The Politics of Drink in England, from Gladstone to Lloyd George
This book is about alcoholic drink, political parties, and pressure groups. From the 1870s into the 1920s, excessive drinking by urban workers frightened the major political parties. They all wanted to reduce the number of public houses. It was not easy to find a way that would satisfy temperance reformers, many of them prohibitionists, and the licensed drink trade. Brewers demanded compensation when pubs were closed, but temperance reformers were vehemently opposed to this.
The book highlights a prolonged struggle of vested interests and ideologies in this regard, showing that a Royal Commission in 1899 helped break the stalemate. In a controversial deal, brewers got compensation, but they had to pay for closing some of their own pubs. Later, during the First World War, the government experimented with an alternative to closing public houses, disinterested or non-commercial management, and considered State Purchase of the entire drink trade.
David M. Fahey is Professor of History Emeritus at Miami University (Ohio). He previously served as President of the Alcohol and Temperance History Group and received a lifetime achievement award from its successor, the Alcohol and Drugs History Society. Specializing on temperance and drink in England and America, he published many articles and books, such as “Temperance and the Liberal Party–Lord Peel’s Report, 1899” in Journal of British Studies (1971), "Brewers, Publicans, and Working Class Drinkers: Pressure Group Politics in Late Victorian and Edwardian England" in Histoire sociale (1980), Temperance and Racism: John Bull, Johnny Reb, and the Good Templars (1996), and Temperance Societies in Late Victorian and Edwardian England (2020). He has also contributed to the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography and the Biographical Dictionary of Modern British Radicals, and co-edited two alcoholic drink historical encyclopedias
“The footnotes and bibliography make this a crucial volume for scholars looking at the history of drink in England.”
R. J. Bates
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