By John Charmley (auth.)

ISBN-10: 0312161263

ISBN-13: 9780312161262

ISBN-10: 0333693329

ISBN-13: 9780333693322

ISBN-10: 0333722833

ISBN-13: 9780333722831

ISBN-10: 1349146919

ISBN-13: 9781349146918

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7 Law also presided over the fusion of the two parts of the old Salisburian coalition in 1912, with the Party formally becoming what it was to remain until the 1970s, the National Unionist Association of Conservative and Unionist Associations. But the question of whether this would have been enough to win an election was never answered. The war which so many Unionists had been expecting for so long finally broke out in August 1914 and it brought with it fresh opportunities for the Party. If Unionism, Tariff Reform and imperial federation all fitted well with a policy which called for a strong defence policy, then this left the Conservative Party relatively well placed to benefit from the advent of the First World War.

39 It may, therefore, have been ironic, given his radical past, that Joseph Chamberlain should have acted as a focus for the 'ditchers', but it was hardly accidental. The 'Mandarins' took the view that they were facing a political problem which must be susceptible to a compromise solution; keen Tariff Reformers believed that they were facing a fundamental assault on the Constitution from Socialists and Irishmen. Chamberlain's official biographer captured the importance of Tariff Reform for his hero when he wrote of it as 'a way to hold the working classes to their Tory allegiance'.

Since 1900 they had been steadily losing by-elections: one in 1901, three the following year (including North Leeds which had always returned a Conservative), and four in 1903. By the time of the election the Conservatives had lost twenty seats a record at that time. 1 per cent of the electorate not being troubled by a contest. 3 per cent of the vote on this occasion. 5 million votes had been cast. In 1906 more than 5 million men voted, and there were fewer uncontested seats. 18 The message is plain.

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A History of Conservative Politics, 1900–1996 by John Charmley (auth.)

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