The Liberal Election Victory of 1906 Essay

The Liberal Election Victory of 1906 Essay

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The Liberal Election Victory of 1906

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. The
population had been rapidly increasing during Victorian times and a
post-Victorian age was to bear the consequence. In order to look after
the increasing numbers of the 'less well-off' people, attitudes were
going to have to change. However the conservatives did little to
provide social reformation and were weak in politically satisfying the
demands of the masses. The masses, of which many were living in
poverty didn't receive sympathy from the likes of James Balfour, an
Etonian who probably had the faintest of ideas of w...


... middle of paper ...


...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.

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