A Short History of the Liberal Party 1900–88 by Chris Cook

By Chris Cook

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The successor to Campbell-Bannerman as Prime Minister was Herbert Asquith. At 56, Asquith was a natural choice. He had been in Parliament for twenty years, and had served both Gladstone and Rosebery as Home Secretary, before becoming Campbell-Bannerman's 46 A Short History of the Liberal Party Chancellor of the Exchequer. Although, late in 1907, there had been talk of a move to draft Sir Edward Grey, the Foreign Secretary, no one challenged Asquith's succession in 1908. The new Premier entered office with two important advantages.

It had given experience and office to men who were to prove themselves in later years. Indeed, the administrative success of many of the individual Ministers in the Campbell-Bannerman ministry was remarkable. This was particularly true of Haldane, the Secretary of State for War. He created not only the General Staff, but by the Territorial and Reserve Forces Act of 1907 revised the whole organisation of the Army. Haldane's energy was at least equalled by the dynamism of Lloyd George at the Board of Trade.

Apart from this restraining force among the Liberals themselves, part of the failure of the Campbell-Bannerman administration to achieve even greater measures of social reform lay with the House of 1 Lord Ponsonby's notes on Campbell-Bannerman in Francis W. 1947) p. 259, quoted in Jose F. Harris and Cameron Hazlehurst, 'CampbellBannerman as Prime Minister', History, Vol. 55, No. 185 (Oct. 1970) pp. 360-383. 2 Gladstone to Campbell-Bannerman, 21 Jan. 1906, quoted in Harris and Hazlehurst, op. cit.

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