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The Liberal election victory of 1906 was a result of division in the conservative party and nothing else - discussed

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Introduction

'The Liberal election victory of 1906 was a result of division in the conservative party and nothing else' The Liberals won a 'landslide' election victory in 1906. It is claimed that the loss of power for the Conservatives was largely due to a decline in fortunes as the party split due to issues over tariff reforms. On the other hand it is assumed that the loss was due to the complacency and the neglect of Workingmen's Interests. Arthur James Balfour had become the Conservative leader in the House of Commons and served (1891-92, 1895-1903) as the first Lord of the treasury. He had succeeded his uncle as Prime minister in 1902. A huge task lay ahead of Balfour, as poverty was to be a focal point at the beginning of the 20th century. Although it is reputed that Balfour was able, he was also witty. Lacking clear commitment in any particular direction could prove a major flaw, for both him and his political party. His principal concerns were education and defence. There was, he believed, 'no more serious waste than the waste of brains and intellect'. Misfortunes of the Conservative party noticeably outweighed the party's fortunes. A key political issue at the time was poverty. ...read more.

Middle

This was suitable during the period in which Britain was the leading industrial nation, but as competition with other countries intensified it was to the detriment of British manufacturers and farmers. The problem needed to be solved. There were efforts by Lord Churchill to implement further domestic reforms in the tradition of Tory democracy were unsuccessful, but the popular imperialist emphasis remained. In this period the party was gradually drawing closer to business class interests, but the insistence of Joseph Chamberlain on a pro-empire tariff reform split the party. He proposed that a protectionist tariffs needed to be introduced as it would protect British industry (i.e. industrialists and farmers). He also wanted to make possible a system of imperial preference, which was to the determent of most of the cabinet. The programme was strongly opposed by a small group of free traders. More seriously, working class fears that duties on food imports would raise the cost of living made it an electoral liability. The internal divisions caused a purge of the cabinet in 1903 and did much to cause three consecutive electoral defeats. The tariff reform campaign, which was launched in 1903, resulted in Chamberlain resigning and setting up a splinter group known as the tariff reform league. ...read more.

Conclusion

When the Lords blocked his policies he laid plans to curb their power. He also supported women's suffrage and introduced the Old age pension. Overall, it can be argued that the split in the Conservative party was to blame for the Liberal 'landslide' victory of 1906 however I feel that there are many other factors that played its part. Although the division of the Conservative party lacked the unity of the Liberals, it was difficult to point out to any Tory reform which was specifically intended to offer benefits of the working class and there is hardly any evidence that the Conservatives had genuinely succeeded in widening their power base. The post-Victorian era and the turn of the century gave a new dimension to politics. The voices of the working class had to be heard. The Conservatives were unprepared for 20th century Politics and were defeated for good reasons but largely over the wrong issues. The Tory's were vulnerable to the emergence of a new party with a broader appeal to the working-class vote than its own. The general election loss of 1906 wasn't due to the split of the Conservative party but rather complacency and neglect of working men's interests. Many Conservatives attributed the 1906 defeat to the natural swing of the electoral pendulum after ten years of Conservative government. The idea was 'the turn' of the Liberals to win. ...read more.

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