Plaid Cymru is a social-democratic political party in Wales advocating Welsh independence from the United Kingdom within the European Union. Plaid was formed in 1925 and won its first seat in the UK Parliament in 1966. By 2018, it held one of four Welsh seats in the European Parliament, four of 40 Welsh seats in the UK Parliament, 10 of 60 seats in the National Assembly for Wales, 202 of 1,264 principal local authority councillors. Plaid is a member of the European Free Alliance. Plaid Cymru's goals as set out in its constitution are: To promote the constitutional advancement of Wales with a view to attaining independence within the European Union. In September 2008, a senior Plaid assembly member spelled out her party's continuing support for an independent Wales; the Welsh Minister for Rural Affairs, Elin Jones, began Plaid's annual conference by pledging to uphold the goal of making Wales a European Union member state. She told the delegates in Aberystwyth that the party would continue its commitment to independence under the coalition with the Welsh Labour Party.
While both the Labour and Liberal parties of the early 20th century had accommodated demands for Welsh home rule, no political party existed for the purpose of establishing a Welsh government. Plaid Genedlaethol Cymru was formed on 5 August 1925, by Moses Gruffydd, H. R. Jones and Lewis Valentine, members of Byddin Ymreolwyr Cymru. Home rule for Wales was not an explicit aim of the new movement. In the 1929 general election the party contested its first parliamentary constituency, polling 609 votes, or 1.6% of the vote for that seat. The party contested few such elections in its early years due to its ambivalence towards Westminster politics. Indeed, the candidate Lewis Valentine, the party’s first president, offered himself in Caernarvonshire on a platform of demonstrating Welsh people's rejection of English dominion. By 1932, the aims of self-government and Welsh representation at the League of Nations had been added to that of preserving Welsh language and culture. However, this move, the party's early attempts to develop an economic critique, did not broaden its appeal beyond that of an intellectual and conservative Welsh language pressure group.
The alleged sympathy of the party's leading members towards Europe's totalitarian regimes compromised its early appeal further. Saunders Lewis, David John Williams and Lewis Valentine attacked and set fire to the newly constructed RAF Penyberth air base on the Llŷn Peninsula in Gwynedd in 1936, in protest at its siting in the Welsh-speaking heartland; the leaders' treatment, including the trial judge's dismissal of the use of Welsh and their subsequent imprisonment in Wormwood Scrubs, led to "The Three" becoming a cause célèbre. This heightened the profile of the party and its membership had doubled to nearly 2,000 by 1939. Penyberth, Plaid Cymru’s neutral stance during the Second World War, prompted concerns within the UK Government that it might be used by Germany to insert spies or carry out other covert operations. In fact, the party urged conscientious objection to war service. In 1943 Saunders Lewis contested the University of Wales parliamentary seat at a by-election, gaining 1,330 votes, or 22%.
In the 1945 general election, with party membership at around 2,500, Plaid Cymru contested seven seats, as many as it had in the preceding 20 years, including constituencies in south Wales for the first time. At this time Gwynfor Evans was elected president. Gwynfor Evans's presidency coincided with the maturation of Plaid Cymru into a more recognisable political party, its share of the vote increased from 0.7% in the 1951 general election to 3.1% in 1955 and 5.2% in 1959. In the 1959 election, the party contested a majority of Welsh seats for the first time. Proposals to drown the village of Capel Celyn in the Tryweryn valley in Gwynedd in 1957 to supply the city of Liverpool with water played a part in Plaid Cymru's growth; the fact that the parliamentary bill authorising the drowning went through without support from any Welsh MPs showed that the MPs' votes in Westminster were not enough to prevent such bills from passing. Support for the party declined in the early 1960s as support for the Liberal Party began to stabilise from its long-term decline.
In 1962 Saunders Lewis gave a radio talk entitled Tynged yr Iaith in which he predicted the extinction of the Welsh language unless action was taken. This led to the formation of Cymdeithas yr Iaith Gymraeg the same year. Labour's return to power in 1964 and the creation of the post of Secretary of State for Wales appeared to represent a continuation of the incremental evolution of a
Liberal Democrats (UK)
The Liberal Democrats are a liberal political party in the United Kingdom. They have 11 Members of Parliament in the House of Commons, 96 members of the House of Lords, one member of the European Parliament, five Members of the Scottish Parliament and one member in the Welsh Assembly and London Assembly. At the height of its influence, the party formed a coalition government with the Conservative Party from 2010 to 2015 with its leader Nick Clegg serving as Deputy Prime Minister, it is led by Sir Vince Cable. In 1981, an electoral alliance was established between the Liberal Party, a group, the direct descendent of the 18th-century Whigs, the Social Democratic Party, a splinter group from the Labour Party. In 1988 this alliance was formalised as the Liberal Democrats. Under the leadership of Paddy Ashdown and Charles Kennedy, the party grew during the 1990s and 2000s, focusing its campaigning on specific seats and becoming the third largest party in the House of Commons. Under its leader Nick Clegg, the Liberal Democrats were junior partners in a coalition government headed by Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron, with Clegg serving as Deputy Prime Minister.
The coalition damaged the Liberal Democrats' electoral prospects: the party was reduced from 57 to 8 seats at the 2015 election. Positioned in the centre ground of British politics, the Liberal Democrats are ideologically liberal. Emphasising stronger protections for civil liberties, the party promotes liberal approaches to issues like LGBT rights, education policy, criminal justice. Different factions take different approaches to economic issues; the party is pro-Europeanist, supporting continued UK membership of the European Union and greater European integration. It calls for electoral reform with a transition from the first-past-the-post voting system to one of proportional representation. Other policies have included further environmental protections and drug liberalisation laws, while it has opposed certain UK military engagements like the Iraq War; the party is a member of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe and Liberal International. The Liberal Democrats are strongest in northern Scotland, southwest London, southwest England, mid-Wales.
The Liberal Democrats were formed on 3 March 1988 by a merger between the Liberal Party and the Social Democratic Party, which had formed a pact nearly seven years earlier as the SDP–Liberal Alliance. The Liberal Party, founded in 1859, were descended from the Whigs and Peelites, while the SDP were a party created in 1981 by former Labour Party members, MPs and cabinet ministers, but gained defections from the Conservative Party. Having declined to third party status after the rise of the Labour Party from 1918 and during the 1920s, the Liberals were challenged for this position in the 1980s when a group of Labour MPs broke away and established the Social Democratic Party; the SDP and the Liberals realised that there was no space for two political parties of the centre and entered into the SDP–Liberal Alliance so that they would not stand against each other in elections. The Alliance was led by Roy Jenkins; the two parties had their own policies and emphases, but produced a joint manifesto for the 1983 and 1987 general elections.
Following disappointing results in the 1987 election, Steel proposed to merge the two parties. Although opposed by Owen, it was supported by a majority of members of both parties, they formally merged in March 1988, with Steel and Robert Maclennan as joint interim leaders; the new party was named Social and Liberal Democrats with the unofficial short form The Democrats being used from September 1988. The name was subsequently changed to Liberal Democrats in October 1989, shortened to Lib Dems; the new party logo, the Bird of Liberty, was adopted in 1989. The minority of the SDP who rejected the merger remained under Owen's leadership in a rump SDP. Michael Meadowcroft joined the Liberal Democrats in 2007 but some of his former followers continue still as the Liberal Party, most notably in a couple of electoral wards of the cities of Liverpool and Peterborough; the then-serving Liberal MP Paddy Ashdown was elected leader in July 1988. At the 1989 European Elections, the party received only 6% of the vote, putting them in fourth place after the Green Party.
They failed to gain a single Member of the European Parliament at this election. Over the next three years, the party recovered under Ashdown's leadership, they performed better at the 1990 local elections and in by-elections—including at Eastbourne in 1990 which saw the first success by a Liberal Democrat standing for parliament. They had further successes in Ribble Valley and Kincardine & Deeside in 1991; the Lib Dems did not reach the share of national votes in the 1990s that the Alliance had achieved in the 1980s. At their first election in 1992, they won 17.8 % of twenty seats. In the 1994 European Elections, the party gained its first two Members of European Parliament. Following the election of Tony Blair as Labour leader in July 1994 after the death of his predecessor John Smith, Ashdown pursued co-operation between the two parties becaus
Sir Edward Richard George Heath known as Ted Heath, was a British politician who served as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1970 to 1974 and Leader of the Conservative Party from 1965 to 1975. He was a strong supporter of the European Communities, after winning the decisive vote in the House of Commons by 336 to 244, he led the negotiations that culminated in Britain's entry into the EC on 1 January 1973, it was, says biographer John Campbell, "Heath's finest hour". Although he planned to be an innovator as Prime Minister, his government foundered on economic difficulties, including high inflation and major strikes, he became an embittered critic of Margaret Thatcher. Heath's lower middle-class origins were quite unusual for a Tory leader, he was a leader in student politics at the University of Oxford and served as an officer in the Royal Artillery during the Second World War. He worked in the Civil Service, but resigned in order to stand for Parliament, was elected for Bexley in the 1950 general election.
He was the Chief Whip from 1955 to 1959. Having entered the Cabinet as Minister of Labour in 1959, he was promoted to Lord Privy Seal and became President of the Board of Trade. Heath was elected leader of the Conservative Party in 1965. Heath became Prime Minister after winning the 1970 general election. In 1971 he oversaw the decimalisation of British coinage, in 1972 he reformed Britain's system of local government, reducing the number of local authorities and creating a number of new metropolitan counties. Most he took Britain into the European Economic Community in 1973. Heath's premiership coincided with the height of the Troubles in Northern Ireland, with the suspension of the Stormont Parliament and the imposition of direct British rule. Unofficial talks with Provisional Irish Republican Army delegates were unsuccessful, as was the Sunningdale Agreement of 1973, which led the MPs of the Ulster Unionist Party to withdraw from the Conservative whip. Heath tried to curb the trade unions with the Industrial Relations Act 1971, hoped to deregulate the economy and make a transfer from direct to indirect taxation.
Rising unemployment in 1972 led him to reflate the economy. Two miners' strikes, at the start of 1974, damaged the government. Heath called an election for February 1974 to obtain a mandate to face down the miners' wage demands, but this instead resulted in a hung parliament in which the Labour Party, despite gaining fewer votes, had four more seats than the Conservatives. Heath resigned as Prime Minister after trying in vain to form a coalition with the Liberal Party. Despite losing a second general election in October that year, he vowed to continue as party leader. In February 1975, Margaret Thatcher defeated him to win the leadership. Returning to the backbenches, Heath was vocally critical of Thatcherism, he remained a backbench MP until retiring at the 2001 election, serving as the Father of the House for his last nine years in Parliament. Outside politics, Heath was a talented musician, he died in 2005, aged 89. He is one of only four British prime ministers never to have married. Edward Heath was born at 54 Albion Road, Kent on 9 July 1916, the son of William George Heath, a carpenter who built air frames for Vickers during the First World War, was subsequently employed as a builder and Edith Anne Heath, a maid.
His father was a successful small businessman after taking over a building and decorating firm. Heath's paternal grandfather had run a small dairy business, when that failed worked as a porter at Broadstairs Station on the Southern Railway. Heath was known as "Teddy" as a young man, he was educated at Chatham House Grammar School in Ramsgate, in 1935 with the aid of a county scholarship he went up to study at Balliol College, Oxford. In years, Heath's peculiar accent, with its "strangulated" vowel sounds, combined with his non-Standard pronunciation of "l" as "w" and "out" as "eout", was satirised by Monty Python in the audio sketch "Teach Yourself Heath" (released on a 7" flexi-disc single included with initial copies of their 1972 LP Monty Python's Previous Record. Heath's biographer John Campbell speculates that his speech, unlike that of his father and younger brother, who both spoke with Kent accents, must have undergone "drastic alteration on encountering Oxford", although retaining elements of Kent speech.
A talented musician, Heath won the college's organ scholarship in his first term which enabled him to stay at the university for a fourth year. While at university Heath became active in Conservative politics. On the key political issue of the day, foreign policy, he opposed the Conservative-dominated government of the day more openly, his first Paper Speech at the Oxford Union, in Michaelmas term 1936, was in opposition to the appeasement of Germany by returning her colonies, confiscated during the First World War. In June 1937 he was elected President of the Oxford University Conservative Association as a pro-Spanish Republic candidate, in opposition to the pro-Franco John Stokes. In 1937–38 he was
House of Commons of the United Kingdom
The House of Commons is the lower house of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. Like the upper house, the House of Lords, it meets in the Palace of Westminster; the full name of the house is the Honourable the Commons of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland in Parliament assembled. Owing to shortage of space, its office accommodation extends into Portcullis House; the Commons is an elected body consisting of 650 members known as Members of Parliament. Members are elected to represent constituencies by the first-past-the-post system and hold their seats until Parliament is dissolved; the House of Commons of England started to evolve in 14th centuries. It became the House of Commons of Great Britain after the political union with Scotland in 1707, assumed the title of "House of Commons of Great Britain and Ireland" after the political union with Ireland at the start of the 19th century; the "United Kingdom" referred to was the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland from 1800, became the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland after the independence of the Irish Free State in 1922.
Accordingly, the House of Commons assumed its current title. Under the Parliament Act 1911, the Lords' power to reject legislation was reduced to a delaying power; the Government is responsible to the House of Commons and the Prime Minister stays in office only as long as she or he retains the confidence of a majority of the Commons. Although it does not formally elect the prime minister, the position of the parties in the House of Commons is of overriding importance. By convention, the prime minister is answerable to, must maintain the support of, the House of Commons. Thus, whenever the office of prime minister falls vacant, the Sovereign appoints the person who has the support of the House, or, most to command the support of the House—normally the leader of the largest party in the Commons, while the leader of the second-largest party becomes the Leader of the Opposition. Since 1963, by convention, the prime minister is always a member of the House of Commons, rather than the House of Lords.
The Commons may indicate its lack of support for the Government by rejecting a motion of confidence or by passing a motion of no confidence. Confidence and no confidence motions are phrased explicitly, for instance: "That this House has no confidence in Her Majesty's Government." Many other motions were until recent decades considered confidence issues though not explicitly phrased as such: in particular, important bills that were part of the Government's agenda. The annual Budget is still considered a matter of confidence; when a Government has lost the confidence of the House of Commons, the prime minister is obliged either to resign, making way for another MP who can command confidence, or to request the monarch to dissolve Parliament, thereby precipitating a general election. Parliament sits for a maximum term of five years. Subject to that limit, the prime minister could choose the timing of the dissolution of parliament, with the permission of the Monarch. However, since the Fixed-Term Parliaments Act 2011, terms are now a fixed five years, an early general election is brought about by a two-thirds majority in favour of a motion for a dissolution, or by a vote of no confidence, not followed within fourteen days by a vote of confidence.
By this second mechanism, the UK's government can change its political composition without an intervening general election. Only four of the eight last Prime Ministers have attained office as the immediate result of a general election; the latter four were Jim Callaghan, John Major, Gordon Brown and the current Prime Minister Theresa May. In such circumstances there may not have been an internal party leadership election, as the new leader may be chosen by acclaim, having no electoral rival. A prime minister will resign after party defeat at an election if unable to lead a coalition, or obtain a confidence and supply arrangement, she or he may resign after a motion of no confidence or for health reasons. In such cases, the premiership goes to, it has become the practice to write the constitution of major UK political parties to provide a set way in which to appoint a new leader. Until 1965, the Conservative Party had no fixed mechanism for this, it fell to the Queen to appoint Harold Macmillan as the new prime minister, after taking the consensus of cabinet ministers.
By convention, ministers are members of the House of House of Lords. A handful have been appointed who were outside Parliament, but in most cases they entered Parliament in a by-election or by receiving a peerage. Exceptions include Peter Mandelson, appointed Secretary of State for Business and Regulatory Reform in October 2008 before his peerage. Since 1902, all prime ministers have been members of the Commons; the new session of Parliament was delayed to await the outcome of his by-election, which happened
1983 United Kingdom general election
The 1983 United Kingdom general election was held on Thursday 9 June 1983. It gave the Conservative Party under the leadership of Margaret Thatcher the most decisive election victory since that of the Labour Party in 1945. Thatcher's first four years as Prime Minister had not been an easy time. Unemployment increased during the first three years of her premiership and the economy went through a recession. However, the British victory in the Falklands War led to a recovery of her personal popularity. By the time Thatcher called the election in May 1983, the Conservatives were most people's firm favourites to win the general election; the Labour Party had been led by Michael Foot since the resignation of former Prime Minister James Callaghan in 1980. They had fared well in opinion polls and local elections during this time, but issues developed which would lead directly to their defeat. Labour adopted a platform, considered more left-wing than usual. Several moderate Labour MPs had defected from the party to form the Social Democratic Party.
The opposition vote split evenly between the Alliance and Labour. With its worst electoral performance since 1918, the Labour vote fell by over 3 million votes from 1979 and this accounted for both a national swing of 4% towards the Conservatives and their larger parliamentary majority of 144 seats though the Conservatives' total vote fell by 700,000; this was the last general election where a governing party increased its number of seats until 2015. The Alliance came within 700,000 votes of out-polling Labour. By gaining 25% of the popular vote, the Alliance won the largest such percentage for any third party since the 1923 general election. Despite this, they won only 23 seats, whereas Labour won 209; the Liberals argued that a proportional electoral system would have given them a more representative number of MPs. Changing the electoral system had been a long-running Liberal Party campaign plank and would be adopted by the Liberal Democrats; the election night was broadcast live on the BBC, was presented by David Dimbleby, Sir Robin Day and Peter Snow.
It was broadcast on ITV, presented by Alastair Burnet, Peter Sissons and Martyn Lewis. Three future Leaders of the Labour Party were first elected as Members of Parliament at this election—two of them would hold the office of Prime Minister, whilst Corbyn became Labour leader in 2015. Former Labour Prime Minister Harold Wilson, Shirley Williams, Bill Rodgers, Joan Lestor and Tony Benn left Parliament as a result of this election, although Benn would return in a by-election the following year, Lestor at the following general election. Michael Foot was elected leader of the Labour Party in 1980; the election of Foot signalled that the core of the party was swinging to the left and the move exacerbated divisions within the party. In 1981 a group of senior figures including Roy Jenkins, David Owen, Bill Rodgers and Shirley Williams left Labour to found the Social Democratic Party; the SDP agreed to a pact with the Liberals for the 1983 election and stood as "The Alliance". The campaign displayed the huge divisions between the two major parties.
Thatcher had been unpopular during her first two years in office until the swift and decisive victory in the Falklands War, coupled with an improving economy raised her standings in the polls. The Conservatives' key issues included economic growth and defence. Labour's campaign manifesto involved leaving the European Economic Community, abolishing the House of Lords, abandoning the United Kingdom's nuclear deterrent by cancelling Trident and removing cruise missiles—a programme dubbed by Labour MP Gerald Kaufman "the longest suicide note in history". Pro-Labour political journalist Michael White, writing in The Guardian, commented: "There was something magnificently brave about Michael Foot's campaign but it was like the Battle of the Somme." Following boundary changes in 1983, the BBC and ITN co-produced a calculation of how the 1979 general election would have gone if fought on the new 1983 boundaries. The following table shows the effects of the boundary changes on the House of Commons: Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher visited Buckingham Palace on the afternoon of 9 May and asked the Queen to dissolve Parliament on 13 May, announcing that the election would be held on 9 June.
The key dates were as follows: The election saw a landslide victory for the Conservatives, achieving their best results since 1935. Although there was a slight drop in their share of the vote, they made significant gains at the expense of Labour; the night was a disaster for the Labour Party. The massive increase of support for the Alliance at the expense of Labour meant that, in many seats, the collapse in the Labour vote allowed the Conservatives to gain. Despite winning over 25% of the national vote, the Alliance got fewer than 4% of seats, 186 fewer than Labour; the most significant Labour loss of the night was Tony Benn, defeated in the revived Bristol East seat. SDP President Shirley Williams a prominent leader in the Social Democratic Party, lost her Crosby seat which she had won in a by-election in 1981. Bill Rodgers, another leading figure in the Alliance failed to win his old seat that he held as a Labour MP. In Scotland, both Labour a
Ulster Unionist Party
The Ulster Unionist Party is a unionist political party in Northern Ireland. Having gathered support in Northern Ireland during the late-nineteenth and early-twentieth centuries, the party governed Northern Ireland between 1921 and 1972, it was supported by most unionist voters throughout the conflict known as the Troubles, during which time it was referred to as the Official Unionist Party. Between 1905 and 1972 its MPs took the Conservative whip at Westminster, considered as part of the Conservative Party, it is the fourth-largest party in Northern Ireland, having been overtaken in 2003 by the DUP and Sinn Féin, in 2017 by the SDLP. At the 2015 general election, the party won two seats in the House of Commons and South Tyrone and South Antrim. At the 2017 snap election, the party lost these two seats, made no gains. In 2016, the UUP, the SDLP and the Alliance Party decided not to accept the seats on the Northern Ireland Executive to which they would have been entitled and to form an official opposition to the executive.
This marked the first time since 1921 that a devolved government in Northern Ireland did not include the UUP. The party was led by Mike Nesbitt, but on 3 March 2017 he announced his resignation following the party's poor performance at that year's assembly election; the Ulster Unionist Party traces its formal existence back to the foundation of the Ulster Unionist Council in 1905. Before that, there had been a less formally organised Irish Unionist Alliance since the late 19th century dominated by unionists from Ulster. Modern organised unionism properly emerged after William Ewart Gladstone's introduction in 1886 of the first of three Home Rule Bills in response to demands by the Irish Parliamentary Party; the IUA was an alliance of Irish Conservatives and Liberal Unionists, the latter having split from the Liberal Party over the issue of home rule. It was the merger of these two parties in 1912 that gave rise to the current name of the Conservative and Unionist Party, to which the UUP was formally linked until 1985.
From the beginning, the party had a strong association with the Orange Order, a Protestant fraternal organisation. The original composition of the Ulster Unionist Council was 25% Orange delegates, however this was reduced through the years. Although most unionist support was based in the geographic area that became Northern Ireland, there were at one time unionist enclaves throughout southern Ireland. Unionists in County Cork and Dublin were influential; the initial leadership of the Ulster Unionist Party all came from outside what would become Northern Ireland. However, after the Irish Convention failed to reach an understanding on home rule and with the partition of Ireland under the Government of Ireland Act 1920, Irish unionism in effect split. Many southern unionist politicians became reconciled with the new Irish Free State, sitting in its Seanad or joining its political parties; the existence of a separate Ulster Unionist Party became entrenched as the party took control of the new government of Northern Ireland.
The leadership of the UUP was taken by Sir Edward Carson in 1910. Throughout his 11-year leadership he fought a sustained campaign against Irish Home Rule, including being involved in the formation of the Ulster Volunteers in 1912. In the 1918 general election, Carson switched constituencies from his former seat of Dublin University to Belfast Duncairn. Carson opposed the partition of Ireland and the end of unionism as an all-Ireland political force, so he refused the opportunity to be Prime Minister of Northern Ireland or to sit in the Northern Ireland House of Commons, citing a lack of connection with the place; the leadership of the UUP and, Northern Ireland, was taken by Sir James Craig. Until the end of its period of power in Northern Ireland, the UUP was led by a combination of landed gentry and gentrified industrial magnates. Only its last Prime Minister, Brian Faulkner, was from a middle-class background. During this era, all but 11 of the 149 UUP Stormont MPs were members of the Orange Order, as were all Prime Ministers.
James Craig governed Northern Ireland from its inception until his death in 1940 and is buried with his wife by the east wing of Parliament Buildings. His successor, J. M. Andrews, was criticised for appointing octogenarian veterans of Craigavon's administration to his cabinet, his government was believed to be more interested in protecting the statue of Carson at the Stormont Estate than the citizens of Belfast during the Belfast blitz. A backbench revolt in 1943 resulted in his resignation and replacement by Sir Basil Brooke, although he was recognised as leader of the party until 1946. Brookeborough, despite having felt that Craigavon had held on to power for too long, was Prime Minister for one year longer. During this time he was on more than one occasion called to meetings of the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland to explain his actions, most notably following the 1947 Education Act which made the government responsible for the payment of National Insurance contributions of teachers in Catholic Church-controlled schools.
Ian Paisley called for Brookeborough's resignation in 1953 when he refused to sack Brian Maginess and Clarence Graham, who had given speeches supporting re-admitting Catholics to the UUP. He retired in 1963 and was repl
Conservative Party (UK)
The Conservative Party the Conservative and Unionist Party, is a centre-right political party in the United Kingdom. The governing party since 2010, it is the largest in the House of Commons, with 313 Members of Parliament, has 249 members of the House of Lords, 18 members of the European Parliament, 31 Members of the Scottish Parliament, 12 members of the Welsh Assembly, eight members of the London Assembly and 8,916 local councillors; the Conservative Party was founded in 1834 from the Tory Party—the Conservatives' colloquial name is "Tories"—and was one of two dominant political parties in the nineteenth century, along with the Liberal Party. Under Benjamin Disraeli it played a preeminent role in politics at the height of the British Empire. In 1912, the Liberal Unionist Party merged with the party to form the Conservative and Unionist Party. In the 1920s, the Labour Party surpassed the Liberals as the Conservatives' main rivals. Conservative Prime Ministers — notably Winston Churchill and Margaret Thatcher — led governments for 57 years of the twentieth century.
Positioned on the centre-right of British politics, the Conservative Party is ideologically conservative. Different factions have dominated the party at different times, including One Nation Conservatives and liberal conservatives, while its views and policies have changed throughout its history; the party has adopted liberal economic policies—favouring free market economics, limiting state regulation, pursuing privatisation—although in the past has supported protectionism. The party is British unionist, opposing both Irish reunification and Welsh and Scottish independence, supported the maintenance of the British Empire; the party includes those with differing views on the European Union, with Eurosceptic and pro-European wings. In foreign policy, it is for a strong national defence; the Conservatives are a member of the International Democrat Union and the Alliance of Conservatives and Reformists in Europe and sit with the European Conservatives and Reformists parliamentary group. The Scottish, Northern Irish and Gibraltan branches of the party are semi-autonomous.
Its support base consists of middle-class voters in rural areas of England, its domination of British politics throughout the twentieth century has led to it being referred to as one of the most successful political parties in the Western world. The Conservative Party was founded in the 1830s. However, some writers trace its origins to the reign of Charles II in the 1670s Exclusion Crisis. Other historians point to a faction, rooted in the 18th century Whig Party, that coalesced around William Pitt the Younger in the 1780s, they were known as "Independent Whigs", "Friends of Mr Pitt", or "Pittites" and never used terms such as "Tory" or "Conservative". Pitt died in 1806. From about 1812 on the name "Tory" was used for a new party that, according to historian Robert Blake, "are the ancestors of Conservatism". Blake adds that Pitt's successors after 1812 "were not in any sense standard-bearer's of true Toryism"; the term "Conservative" was suggested as a title for the party by a magazine article by J. Wilson Croker in the Quarterly Review in 1830.
The name caught on and was adopted under the aegis of Sir Robert Peel around 1834. Peel is acknowledged as the founder of the Conservative Party, which he created with the announcement of the Tamworth Manifesto; the term "Conservative Party" rather than Tory was the dominant usage by 1845. The widening of the electoral franchise in the nineteenth century forced the Conservative Party to popularise its approach under Edward Smith-Stanley, 14th Earl of Derby and Benjamin Disraeli, who carried through their own expansion of the franchise with the Reform Act of 1867. In 1886, the party formed an alliance with Spencer Compton Cavendish, Lord Hartington and Joseph Chamberlain's new Liberal Unionist Party and, under the statesmen Robert Gascoyne-Cecil, Lord Salisbury and Arthur Balfour, held power for all but three of the following twenty years before suffering a heavy defeat in 1906 when it split over the issue of free trade. Young Winston Churchill denounced Chamberlain's attack on free trade, helped organize the opposition inside the Unionist/Conservative Party.
Balfour, as party leader, followed Chamberlain's policy introduced protectionist legislation. The high tariff element called itself "Tariff Reformers" and in a major speech in Manchester on May 13, 1904, Churchill warned their takeover of the Unionist/Conservative party would permanently brand it as: A party of great vested interests, banded together in a formidable confederation. Two weeks Churchill crossed the floor and formally joined the Liberal Party. )He rejoined the Conservatives in 1925.) In December, Balfour lost control of his party, as the defections multiplied. He was replaced by Liberal Prime Minister Henry Campbell-Bannerman who called an election in January 1906, which produced a massive Liberal victory with a gain of 214 seats. Liberal Prime Minister H. H. Asquith enacted a great deal of reform legislation, but the Unionists worked hard at grassroots organizing. Two general elections were held in one in January and one in December; the two main parties were now dead equal in seats.
The Unionists had more popular votes but the Liberals kept control with a coalition with the Irish Parliamentary Party. In 1912, the Liberal Unionis