By John Charmley (auth.)
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Additional resources for A History of Conservative Politics, 1900–1996
One of these was the shrinking of the workingclass Tory vote, visible in 1906 and again in 1910. The reasons for this are complex, but broadly speaking are connected with the way in which 'secular issues, especially those relating to the workplace, displaced confessional differences as a focus of BALFOURIAN DOG DAYS 39 political debate'. 33 The change in the structure of the ownership of firms, in which 'family businesses' gave way increasingly to public corporations, removed one important link between employer and employees, and as the Conservatives increasingly looked like the party of remote 'bosses', their appeal to workers declined accordingly.
It may be that Balfour hoped that his sudden resignation in December 1905 would embarrass the Liberal leader, Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman. There were well-founded rumours that some of the leading Liberals had decided that they would only enter a Cabinet under conditions which Sir Henry could accept only with humiliation, but if Balfour had calculated that his departure would provide the Liberals with a chance to display their own divisions, he had miscalculated badly; the prospect of office concentrated Liberal minds wonderfully.
It is customary for journalists, commenting upon current Cabinets, to lament the decline in quality from some age when political giants trod the stage, but not even the most opaquely rose-tinted spectacles can make much of most of Balfour's colleagues. Of those who impressed contemporaries, the two great figures in Cabinet after Salisbury himself had both begun their political life elsewhere, and the Duke of Devonshire was a wasting asset, whilst the other was Joseph Chamberlain. Of the rest it is almost best not to speak.
A History of Conservative Politics, 1900–1996 by John Charmley (auth.)
Categories: Conservatism Liberalism