Saturday, 23 November 2013

British Political and Tariff Reform Posters

Originally posted May 21st, 2012 on Out of the Box Tory Lords "controlling" the Commons. (1907/8) COLL MISC/0519/43

House of Lords reform, a shrinking Armed Forces, pension unrest and increasing food prices…
You could be forgiven for thinking we were talking about news topics from the weekend papers, but honestly we aren’t. These were just some of the issues being battled over by politicians in the most recent collection to go into the LSE Digital Library. Covering a period around 1892-1910 – when Britain was governed by Conservative and Liberal governments (but not at the same time) – are 88 British Political and Tariff Reform Posters.

McKenna's Navy Cut. (1908) COLL MISC/0519/59

The posters were produced on behalf of the Conservative and Unionist Party, the Labour Party, the Liberal Party, the Liberal Unionist Council and the Tariff Reform League. They contain caricatures of key political figures of the time such as: Arthur Balfour (Prime Minister, 1902-1905), Henry Campbell-Bannerman (Prime Minister, 1905-1908), Herbert Asquith (Prime Minister, 1908-1915), David Lloyd George (future Prime Minister), John Redmond (Irish Parliamentary Leader,1900-1918), Joseph Chamberlain (Leader of the Liberal Unionists) and James Keir Hardie (1st elected Independent Labour Party Member of Parliament). Some of the themes of the collection of posters are the Second Boer War (1899-1902), Tariff Reform (and the conflict between Protectionism and Free Trade), the question of Irish Home Rule and issues around Immigration and the Empire.

  John Bull: "I'll give him Home Rule!" (1910) COLL MISC/0519/58

If you are interested in finding out more about the historical context and figures then I’d recommend some very accessible articles on Wikipedia such as the one for Henry Campbell-Bannerman, Joseph Chamberlain and the Tariff Reform League. If you want something a little bit more subjective and opinionated then I’d heartily recommend finding out what Beatrice Webb thought of the people and the issues. This is very easy to do now that her diaries are also available and searchable on the Digital Library. Meeting Joseph Chamberlain, a man that Beatrice was deeply in love with, is referred to as her “...catastrophe of my life”. One wonders if the LSE would even exist if it hadn’t been…


All images from LSE