The political dynamics of North East Wales, with special reference to the Liberal Party, 1918-1935
The decline of Liberalism as a political force during the inter-war period has conventionally been linked to the rise of class politics and the secularisation of society. However, such general theories cannot be applied to all British constituencies. This thesis argues that the decline of the Liberal Party was not necessarily inevitable. Using the socially and economically diverse region of North East Wales as a case study, it is asserted the Liberals were, to a large degree, the architects of their own destiny. Despite the fact Labour and the Conservatives attempted to oust them from their position of influence - whilst the Liberals were determined and acting in unison their competitors had little hope of overthrowing them. Class politics failed to matter to a party whose core values and beliefs were so deeply embedded in local society. In North East Wales Liberal constituency parties remained relatively unaffected by the poison that had ravaged the Parliamentary party after 1916. Up until the 1930s these local associations managed to set their own agenda and possessed a large degree of autonomy. Nonetheless, the formation of the National Goverment brought local initiatives to and end, and truly introduced the spectre of national politics to their members. Liberalism as an ideology was stretched and altered into an almost unrecognisable creed. Even within the party it meant different things to different people. This thesis examines why Liberalism collapsed in an area of perceived Liberal 'strength', and considers the role of the opposing parties in this development. It thus addresses both the weakness of Labour in an era of 'class politics', and the growing strength of Conservative politics in North East Wales.