The Crushing Defeat Suffered By The Conservative Party In The 1906 General Slection

1573 words - 6 pages

The Crushing Defeat Suffered by the Conservative Party in the 1906 General Slection

In the later stages of the 19th century it is clear that the
Conservative’s were the dominant political party in Britain, but they
appear to be ‘crushed’ in the 1906 general election only gaining 156
seats to the liberal party’s 399. There are clear reasons during this
period to why this dramatic change in public support happened. These
appear mainly to be due to conservative bills and what seems to be
poor leadership from Campbell Bannerman who appears a weak he is a
leader.

Tariff reform was an apparent reason for many of the electorate to
switch their political stance in 1903. Tariff reforms isolated most of
the working class because the prices of basic foods were raised, this
meant that poorer people could not afford to pay for basic foods due
to these extra prices and so many working class votes are lost due to
this reform. Furthermore the party is clearly split over this issue;
with chamberlain (who was in charge of the empire) adamant that tariff
reforms were needed to strengthen the empire and C.T. Ritchie
(Chancellor of the Exchequer) who makes it clear that he believes an
imperial tariff is not needed. This split shows to the electorate a
side of the conservatives that they are not used to seeing and so to
the electorate this split had a massive impact as the conservatives
had always appeared united ‘It was clear that all unity in government
had been lost much for Balfour’s skill he managed to ward off the
disintegration of his cabinet’ (wood), This looses the conservatives
some of their public support and helps in the ‘crushing’ defeat
suffered in 1906.

Arthur Balfour had never led a party when he took over the
conservatives in July 1902 and it can be said that he was just ‘not up
to the job’ and this can be perceived as a key reason to why the
conservatives lost the 1906 general election. Balfour made many
mistakes in his brief period of power before loosing the 1906
election. He was a weak leader as can be seen from his compromise on
tariff reforms where he did not want to distance himself from Joseph
chamberlain and this meant that he introduced a half hearted tariff
reform where he would only tariff countries in retaliation to other
events. He also portrays the image that he does not have any sympathy
for the working class through such event as Taff vale and Chinese
slavery. In addition he publicly promotes the education act which
looses support and this shows clearly that Balfour was not up to the
job of leading the dominant conservatives because Salisbury the
previous leader had already said that there was ‘no sense in promoting
the education act’ and so Balfour’s mistake appears to prove that he
was not up to the job bestowed upon him.

The 1902 education act is seen as...

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