"Balfour's Leadership Was Responsible for the Decline in the Popularity of the Conservative Party in the Years 1902-1906." How for Do You Agree?

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“Balfour’s leadership was responsible for the decline in the popularity of the conservative party in the years 1902 – 1906.” How far do you agree? In the year 1902 to 1906, the Conservative party began to lose popularity, causing the Liberal party to beat them in the next general election. There are many reasons as to why the Conservatives began to lose support. Some of the reasons are because of A. J. Balfour, whereas others were not his fault. Balfour’s position as Conservative prime minister after Salisbury’s death in 1902 did not help the Conservative cause. Although he was highly intelligent, Balfour lacked political skills. He was not as sensitive to public opinion as Salisbury, proved indecisive on tariffs and seriously miscalculated the reaction of the working class on key issues. Balfour had piloted the 1902 Education Act through parliament and so incurred the hostility of the nonconformists. He failed to foresee the anger that both the Chinese labour issue and his refusal to reverse Taff Vale would cause amongst British working men. Balfour misunderstood working men’s reaction to the tariff reform campaign and he allowed Joseph Chamberlain to make the reform a key Unionist policy from 1903 onwards. In 1902 Balfour created the Education Act. This act roused the fury of the nonconformists in Britain and led to many of them reverting to the Liberal Party. Schools were to be funded from local rates, including religious schools. This outraged the nonconformists because it meant that their taxes were being spent on schools in which they strongly objected. English nonconformists refused to pay their taxes. Another way in which Balfour lost the Conservatives popularity is by failing to take the part of the trade unions in the Taff Vale case. In 1901, a dispute had broken out in Wales between the Taff Vale Railway Company and the railway workers’ trade
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