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50 Years Ago: The Liberal revival

The managers of the Tory and Labour Parties, during the past year, have had to endure a nagging worry of a kind they both thought had gone for ever, the revival of the Liberal vote. To make it worse they see that it has happened not because voters particularly like the Liberals, but because the voters in increasing numbers have had a lively urge to register their dislike of Labour and Tory.

 

The suffering Labour and Tory leaders, as if by agreement, jeered at the Liberals for having no policy, until Lord Rea, Liberal Leader in the House of Lords, undertook to tell the readers of the Daily Telegraph (18th March, 1958) what that policy is.

 

He did not make a very good job of it for, like the spokesman of the two big rival parties, he had the delicate task of steering between the fault of saying too little to please anyone and the risk of saying too much and scaring off some potential voters. In this country, with wage and salary earners making up nine-tenths of the electorate, competition for their votes is a tricky business and the three parties have given much thought to working out the best tactics. What has evolved is the situation in which the Tory, Liberal and Labour parties each has a list of vague general principles, and the three lists are almost identical, except for small differences of emphasis. Thus they all say they are working for Peace, Disarmament, low prices, high wages, and making everybody happy, and all declare themselves to be not a class party, but a party of the nation.

 

(From editorial, Socialist Standard, June 1958)