Essay about The Foundations Of The British Welfare State

1398 Words Oct 26th, 2014 6 Pages
The following essay sets out to critically discuss the assertion that the foundations of the British welfare state were laid by Liberal welfare reforms between 1906 and 1914. It will examine key influences that shaped welfare reforms between 1906 and 1914, and discuss the political, social and economic factors pre-dating this historic chapter in British social and political life. It will look back to the reasons for state intervention and reforms of the 19th Century to understand the relevance and impact these had in the Liberal reforms and the ultimate formation of the British welfare state in the 1940s.

It has been argued the consensus among historians is that the 1906 Liberal general election victory was not won on the basis of proposed social reform. The Liberal leader, Henry Campbell-Bannerman, had shown no great enthusiasm to enact support for old age pensions or unemployment, while matters on reforms to the Poor Law did not figure in many Liberal election candidates’ platforms. The Liberal election campaign instead concentrated on free trade and the question of Chinese slave labour in British territories in South Africa (Murray, 1999, p.97). Sullivan argues that while not the main feature of their election manifesto, social reform was in fact one of the main recipients of their landslide victory. Workingmen and women were of the belief that the two party system of government did little to represent them. Thus fifty-three Labour MPs secured in the 1906 election…

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