Chapter

Edwardian Equipoise and the First World War

Ross McKibbin

in Parties and People

Published in print March 2010 | ISBN: 9780199584697
Published online October 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191702402 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199584697.003.0001
Edwardian Equipoise and the First World War

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Those English who reached adulthood before 1914 and were still alive in 1945 witnessed a party-political transformation possibly unique in modern English history: namely, the effective destruction of the Liberal Party as one of England's two governing parties, and with it the marginalization of an important element of the country's political elite. Many of those marginalized were representatives of a form of social Liberalism which could claim to have dominated Edwardian politics both intellectually and politically. In 1914, few would have predicted this outcome and there is little agreement among historians as to why it happened. Nor how it happened; how far, especially, it was the result of the First World War. This chapter argues that the Edwardian system was based upon an equipoise in balance in 1914 but one delicate enough for it to be severely unbalanced by events which began with the outbreak of the First World War.

Keywords: British politics; Edwardian Britain; Edwardian system; World War I; liberalism

Chapter.  12162 words. 

Subjects: Modern History (1700 to 1945)

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