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1922 Liberal Party General Election Manifesto

Manifesto to the Nation

The Conservatives and Mr Lloyd George

The complete collapse of the coalition Government at length gives the Electors an opportunity of pronouncing their verdict upon its performances, and of deciding where to put their trust in the future. For four years the alliance between Mr Lloyd George and the Conservative Party has dominated the affairs of the nation. This combination has now broken up in general confusion and discredit, leaving behind it an unexampled record of extravagance and failure. It must be remembered that both wings of the Coalition are responsible for its misdeeds, and neither can escape its share of public condemnation.

The circumstances of the Coupon Election were so abnormal that it was easy to be misled by the specious appeal then put forward jointly by Mr Lloyd George and Mr Bonar Law. But the events which have since happened consitute a complete justification of the warning which Liberal leaders then gave that the continuance of Coalition meant the abandonment of principle and the substitution of autocratic for Parliamentary Government.

It is now universally agreed that what the last House of Commons and the country needed was an opposition strong enough in numbers not only to express, but to make effective its criticisms both of expenditure and of policy.

Failures of the old government

Mr Lloyd George and his colleagues have spent as they pleased; their Peace Treaties are impossible of fulfilment; they have shown themselves equally incapable of securing good understandings abroad and of pursuing consistent policy at home. No confidence could be placed in their declarations whether in the industrial or the international sphere.

The nation demands a complete change - conviction instead of compromise, economy instead of extravagance and waste.

The Liberal Party: the only economists

Now that economy - the supreme need of the nation - has become a popular watch-word, its value is everywhere proclaimed. But the Electors will not be satisfied with the belated and coerced repentance of those who have been responsible for wasteful expenditure in the past.

The one Party in the State which has consistently fought waste, challenged estimates, moved reductions and stood for economy is the Independent Liberal Party.

It did so when economy was unpopular, and when the leaders of the late Coalition denied and ridiculed the possibility of retrenchment. The country will judge those who formed and supported the Caolition, not by what they now say, but by what they, when in power, then did.

The Liberal Party and Ireland

The Liberal Party rejoices that there is now general assent to the Irish settlement on the lines of Dominion Home Rule, but it must not be forgotten that for a year the Coalition was engaged in a futile attempt to reduce Ireland to submission by the exercise of undisciplined force. It was the Independent Liberals both in and out of Parliament who aroused the conscience of the country to the criminal folly of such methods, and consistently pressed the policy of conciliation which was too tardily adopted.

When the late Government led the country into disastrous and costly adventures in Russian and Mesopotamia it was again Independent Liberalism which denounced the recklessness of these enterprises.

Free Trade

By the terms of the compact which brought it into being the Coalition was bound to make a breach in our Free Trade system. At every stage in the series of irritating and ill-conceived measures which have hampered our industrial recovery during the last four years, it has been Indepenent Liberalism that has fought the battle against Protection and Government interference. What is needed in the new Parliament is the full and effective expression of the Liberal spirit.

Liberalism is not Socialism. Liberalism repudiates the doctrine of warfare against private enterprise.

Programme of the Liberal Party

It stands for:

  1. Peace and disarmament made secure through the League of Nations
  2. The prompt revision and settlement of Reparation and Inter-Allied Debts.
  3. Drastic Economy in public expenditure and the abandonment of the policy of military adventures abroad.
  4. Fulfilment by the community of its responsibility for securing the workers against the hardships of unemployment, co-operation between Capital and labour, and honest and fair treatment of organised labour as the only basis of industrial peace.
  5. Unqualified Free Trade with the immediate repeal of the Safeguarding of Industries Act and similar protective measures.
  6. The defence of such essential social services as Education, Housing, and Public Health.
  7. Political and legal equality for women and men.
  8. A comprehensive reform of the existing Land System, including the Taxation and Rating of Land Values.
  9. The democratic reform of our Licensing System.
  10. Re-adjustment of our electoral system by the introduction of Proportional Representation.

Liberals stand for the nation

It would be easy to follow the example of others and attempt to purchase electoral support by displaying a long series of glittering promises. But the country has too much reason to know the difference between promise and performance, and the simple truth is that great and necessary schemes of social reform, involving large outlay of public money, cannot be realised unless and until real Peace has been established by a foreign policy based upon and conceived in the spirit of the League of nations and National Finance is placed upon sure foundations by a course of rigorous economy. By these means, and by these means alone, can prosperity be promoted, employment assured, and taxes lightened.

The essence of the Liberal spirit is that it sets the well-being of the community as a whole above the interests of any particular section of class. It is this spirit which distinguishes Liberalism from any other political party which is now appealing for electoral support. The moment has come to restore Liberalism to its rightful place in the councils of the Nation.

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