Defectors and the Liberal Party 1910–2010

A study of inter-party relations

Alun Wyburn-Powell
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The Liberal Party was the dominant party of British Government from its emergence in the 1850s until the Great War, but by the 1950s it was virtually wiped off the political map. Controversy still rages over the reasons and responsibility for the collapse. Defections played a significant part in the decline, but until now they have never received detailed attention from historians or political analysts. This book studies all the defections of serving and former Liberal MPs from 1910 to 2010. The sheer scale of the exodus is striking: one in every six people elected as a Liberal MP defected at some point from the party. Each defection is explored, providing new perspectives on the controversies surrounding party leadership, divisions over policy and the impact of the Great War. The book sheds light on the long-term relationship between the Liberals/Liberal Democrats and the Conservatives and the Labour Party. The definition of an inward defector has been taken as one who served as an MP for another party or as an independent before becoming a Liberal or Liberal Democrat MP. In the cases of both outward and inward defectors the person must have served as an MP before the defection and in both cases must have served at some stage as a Liberal or Liberal Democrat MP. However, this inevitably means that the criterion for qualifying as an inward defector is more stringent.

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