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Liberal Party collapses in the 50s

Ricardolindo

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The Liberal Party came pretty close to collapsing in the 50s. What if it did collapse? Let's say Clement Davies pretty much incorporated the party into the Conservatives, like had been the case with the National Liberals for decades, and that dissident Liberal MPs defected to Labour, as, indeed, some did in our timeline. What are the effects of this?
 
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Nyvis

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Can we engineer an UK system with a two party system as ironclad as the US'? That'd be interesting. Though I can't see the UK taking to restrictive ballot access as well as the US did so the possibility of running against it will always be there.
 

Time Enough

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If Harold Macmillan got his New Democratic Party ideas of the Ground, Archibald Sinclair kept his seat and Labour won another large Majority in 1950, you could have seen a merger between the Liberals and New Democrats. Those of the Left persuasion probably would have joined Labour in that scenario.

You probably would see a Third Party raise rapidly (SNP, Bevanite Socialist Party, some Right Wing party) but you could see a few years of a two party system.
 

Nomad

Well-known member
Can we engineer an UK system with a two party system as ironclad as the US'? That'd be interesting. Though I can't see the UK taking to restrictive ballot access as well as the US did so the possibility of running against it will always be there.
Doubtful. You've still got the SNP, Plaid, and the NI parties as a minor presence, and I suspect the former two would actually do slightly better in this scenario by absorbing a lot of the 'none of the above' vote that the Liberals got in the remote, rural parts of Scotland and Wales.

You need far more restrictive rules governing elections if your going to get two party dominance on the scale of the US.
 

Edmund

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If Harold Macmillan got his New Democratic Party ideas of the Ground, Archibald Sinclair kept his seat and Labour won another large Majority in 1950, you could have seen a merger between the Liberals and New Democrats. Those of the Left persuasion probably would have joined Labour in that scenario.

You probably would see a Third Party raise rapidly (SNP, Bevanite Socialist Party, some Right Wing party) but you could see a few years of a two party system.
As Nomad says, the SNP benefitting in rural Scotland would be a likely outcome, but I don't see how a Bevanite socialist party or a right-wing party would benefit from the collapse of the Liberals.
 

Time Enough

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As Nomad says, the SNP benefitting in rural Scotland would be a likely outcome, but I don't see how a Bevanite socialist party or a right-wing party would benefit from the collapse of the Liberals.
If the main parties have moved towards the Centre Ground means that the fringes would probably see the possibility of being able to split away from the main parties and forge there own space. I do think the SNP have more ability to gain in this situation.
 

lerk

Gone fishing
A New Democratic Party will lurch to the left as a result of the influx of Liberals now a part of it, and this means that there is a very good chance that Enoch Powell or someone similar makes a hard-right party which manages to get around the same amount of support as the OTL Liberals/LibDems. So, no, I don't think that the UK will have a two-party system like America.
 

lerk

Gone fishing
A New Democratic Party will lurch to the left as a result of the influx of Liberals now a part of it, and this means that there is a very good chance that Enoch Powell or someone similar makes a hard-right party which manages to get around the same amount of support as the OTL Liberals/LibDems. So, no, I don't think that the UK will have a two-party system like America.
Will the UK be more or less right-wing in this scenario?
 

Ricardolindo

Well-known member
Location
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If Harold Macmillan got his New Democratic Party ideas of the Ground, Archibald Sinclair kept his seat and Labour won another large Majority in 1950, you could have seen a merger between the Liberals and New Democrats. Those of the Left persuasion probably would have joined Labour in that scenario.

You probably would see a Third Party raise rapidly (SNP, Bevanite Socialist Party, some Right Wing party) but you could see a few years of a two party system.
With the Labour Right strengthened by more left-wing Liberals, is Gaitskell able to change Clause IV? Assuming Gaitskell's death isn't butterflied away, is this enough for Brown or Callaghan to defeat Wilson for the leadership?
 

Time Enough

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With the Labour Right strengthened by more left-wing Liberals, is Gaitskell able to change Clause IV? Assuming Gaitskell's death isn't butterflied away, is this enough for Brown or Callaghan to defeat Wilson for the leadership?
It does depend on the Unions at the end of the day as well. However if the Left Liberals, Right Labour/Trade Unions put up enough pressure (and if Gaitskell use some of that pressure to get Bevan to convince some of his supporters to support the move maybe) then it could happen.

Amusingly it could mean a Left Wing leader possible gets in due to backlash against Gaitskell when the time comes.
 

iainbhx

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As Nomad says, the SNP benefitting in rural Scotland would be a likely outcome, but I don't see how a Bevanite socialist party or a right-wing party would benefit from the collapse of the Liberals.
That's because you aren't seeing the Liberals as the 50's Liberals. Whilst Liberal politicians were moving towards Grimondism, the Liberal vote was firmly anti-socialist. The majority of it would vote Tory as it tended to when there was no Liberal candidate - which was pretty frequent in 55.

The transition of the Liberal vote into the Plaid vote in the Bro Cymraeg would occur quicker and would affect Aberteifi as well, it would make Plaid competitive in five seats. The relationship with the SNP is more complex, rural SNP voters tend to vote Liberal or Tory if there is no SNP candidate, but it isn't so pronounced the other way. The long term strong SNP Scottish rural seats have always had a lower turnout.
 

Gary Oswald

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Nomad

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A New Democratic Party will lurch to the left as a result of the influx of Liberals now a part of it, and this means that there is a very good chance that Enoch Powell or someone similar makes a hard-right party which manages to get around the same amount of support as the OTL Liberals/LibDems. So, no, I don't think that the UK will have a two-party system like America.
I'm not convinced that this NDP would be made more left wing by Liberals joining it. The Liberal manifestos from the early fifties were very dry economically, and certainly more right wing than the Tories in that regard. They also combined that with a call for scaling back military involvement in the Empire, and support for free trade. We'd recognise it as something closer to libertarianism than the social liberalism of their successor party.

If this new party absorbs the Liberals who were most wedded to that approach, they may well end up being more willing allies of the old Tory right than of MacMillan.
 

Heat

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That's because you aren't seeing the Liberals as the 50's Liberals. Whilst Liberal politicians were moving towards Grimondism, the Liberal vote was firmly anti-socialist. The majority of it would vote Tory as it tended to when there was no Liberal candidate - which was pretty frequent in 55.
The big swing in 1964 was Con->Lib, wasn't it?
 

Nomad

Well-known member
To expand further on the MacMillan's New Democratic Party scenario, although absorbing the Liberal right would not make it more left wing, I could still see a handful of Tories who take issue with the revamp opting out to create their own successor party. It's possible we get the continuity Conservatives as a third party.
 

Southpaw

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With the Labour Right strengthened by more left-wing Liberals, is Gaitskell able to change Clause IV? Assuming Gaitskell's death isn't butterflied away, is this enough for Brown or Callaghan to defeat Wilson for the leadership?
Never understood the decades-long battles over Clause IV given that no Labour PM after Attlee and before Blair* ever attempted to practically implement it in a state socialist way even when it still existed on paper (an exception I can think of is the nationalization of aerospace and shipbuilding in the 1970s, but the latter especially was a shadow of what it had once been by then).


* Well, that's a sample size of two, but still
 
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Time Enough

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Never understood the decades-long battles over Clause IV given that no Labour PM after Attlee and before Blair* ever attempted to practically implement it in a state socialist way even when it still existed on paper (an exception I can think of is the nationalization of aerospace and shipbuilding in the 1970s, but the latter especially was a shadow of what it had once been by then).


* Well, that's a sample size of two, but still
It literally was created by Sidney Webb as a way to placate the Left (that and CLP’s) it worked incredibly well...too well.

Of course I think Sidney Webb would have been laughing his ass off if he heard that the Left were spending more of there time stopping the Right from changing his poxy Clause than actively organising against them on other issues.
 
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