By John Charmley (auth.)
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Additional resources for A History of Conservative Politics, 1900–1996
2 He was the sort of leader the Conservatives would only turn to because they could find no one else. Some historians have seen him as representing the new type of Conservative politician, but what he really represented were the two main causes which galvanized Conservatives in 1911: Tariff Reform and Ireland. From the start he had been intellectually convinced by Chamberlain's case, and as one of the few members of the Unionist front bench who sounded at home with economics, his views carried great weight; no one could accuse him of intellectual frivolity - indeed no one ever accused him of being either intellectual or frivolous.
26 A HISTORY OF CONSERVATIVE POLITICS, 1900--1996 Tariff Reform also offered a way out of another dilemma. During the Salisbury period the Unionists had presented themselves as the champions of the rights of 'property' in the widest sense. Whilst Gladstone seemed to be threatening these rights, it was enough to 'defend' them. But the interests of the aristocracy, farmers and industrialists were not so easy to reconcile when the immediate threat from the Liberals was removed. Social legislation to improve the lot of those without property could only come from the taxes of those who possessed it- which was not quite what the Conservative and Unionist Party was supposed to stand for.
Balfour, who was rich in obstructionist tactics but void of any constructive strategy, became increasingly an object of scorn to the Chamberlainites. By 1907 a majority of constituency organizations had come out in favour of tariffs, and even the languid Balfour had to agree that the issue was one which ought to be pressed on the government. To the Confederates this was too little and too late. With Campbell-Bannerman's administration foiled in many of its plans by the House of Lords, and losing seats in by-elections (including, to every Conservative's delight, Churchill's in 1908), Unionist Party managers began to indulge in daydreams of a healthy majority in the next election.
A History of Conservative Politics, 1900–1996 by John Charmley (auth.)