By Chris Cook
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Extra info for A Short History of the Liberal Party 1900–1984
If for no other reason, the Liberal Imperialists realised that their best hope of office remained with the Liberal Party. Balfour's failure with the Liberal Imperialists seemed as if it might be offset by a revival of Liberal divisions over Home Rule. On 14 November, at a breakfast meeting with John Redmond and T. P. O'Connor, Campbell-Bannerman convinced the Irish leaders that he was still strongly committed to Home Rule. He promised to outline, in his next major speech, a policy committing Liberals to Home Rule in gradual stages.
Both Campbell-Bannerman and Asquith sank their differences over the Boer War in defence of the Liberal principles now The Liberals in Opposition: 1900-1906 35 under attack. The Education Act of 1902, followed by the argument over the tax on the importation of corn and later by the 1904 Licensing Act, represented attacks on Liberal principles that had been part of the party's heritage. In the face of these measures the party found a new unity. Rosebery's call for a review of the basic philosophy of the party could be forgotten.
There was truth in Lloyd George's reference to a bundle of sapless faggots fit only for the fire. Of the nine major Bills which the Liberals had hoped to carry, only the Territorial Army Act, the Small Holdings and Allotments Act and the Patents Act became law. Meanwhile other factors, in addition to the wrecking tactics of the House of Lords, were helping to undermine the popularity and esteem of the government as the euphoria of 1906 died away. By 1907 the economic prosperity of the previous year had given way to a worldwide trade recession.
A Short History of the Liberal Party 1900–1984 by Chris Cook