The peaceable man and the prudent housewife
in Conservatism for the democratic age
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The expansion of the Women’s Unionist Organisation played an important part in the Conservative party’s adaptation to the new electoral environment created by the 1918 Representation of the People Act. Whereas Unionist leaders had previously struggled to reach out to working-class women, they now sought to compete on the same terrain as Labour activists by developing new forms of organisation which would appeal to the social cultures of women in industrial areas. The Conservatives’ claim to represent ex-servicemen’s interests played an important role in refashioning the party’s identity after 1918. Throughout the early 1920s ex-servicemen made up the majority of the long-term unemployed, so by questioning Labour’s claim to represent this group, the Conservatives also challenged their wider claim to protect the interests of poor working families.

Conservatism for the democratic age

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

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