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1906: The Liberal landslide

Lloyd George and Winston Churchill in 1910
Lloyd George, the last Liberal PM, takes the lead over Churchill
On Saturday BBC Parliament marks the centenary of the landmark 1906 Liberal election victory.

The landslide result of that year was the equivalent to that experienced by the Labour Party in 1997.

But it was an electoral pact with the newly affiliated Labour Party that helped secure the Liberals' win one hundred years ago.

This political alliance gave birth to the modern Parliamentary Labour Party - which also celebrates its centenary this year - as its predecessor, the Labour Representation Committee, secured 29 of the 50 seats it contested in the 1906 poll.

Some historians argue that this election ushered in a new age of British politics, with the beginning of the end of the Liberal Party as Labour began to attract those whose interests lay in social reform.

Yet the 1906 to 1915 Liberal Governments are regarded as laying the foundations of the welfare state.

Under the direction of Asquith, Lloyd George and Churchill - before he crossed the floor - the Liberal Party established the national insurance system and broke the power of the House of Lords with the People's Budget of 1909.

The original new Labour

Prior to Ramsay Macdonald's secret pact with Liberal Herbert Gladstone - where the Liberals did not stand in several Conservative seats in the north-west in return for Labour support in Parliament - the Labour movement was a loose affiliation of groups.

The Conference on Labour Representation in February 1900 produced the Labour Representation Committee as a more formal coalition of the working people, socialists and trade unionists which became the Labour Party.

Labour leaders worked with the Liberal administrations to create more favourable conditions for the Party, including the Trade Disputes Act of 1906 and the payment of MPs in 1911.

By the 1924 election Labour had secured its position in British politics when Ramsay Macdonald was ask to lead a Hung Parliament.

The City of London anniversary lecture, 'Blissful Dawn? The 1906 Election and the Liberal Government', will be broadcast on BBC Parliament on Saturday 11 February at 2045GMT, repeated overnight



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