A History of Conservative Politics, 1900–1996 by John Charmley (auth.)

By John Charmley (auth.)

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After three election defeats in a row, Balfour's position would have been vulnerable anyway; after the fiasco over the Parliament Bill it was untenable. With the National Review running on its masthead the initials 'BMG', standing for 'Balfour must go', and with the 'Halsburyites' calling for a more energetic opposition, Balfour's position became a matter of intense speculation. On 8 November 1911 Balfour retired from the leadership, ostensibly on grounds of 'health', but in reality because his nerveless leadership had brought nothing but disaster.

The final victim of Chamberlain's will was the 'Hotel Cecil' itself. If the party which disappeared into opposition as the Conservative Party emerged from it as the Unionist Party, that owed much to the victory of Chamberlain - which in turn owed much to Balfour's defects as a leader. 34 A HISTORY OF CONSERVATIVE POLITICS, 1900-1996 Even in the Commons, where his effectiveness had been undoubted, Balfour was the despair of his Whips, who regretted the fact that he 'does not make up his mind what he is going to say till he actually gets up.

34 A HISTORY OF CONSERVATIVE POLITICS, 1900-1996 Even in the Commons, where his effectiveness had been undoubted, Balfour was the despair of his Whips, who regretted the fact that he 'does not make up his mind what he is going to say till he actually gets up. m He conveyed neither vision, nor hope, nor even passion to his demoralized troops. He knew few of his followers and seemed to care little about them or their opinions - which he quite obviously regarded as unworthy of his attention. His own intimates, politicians like George Wyndham and St.

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