Rowdiness and respectability
in Conservatism for the democratic age
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Grassroots Unionism had flourished in Edwardian Britain, attracting a wide range of activists of both sexes. Nevertheless, the growth of the wartime Radical Right, with its hyper-masculine culture, threatened to set back Unionist efforts to widen the appeal of their politics. The First World War played an important role in remoulding the identity of British Unionism and enabling it to develop a wider appeal than it had experienced before 1914. Unionists increasingly came to distance themselves from violent street politics after 1917. This strategy laid the basis for the Conservatives’ post-war efforts to present themselves as the party of orderliness and the family interest, in opposition to the supposedly rowdy, masculinist culture of organised labour.

Conservatism for the democratic age

Conservative cultures and the challenge of mass politics in early twentieth-century England


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