Discovery of the Trogolodytes

This cartoon comes from a cartoon in the Express in 1903 and shows the growing battle between Chamberlain's Imperial Preferences and Free Trade Liberals. In Newcastle in 1903, Chamberlain had given a scathing attack on the Liberal position regarding his ideas for binding the Empire together:

"Really, if a man cannot see the difference between the state of things today and the state of things thirty years ago, or sixty years ago, it seems to me he ought not to call himself a Liberal or a Radical. He ought to call himself a Trogolodyte and live in a Cave!" The point he was trying to make is that Britain was so much wealthier due to the wealth and opportunities created by the Empire. What makes this cartoon interesting is the fact that Lord Rosebery is squatting on a rock and isolated from the rest of the group and labelled The Public Orator. It seems to imply that Lord Rosebery is no longer part of the main branch of the Free Trade Liberals who are portrayed as being 'clockwise from the left; the Duke of Devonshire, C T Ritchie, Lord George Hamilton and Sir Michael Hicks Beach. Behind them are the Liberals: from left to right, David Lloyd-George, H H Asquith and Henry Campbell-Bannerman, with one other standing behind.

It is clear that by 1903 Lord Rosebery is at odds with his own party but he still had not made the crossover to join Chamberlain's Liberal Unionists. The heavy defeat of the Conservatives in 1906 bury the Liberal imperialist cause once and for all. Cheap food becomes the mantra for the re-energised Gladstonian Liberals.

Prime Ministers | Lord Rosebery


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by Stephen Luscombe