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December 1910 Liberal Party General Election Manifesto

Herbert Asquith's election address

I ask you to renew the unbroken relationship between us, as Constituency and Member, which has now entered upon its twenty-fifth year.

During the whole of this long connection there has been complete confidence both on the one side and the other, and neither you nor I have every wavered in our allegiance to the great ideals and purposes of which the Liberal Party is the champion and trustee.

I am, therefore, not under the necessity, which would be binding on a new-comer, of making to you any general profession of political faith. As lately as January in the present year, I expounded to you in detail, and you approved by a decisive majority at the poll, the present aims of liberal policy.

The appeal which is now being made to you and to the country at large may almost be said to be narrowed to a single issue. But upon its determination, in one sense or the other, hangs the whole future of Democratic Government.

Are the people, through their freely chosen representatives, to have control, not only over finance and administrative Policy, but over the making of their law? Or are we do continue in the one-sided system under which a Tory majority, however small in size and casual in creation, has a free run of the Statute Book, while from Liberal legislation, however clear may be the message of the polls, the forms of the Constitution persistently withhold a fair and even chance?

You will not, I am sure, be misled in the judgement you are called upon to pronounce by the belated and delusive composition which the House of Lords is, at the last moment, being advised to offer to its critics. The schemes which are now being put forward, in the hope of disguising the real issue, would result, if they were carried into law, in the creation of a Second Chamber predominantly Conservative in character, practically inoperative while there is a Tory majority in the House of Commons, completely independent of the prerogatives of the Crown, and capable of interposing an even more formidable veto than the prsent House of Lords upon the prompt and effective translation into law of the declared will of the nation.

I ask you to repeat, with still greater emphasis, the approval which only eleven months ago you gave to the proposals of His Majesty's Government.

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