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Title: The agonizing reappraisal : Conservative politics 1903-1931
Author: Evans, S.
Awarding Body: University College of Swansea
Current Institution: Swansea University
Date of Award: 1995
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Between 1903-1931 an agonizing reappraisal took place in the Conservative Party, the outcome of which had a direct bearing on the character of twentieth century Conservatism. After 1900 Conservatives were being taught that they needed a new mode of political practice: the spread of democracy, collectivism, and Socialism had made their stylistic approach towards politics redundant. Continuity and change, and keeping the ship of state afloat could not prevent their world from crumbling around them. It was time to behave ideologically: the Conservative Party had to believe in something and stand up for what it believed in before it was too late. Edwardian Conservatism became ideological through the messianic fervour of the tariff reform campaign and the seething hatred of Anti-Radicalism. The Conservative Party could not come to terms with ideology before 1914 though. Tariff reform's ideological potential was drained away by irreconcilable approaches and Anti-Radicalism lacked doctrinal rigour in practice. The Conservative Party needed to de-ideologize if it was going to remain a political force to be reckoned with, but it did so in a way which made it difficult to predict the future direction of Conservative politics. Conservatives did not grasp the opportunities which the Great War and the Lloyd George Coalition gave them for re-casting their political approach. By the time ill-health forced Bonar Law to relinquish the premiership in May 1923 the Conservative Party still hovered uneasily between style and ideology. It was Stanley Baldwin who gave Conservatism a sense of direction in the 1920's by returning it to the stylistic home it had left three decades before. There has thus been no continuous move towards ideology in twentieth century Conservatism and the ease with which the Conservative Party coped with ideological politics after 1975 gives a misleading view of its ability to change its spots.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available