to the online archive.

Buy Online Access  Buy Print & Archive Subscription

If you have already purchased access, or are a print & archive subscriber, please ensure you are logged in.

Please email if you have any problems.