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Explain why and in what ways the Conservatives' record in government between 1900 and 1905 made it likely that they would loose the General Election in 1906.

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Introduction

Explain why and in what ways the Conservatives' record in government between 1900 and 1905 made it likely that they would loose the General Election in 1906. Between 1900 and 1905, the Conservatives' under Lord Salisbury (1900-1902) and then Balfour (1902-1905), steadily lost support and respect from the British public. From a period of political dominance from 1885 to a crushing defeat in 1906, which saw a landslide victory for the Liberals', there were a series of decisions, indecisions and acts passed during the 5 years in question that many historians view as the reason for the Conservative defeat in 1906. In the 1900 election, lord Salisbury with his reforms in the years previous to it, won a convincing victory and 334 seat along with the 68 seats from the Liberal Unionists, who supported the Conservatives' during this time. However another Conservative government would not be in power again until 1922. However there are five events during this time which see the Conservatives loose support, The Taff Vale Judgement (1901), The Education Act (1902), 'Chinese Slavery', Tariff Reform and The 1904 Licensing Act. During 1900,workers from the Taff Vale Railway Company went on strike over pay, following this, the company took the union, the Amalgamated Society of Railway Servants, to court and won; the union had to pay �23,000 damages. ...read more.

Middle

Balfour publicly disapproved of what was going on in South Africa, but more importantly did in fact nothing about it. To the British public, this was seen as weak leadership on Balfour's part, this was damaging to the Conservatives because they were being seen as having a weak leader and during this time the Prime Minister wasn't just in control of Britain but of Britain's Empire, which needed a strong, confident leader. The Liberals were all united over their disgust over this matter and gained support form the working class and other members of the voting public who saw the 'Chinese Slavery' as a cruel and exploiting measure being taken by the High Commissioner and South African mine owners. This was yet another issue that was loosing support for the Conservatives and letting the Liberals gain ever more support. The Licensing Act (1902) gave Licensing Justices the power to refuse a Licence renewal if premises were deemed structurally unsound or unneeded in the area. These powers were extended by Balfour's (1904) Act which made it even easier for pubs to be closed down. Existing licences became known as 'old on licences' and the 'Ante 1869 beer house' was no longer immune from the licence renewal procedure. ...read more.

Conclusion

In conclusion it is possible to say that the Liberals were handed the 1906 General Election in the same way that the Conservatives had been in 1885. There was a number of issues which Balfour and his government lost popularity over, although all were instrumental in the Conservatives huge defeat in the 1906 General Election, there were signs that the defeat was coming, as the Tories lost by-elections all the way through Balfour' government, but one is more instrumental than the others, the Tariff Reform issue. This split the government into two and although it is possible to blame this on Chamberlain as many historians have done, it is fare to say that the fact that Balfours' indication over the matter was just as important. Also the fact that it re-united the Liberals made it dangerous for the government as it now had serious opposition and also, the anti Tariff Reformers had a party that they could now vote for that wasn't a wasted vote. It was these decisions, acts and indications that led the way to the 1906 crippling defeat at the General Election. ...read more.

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