Before New Liberalism: The Continuity of Radical Dissent, 1867-1914

  • Nicholas Loizou

Student thesis: Phd


The central aim of this thesis is to examine the role played by the radical traditions of provincial nonconformity in the emergence of New Liberalism between the 1860s and 1914. While New Liberalism is usually characterised as a secular movement that broke away from nonconformist traditions, this thesis demonstrates that it was in many respects a continuation of provincial nonconformity. The thesis charts its long-term impact at a local level, the formation of national organizations and then its direct legislative role after 1906. The main approach, in the earlier chapters, is to examine the use of religious rhetoric in overcoming sectionalism and divisions of class, in building co-operative relations between Liberals and labour movements, as well as long-term platforms such as the NLF. From this foundation, it examines the significance of nonconformist campaigns for compulsory education and prohibition in the Liberal Party’s ideological adjustment to the demands for domestic social reform in the penultimate chapter, concluding with a thorough qualitative and quantitative analysis of the role of nonconformist MPs in the Liberal administrations of 1906 and 1910 at the end. In so doing, the thesis mainly draws on sources from the press, including pamphlets, periodicals and newspapers, supplemented by other official documentation to examine how Liberal nonconformists developed radical initiatives through appeals to shared religious cultural mentalities, values and identities, before also utilizing parliamentary papers in the final chapter for the quantitative analysis of voting patterns. The thesis makes an important revision to our understanding of the complicated relationship between nonconformity and the Liberal Party during this difficult period of transition when the party’s identity was challenged, by reconnecting the provincial world of nonconformity directly with the politics of New Liberalism.
Date of Award1 Aug 2019
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Manchester
SupervisorStuart Jones (Supervisor) & Thomas Scriven (Supervisor)


  • 1906
  • nonconformity
  • chamberlain
  • dissent
  • new liberalism
  • gladstone
  • Percy Alden

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