Extended response – Henry Oldfield
How Far Was Concern Over National Security The Real Reason For Liberal Reforms Passed between 1906-1914?
By the early twentieth century the Liberal Government was concerned that Britain was losing its status as a major industrial and military power. Concern over national security played a considerable part in persuading the government that reform was needed. However, this was only one of a handful of factors that influenced the government. As well as national security, the Government was also concerned over the national efficiency of the country. The new Labour party competed with the Liberals and promised the country social reforms, and in order for the Liberal Government to stay in power they had to offer similar reforms in order not to lose votes. Although, the simple change of attitudes within the Liberal party promoted the idea of municipal socialism and ultimately brought about reform. Lastly, the result of poverty in Britain, which was investigated and highlighted in the reports of Charles Booth and Seebohm Rowntree showed to the Government the state of poverty in Britain, which caused Liberal reform.
First of all, it is true that the concern over national security was a major element that caused liberal reform. By the end of the nineteenth century Britain was in search for voluntary recruits to fight in the Boer war in South Africa and was shocked to find that twenty-five percent of volunteers were rejected because they were not physically fit enough to serve with the armed forces. For example, in Manchester eight thousand out of eleven thousand people who volunteered were turned away. However, even in conflict it appeared that Britain had lost its military dominance, as the supposedly mighty Imperial power had some difficulty in defeating a number of Boer farmers. The government then began to ask the question could Britain survive another war, considering the nations ‘fighting stock’ of young men was so...
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