Winston Churchill, much like today’s so-called “conservatives,” talked one way but walked another:
Liberalism has its own history and its own tradition. Socialism has its own formulas and aims.
Socialism seeks to pull down wealth; Liberalism seeks to raise up poverty.
Socialism would destroy private interests; Liberalism would preserve private interests in the only way in which they can be safely and justly preserved, namely, by reconciling them with public right.
Socialism would kill enterprise; Liberalism would rescue enterprise from the trammels of privilege and preference.
Socialism assails the pre-eminence of the individual; Liberalism seeks, and shall seek more in the future, to build up a minimum standard for the mass.
Socialism exalts the rule; Liberalism exalts the man.
Socialism attacks capital; Liberalism attacks monopoly.
— From a speech by Winston Spencer Churchill, “The Dundee Election, May 14, 1908,” in Liberalism and the Social Problem, 1910, page 155.
Fine words, but:
When Campbell-Bannerman [the Liberal party’s prime minister] was succeeded by Herbert Henry Asquith in 1908, Churchill was promoted to the Cabinet as President of the Board of Trade. Under the law at the time, a newly appointed Cabinet Minister was obliged to seek re-election at a by-election; Churchill lost his seat but was soon back as a member for Dundee constituency. As President of the Board of Trade he joined newly appointed Chancellor Lloyd George in opposing First Lord of the Admiralty Reginald McKenna’s proposed huge expenditure for the construction of Navy dreadnought warships, and in supporting the Liberal reforms. In 1908, he introduced the Trade Boards Bill setting up the first minimum wages in Britain.
In 1909, he set up Labour Exchanges to help unemployed people find work. He helped draft the first unemployment pension legislation, the National Insurance Act of 1911. As a supporter of eugenics, he participated in the drafting of the Mental Deficiency Act 1913; however, the Act, in the form eventually passed, rejected his preferred method of sterilisation of the feeble-minded in favour of their confinement in institutions.
. . . Churchill also assisted in passing the People’s Budget, becoming President of the Budget League, an organisation set up in response to the opposition’s “Budget Protest League”. The budget included the introduction of new taxes on the wealthy to allow for the creation of new social welfare programmes. After the budget bill was passed by the Commons in 1909 it was vetoed by the House of Lords. — “Winston Churchill,” Wikipedia. [Emphasis added]
It looks as if Winston Churchill’s conception of what constituted “liberalism” wouldn’t seem all that out of place in today’s political landscape.