The Strange Death of… Everything

Not a week goes by it seems without an article or a book being published that adapts the title of George Dangerfield’s The Strange Death of Liberal England. Examples abound – from the obvious such as The Strange Death of Tory England and The Strange Death of Liberal America to more obscure examples such as The Strange Demise of British Canada and The Strange Death of Social-democratic Sweden. Indeed the latest edition of the London Review of Books promises an article entitled ‘The Strange Death of Municipal England’.

Yet it’s not simply the title of George Dangerfield’s classic work that retains its relevance. In an era where all political certainties seem questionable and where the dominance of traditional political parties across Europe seems to be breaking down, now is the perfect time to revisit Dangerfield’s chronicle of the collapse of the Liberal party in the face of radical popular movements and resistance in Britain’s colonies. As investigative journalist Paul Foot wrote back in 1997:

“There are, of course, many history books about this period… even after 61 years, however, George Dangerfield’s book is supreme.”

We are inclined to think that the same is true now, more than 80 years since The Strange Death of Liberal England was first published.