The United Kingdom general election of 1906 was held from 12 January-8 February 1906. The Liberals, led by Prime Minister Henry Campbell-Bannerman, won a majority at the election. The election saw a 5. 4% swing from the Conservative Party to the Liberal Party, the Labour Representation Committee was far more successful than at the 1900 and after the election would be renamed the Labour Party with 29 MPs and Keir Hardie as leader. The Irish Parliamentary Party, led by John Redmond, achieved its seats with a low number of votes. Many working-class people saw this as a threat to the price of food, hence the debate was nicknamed Big Loaf, the Liberals landslide victory of 125 seats over all other parties led to the passing of social legislation known as the Liberal reforms. This was the last election in which the Liberals won a majority in the House of Commons. A coalition between the Conservative and Liberal Unionist parties had governed the United Kingdom since the election of 1895. Arthur Balfour had served as Prime Minister from 1902 until 5 December 1905, Balfour had hoped that under a Liberal government splits would reemerge, which would therefore help the Conservative Party achieve victory at the next election. The Unionist government had become divided over the issue of free trade. This culminated in Joseph Chamberlains resignation from the government in May 1903 to campaign for reform in order to protect British industry from foreign competition. This division was in contrast to the Liberal Partys belief in free trade, the issue of free trade became the feature of the Liberal campaign, under the slogan ‘big loaf’ under a Liberal government, ‘little loaf’ under a Conservative government. Dont be deceived by Tory tricks, the Boer War had also contributed to the unpopularity of the Conservative and Unionist government. The war had also unearthed the poor state of the country in the early 1900s. The Conservative and Unionist Prime Minister, Arthur Balfour had been blamed over the issue of ‘Chinese Slavery’, the local school boards that they largely controlled were abolished and replaced by county governments that were usually controlled by Anglicans. Worst of all the hated Anglican schools would now receive funding from taxes that everyone had to pay. One tactic was to refuse to pay local taxes, the education issue played a major role in the Liberal victory in 1906, as Dissenter (nonconformist( Conservatives punished their old party and voted Liberal. However the Liberals failed repeatedly to repeal or modify the 1902 law, the landslide Liberal victory led to many Conservative and Unionist MPs losing what had previously been regarded as safe seats. This resulted in prominent Conservative ministers being unseated from their constituencies, the result in Manchester East saw a large 22. 4% swing to the Liberal candidate Thomas Gardner Horridge, much larger than the national 5. 4% swing to the Liberals
Image: Henry Campbell Bannerman photo
An example of a Liberal poster during the election.