From 1846, the conservative party has been in minority in the commons, but at the end of the 19th century there was a conservative revival. Indeed, after 1880, the Tory party became dominant in the Victorian political life. The main actors of this revival were Disraeli, who was Prime Minister from 1874 to 1880, and then Salisbury who formed three conservative governments, between 1886 and 1902. It is necessary to point out that this electoral revival of the conservatives can seem paradoxical. Indeed, due to the Reform Acts of 1867 and 1884, the number of working-class voters was higher than ever during this period and their vote should have normally been given to the Liberals, considering the fact that the conservative party was so far the party of the landed and propertied elite. As a result, many historians argue that the conservative paradoxical revival was not linked to assets of the Tory party but to shortcomings of the Liberals.
They think that the electoral hegemony of the conservatives between 1874 and was essentially a negative achievement due to Liberal disarray and division and to the reliance on the new distribution of seats since 1885. However, revisionist historiography shows that this revival is in fact highly correlated wit the enfranchisement of the working class and with a positive evolution of the tory party. According to Jon Lawrence, working class conservatism has too often been considered as a form of political deviance but this is a reductionist model and we need to recognize that the hegemony of a group or a party can also been the result of a specific conjuncture.
[...] All these measures led to conservative advances in many towns and among the working-class. Second, the progressive identification of the conservative party with popular culture was a key factor of its appeal for the working class. The Tories dealt with key aspect of popular culture like pub, football, racing, to distinguish them from the moral reforming of the Liberal party. They organized social events with entertainments, singing of patriotic songs, dances, and showed their sympathy for the working-class's culture and life. [...]
[...] The new methods of political organizations relevant to the social context, the appeal to the working class values and to the patriotic sentiment of the population considerably increased the electorate conservative vote. During these years, the Tory party managed to mobilize a real conservative army. However, what happened to the party after 1906 was not a proof that the negative conditions were even so highly influential, because once Liberal party revived, and the Labour party emerged, the conservative party new sources of success became obsolete. [...]
[...] He is also the one at the origin of the idea to make Victoria Empress of India in 1876. As regards the defence of England, he really struggled for Britain to have a place on the diplomatic stage and presented the Conservative party as the party of the nation. He thought that Palmerstone's support for liberal agitation in Italy and elsewhere in Europe was threatening for Britain interests and tried to make a cooperation with the traditionally conservative European power: France and Austria, against Russian militarism and continental liberalism. [...]
[...] They appeal to sentimental clichés with the idea that “there is no place like home”. So both the social reforms and the appeal to the workingmen's culture and family life increased the number of votes from the working class. III. A second positive reason of the conservative success was the efficient political reorganization of the party into a mass party Before the 1870s, the Tory party had little formal political organization and was not really nationally coordinated. Disraeli re-establishes the conservative party as credible party to govern and started the conservative revival. [...]
[...] We are going to study these reasons in the following parts. II. One of the reasons of the revival of the Conservative party from 1874 was its capacity to mobilize the working-class's votes with social reforms and identification with working-class popular culture. Firstly, it is clear that some social measures of significance attracted the vote of the working class. Under the primeship of Disraeli, the 1874 factory act raised the minimum working age for children to 10 years, the 1875 Dwelling Act permitted to clear up areas of dwelling slums and the 1875 Public Health Act established measures to combat the spread of diseases. [...]
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