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Processing Feedback The Conservatives — at the time called "Unionists" — were the dominant political party from the s until The party had many strengths, appealing to voters supportive of imperialism , tariffs, the Church of England , a powerful Royal Navy , and traditional hierarchical society. There was a powerful leadership base in the landed aristocracy and landed gentry in rural England, plus strong support from the Church of England and military interests.
Historians have used election returns to demonstrate that Conservatives did surprisingly well in working-class districts. Nevertheless, the weaknesses were accumulating, and proved so overwhelming in that they did not return to complete power until There was a bitter split on "tariff reform" that is, imposing tariffs or taxes on all imports , that drove many of the free traders over to the Liberal camp. Tariff reform was a losing issue that the Conservative leadership inexplicably clung to.
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The Liberal Party lacked a unified ideological base in However, the Dissenters were losing support and society at large and played a lesser and lesser role in party affairs after They included secularists from the labour movement. The middle-class business, professional and intellectual communities were generally strongholds, although some old aristocratic families played important roles as well.
The working-class element was moving rapidly toward the newly emerging Labour Party. One uniting element was widespread agreement on the use of politics and Parliament as a device to upgrade and improve society and to reform politics. The Labour Party was emerging from the rapidly growing trade union movement after In it entered the Gladstone—MacDonald pact with the Liberals, allowing for cross-party support in elections, and the emergence of a small Labour contingent in Parliament.
It was a temporary arrangement until the s, when the Labour Party was strong enough to act on its own, and the Liberals were in an irreversible decline. Subtle social changes in the working-class were producing a younger generation that wanted to act independently. Michael Childs argues that the younger generation had reason to prefer Labour over Liberal political styles.
Social factors included secularised elementary education with a disappearing role for Dissenting schools that inculcated Liberal viewpoints ; the "New Unionism" after brought unskilled workers into a movement previously dominated by the skilled workers;  and new leisure activities, especially the music hall and sports, involved youth while repelling the older generation of Liberal voters. The government entered the Second Boer War with great confidence, little expecting that the two small rural Boer republics in southern Africa with a combined White population less than London would hold off the concentrated power of the British Empire for two and half years, and take , Imperial troops to secure victory.
Great orators, such as Liberal David Lloyd George , who spoke against the war, became increasingly influential. Nevertheless, Liberal Unionist Joseph Chamberlain , who was largely in charge of the war, maintained his hold on power. When General Kitchener took command in , he initiated a scorched earth policy in order to foil Boer guerilla tactics.
Captured Boer combatants were transported overseas to other British possessions as prisoners of war. However he relocated noncombatant Boers—mostly women and children—into heavily guarded internment camps. The internment camps were overcrowded with bad sanitation and meagre food rations. Contagious diseases such as measles, typhoid and dysentery were endemic. Many of the internees died. Emily Hobhouse visited the camps and brought the conditions to the attention of the British public.
Public outcry resulted in the Fawcett Commission which corroborated Hobhouse's report and eventually led to improved conditions. Jan Smuts —a leading Boer general—became a senior official of the new government and even became a top British official in the World War. In , the six British self-governing colonies of Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria, Tasmania, South Australia, and Western Australia united to form the Commonwealth of Australia, with almost complete control of its internal affairs, but with foreign policy and defence handled by London. Edmund Barton was the first prime minister.
The Liberal Party under Henry Campbell-Bannerman rallied Liberals around the traditional platform of free trade and land reform and led them to the greatest electoral victory in Liberal Party history. Campbell-Bannerman retired in and was succeeded by Asquith. He stepped up the government's radicalism, especially in the " People's Budget " of that proposed to fund expanded social welfare programmes with new taxes on land and high incomes.
It was blocked by the Conservative-dominated House of Lords , but eventually became law in April Almost half of the Liberal MPs elected in were supportive of the ' New Liberalism ', which advocated government action to improve people's lives. Liberals in — passed major legislation designed to reform politics and society, such as the regulation of working hours, National Insurance and the beginnings of the welfare state, as well as curtailing the power of the House of Lords.
Women's suffrage was not on the Liberal agenda. At first it applied to four industries: chain-making, ready-made tailoring, paper-box making, and the machine-made lace and finishing trade. Under the leadership of David Lloyd George Liberals extended minimum wages to farm workers. Conservative peers in the House of Lords tried to stop the People's Budget. The Liberals passed the Parliament Act to sharply reduce the power of the House of Lords to block legislation. The cost was high, however, as the government was required by the king to call two general elections in to validate its position and ended up frittering away most of its large majority, with the balance of power held by Labour and Irish Parliamentary Party members.
Germany's Chancellor Otto von Bismarck dominated European diplomacy from , with the determination to use the balance of power to keep the peace. There were no wars. Bismarck was removed by an aggressive young Kaiser Wilhelm in , effectively decentralizing the Bismarckian Order that had been shrewdly managed and empowering French efforts to isolate Germany.
With the formation of the Triple Entente , Germany began to feel encircled: to the West lay France, with whom rivalry was awakening after a generation of dormancy following the Franco-Prussian War , to the East sat Russia, whose rapid industrialization worried leaders across the Continent, and in the seas, British primacy threatened a unified Germany's efforts to develop its ports and maintain its new global empire.
Germany was not interested. France thus had a formal alliance with Russia, and an informal alignment with Britain, against Germany and Austria. Britain abandoned the policy of holding aloof from the continental powers, so called " Splendid Isolation ", in the s after being isolated during the Boer War. Britain concluded agreements, limited to colonial affairs, with her two major colonial rivals: the Entente Cordiale with France in and the Anglo-Russian Entente of Britain's alignment a reaction to an assertive German foreign policy and the buildup of its navy from which led to the Anglo-German naval arms race.
After , foreign policy was tightly controlled by the Liberal Foreign Secretary Edward Grey , who seldom consulted with his party leadership. Grey shared the strong Liberal policy against all wars and against military alliances that would force Britain to take a side in war. However, in the case of the Boer War, Grey held that the Boers had committed an aggression that it was necessary to repulse. The Liberal party split on the issue, with a large faction strongly opposed to the war in Africa .
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The Entente, in contrast to the Triple Alliance or the Franco-Russian Alliance , was not an alliance of mutual defence and Britain therefore felt free to make her own foreign policy decisions in The Liberals were highly moralistic, and by they have been increasingly convinced that German aggression violated international norms, and specifically that its invasion of neutral Belgium was completely unacceptable in terms of morality, Britain and Germany's obligations under the Treaty of London , and in terms of British policy against any one power controlling the continent of Europe.
Until the last few weeks before it started in August , almost no one saw a world war coming. The expectation among the generals was that because of industrial advances any future war would produce a quick victory for the side that was better-prepared, better armed, and faster to move. No one saw that the innovations of recent decades—high explosives, long-range artillery and machine guns—were defensive weapons that practically guaranteed defeat of massed infantry attacks with very high casualties.
After the dominance of Britain's Royal Navy was unchallenged; in the s Germany decided to match it. Grand Admiral Alfred von Tirpitz — dominated German naval policy from until Tirpitz turned the modest little fleet into a world-class force that could threaten the British Royal Navy. The British responded with new technology typified by the Dreadnought revolution. It made every battleship obsolete and, supplemented by the global network of coaling stations and telegraph cables, enabled Britain to stay well in the lead in naval affairs.
Apart from a determination to retain a strong naval advantage, the British lacked a military strategy or plans for a major war. The Edwardian era stands out as a time of peace and prosperity. There were no severe depressions, and prosperity was widespread.
Britain's growth rate, manufacturing output and GDP but not GDP per capita fell behind its rivals, the United States and Germany, but the nation still led the world in trade, finance and shipping, and had strong bases in manufacturing and mining. However, major achievements should be underlined. London was the financial centre of the world—far more efficient and wide-ranging than New York, Paris or Berlin. Britain had built up a vast reserve of overseas credits in its formal Empire, as well as in its informal empire in Latin America and other nations.
Pioneering Over Four Epochs
It had huge financial holdings in the United States, especially in railways. These assets proved vital in paying for supplies in the first years of the World War. The amenities, especially in urban life, were accumulating—prosperity was highly visible. The working classes were beginning to protest politically for a greater voice in government, but the level of industrial unrest on economic issues was not high until about By the lates, the Industrial Revolution had created new technologies that changed the way people lived.
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The growth of industry shifts in manufacturing factories, special-purpose machinery and technological innovations, which led to increased productivity. Gender roles shifted as women made use of the new technology to upgrade their lifestyle and their career opportunities. Mortality declined steadily in urban England and Wales — Robert Millward and Frances N.
Bell looked statistically at those factors in the physical environment especially population density and overcrowding that raised death rates directly, as well as indirect factors such as price and income movements that affected expenditures on sewers, water supplies, food, and medical staff. The statistical data show that increases in the incomes of households and increases in town tax revenues helped cause the decline of mortality. The new money permitted higher spending on food, and also on a wide range of health-enhancing goods and services such as medical care.
The major improvement in the physical environment was the quality of the housing stock, which rose faster than the population; its quality was increasingly regulated by central and local government.
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Clive Lee argues that one factor was the continued overcrowding in Scotland's housing. Winter attributes this to the full employment and higher wages paid to war workers. For housewives, sewing machines enabled the production of ready made clothing and made it easier for women to sew their own clothes; more generally, argues Barbara Burman, "home dressmaking was sustained as an important aid for women negotiating wider social shifts and tensions in their lives.
Numerous new magazines appealed to her tastes and help define femininity. The inventions of the typewriter, telephone, and new filing systems offered middle-class women increased employment opportunities. Education and status led to demands for female roles in the rapidly expanding world of sports. Women were very active in church affairs, including attendance at services, Sunday school teaching, fund raising, pastoral care, social work and support for international missionary activities.
They quietly submitted to their almost complete exclusion from practically all leadership roles. As middle-class women rose in status they increasingly supported demands for a political voice. Asquith , blocked it. There were numerous organisations which did their work quietly.
Founded in , it was tightly controlled by the three Pankhursts, Emmeline Pankhurst — , and her daughters Christabel Pankhurst — and Sylvia Pankhurst — This had the effect of energizing all dimensions of the suffrage movement. While there was a majority of support for suffrage in parliament, the ruling Liberal Party refused to allow a vote on the issue; the result of which was an escalation in the suffragette campaign.
The WSPU, in dramatic contrast to its allies, embarked on a campaign of violence to publicize the issue, even to the detriment of its own aims. Although abortion was illegal, it was nevertheless the most widespread form of birth control in use. Those who transported contraceptives could be legally punished. Contraceptives became more expensive over time and had a high failure rate. Unlike contraceptives, abortion did not need any prior planning and was less expensive.
Newspaper advertisements were used to promote and sell abortifacients indirectly. Not all of society was accepting of contraceptives or abortion, and the opposition viewed both as part of one and the same sin. Abortion was much more common among the middle-classes than among those living in rural areas, where the procedure was not readily available. Women were often tricked into purchasing ineffective pills. In addition to fearing legal reprimands, many physicians did not condone abortion because they viewed it as an immoral procedure potentially endangering a woman's life.
Feminists of the era focused on educating and finding jobs for women, leaving aside the controversial issues of contraceptives and abortion, which in popular opinion were often related to promiscuity and prostitution. The Church condemned abortion as immoral and a form of rebellion against the child-bearing role women were expected to assume. Many considered abortion to be a selfish act that allowed a woman to avoid personal responsibility, contributing to a decline in moral values. Consequently, the size of families decreased drastically.
The Poor Law defined who could receive monetary relief. The act reflected and perpetuated prevailing gender conditions. In Edwardian society, men were the source of wealth. The law restricted relief for unemployed, able-bodied male workers, due to the prevailing view that they would find work in the absence of financial assistance. However, women were treated differently. After the Poor Law was passed, women and children received most of the aid. The law did not recognise single independent women, and put women and children into the same category. If a man was physically disabled, his wife was also treated as disabled under the coverture laws, even though coverture was fast becoming outmoded in the Edwardian era.
Unmarried mothers were sent to the workhouse, receiving unfair social treatment such as being restricted from attending church on Sundays. During marriage disputes women often lost the rights to their children, even if their husbands were abusive. At the time, single mothers were the poorest sector in society, disadvantaged for at least four reasons. First, women lived longer, often leaving them widowed with children. Second, women had fewer opportunities to work, and when they did find it, their wages were lower than male workers' wages.
Thirdly, women were often less likely to marry or remarry after being widowed, leaving them as the main providers for the remaining family members. Finally, poor women had deficient diets, because their husbands and children received disproportionately large shares of food.
Many women were malnourished and had limited access to health care. Edwardian Britain had large numbers of male and female domestic servants , in both urban and rural areas. Servants were provided with food, clothing, housing, and a small wage, and lived in a self-enclosed social system inside the mansion. The upper-classes embraced leisure sports, which resulted in rapid developments in fashion, as more mobile and flexible clothing styles were needed.
The Edwardian era was the last time women wore corsets in everyday life. According to Arthur Marwick , the most striking change of all the developments that occurred during the Great War was the modification in women's dress, "for, however far politicians were to put the clocks back in other steeples in the years after the war, no one ever put the lost inches back on the hems of women's skirts". The 'Tea Gown' was one of the Fashion creations during the Edwardian era and when women starting to stop wearing corsets.
More Afternoon and Tea parties were being held and for longer amongst the upper classes, thus the trend of the 'Tea Gown' was created. The Tea Gown was worn to receive guests. The fabric choices are usually sweet pea shades in chiffon, mousse line de sore, tulle with feather boas and lace.
Lace was a 'must-have' in the Edwardian wardrobe. It represents femininity and wealth. The flow is quite feminine, usually decorated with lace. In which, Irish crochet was the more affordable alternative. Women often wore the tea gown un-corseted in order to create an atmosphere of daring intrigue in the afternoon. Parasols are different than umbrellas.
The parasols that were widely use during the Edwardian era are not waterproof, they are made of fabric. It was not designed for functionality, but as a Fashion ornament. Over time, decorative ornaments became heavier, i. By the end of the Edwardian era, the hat is bigger in size, with more decorations like feathers and one or more plumes on top. The Edwardians developed new styles in clothing design. The turn of the century saw the rise of popular journalism aimed at the lower middle class and tending to deemphasise highly detailed political and international news, which remain the focus of a handful of low-circulation prestige newspapers.
These were family-owned and operated, and were primarily interested not in profits but in influence on the nation's elite by their control of the news and editorials on serious topics. The new press, on the other hand, reached vastly larger audiences by emphasis on sports, crime, sensationalism, and gossip about famous personalities. Detailed accounts of major speeches and complex international events were not printed.
Alfred Harmsworth, 1st Viscount Northcliffe was the chief innovator.