Government and Politics

The History of British Government, Parliament and Politics and its wider impact on the history of Britain.

  • Business and Industry - why is it important in family history?
  • Paris Peace Conference 1919
  • British Union of Fascists Riots
  • Tariff Reform League
  • The Edwardian Era
  • Rachel Wriothesley wife of Lord Russell
  • The Great Seals of England
  • Sidney Street Siege and Winston Churchill 1911
  • Appeasement as Pragmatic Policy
  • Thomas Cromwell
  • Neville Chamberlain Prime Minister

Parliament will train you to talk and above all other things to hear with patience unlimited quantities of foolish talk.
Thomas Carlyle

The Glorious Revolution of 1688, in which the King of England King James II was overthrown, was the beginning of a new era of politics. William of Orange agreed to work in a co-operative way with Parliament that brought to an end the idea of the controlling authority of the monarch.

Not all Parliamentarians were in agreement with this though and two factions evolved. The Tories and the Whigs.

The Tories were for Royalty and keeping things as they were, the Whigs for giving more power to Parliament and wanted reform.

The single British Parliament grew out of the Act of Union in 1707  when the assemblies of England and Scotland were dissolved. The power of Parliament increased and the parliamentary party system began to emerge.

The opposition between the Whigs and the Tories was to become the basis on which Parliamentary debate would be enacted and out of which would emerge our political leaders. You can find a list of British prime ministers here and discover more about who these leaders were by clicking on the link.

British Government and Politics

Latest articles and posts

British Union of Fascists Riots

British Union of Fascists Riots

The British Union of Fascists rose to power under Oswald Mosley in the 1930’s, the riots that ensued in the streets of the East End have something to teach us about the rise of far right politics in today’s political climate.

Tariff Reform League

Tariff Reform League

The Tariff Reform League was the 1903 dream of Joseph Chamberlain, he rejected free trade, what can we learn from this in the build up to Brexit? Was he misguided in his political view or did he have a point of view worth re-examining in light of the upcoming trade negotiations?

The Edwardian Era

The Edwardian Era

The Edwardian era lasted only nine years and yet it was an age of social change and political and intellectual brilliance, what happened in this ear to promote such change?

The Great Seals of England

The Great Seals of England

The Great Seals of England, have been attached to important state documents for hundreds of years but what is the purpose and ceremony behind them?

Sidney Street Siege and Winston Churchill 1911

Sidney Street Siege and Winston Churchill 1911

This entry is part 4 of 4 in the series Winston Churchill polymath

Winston Churchill as Home Secretary 1911, dressed in Top Hat it could be mistaken for a scene from the Silent movies but find out what happened and decide for yourself was it ‘over-the-top’ for Winston to be there and to call in Artillery?

Appeasement as Pragmatic Policy

Appeasement as Pragmatic Policy

Appeasement Policy, why did it have any credibility in Neville Chamberlain’s eyes? Could he really believe Hitler wanted peace and when it did unravel was he really surprised and ill-prepared? Would Churchill have handled this period any better and with the position Britain found itself in at that particular point could Churchill really have fared any better by outright confrontation before 3rd Sept 1939?

Neville Chamberlain Prime Minister

Neville Chamberlain Prime Minister

Neville Chamberlain made an error of judgement it is offten argued in seeking a path of appeasement and in particular by seeking to sacrifice other smaller countries in negotiations with Hitler i order to seek to avoid entangling Britain in a further costly war both in human and economic terms that it was currently ill-equipped to fight whilst still recovering from WW1 and the difficult period between the wars that had been book-ended by the Treaty of Versailles in 1919 and the Depression of the early 1930s. In this series we ask questions of wider Britain and its easy criticism of Chamberlain, who was damned for a short period of a career that had largely bee dedicated to public service. But was he individually to blame or part of a wider political history of Britain which wrongly and rashly seeks to attribute blame to a single man, even the Prime Minister. The outcome of war with Hitler may not have changed irrespective of Chamberlain’s actions but would we have been better prepared and avoided some of the early errors in WW2 when Britain as a nation was so ill-prepared for war?

Parliament Act 1911

Parliament Act 1911

This entry is part 1 of 1 in the series Constitutional Crisis 1909-1911

The Barons finally give way to democracy and yield their right of veto against democratically approved laws voted on and approved in the House of Commons. An Act of Parliament settles a bitter dispute from the 1909 Peoples Budget and a vital principle that had taken hundreds of years to establish.

Arthur James Balfour Prime Minister 1902-1905

Arthur James Balfour Prime Minister 1902-1905

This entry is part 2 of 2 in the series British Prime Ministers

Arthur James Balfour was a Prime Minister cut from the old aristocratic mould, an intelligent man who perhaps lacked emotional intelligence to match. Educated at Eton and Cambridge, nephew of Lord Salisbury, his mother’s brother. He would serve in coalition during WWI alongside Lloyd George more than strange bed-fellows. It was then that his now infamous Balfour Declaration would be declared and continues to cited as the root cause of the troubles between the Arab and Zionist causes in Palestine. and modern Israel. Unsuccessful Prime Ministers can be even more important it would seem than those that succeed and the failures may also be greatest when they are no longer in the top job.

Constitutional Crisis People’s Budget 1909

Constitutional Crisis People’s Budget 1909

What would cause a king to contemplate the end of the Monarchy and that his son might be the last King? When his Barons, the Lords would rise-up and revolt against the rule of democracy and seek to reinvent the will of the people via its commons from being fulfilled. Lloyd George and Winston Churchill would be the advocates for the poor and common man. Asquith would seek to calm the rage and the King would plead with the Lords to let the Bill pass but it would take two General Elections and never again would this unwritten convention be relied upon without statute to support it.

Corn Laws Economic History and Big Data

Corn Laws Economic History and Big Data

This entry is part 1 of 1 in the series Balanced Perspectives Political History

Learn a little and want to know more then this video by Cambridge University Expert D’Mariss Coffman can help. Find out how this humble grain and cereal returns lead to the “birth of political economy” and the start of Big Data as evidence for economic outcomes. Lecture given as part of the excellent Gresham College series.

Winston Churchills Legacy a balanced perspective

Winston Churchills Legacy a balanced perspective

This entry is part 1 of 4 in the series Winston Churchill polymath

How can you get a balanced view and perspective about this British Prime Minister and what his real legacy is on this (2015) the 50th Anniversary of Winston Churchill’s state funeral. The historians and politician’s literature never mind Winston’s own writings are huge. He never did a single TV interview Professor Vernon Bogdanor does us all proud with this excellent video lecture, in his roles as Emeritus Professor of Law and Visiting Professor of Political History at the excellent Gresham College find a little time and get an excellent balanced view and appraisal of the legacy left to us all by Winston Churchill.

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Government and Politics Timeline

An evolving project building a timeline of British Government across a 1000 years of British History, it may take some time

DateGovernment and Politics TimelineCategories
1900 JanBattles of Ladysmith and Spion KopBoer War
Government
Foreign Policy
1900Prince of Wales Attempted Assassination by Anarchist in Brussels 1900

Government
Europe
Anarchists
Monarchy
Edward VII Prince of Wales
Government
1900 May 17thRelief of Mafeking Relieved 1900
On the 216th day of the siege the British forces defending Mafeking under the leadership of Colonel Baden Powell, founder of the Scouts Movement were relieved by Colonel mason and his advanced guard. A special medal was struck and Baden Powell became a national hero.
Commonwealth
South Africa
Boer War
20th Century
Baden Powell
1900Boxer Rebellion in China Contained and Put Down 1900/strong>
Admiral Sir Edward Seymour was in charge of China Station during the rebellion. The rebellion was suppressed by the Chinese government led by Li Hung Chang, a fervent nationalist, who was said to empathise with the rebels he was responsible for containing.
Boxer Rebellion China
Government
1900King Humbert of Italy Assassinated by Anarchist The late King had been favourably disposed to Great Britain and desired to reinforce the Triple Alliance of Austria, Italy and Germany with an Anglo-Italian Entente. He took a firm lead on containing the power of the Vatican and was succeeded by his son King Victor Emmanuel III.
Europe
Government
Foreign Policy
Monarchy
Politics
Anarchism
1901 Jan 1stAustralian Commonwealth inaugurated in Sydney 1901
Lord Hopetoun was sworn in as Governor-General.
Commonwealth
Australia
Government
20th Century
1901 Feb 2ndState Funeral of Queen Victoria 1901

Government
Monarchy
20th Century
Queen Victoria
1901 Jul 18Earl Russell convicted of Bigamy in House of Lords 1901

House of Lords
Government
20th Century
1901 Sept 18King Alfred the Great's Millenary celebrated at Winchester Cathedral Hampshire
Govenment
Church and Religion
Monarchy
House of Wessex
Anglo Saxon
1901 Nov 09Australian Commonwealth inaugurated in Sydney 1901
Lord Hopetoun was sworn in as Governor-General.
1901King confers title Prince of Wales and Duke of Chester on his eldest surviving son
His eldest son known as Prince Eddy had died suddenly after a short illness in 1892
Government
Monarchy
1902Anglo-Japanese treaty Signed
Government
Foreign Policy
Japan
1902 May 31Peace Signed in South Africa 1902
The 2nd Boer War was over,
Government
Boer War
War and Conflict
1902 JulSalisbury Resigned and Arthur J Balfour becomes Prime Minister 1902


Government
Prime Ministers
1902 OctLord Kitchener made Commander-in-Chief India 1902

Colonies and Commonwealth
Government and Military Rule
India
Empire
1902 NovColonial Minister Joseph Chamberlain embarks on South African Tour

Government
Foreign Policy
Commonwealth
1902 DecBritish and German Fleets Seize and Blockade VenezuelaGovernment
Military
Foreign Policy
South America
1902 DecNational Fund started in response to profound poverty and distress in London and other cities across BritainSocial Policy
Government
Social Change and Welfare
1903 Jul 21Tariff Reform league InauguratedGovernment
Trade and Industry
Economy Protectionism Taxation
1903 AugRoyal Commission Report reveals Mismanagement of the Boer WarGovernment
Royal Commission
War and Conflict
Military Policy
1903 AugLord Salisbury died three times Prime Minister and four times Secretary of State for Foreign AffairsGovernment
Prime Ministers
1903 SepNeville Chamberlain Prime MinisterJoseph Chamberlain resigns as Colonial Secretary over tariff Reform</strong>Government
Ministers
Trade and Industry
Foreign Policy
1909People's Budget of Lloyd George sparked a Constitutional CrisisGovernment
Economy
Change
1911Parliamentary Act 1911Government Law