Liberal Unionist Party


Liberal Unionist Party
   Liberal Unionists was the name given to those who left the Gladstonian Liberal Party in opposition to William Gladstone ’s defeated Irish Home Rule bill of 1886. The Unionists were initially a faction, and by no means an entirely conservative faction, of the Liberal Party, including well-known radicals like Joseph Chamberlain and John Bright. The Unionist split of the Liberal Party ended definitively the long period of Victorian Liberal predominance and ushered in almost two decades of largely Tory rule.
   The so-called Unionist party was formed by a coalition of the Liberal Unionists with the Conservative Party or Tories under Lord Salisbury in the aftermath of the split of the Liberal Party in 1886. Although in the 1880s, the term Unionist designated a Liberal Unionist, in the 1890s it came to be used to describe any supporter of Salisbury’s Conservative governments. By the Edwardian era, when Irish Home Rule was once more put forward by the Liberals, the distinction between Conservatives and formerly Liberal Unionists had largely disappeared, and the term Unionist became a synonym for Conservative. The Conservative Party offi-cially renamed itself the Conservative and Unionist Party in 1912. The term Unionist fell from favor after Irish independence but was only formally dropped in 1970.
   See also <>.
   FURTHER READING:
    Lubenow, W. C. Parliamentary Politics and the Home Rule Crisis. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1988.
   MARK F. PROUDMAN

Encyclopedia of the Age of Imperialism, 1800–1914. 2014.

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