- Changes in the 19th century such as urbanisation, industrialisation and population growth, created new problems for the government to deal with: how to deal with the unemployed, the ill, poor living conditions. Revolutions in newspapers - politics becomes more national. However, some pictures in newspapers e.g depicting poverty, may be quite staged to evoke compassion, aimed at philanthropists. - Wealthy Christians set up communities for the poor. - Growth of cities e.g Manchester- Britain as an unchallenged global power.
Background - changes of 19th century
Liberal Ethos of the government 19th c.
A commitment to:- Political liberty - arguing Britons were free as opposed to countries ruled by despotic leaders e.g the Pope (Protestantism seen as a defining attribute of British identity, associated with liberty)- Reform - series of acts: 1st, 2nd, 3rd reform acts. These acts always have two elements: one being to change the franchise (ability to vote). Usually property owners could vote at this time, but the enfranchisement rules loosen throughout the 19th and 20th century. A fairer representation of a growing population- Religious Toleration - slightly prejudice towards Catholics, though Britain prides itself on a history of religious toleration throughout this period. Thought the Church of England (which has a formal place in the government) is the dominant faith, other religions are tolerated. Throughout this period the biggest fight between religion is within protestants - between Anglicans and non-conformits (all have difference in theology and practice) - Free trade - no taxes on imported goods. In the interest of ordinary people to remove taxes as food will be cheaper. e.g revoking corn taxes will make British bread cheaper. Promotes community and brotherhood between nations - Retrenchment - rolling back the state in terms of taxation. Bound with the view of promoting free trade. Believed that tax undermined people if the state interferes too much
Victorian approach to Welfare - 19th c
- Originally relief was primarily provided by parishes and local communities. However, this system came under pressure in the first half of the 19th century with rising populations and the growth of cities.- The Poor Law Amendment Act 1834 - Establishes the work house - for the sick and unemployed. Wanted to discourage idleness and fecklessness. The work house was deliberately designed to be unpleasant, they didn't want t encourage it. This poor law takes welfare out of politics for much of the 19th century. (Royal Commission set up in 1905 - though ignored, the Liberals then went on to make changes to this law and to the system of work houses) - Original Liberal policies - financial policies were based on the notion of a balanced budget, low taxes and laissez-fair. 19th century they weren't concerned with health service, housing etc. However, economic and social conditions changed meaning these methods were not necessarily effective.- A lot of people started to be concerned about the appalling conditions of the workhouse- Laissez faire approach to government. Even these ideas were perpetuated in literature. Samuel Smiles 'Self Help' = very popular book of the time. Supported little government intervention. Heaven helped them who helps themselves - against just giving money out. Perpetuated the ethos of the workhouse.- Soon there was a 'mixed economy of welfare' (Samuel Smiles) - Other organisations of welfare outside of the workhouses. People coming up with their own community ventures.
- Liberal government elected in a landslide victory 1906 - taking over gov. from the conservatives.- Series of import reforms enacted: school meals, old age pensions, people's budget, labour exchanges, national insurance. - Suddenly the workhouse which dominated the previous century begins to die down- the People's Budget 1909/10 (David Lloyd George = central figure). Really ups the central governments intervention in welfare issues. Instead of local property owners paying, government also pays.
The first budget in British history with the
intent of redistributing wealth amongst the public. Attempt to reduce poverty - Emergence of literature exposing enormous poverty and deprivation in cities. They ask how people can help themselves if they can't even feed themselves. - Critique of Smiles' work. These authors weren't socialist (didn't think the government should do everything for them). Instead they think that the government should enable you to help yourself. e.g John Hobson = new liberal thinker. - Why liberals introduced reforms: Old methods were not as successful due to changing economic and social conditions e.g rising population. Political threat - Labour and the New Unemployment Bill, Britain becoming an inferior race as children aren't healthy and fit - competition with US and Germany after Boer War
Threat to the Liberals
- The Conservatives were the main threat to the Liberal Party. Other leading political group. They also challenged the liberal ethos of their government. e.g in 1903 Chamberlain sought to introduce a tariff on non-empire goods. This challenged liberal ethos of free trade, believing this would benefit the lower classes making things like food cheaper. However, the Liberals would have to find a way of collecting the same money the tax on imported good amounted. Worried that if they had to get this money by increasing people's income tax they would loose/alienate their supporters. - Liberals felt threatened by other political parties who were offering help e.g. Labour and their 'right to work' attitude. the New Unemployed Bill 1907 - everyman had the right to vote, and that if work was not available then it was the responsibility of society to maintain the unemployed. The bill sought to replace the Poor Law. The liberals sought to contain Labour's more radical policies that could deter people from the liberal party. Had to strike a balance, as the Liberals also wanted to maintain support from Labour in the House of Commons.
Introduced the welfare reforms that created a basic British Welfare StateReplaced workhouses with labour exchanged- Daunton argues that though the Liberal party did make many moral reform decisions to improve living conditions, they also had ulterior motives: contain Labour's more radical policies which might alienate their middle-class voters. - Changes to taxation policies introduced to revoke rebellion which may have arose from Labour's plans to introduce a one off capital levy. Retrenchment and rejecting indirect taxation (tax from goods rather than income) were a response to Labour's unpopular proposal, which may have caused supporters to rally against them?- Overall, the Liberal reforms marked a transition point between old laissez-faire attitudes and those of a more collectivist nature. - The reforms made only limited inroads into the problem of poverty e.g e pensions paid were inadequate and the unemployment benefits were limited to only certain trades the Liberals tried to provide some help for the poorer sections of society in order that they could help themselves. - Winston Churchill 'If we see a drowning man we do not drag him to the shore. Instead, we provide help to allow him to swim ashore.'