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1929 Liberal Party General Election manifesto

David Lloyd George's Election Address

Failure of the Government

The General Election now in progress will have an important and in some respects a decisive influence on the well-being of this great country. The by-elections of the last two years have made it abundantly clear that the nation has lost confidence in the present Government. Its complete failure to grapple with the serious emergency in our trade and the consequent abnormal unemployment has created a general sense of disappointment in all classes of the community. Even Conservatives do not conceal their disillusionment with the Government they succeeded in placing in power five year ago. Whatever the result of this election may be, it is clear that the supporters of the Government will be in an emphatic minority in the next Parliament.

Revival of Liberalism

The issue, therefore, for the electors is whether they will entrust the destinies of the country to the Liberal Party, which can show a long record of great and enduring service to the nation, and which can command today amongst its leaders a number of able and experienced men, who in some of the highest offices of the State served their country well, or to the Socialist Party, which, apart altogether from being inexperienced, is committed to proposals which would be disastrous to the trade, commerce, and industry of the land. Reports come in from every part of this island which indicate a sensational revival of the trust in Liberalism and a general desire to see the affairs of the nation once more placed in the hands of a Liberal Administration.

For the twelfth time I solicit the suffrage of my fellow-electors of Caernarvon Boroughs. Having represented them in the House of Commons continuously since 1890, I need enter upon no elaborate explanation of my political opinions. On all such matters as the urgent importance of restoring agriculture to its proper position in the economy as the urgent importance of restoring agriculture to its proper position in the economy of the nation, the vital need for ampler facilities for education, the temperance question, housing, and the complex problem of giving security, leasehold enfranchisement, opportunities, and independence to the poorer and less fortunate sections of the community, the importance of Empire development, and certainly not lease the fair treatment for all questions specially affecting Wales, her language, and her people, my views are well known to you. In this election I only want to stress what seems to me to be major issues which call for urgent treatment.

The greatest world issue before the country today is peace. Everybody wants peace and talks peace, but the acid test of whether covenants, treaties and pacts of peace mean anything, and whether the Government has confidence in the League of nations, in the Kellogg Pact, in the Washington Treaties they will cut their vast and swollen armaments to the police level. If they continue to spend money on armaments and organise conscript nations in arms, it is becuase they really reust not in peaceful methods, but in war. We are spending £112,000,000 a year on armaments and little more than £100,000 a year on the League of Nations.

My first object, if elected to the new Parliament, will be to urge that immediate steps be taken to give a practical response to the offer, made by President Hoover in his inaugural address, to co-operate with other nationsl to bring about that large and simultaneous reduction of armaments which is the only sure protection against war, and the only sure foundation for peace. A conference of nations to discuss measures that will lead to drastic reduction in these increasing armaments should be immediately summoned.

Unemployment

The central domestic issue which confronts us is unemployment. There can be no national health, no widespread prosperity, there can be no national happiness and contentment so long as more than a million of our fellow-countrymen are unable to find work and earn wages by their work. The nation ought, and will rally to whatever party can give grounds for believing that it can get rid of this running sore from the body-politic.

The Liberal Party has not simply made election promises. As a result of the only thorough and consistent study which has been given to our national problems during the last few years by some of the ablest economic experts, aided by experienced business men, it has produced a sound, safe, practical programme for every elector to judge for him or her self.

Last February the Prime Minister stated in the House of Commons that 'in the view of the Government the object which we desire can best be attained by perseverance in our policy', by perseverance, that is to say, in a policy which has resulted in unemployment being substantially the same as it was when they came into office in 1924. The Labour Party policy was recently announced by Mr Ramsay MacDonald at the Albert Hall. If they are returned to power they will appoint another committee.

A practical policy

The Liberal policy is a practical policy. In the first place it seeks to restore the prosperity of our industries by breaking down the barriers to international trade, by promoting harmonious relations between employer and employed, by encouraging in every way greater efficiency in industry, and by restoring the Trades Facilities Act, which gave the support of the national credit to industrial enterprise of a substantial and valuable kind and which could not be initiated or carried out without special assistance. Before the Act was abandoned by the present Government, enterprises of the aggregate value of £74,000,000 were put through at an infinitesimal cost to the Treasury.

In the second place, it pledges itself to find immediate employment for those now out of work on works of national utility and development, many of these works, like electricity, telephones, housing, roads, and railways, being long overdue. It is surely better, instead of wasting our substance by spending £70,000,000 a year on 'doles' for which there is no return, to lay out this enormous expenditure in providing work on plans which will leave the nation richer and more efficient for its tasks. The details of these plans are set forth in the liberal pamphlet 'We Can Conquer Unemployment', and need not be repeated here.

Free Trade

I shall continue my life-long opposition to the policy of raising prices at home and impeding foreign trade by Protection, Freer trade for all nations is the only road to national, Imperial, and international prosperity.

The Liberal watchwords

The Liberal programme deals with the immediate and ultimate needs of the nation. Its watchwords are

  • the restoration of prosperity to our industries;
  • the conquest of unemployment;
  • the cutting down of unproductive expenditure
  • temperance reform;
  • the completion of proper housing for the people;
  • slum clearance;
  • revitalisation of agriculture;
  • the emancipation of the leaseholder from harse and unjust conditions that confiscate his capital and toil;
  • a great expansion of education;
  • vigorous national development of the resources of the country;
  • Imperial unity;
  • the devolution of purely national questions within the nation to the nationalities concerned;
  • freer trade;
  • international peace by the substitution of arbitration for force, and all-round reduction of armaments.

It is on this programme that I confidently seek re-election.

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