Birmingham, the "Caucus" and the 1868 general election



Cawood I (2020) Birmingham, the "Caucus" and the 1868 general election. Journal of Liberal History, (105).

First paragraph: In the national historiography of the Victorian Liberal Party, Birmingham holds an ambiguous position. It did pioneer a new approach to political organisation and electioneering, most spectacularly in the 1868 general election which saw all three of the seats for the city won for the Liberals, thanks to the work of the Birmingham Liberal Association (BLA). But the BLA later proved to be a troublesome ally for Gladstone and its founders as Andrew Reekes has recently described. In some ways, its actions were manipulative of the electorate and not fully representative of the political complexion of the city. If the BLA has been considered to be the prototype of modern political organisation, owing to its success in 1868, it has been suggested by some commentators this was not entirely beneficial for the development of participative democratic politics in Britain nor for the long-term survival of the Liberal Party.

Journal of Liberal History, Issue 105

Publication date31/01/2020
Publication date online17/01/2020
Date accepted by journal30/06/2019
Publisher URL…eneral-election/

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Dr Ian Cawood

Dr Ian Cawood

Associate Professor, History