Online exhibition: Three Key Elections of the Twentieth Century

by Stephen Tall on December 9, 2008

Lib Dem Voice readers might like to know that a new exhibition, Turning Points: Three Key Elections of the Twentieth Century, was opened by Baroness (Betty) Boothroyd in Parliament last night. The bad news is it’s not open to the public. The good news is that it’s all available to view online at Here’s the teaser for it:

The 1906, 1945 and 1979 general elections are arguably the most significant elections of the 20th century. Each ushered in a distinct new era in British politics, the impact of which still resounds to the present day.

1906 brought in a reforming Liberal government, which introduced the foundations of the Welfare State which, in turn, was developed more fully by the Labour Government after its landslide election in 1945. The 1979 election saw a Conservative government equally determined on reform and ending the ‘consensus politics’ of the post-war era whereby both main parties had had broadly similar policies towards the mixed economy, welfare state, trade unions and unemployment. …

The aim of the exhibition is to promote awareness of the political party archives among Members of Parliament by featuring a selection of manuscripts from the archives of the three main parties. Focusing on the 1906, 1945 and 1979 elections which each ushered in a distinct new era in British politics and brought in, respectively, a Liberal, Labour and Conservative Government, it demonstrates the rich but under-used resource for the study of British political history.

(Declaration of interest: I work for the Bodleian Library, home to one of the featured archives. Ironically for me, it’s the Conservative Party Archive. The Liberal Party and Liberal Democrat archives are held at the LSE.)