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1935 Liberal Party General Election Manifesto

A General Election is being held at a moment of acute international crisis. After long delay the Government have lately been taking definite action at Geneva. All parties support the action. An election is therefore unnecessary.

Upon the success or failure of the League of nations in its effort to penalise aggression must depend our own future policy, in foreign affairs and as to armaments. If the League succeeds we shall take one course; if it failes, another. The issue is now in the balance. Until we know we cannot judge. This is precisely the moment when the nation ought not to be asked to give a mandate on these matters for the next five years.

National defence

Our aim is to maintain the peace of the world and preserve our own security. Armaments, on however vast a scale, will not bring security or stop war. The national defences must be kept efficient and large enough for the needs of the times, but a colossal, panic expenditure upon arms is not the road to peace. It is the duty of the House of Commons to examine, upon their merits and with the utmost care, all demands for increased expenditure, especially upon armaments, and to insist upon the strictest control of their manufacture and sale, and the elimination of the motive of private profit. It is the duty of the voters to elect a House of Commons that will do this. Through strengthening the League of nations, and through international disarmament, and there alone, the true path to security lies.

First steps to restored prosperity

Liberals are convinced that a change in the policy adopted in this country during the last four years is essential if the poverty and distress so widely prevailing are to be ended, and if the peril of war which overhands the world is to be removed. The continued un-employment of 2,000,000; the unrelieved misery - of the depressed areas; the low wages of the miners, of the farm workers, and of many others; the immensely reduced figures of our export trade compared with a few years ago; the plight of our shipping industry - all point to a wrong policy. And the unrest in the world is due chiefly to the hard struggle of some of the great Powers to keep their peoples in proper comfort. All this comes from the diastrous reduction in the volume of world trade. And that is due to the restrictions imposed by Governments. The present Government in Great Britain has been among the most active in increasing these restrictions. While rendering li-service to greater freedom of trade, and entering into some agreements with other countries for trifling reductions here and there, its actions on the whole have immensely increased the obstacles with hamper world commerce. The Ottawa Agreements - now repudiated by the Canadian people - were among the most disastrous. It is urgently necessary that there should be a change, if our unemployed workers are to be brought back into employment, and if the sources of world unrest, threatening war, are to be removed. To rid commerce of the hindrances that come from tariffs, quotas, subsidies, and unstable currencies is the first step to a restored prosperity and a more tranquil world. The Liberal Party alone has continously urged the vital importance of this issue. It alone can be trusted to press it forward to a solution.

Liberals stand for a vigorous sustained policy of national development. They have long advocated the employment of idle capital and idle labour upon a great number of enterprises, which are urgently needed - for the housing of the people, the expansion of industry and agriculture, and the better equipment of our country. The present Government has stubbornly rejected that policy.

Revise the Means Test

The Liberal Party condemns the Means Test regulations. It considers that to treat the 'household' as a unit is wrong. The Government has dissolved Parliament without issuing the revised regulations promised eight months ago, and so has refused to submit them to the judgement of the electorate. It ought not to be given a free hand to settle this matter as it chooses in the next Parliament.

Industry and the worker

The Liberal Party has laid before the country a wide and detailed programme, dealing with the organisation of industry and the status of the worker; with the ownership and use of land, the securing for the public benefit of the land values created by the public, the development of agriculture, the reforms that are essential in the coal industry; with the raising of the school age and a great expansion in our educational system; with the inclusion of other classes in National Insurance; with housing, temperance, the extension of leisure, and greater facilities for its use.

Liberty and democracy

The Liberal Party stands, as ever, for personal and political liberty. It has fought against the many encroachments upon freedom which have been made in recent years. It opposes the withdrawal from Parliament of proper control over unemployment assistance, and will not cease to resist the constant attempts to transfer powers from representative bodies to irresponsible boards. It will always strenuously defend democratic institutions against the attacks of Fascists or Communists or others in other parties who set small store by liberty. In order to raise the authority of the House of Commons it would reform our defective and unjust electoral system, and through proportional representation, enable the true desires of the people to be expressed in Parliament.

It would give the same rights to women as to men throughout the political and social system.

Liberals do not recognise the present Administration as a 'National Government'. A truly National Government is one that is supported by all parties and approved by the nation in general. No party supports the present Government except the Conservative. In the by-elections only one elector in three votes for it. Liberals see in the sudden dissolution of Parliament at this moment as an attempt to use the international situation as a means of securing another lease of power for the Conservative Party.

We appeal to the nation to ensure in the next House of Commons an effective representation of Liberal opinion. We think it of vital importance that the existing Conservative Government, for such in effect it is, should not be left in a position of uncontrolled authority. And it is no less essential in the national interest that, when it leaves office, the only alternative should not be a Socialist Party pledged to a reckless scheme of wholesale nationalisation. We present to the electors in the Liberal policy here outlined, and we claim for it the active support of all who endorse its general aims and approve its specific proposals.

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