Democracy and the Organization of Political Parties - Vol. 1

By M. Ostrogorski; Frederick Clarke | Go to book overview
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WHATEVER were the hopes placed in the Primrose League by its initiators, the movement was yet in its infancy, and their principal resource in the way of organization still remained the Associations. Encouraging and stimulating, therefore, the democratization of the local Associations which were to serve as a lever for the Neo-Toryism, the Fourth Party thought that the fulcrum of this lever might be supplied by the Council of the "National Union of Conservative and Constitutional Associations." Not in its actual condition, however; for it lacked vitality, had no material resources or moral authority, and was simply a show institution, a shadow of a representative body of Conservative opinion side by side with the small coterie of official leaders who wielded real power in the party. Immediately after Lord Beaconsfield's death, before the leadership had been filled up, an attempt was made to transfer the supreme authority to the "Council of the National Union." It was proposed that the Council should appoint Lord Beaconsfield's successor to the leadership of the party in Parliament. The plan was a bold one, it was equivalent to forcing a chief for life on the Tory members of both Houses from outside. But it fell through, and the peers and members elected their respective leaders themselves -- Lord Salisbury for the Upper House and Sir Stafford Northcote for the House of Commons. When the movement of the democratic Associations acquired consistency in the country and Lord Randolph Churchill's ascendancy grew more marked, the Fourth Party returned to the charge. At its instigation, in the annual meeting of delegates of the Associations, held at Birmingham in 1883, the Conference gave instructions to the Council


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Democracy and the Organization of Political Parties - Vol. 1


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