How Important were The Liberal Social Reforms? Essay

1. I believe David Lloyd George made this speech in 1908 because he recognised the fact that the inclusion of the men’s working class meant that the vote would now include their needs. They would all want help from the state etc so he therefore knew that if he promised these blue-collar workers that made up the majority of the population (not the rich landowners), help when they are sick/ill and money to support them when they are in need of employment he would win a large number of their valuable votes.

We know Lloyd George knew this because he says in his speech ` I have had some excruciating letters piled upon me from people whose cases I have investigated…` and also because people like Charles Booth and Seebohm Rowntree ad made detailed analysis of the poor, the causes and how many of each class of people were affected at which age. The details picked up in surveys like those lead by Booth and Rowntree would help him know what kind of reforms to make and for which people.

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As it was at that current moment in time, the sick, infirm, unemployed, widowed and orphans were suffering the most and they had just been given the vote, so he wanted to make sure they knew he was their helpful option and this speech allowed him to target these people and win them over. He used words like `we are still confronted…` the use of the words `we` made him no longer sound like an important sir and wealthy politician but like one of their own which was important as most politicians at that time thought of the poor as being a lazy, lesser class of people. Also he knew that the rich landowners and the House of Lords would object to these reforms because they would be the ones paying for them, so that’s why he thought he must win over the working people before the election of 1910 because it would be them who would be voting him in, during the election and this speech was to make sure they knew him.

2. Source B and C both agree to an extent. The both agree that some old aged people of that time where in need of help as source B says `one or two poorer couples, just holding on to their homes, but in daily fear of the workhouses` and source C says ` Those small doses meant life itself for many among the elderly poor`. This shows they both agreed it helped people, they also agree that the old folk were grateful for it, source B- `God bless Lloyd George!` and source C `would bless the name of Lloyd George as if he was a saint from heaven`. Where they differ, even when they agree, is the extent to which the people were at both before they received the pensions act and after.

Source B says `They were relieved of anxiety. They were suddenly rich. Independent for life!` whereas source C only says ` Nevertheless even these small doses meant life itself for many among the elderly poor` This shows that Flora Thompson in source B obviously has the opinion that the elderly were okay previously with a couple of people on poverty line compared to Richard Roberts in source C where he claims this money gave a life-line to otherwise dying, starving old aged people. Also source C differs as it says `Pensions, however, would be withheld from those who had failed to work according to their ability and need, and those who had failed to save money regularly. Here was a means test with a vengeance` compared to source B that doesn’t mention who was eligible for it, allowing one to think everyone was entitled to it.

I think that the reason Flora Thompson in source B is rather na�ve to the fact that the pension was only eligible for a few people was because she was in the countryside where everyone worked hard on their farms and where any money would be gratefully welcomed by the people. Source C however by Richard Roberts was written in the context of a book named `The classic Slum` which by the name’s definition is an overcrowded area of a city in which the housing is typically in very bad condition. Looking at their provenance gives reference as to why they were written, source B about countryside, C about city slums, I believe this is the reason behind why they agree only slightly and differ.

3. In the two sources it appears that both cartoons are against Lloyd George’s liberal reforms. Source D depicts Lloyd George as being a `highwayman` meaning a highway thief who steals off the rich threatening them with his gun, to give money to the old aged pensioners then labelling him the philanthropic highwayman as a comedial paradox/contradiction.

The cartoon is most probably from an upper class paper for the rich as it shows what would be thought to be their view, saying he thieves from the rich people to get the money to pay for the poor, to make himself appear as the good-hearted, generous person but he is committing crimes by robbing us of our money in the first place. Hence symbolising how Lloyd George in his reforms, taxed the rich landowners to pay for The pensions Act (1908) which to them is the equivalent of him robbing them and then pretending to be good-hearted by giving their stolen money to the old aged.

Despite this source D could possibly be in support, as if this picture was displayed in a city slum I’m sure the aged would be happy to see that Lloyd George is taking money off the rich and giving to the old aged. Source E is supposed to illustrate the peoples views towards the national insurance bill of 1911 before it was put through.

There is Lloyd George in the boat fighting his way through rough waves to try and get his bill put through, symbolising how the cartoonist felt all people were against his bill and that’s why he is fighting through the waves to get it through. Also on boat, there is a man and a woman of both classes, a maid, a poor working class, a better dressed richer looking man and an upper class woman. These four people are representing both sexes of both the lower and upper classes which was all the people in Britain at that time. Lloyd George is the only one supporting the bill in the picture with the rest of the four people portraying everyone in Britain’s view, as being against rather worried about it or in the upper class woman’s case positively against it.

The cartoonist was showing how in his opinion all the people of all the classes were against the bill, by their faces and this is reflected in the intensity of the waves against Lloyd George’s boat. In actual fact however, the poor and working class were welcoming the bill as they voted Lloyd George’s party in therefore raising questions as to the cartoonist reliability, drawing these cartoons even when they weren’t an honest survey of the people’s opinions.

4. Source G partially proves source F wrong but not completely. Source F claims that the ` strength of this kingdom, in all its past struggles, has been its great reserve of wealth and the sturdy character of its people` and that `the measure being pushed through the House of Commons with haste will destroy both. ` This first statement is saying the bill will take away the peoples strength of character as though everybody will now no longer have to work hard at all, but source G is saying rather the opposite, that the new measures did not change anything and that people are still suffering and living in poverty without money.

We know this because source G says `Ex-soldiers of 1914-18 too ill to work…not entitled to pensions: men hurt in pits…compensation being stopped…Old people hungry …ten shilling pension to cover food and fuelling for the week.` although this does show how all the measures that were suppose to take away the British peoples sturdy character according to source F hasn’t actually given them any sort of wealth or money as most of the money given is cut off after a while or isn’t enough in the first place.

It does show how people have become reliant upon the state `Old people hungry because they could not spin out their ten-shilling pension to cover food and fuelling to the week. Unemployed men in areas where no work was available cut off benefit for `not genuinely seeking work`. ` How did the old aged pensioners get enough money to just about survive before the pensions act? Through doing odd-jobs here and there and saving some money, but they no longer do those anymore, completely relying upon the state to support them for all their food.

Also how did unemployed men previously get jobs before the National insurance acts? By moving from place to place seeking it and accepting that they must move in order to get work not by just taking the attitude of `there is no work here so I will go on benefits while I am indefinitely waiting for work to come into this area again` that source G describes. So Source G does not prove F wrong completely, it proves it wrong in some cases but in others it infact proves it right.

Also in the defence of Source F, source G was written in 1939 well after the measurements were put in compared to F where the measures have just been put in, so the writer had the advantage of hindsight to say whether the reforms benefited the people or not whereas F is just a persons’ view on the matter.

5. The small fat man under the desk in a suit represents the rich and landowners that Lloyd George (the giant) was after to take their money to re-distribute to the poor. The club having `budget` written across it because that’s what the rich people would be hit by if Lloyd George got elected, a new budget which would make their profits/fortunes smaller which is why the fork is there too next to the plate.

This cartoon was published in 1909 because the reforms Lloyd George planned especially for pensions had to be paid for. To do this, David Lloyd George, as Chancellor of the Exchequer, introduced a budget in 1909 which taxed the rich and the landowners. At first, the House of Lords, which was all landowners opposed the budget, they believed that people should look after themselves and their families, and that it was wrong for the State to step in and help people because it will encourage laziness and a dependency within society for the benefits. This and of course because the Lords, rich and landowners all knew they would have to give some of their wealth away to pay for it, put them against it. Due to the upcoming general election to be held in January of 1910, they published this poster as propaganda against the Lloyd George budget and of course against voting for him.

6. Why the two sources differ in the information they give out about the reforms has a few answers to it. Firstly source I was part of Lloyd George’s party election campaign manifesto, therefore (like all politicians-old and modern) he wanted to win the people’s votes. So if that means he doesn’t explain the `small print` of the rules behind attaining the benefits, how much they are, how much they will actually benefit the people, how widespread will they be and who will be most affected is of no surprise because it was his election campaign so of course he is going to be biased towards himself by only telling the people the good parts and leaving out the drawbacks. Also source I is written in the future about what Lloyd George intended to do if he was elected not what he thought while he was trying to accomplish it later on when his party was voted in.

Furthermore, source J a recent historian’s view has the advantage of being able to judge the decisions carried out by Lloyd George’s budget because he has hindsight, he can look back and see what was wrong and what never worked out. He can pick out the details, what was done and what wasn’t, he has all documents available to look at even after the death of Lloyd George and he can compare the old liberal reforms to todays therefore giving him a much wider knowledge of what went wrong and what happened that Lloyd George couldn’t have foreseen. Also the historian probably will not have any bias either against or towards Lloyd George because that era has passed and it would do him no benefit in doing so, and even if he does it would not be quite the same as Lloyd George who was running for election of Britain at the time.

7. The sources both prove and disapprove why the liberal reforms were important or not. They have different views on the different reforms and of course the provenance of each source will give a great deal of knowledge as to where the source came from to know whether or not it is reliable.

Source A tying in with source sources B, C and I partially show how important the liberal reforms were at that present moment in time, because David Lloyd George used the reforms as the foremost reason as to why the people should elect the liberals. This is demonstrated in his source A speech where he says `The Old Age Pensions Act is just the beginning of things…gigantic task of dealing with the sick, infirm, the unemployed, the widows and the orphans` then this is backed-up by source B where OAPs say `God bless that Lloyd George` and C `My mother…would bless the name of Lloyd George as if he was a saint from heaven` and then he further uses these reforms as to why he should be voted in, in the 1910 election `-old age, accident, sickness and unemployment. We are going to drive hunger from the hearth. ` It is obvious that the liberal reforms were important to the people as his party did get re-elected in that general election and it helped the OAPs and sick/unemployed as the shown from the people’s reaction.

Sources F and G on the other hand show why the reforms are unimportant because they are saying that they didn’t essentially do anything for anybody. For example, source F says `the strength of this kingdom in all its past struggles have been its greatest reserve of wealth and the sturdy character of its people` in the context of the reforms taking this away from the people and replacing it with dependency upon the state so they are unimportant and unneeded. Also G backs this up partially and furthers it by confirming that some people do now rely upon the reforms `Unemployed men in areas where no work was available cut off benefit for `not genuinely seeking work` showing people no longer look for jobs but wait for the jobs to come to them and also it tell us that even the benefits that were given never helped.

` Women living in two-roomed cottages with one of the rooms so damp that the water ran down the wall and the whole family had to huddle together, sleeping and waking, day and night, when they were sick and when they were well, all in one apartment.` This proves that source G also classifies the reforms as being useless and unimportant because they didn’t do anything for anyone.

The cartoons in sources D and E, both show the cartoons were important but also not. The fact that the cartoons were made showed that the reforms must have been important to the people it affected for otherwise they wouldn’t have made them, they were important in a way because they affected a certain group of people negatively and they were speaking out against it. But in source E it does display people as not wanting the national insurance act put through, and some as not really caring about it. Source H also shares the same view as source D but with OAPs Act replaced with the budget, it shows how the people who drew the cartoon didn’t want the reforms but on the other hand it shows how the reforms were important because it effected a lot a of people and so had to be right.

Source I links in with source B as Lloyd George goes through his speech about who he is going to help, he does say `We mean to banish the workhouse from the horizon of every workman in the land` and in source B according to Flora Thompson the OAPs were `relieved of anxiety` from being threatened to go to workhouses previously.

Sources A, B, D, E, F, H and I were all written at the time of the liberal reforms and therefore all I have written about them has been about how they were important at that moment in time to those people. To look at how important the reforms where to the future population, I got source J. Source J both criticises and compliments the reforms and how it helped the people. It does state that at the time of the reforms although doing little to aid the people’s poverty and just about raising the poorest people from the poverty line, and G does state there were exceptions such as the `Ex-soldiers too ill to work but not entitled to pensions` it did overall change the social system from previously working under threat of starvation to working hard but without having to work when ill nor starving if made unemployed.

I think the sources do all, however acutely, say the reforms were important especially J the foremost of the lot. This is because it shows more than the rest, why the reforms were important not only in the past at the time of their creation but also to this present day when it says `the Government had now been involved in helping the old, sick and poor; the foundations for the Welfare State had been laid.`

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