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Conservatism for the democratic ageConservative cultures and the challenge of mass politics in early twentieth century England$
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Dr. David Thackeray

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780719087615

Published to Manchester Scholarship Online: September 2013

DOI: 10.7228/manchester/9780719087615.001.0001

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The challenge of class politics

The challenge of class politics

(p.53) 3 The challenge of class politics
Conservatism for the democratic age

David Thackeray

Manchester University Press

Work on late-Victorian Conservatism stresses that Salisbury’s party developed a wide support base by promoting a heterogeneous programme, appealing to both working and middle class social cultures. However, Edwardian tariff reformers appear to have struggled to maintain effective links to working class interests. And yet, despite its central importance to its advocates’ political creed, tariff reform was only one of several campaigns that Chamberlain’s supporters waged as they sought to create a Unionist politics with a wider cultural purchase. After 1912 Unionists took substantial steps to reduce their dependence on tariff reform, promoting populist campaigns in support of rural smallholdings, an overhaul of National Insurance, and opposition to Irish home rule. Unionist attempts to engage with class identities in Edwardian Britain were far from one dimensional and grew in sophistication after 1912, as the Conservative party developed a targeted, pluralistic campaign strategy across the nation.

Keywords:   Class, Tariff reform, Home rule, National insurance, Targeted electioneering, Land reform, Local elections

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