Conservatism in Crisis: 1910–1915

  • David Dutton


‘I think that our election here has cleared the air’, wrote the Liberal Prime Minister, Herbert Asquith, as the dust settled on the contest of December 1910. It had ‘made the way fairly plain, if not exactly smooth’.1 It is doubtful if many Conservatives2 shared this analysis. The high hopes of January now seemed a distant memory, and the Party had failed once more to recover the reins of power. Balfour’s pledge to submit the central policy of tariff reform to a referendum had not only failed to win over any significant number of new voters, but had also served to reopen deep wounds within the Party over this issue, while placing a renewed question-mark over Balfour’s commitment to the policy itself. Conservatives now entered upon a new and even more turbulent period of opposition which was only transformed by the outbreak of European war in the summer of 1914.


Party Leadership Liberal Party Conservative Party Liberal Government Plural Vote 
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© David Dutton 2005

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  • David Dutton

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