By John Charmley (auth.)
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Extra resources for A History of Conservative Politics, 1900–1996
Thanks to systematic fund-raising in the City and from Peers, the Party had £671,000 invested by 1914- twice the figure for 1911. 7 Law also presided over the fusion of the two parts of the old Salisburian coalition in 1912, with the Party formally becoming what it was to remain until the 1970s, the National Unionist Association of Conservative and Unionist Associations. But the question of whether this would have been enough to win an election was never answered. The war which so many Unionists had been expecting for so long finally broke out in August 1914 and it brought with it fresh opportunities for the Party.
If Ireland strengthened Law's leadership of the Party and offered the chance of electoral success, the second of the Unionist causes, Tariff Reform, did neither. In late 1912 Law announced that the Party was abandoning the Balfour pledge to hold a referendum before introducing tariffs -indeed, with the Unionists promoting the idea of a referendum on Ireland, it might have seemed to some that they were proposing to take a dubious constitutional innovation as their way out of every difficulty. Law was, however, taken aback by the vehemence of the opposition to his speech - not least from the area in which his seat was situated, Lancashire.
12 The strain told on Balfour's health, and by early 1905 a close friend was sure that another twelve months in office would kill him. 13 Fresh assaults from Chamberlain in 1905, bringing as they did the threat of further disruption, seem to have convinced the tired Balfour that it was time to quit. 14 The leader in the Lords, Lansdowne, argued that they could postpone an election until late 1906, but admitted that, as everyone was expecting one in 1905, he could see no reason for prolonging the party's agony for another year; neither he nor Balfour expected to win.