Ffynh 8U

British Liberalism is not going to repeat the errors of Continental Liberalism. The fate of Continental Liberalism should warn them of that danger. It has been swept on one side before it had well begun its work, because it refused to adapt itself to new conditions. The Liberalism of the Continent concerned itself exclusively with mending and perfecting the machinery which was to grind corn for the people. It forgot that the people had to live whilst the process was going on, and people saw their lives pass away without anything being accomplished. But British Liberalism has been better advised. It has not abandoned the traditional ambition of the Liberal party to establish freedom and equality; but side by side with this effort it promotes measures for ameliorating the conditions of life for the multitude.

The old Liberals in this country used the natural discontent of the people with the poverty and precariousness of the means of subsistence as a motive power to win for them a better, more influential, and more honourable status in the citizenship of their native land. The new Liberalism, while pursuing this great political ideal with unflinching energy, devotes a part of its endeavour also to the removing of the immediate causes of discontent. It is true that men cannot live by bread alone. It is equally true that a man cannot live without bread. Let Liberalism proceed with its glorious work of building up the temple of liberty in this country, but let it also bear in mind that the worshippers at that shrine have to live.

It is a recognition of that elemental fact that has promoted legislation like the Old Age Pensions Act. It is but the beginning of things. Legislation of this character is essentially just, and it is a severe reflection on our civilisation that we should have waited so long ere we undertook the making of a provision of that kind for the aged and deserving poor. There are 43 millions of people in this country. They are not here of their own choice. Whether they are here by accident or the direct decree of Providence, at any rate they had no control or voice in the selection of the land of their birth. If hundreds and thousands of them either starved or were on the brink of starvation, we must not blame Providence for this misfortune. There are abundant material resources in this country to feed, clothe, and shelter them all – yea, and if properly husbanded and managed, to do the same for many millions more.

(Lloyd George, speech to Welsh National Liberal Council, Swansea, 1 October 1908, South Wales Daily News, 2 October 1908 [Tip: daliwch Ctrl a chliciwch dolen i'w agor mewn tab newydd. (Cuddio tip)] )