Defining New Liberalism can be quite tricky. Some historians have preferred to privilege some aspects to comply with their vision of what it should be, rather than understanding the context and the classical Liberalist ideology they may have wanted to part with. The Home Rule Bill issue that resulted in Gladstone’s resignation was catastrophic for the party which lost a leader along with its unity of thinking. In this uncertainty a new current of thoughts had to emerge for the Liberal party not to sink into oblivion. It was to be a modern party, better-fitting to the new century and the social questions it had raised. Many theories have been made on how to define this alleged New Liberalism, trying to oppose one another. But to have an overall view, it would certainly be better to consider how they can fit together, complement one another so to see which theory appears to be the most important to consider in defining New Liberalism.
Firstly, there are two major ways to see the problem: historians either chose to focus on the historical context or on the ideology invigorated by the new leaders of the party. We will begin by discussing the different ways to put New Liberalism in its time period. Indeed, some historians have suggested that New Liberalism was only new in the sense that it was brought by a new generation of politicians, with their ideas differing from Gladstonian liberalism. This can be argued only to a certain extent because it would mean that they did not base their politics on the party they share a name with at all. Yet, New Liberalism despite many differences in its ideology remains faithful to its foundational motto, individualism.
On another hand, the Liberal Party was responsible for the 1900s s...
... middle of paper ...
...e the social reforms introduced, but this time because their ideas to implement their ideology had run dry.
Altogether New Liberalism was an adaptation of old principles to a new context, with a clear goal in mind: reducing inequalities to allow self-development for all classes. But once this issue solved, or at least contained by the social reforms of the 1900s, the Liberal set of ideas lost some popularity and twenty years later, Labour had taken its place as the opponent of the Conservatives. Despite this fact, New Liberalism should not be apprehended as a copy of socialism because its ultimate goal remained unchanged from its predecessor. Its failure was less of a problem of ideology than a result of its own doing: the social reforms did help the working classes but did not convince them to stay faithful to a party that put first the interests of their employers.
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