Portrait of Richard Cobden

Cobden reminds the Liberals in Parliament that the motto of their party is “Economy, Retrenchment, and Reform!” (1862)

Found in: Speeches on Questions of Public Policy. Vol. 2 War, Peace, and Reform

The free trader and anti-war advocate Richard Cobden (1804-1865) told his Liberal Party (founded 1859) colleagues in the British Parliament in a speech in August, 1862 that their party motto was ‘Economy, Retrenchment, and Reform!’:

Parties & Elections

… I shall take the liberty of reminding the House what have in former times been our professed principles. My hon. Friend evidently is in a doleful key, and does not seem to anticipate much gratification or renown from this investigation. In his case, however, I would make an exception; for, if I were called upon to make such a selection, he is the man I would fix upon as having been at all times, in season and out of season, true and faithful to his principles. What have been the professed principles of the so-called Liberal party? Economy, Non-intervention, Reform. Now, I ask my hon. Friend—and it is almost a pity we cannot talk this matter over in private—if we were to show ourselves on some great fête-day, as ancient guilds and companies used to show themselves, with their banners and insignia floating in the air, and if we were to parade ourselves, with our chief at our head, with a flag bearing the motto, ‘Economy, Retrenchment, and Reform!’ whether we should not cause considerable hilarity? Of these three ancient mottoes of our party, I am inclined to attach the first consideration to the principle of Economy, because the other two may be said to have for their object to attain that end.