Explain why the Conservatives were unpopular in 1906? (12 marks)
A.J Balfour was an intelligent man yet lacked political skills causing him to make poorly judged decisions leading to a decrease in conservative’s votes. During the Boer War, 1898-1902, Balfour used Britain’s patriotism to help the Tories win the 1900 ‘Khati Election’. By doing this it allowed Britain to stay involved in the Boer war, not knowing that war would last 4 years and cost Britain over 210 million pounds. This highlighted to the British people how the Conservatives neglect poverty and social reform, and by 1902 it was officially reported by the army high command that nearly two-thirds of those who had volunteered to join the services failed to pass their basic medical test. This information was further supported by Charles Booth and Seebohn Rowntree’s research, as Booth published 17 volumes on the life and labour of London’s poor between 1889 and 1903. Rowntree set out to test Booth’s statistics in York and began his investigation in 1899. Their conclusions stated that 30% of the urban population would be classified as ‘poor’ and that about 20% might be classified as ‘very poor’ or as living in ‘primary poverty’. Booth and Rowntree’s research later proved that more than a quarter of the population lived below the subsistence level, highlighting that people where too malnourished and medically unfit to be accepted into the army. Subsequently the Conservatives lost nine seats in the general election 1900, whilst both liberal and labour gained seven and two seats.
Additionally the Conservatives failed to foresee the anger that the Chinese labour issue would cause. As the Chinese causes Tories to lose more voters, since British people and trade unionist thought this was inhumane and feared the Conservatives involvement in Chinese slavery in Africa would result in them coming to Britain. In 1905 unemployment was already high therefore Chinese slaves would lower the wages and peoples way...
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