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Why did the Unionists win the 1900 election and how significant was this victory?

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Why did the Unionists win the 1900 election and how significant was this victory? 1900 saw the Conservative Unionists just over half way through their 7-year period in office. The last general election had been called in 1895 so the Unionist had no pressing reason to hold a general election. Salisbury sought to capitalise on the apparent success of the Boer-war by appealing to the public in the form of a Khaki election. With the liberal party in disarray due to a split over the Boer-war and the economy in apparent boom, Salisbury dissolved parliament and called an election. The liberal party split in 1886, over the issue of Irish home rule, had taken away most of the financial backing and given it to the Conservative party which then became known as the Unionists. This meant that when the 1900 election was being fought, the liberal candidates who had previously been supported by the Wealthy land owning Whigs were now struggling to find the funds to support the campaign. ...read more.


Chamberlain, who was viewed afterwards as the man who had won the election, he pushed the Liberals hard over the subject of the war in one famous speech he said "a seat gained by the Liberals is a seat lost to the Boers.' He also deeply criticized the Liberals over the 'Pretoria' letters where several Liberals had written to Boers expressing their distaste for the war. Chamberlain called these people 'Pro-Boers' and hounded them about their lack of patriotism. Although the economy was fairly good, the Unionists had not made any major social reforms since the 1895 election. The 2 schemes that had been thought up by Joseph Chamberlain: The Workmen's Compensation Act 1897 and the Old Age Pension commission were not successful. The Workmen's Compensation Act did not satisfy all Chamberlain's aspiration and did not protect all workmen. And the Old Age Pension's Commission which was set up to establish if there was a need for any sort of old age pension and was disregarded by Salisbury. ...read more.


The war cost �200 million and over 20,000 lives were lost. The government was criticized for using concentration camps on civilians. Other major powers started to ally against Britain. Although the economy was fairly strong it was inferior to many other foreign policies that used tariffs to block imports. British industries were not innovative and relied heavily on investments. And British textiles were suffering heavily from protective tariffs imposed by Germany and the USA. The 1900 election whilst increasing the number of seats for the Unionists it also increased the number of seats for the Liberals and left many uncontested. The various problems which the government had failed to address with the army and economy meant that Britain was losing her power. And due to the government's outlook being focused on the empire they failed to implement much needed social reforms. Following the 1900 election Salisbury gave up the role of Foreign Minister in favour of Lord Lansdowne and in 1902 resigned as Prime Minister making way for his nephew Arthur Balfour. Paul Wimpenny ...read more.

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