The Fourth Party and conservative evolution, 1880-1885
Owen, Keith Richmon
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The Fourth Party developed after the defeat of the British Conservative Party in the General Election of 1880. Four men united to rally the Conservatives in Parliament and to present an active opposition to the Liberals. Soon their attention was turned to their own party and the newly enfranchised voters from the Reform Bill of 1867. This dissertation appears to be the first detailed study of the Fourth Party in almost one hundred years. The Fourth Party is viewed as part of the evolution of the Conservative Party into a modern political movement. The pressures of a more democratic political system forced changes in the type of leadership demanded by the new voters, in how political figures appealed to the electorate, and in how the parties would involve the voters in the electoral process. The Fourth Party initiated new ways to involve the Conservative rank and file in the service of the party and to attract new supporters. The Conservative leadership was forced to review the organization of the party and to find effective ways to deal with the members of the Fourth Party.