1906 Conservative weaknesses

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  • Conservative weakness
    • The Boer War
      • It revealed the effect of poverty in the cities and the need for social reform (malnourishment). Conservatives ignored this need.
      • Concentration camps showed that the Tories allowed ill treatment to happen
      • it was costly in terms of lives lost and money spent
    • 1902 Education act
      • roused fury of non-conformists and led them to Liberals.
      • the non conformists objected to their money taxes being spent on schools, there were campaigns against the act.
    • 1904 Licensing Act
      • also angered non-conformists because it was put in place to reduce the number of pubs.
      • non-conformists were influencial groups that could swing the vote in marginal constituencies
      • the act increased support for the Liberals
    • Chinese Labour issue
      • this caused a scandal which damaged conservatives from trade unionists
      • unemployment in Britain was high and there was little support for the unemployed, the issue of Chinese labour took votes away from the Conservatives
    • Taff Vale Case
      • lost support because they didn't take the part of the trade unions over the Taff Vale case
      • there was a dispute in Wales between the Taff Vale Railway Company and the railway workers' trade union - led to strike action
      • the trade unions weren't happy with the outcome as the conservatives didn't help. This encourage trade unions to support the idea of a Labour group in Parliament and for campaigning against the Conservatives
    • Neglect of social reform
      • they didn't do much to help relieve the poverty in Britain
      • they only produced the 1902 Education Act  - provided some help but not much.
      • Booth and Rowntree estimated that up to 30% of the urban population could be classed as poor and around 10 % could be classed as 'very poor' - insufficient income to meet the bare standard of living. Another 20% had incomes just sufficient to meet the minimum standard.
    • Tariff reform campaign
      • conservatives biggest policy misjudgement J Chamberlain launched it aiming
      • they were supposed to be tariffs with a lower level of tariff for goods coming into Britain from the empire than good from other countries.
      • Chamberlain said it would help save jobs, pay for social reforms and strengthen Britain's position in the world.
      • It damaged the conservatives People feared that it would mean more expensive food and lower standard of living.
    • Conservative leadership
      • A.J Balfour's position didn't help the Conservatives as he lacked political skill.
        • he was insensitive to public opinion, indecisive on tariffs and seriously miscalculated the reaction of working classes on key issues.
        • he was indirectly responsible for the timing of the 1906 election, due to his unusual decision that his govt. should step down in Dec 1906

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