Manor House
"My politics are changing. Before, the Labour Movement was not for me. I thought it was for people in factories. I've changed completely." Mrs Davies, housekeeper
Kelly, the housemaid
Photograph of Lloyd George

Lloyd George - the Liberal Chancellor of the Exchequer who took on the House of Lords

Photograph of the Liberal Prime Minister Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman

The Liberal Prime Minister Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman

Snob Status
"We like our food more sanitised nowadays, we like it plastic wrapped from the supermarket, with no noticeable resemblance to animals."
Lady Olliff-Cooper
Edwardian Life: Politics

Rich and Poor
Just as Manor House is split into two groups - upstairs and downstairs, so was the politics of Britain between 1905 and 1914.

When the period begins, the Conservative Party had ruled for 20 years, in general supporting the status quo in which the rich stayed rich and the poor stayed poor.

However, there were revolutionary rumblings abroad. In 1905, the Tsar of Russia's army had turned on protestors outside the Winter Palace in what became known as Bloody Sunday. And in Britain, in 1906, after "the most exciting general election for years", magic lanterns projected the results onto massive screens in London's Trafalgar Square and on the Embankment: it was a landslide victory for the Liberals.

Another emerging force had also made a breakthrough: the Labour party, which represented the interests of workers. In the 1906 election, the party increased their number of MPs (Members of Parliament) from two to 30.

The Liberal Reforms
With its large majority, the victorious new Liberal government started to try and tackle the glaring inequalities between rich and poor.

They introduced pensions in 1908 and national insurance in 1911 to help the elderly, the unemployed and the sick. At the same time as they were introducing these social welfare reforms, they had to spend more and more money on the military because they were being pulled into an arms race with Germany.

As a result, the Chancellor Lloyd George had to raise taxes to pay for it all. And he saw much of the money coming from the landed classes, represented in Westminster by the House of Lords, who in turn, challenged him at every step.

Lloyd George toured the country, denouncing the peers as "five hundred men chosen accidentally from among the unemployed" pitted against "millions of people who are engaged in the industry which makes the wealth of the country". Edward VII was appalled at what he regarded as dangerous rhetoric "calculated to set class against class, and to inflame the passions of the working and lower orders."

As a man who has made his own money (rather than someone who has inherited his land and title), Sir John Olliff-Cooper from Manor House, would not have been a direct target of the Liberals' attacks. But soon such "plutocrats" would eventually be just as affected by the rise in inheritance and "super" taxes.

Similarly, his servants would not have been as affected in these years by the changes as many other workers were. While the membership of trade unions - which fought for improved working conditions, better pay and regular time off for workers - rose to around 4 million by 1914, there was no organized movement to fight for those below stairs in domestic service. All was still dependent on the goodwill of the master.

As the Edwardian era drew to a close, women were demanding the vote, while Ireland, far from being pacified, was making increasingly insistent demands for Home Rule. The international situation was unstable and unsure - the Great War would soon sweep away so much of what went before.

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