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The Liberal Party and the Economy, 1929-1964$
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Peter Sloman

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780198723509

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: December 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198723509.001.0001

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The Liberals, Keynes, and the Slump, 1929–31

The Liberals, Keynes, and the Slump, 1929–31

(p.48) 2 The Liberals, Keynes, and the Slump, 1929–31
The Liberal Party and the Economy, 1929-1964

Peter Sloman

Oxford University Press

This chapter examines the Liberal Party’s contribution to economic debate during the 1929 Parliament, its relationship with the minority Labour administration led by Ramsay MacDonald, and its role in the formation of the National Government. It argues that David Lloyd George’s 1929 pledge to ‘conquer unemployment’ through loan-financed public works built on an established current of interest in ‘national development’ spending, and that Liberal opposition towards the policy has been overstated. However, the party’s confidence in the efficacy of public works was shaken by the onset of world depression in 1929–30, along with a growing sensitivity to practical difficulties and the risk of destabilizing financial markets. Liberals thus turned back with varying degrees of reluctance to the orthodox prescription of retrenchment and cost reductions, a process sealed by the 1931 financial crisis.

Keywords:   Liberal Party, David Lloyd George, Ramsay MacDonald, unemployment, public works, National Government, free trade

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