The Auntie Doris Years: 1906

The Liberals won the ruddy general Election that February. My Grandmother loved her Liberal politics. She might not have been able to vote for some stupid reason, but whenever Grandfather was home at Election time, she bent his ear about it and made him promise to go with the liberal cause. He wasn’t as interested as grandmother, but he always said that he would do as she asked, although wether he actually bothered or not was a different matter. But that year they won it with or without him. They won it because, thanks to Seebohm Rowntree and his ilk, people realised that something had to be done about poverty, and the Labour Party weren’t quite ready to manage it yet. Sir Henry Campbell Bannerman moved into number ten. Lord bless him, he was probably the best prime minister that this country ever had…. apart from maybe Clement Attlee, and Harlod Wilson. Alright, he was probably the best non Labour Prime minister that this country ever had… apart from Winston Churchill and maybe Lloyd George. Alright… Campbell Bannerman was a good Prime Minister. A ruddy good Prime Minister.
My grandmother liked him any road, and she managed to pass on that like to my mother, who kept the flame of liberalism going through liking Herbert Asquith, and Lloyd George, and Herbert Samuel, and the dashing, devilishly handsome Sir Archibald Sinclair. Any one of them was worth ten Nick Cleggs in my opinion.
But what was so good about Campbell Bannerman was that he started the ruddy welfare state, forty years before Labour brought in all their reforms to get it up to scratch. Without old Bannerman, the Labour reforms would have been a damn sight harder to introduce.
Them liberals brought in free school dinners, and national insurance, which provided help for the elderly, sick and unemployed. The idea of the unemployed was a new one, which replaced the term “able bodied paupers,” which is how the ruddy Tories still think of people without jobs to this very day, despite the fact that they closed down or sold off most of the paces where people used to work.
Any Road, That was all to come after that Election, but my Grandmother could feel it coming, and she felt as positive about the future as Labour supporters did in 1945 and 1997. Things could only get better.
Old Campbell Bannerman only lasted a couple of years. He worked himself into the ruddy grave, he resigned, poorly, in April 1908 and then popped his clogs a week later. My Grandmother wore black for a month after that. The liberals stayed on and continued his work with Asquith and Lloyd George, but as time went on, it was clear that war was coming. It wouldn’t be long before there were plenty of people wearing black, and what a ruddy shame that was.
Auntie Doris’s pop topper of 1906: “Stop Your Tickling, Jock” by Harry Lauder. There was no one to beat old Harry at this time. British people used to love a good comedian. And he was one of the best.

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