By John Charmley (auth.)
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Additional info for A History of Conservative Politics, 1900–1996
The whole ethos of Unionism was better suited to the war than its Liberal counterpart.
Indeed, it would hardly be 52 A HISTORY OF CONSERVATIVE POLITICS, 1900-1996 going too far to claim that it was the fact that the Liberals embodied Government interference, temperance and support for Irish Home Rule, which constituted the bed-rock of support for Merseyside and Lancashire working-class toryism. But the party leadership proved immune to the blandishments of the Social Reform Committee, and by the eve of the war there was little sign that the Unionists would develop policies which could win working class support which could not be garnered by appeals to patriotism and disillusionment with the Liberals; and the question remained whether this would be enough to win an election.
42 Austen Chamberlain described it as 'a slap in the face', 43 and the experience helped convince even that mild-mannered man that Balfour's leadership had not long to run. When the Unionist frontbenchers met on 21 July to consider their reaction to the news that Asquith now possessed guarantees from the King that sufficient peerages would be created to pass the Parliament Bill, Balfour recommended acquiescence; fourteen of his colleagues went along with him, but eight dissented. This was bad enough, but when the quality of the eight 'rebels' was considered, it was clear that there would be problems: Lords Selborne and Salisbury were connected by ties of family, Lord Balcarres was the new Chief Whip, whilst George Wyndham was another personal intimate.
A History of Conservative Politics, 1900–1996 by John Charmley (auth.)
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