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The Liberal Party and the Liberal Democrats, 1859-Present

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About this Course

About the Course

In this course, Dr Matthew Cole (University of Birmingham) explores the history of the Liberal Party – and the later Liberal Democrat Party – from its foundation in 1859 until 2017. We begin by thinking liberalism as a political ideology, from the concepts of rationalism and consent outlined by John Locke to the major policy achievements of the 20th century that were grounded in liberal ideology. After that, in the second module, we think about the different phases of leadership of the Liberal Party, from William Gladstone in the 19th century to Nick Clegg in the 21st. In the third module, we think about the organisation of the Liberal Party, focusing in particular on its willingness to work with other parties – with varying degrees of success – before turning in the fourth module to the development in support for the Liberal Party, from its position as the most popular party in Britain in the 19th century to a party with just 8 MPs after the 2015 General Election.

About the Lecturer

Matthew Cole is Teaching Fellow in the Department of History at the University of Birmingham. He is a historian of modern Britain with a particular interest in twentieth century constitutional and party politics, and local history.

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