By John Charmley (auth.)
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Additional resources for A History of Conservative Politics, 1900–1996
David Lloyd George was already an object of peculiar aversion to the Unionists - his proposal to increase taxes on land and to tack them onto the Budget made him the most loathed man whenever Unionists gathered together. In a political era that was to see the rise of the outsider to political prominence (whether in the form of Bonar Law, the Canadian businessman, or Ramsay MacDonald, the deracinated would-be intellectual), Lloyd George still stood out as 'not one of us'. His background was, in fact, little different in terms of class and comfort than that of his leader, Asquith, but where the latter had gone to Oxford, shed his Yorkshire accent and eventually acquired a wife who would encourage him to lose his nonconformist roots, Lloyd George remained an outsider.
The lifelong Conservatives inherited by Balfour were so unimpressive as to suggest a correlation between Conservatism and dimness. Only the fact that St John Brodrick was as close to a friend as Balfour's temperament would permit, can explain his appointment to the War Office, and even this can· scarcely explain how he was kept on as India Secretary after 1903. As for the rest, the presence of Lords Cranborne and Selborne is explained by their belonging to the Cecil clan, while Ritchie at the Exchequer and Arnold-Foster at the Home Office were the sort of heavy furniture which encumbers most Cabinets.
29 To Chamberlain, the Cecils and their aristocratic supporters appeared to be anachronistic and effete survivals of a feudal system which had had its day. Salisbury's electoral ascendancy had been precariously based upon a chance concatenation of circumstances. His own disregard for the outrage which organized labour felt over the Taff Vale Case of 1901 which had made trades unions liable at law for the actions of their members, and Conservative disdain for the feelings of nonconformists over the Education Act seemed, like their blindness to the need to widen the tax base in order to pay for necessary social reform, signs that they, and their class, were not fit leaders for the new age.