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Why did the Conservatives dominate British politics between 1885 and 1905?

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28 September 2004 Anna Carlisle Why did the Conservatives dominate British politics between 1885 and 1905? A number of factors meant that the Conservative Party dominated British politics between 1885 and 1905: a significant reason why support for the Conservatives began to increase in at this specific time was because of the Redistribution of Seats Act, which was passed in 1885. At this time, although the Conservatives did have working-class support, many Conservative voters tended to be wealthy landowners and businessmen, who didn't want any major change in the government to threaten their position. When this act was passed, Salisbury, the conservative prime minister, ensured that when the new constituency boundaries were drawn, the conservative voters were grouped together so that they were guaranteed a seat in that particular area: towns such as Sheffield and Glasgow ensured that the Conservatives stayed in power. The Conservatives further increased support by establishing social clubs (eg: The Primrose League) ...read more.


Some opposed the policy that a few liberals held to control licensing laws and others took the advice of Anna Carlisle their wealthier employers, and voted for the conservatives, which increased their support. Certainly, there were a number of Conservative strengths, which appealed to voters but liberal weaknesses also played a part in ensuring the Conservatives dominated British politics at this time. As well as 'faddism', the issue of 'Home Rule' further split the liberal party. Whereas the Conservative Party was against Ireland gaining some independence, the Liberals didn't have a clear view on the matter. Gladstone wanted to pacify Ireland and introduced the first Home Rule Bill in 1886 but Chamberlain agreed with the conservatives concerning this issue, his supporters became known as 'Liberal Unionists'. It was difficult for the Liberals to come to a decision over what their view was as the Conservative party dominated the House of Lords: in 1893, a second Home Rule Bill was introduced and passed in the House of Commons but failed in the house of lords as the Conservatives were against home rule. ...read more.


Throughout this period, the Conservatives dominated political affairs in Britain because of their strength in organisation and appeal to both middle and working-classes. However, the fact that the liberals simply couldn't compete Anna Carlisle with the conservatives in 114 seats and were viewed as unpatriotic over their split concerning the Boer war and Home Rule shows that the conservatives may have dominated because of their opponent's weaknesses, rather than their strengths. In fact, towards the end of this period, the Conservatives started losing support over the Education Act of 1902, where Church schools received financial support from taxes. This angered non-conformists, who hoped church school education would die out. The act made the conservatives unpopular (7000 people refused to pay taxes in 1903) and also united the liberals and gave them some direction. The Licensing Act of 1904, where the numbers of pubs were controlled was also unpopular with non-conformists and gave the liberals a chance to gain support. Despite this, the conservatives dominated politics at this time because of a mixture of their strengths and liberal weaknesses. ...read more.

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