By Chris Cook
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Meanwhile, other events were to aid the reviving fortunes of the Liberal Party. The most important was the Education Act of 1902. This legislation was to provide the first glimmering of a Liberal dawn. It not only opened up divisions within the Unionist Cabinet (Chamberlain found the approach adopted by the government particularly unpalatable), but also roused the grass-roots of the Liberal Party in defence of the control of primary education by the school boards. Nonconformist anger was brought to a level not seen since the Bulgarian atrocities.
The party lost three of the 16 contested by-elections during 1907, while in the municipal elections of November 1906 there had been heavy losses to the Conservatives. Two of the by-elections, at Colne Valley and atjarrow, were both significant for the increased support shown for Labour. In the Colne Valley, Victor Grayson, an avowed Socialist who in fact refused to join the Labour Party, won the seat despite Liberal and Conservative opposition. In the Jarrow division, the death of the Liberal member produced a four-cornered by-election in July 1907.
His most constructive achievements were the Merchant Shipping Act of 1906 and the Port of London Authority Act which, although it did not become law until Lloyd George had moved to the Treasury, had been prepared by him. A third source of energy came from Winston Churchill, the Under-Secretary at the Colonial Office. Churchill's abilities were given greater scope than usual because Elgin, the Secretary of State, was among the weakest members of the government. Churchill's achievements at the Colonial Office included the establishment of selfgovernment in the Transvaal, followed by similar status immediately afterwards for the Orange Free State.
A Short History of the Liberal Party 1900–1984 by Chris Cook