The Liberal Party and Patriotism in Early Twentieth Century Britain

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Many historians have highlighted the role played by ‘languages of patriotism’ in the political appeal of the British Conservative Party in the late nineteenth and twentieth centuries. The present article engages with this debate by pointing to the fact that the Liberals, in the Edwardian period at least, could also articulate patriotic languages That this was the case is demonstrated by an examination of Liberal attitudes to the Education Act of 1902, the tariff reform controversy, and the issue of the ‘land question’. The widely held view that the Conservatives enjoyed a complete monopoly on patriotism is called into doubt. Furthermore, this article contends that the Liberal Party's use of patriotic rhetoric provides a new means of making sense of their policies in this period. These policies, it is suggested, cannot simply be understood as expressive of a ‘new Liberal’ system of thought increasingly influenced by collectivist ideas.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)269 - 302
Number of pages34
JournalTwentieth Century British History
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2001


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