During this period in history, it is clear to say that the
conservatives dominated British politics. However, is it due to
conservative strengths or liberal weaknesses? Although the weakness
and the divisions within the liberal party helped the conservative
cause, the latter party were dominant due to their unrivalled strength
in politics. There were many reasons for these strengths, but it is
safe to say that this was the main factor for supremacy in politics in
the later 1800's.
As Prime Minister in this period, Salisbury won three elections in
fourteen years, which is a Conservative record unmatched by Liverpool
in the 1820's and Margaret Thatcher in the 1980's. This is a clear
indication of how successful the Conservatives were in this period.
This shows that one of the main Conservative strengths was the
leadership skills of Salisbury. He handled both opponents and awkward
political customers on his own side with considerable skill. Historian
Peter Marsh believes that Salisbury was 'more of a diehard than any
Conservative leader since his godfather the Duke of Wellington.'
Salisbury had many skills. His choice of leadership within the
Conservatives was crucial. For example, in 1887 he appointed W.H.Smith
to be first Lord of the Treasury. This showed Salisbury's shrewd
judgement of men from a social group different from his own. This was
important as this man was from a working class background, and could
have had a good effect on the vote from the working classes. Salisbury
also used to appoint people from a business background, with 200 in
the upper house by...
... middle of paper ...
Italy and Austria. Salisbury always refused attempts in the late 1880s
by German Chancellor Bismarck to draw him into the Triple Alliance of
Germany, Austria and Italy. He believed that Britain's lack of
definite alliances and commitments was to the country's advantage.
Although Liberal weaknesses and divisions, such as the no support for
leader Gladstone in the 1890s, helped the Conservative cause, this was
not the main reason for dominance. The Conservatives owed a lot to the
skills of Salisbury. He adapted well to the changing political
climate, and also made policies which appealed to all walks of life,
and a wide range of social people. He made astute political decisions
and appointed opposition officials in his ranks. The dominance of
conservatism was due to him, and his political strengths as a leader.
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