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"Joseph Chamberlain's tariff reform campaign was to blame for the Conservative loss of the 1906 general election" Explain why you agree and disagree

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"Joseph Chamberlain's tariff reform campaign was to blame for the Conservative loss of the 1906 general election" Explain why you agree and disagree (15 marks) On 15th May 1903 Joseph Chamberlain declared that his faith in 'imperial preference' in trade and that s it would be given by allowing imports from the Empire into this country at lower rates of duties than imports from foreign, non-imperial countries. It was hoped that this would tie the empire, by creating a patriotic feeling, raise reverence for social reform and protect industry. However the opposite effect came about and this idea evoked little enthusiasm and little support was found. The campaign for tariff reform caused many major problems such as splitting the Conservative Party and raising hostility of the working class. Many other additions factors need to be added to the loss of the 1906 general election such as legislations that the conservatives passed whilst in power and wrong decisions that the Prime Minister at the time made. In the 1870s and 80s competition from newly industrialised foreign countries became more and more of a threat to the British industry, and by 1900 both the United States and Germany had probably surpassed England, economically, building up their industries behind high tariff barriers. Foreign manufactured goods were penetrating British markets, first in the colonies, then in Great Britain herself. This was an apparent unfairness to the British manufacturers and this, in 1881, led to the formation of the Fair Trade League placing equal tariffs other countries placed upon British goods. ...read more.


Many previous supporters of the Conservative party saw this as a great weakness, and did not believe in supporting a party that appeared to be so weak, such responses to the war led to the conservative's loosing many supporters. It was also believed that the Boer War stimulated Joseph Chamberlain's campaign for tariff reforms which split the Conservative Party. In addition it is argues that the Boer War led to a significant change in the liberal party leading a policy of "...no policy or fraction should be allowed to predominate" and many joined the support of this as they were after more social reform as oppose to supporting the incompetence of the military to further expand the empire. Therefore the Boer War can be seen as a significant addition as to why the number of seats/votes for the Conservatives was less. All the above reasons including Chamberlain's Tariff reform all led to the loss of the 1906 general election, but the many legislations and laws passed by the conservatives during their time of power caused great opposition. Primarily in 1902 Balfour's Education Act came into play extending basic elementary education to all because it was felt that Britain's competitors were ahead of her in the education work force. So in 1902 local authorities were told they should use ratepayer's money to aid existing schools and to set up new schools. Non -conformists were upset from this decision as they were rate payers, but did not want to subsidise schools run by Roman Catholics and the Church of England. ...read more.


Factors such as Chinese Slavery, the many legislations such as the licensing Act, Taff vale Act and the Education Act played large parts in loosing support for the party. All these reasons alongside others such as the Boer War and obviously the Tariff reform, lost support and all these lack of votes piled up; eventually greatly weakening that Conservative Party. The statement is extremely general as it would not be right to say the Joseph Chamberlain's Tariff reforms were solely to blame for the loss of the 1906 general election. This campaign of tariff reform led to greater problems and highlighted the policies that the Conservative's were interested in which were not the best for Britain at the time. Policies such as that of laissez -faire was not favoured for the working class and the tariff reforms highlighted this as this policy seemed to ignore the reform needed at home however concentrated on imperial preference. Tariff reform further added to problems as it caused a split between the Conservative party making it hard for them to decisively, collectively and thus strongly make further decisions to help other problems in the social, economical and industrial seen in Britain at that time. The Tariff Reform campaign caused an unnecessary split and major weakness to the Conservative party and made them stray away from the true meaning of a political party; to represent what the people want. Finally because of the loss of the 1906 general election Britain was able to enter an era of social reform as oppose to laissez-faire. 1 Natalie Constantine 12E Miss Maile ...read more.

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