By David Butler (eds.)
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Extra resources for Coalitions in British Politics
The divisions over tariff reform existed within rather than between the two governmental factions. One effect of the controversy was Chamberlain's capturing of control of the Liberal Unionist party machine. Helplessly, Unionist free traders such as Gorst, Goschen, Devonshire and James of Hereford urged a possible electoral pact between the Liberals and the 'Unionist free fooders' at the next election. St Loe Strachey in the Spectator was a powerful advocate of such a policy. But the general intensifying of party passion from 1903 onwards made the Liberal whips less and less likely to listen sympathetically.
Sir Robert Horne's pronouncement to the Cambridge University Conservatives in November 1921 (given as the verdict of 'a Disraelian Tory') that he had never known a major issue to be discussed in Cabinet on party lines had the clear ring of truth, 27 and a modern historian would confirm it. Of course, party divisions sometimes did intrude. The Coalition Liberals did show signs of unrest over some major issues. Free trade was a frequent source of friction. Anti-dumping legislation, provisions to protect home manufacturers against 'collapsed exchanges' such as the German mark, the imperial preference contained in Chamberlain's budget of 1919 -all seemed to be subtly undermining the free trade heritage of Cobden and Gladstone.
Anti-profiteering' was one of Tillett's most popular lines of attack. These by-elections provided a safety-valve for Liberal or Labour voters to display their vague discontent with what was (on paper) a largely right-wing coalition. But they did not seriously disturb relations between the coalitionist party machines or upset the plausible claim of the government to be national in character. As time went on, Lloyd George's administration became more clearly all-party and broad-based in form. In July 1917, he strengthened its Liberal representation significantly by bringing in Winston Churchill and Edwin Montagu, two impressive figures, to Munitions and the India Office respectively.