Adamov D. P. British Political Elite in the Search of a New Party System, 1922–1924 (.pdf)


The article is devoted to the evolution of the British political party system from the downfall of David Lloyd George’s coalition government to the formation of Stanley Baldwin’s second Conservative ministry. During this period, Britain was temporarily subject to an unstable three-party system, instead of a more familiar two-party or coalition system, creating an anomalous political situation. The three main political parties, Conservative, Liberal and Labour parties, are examined with regards to their interactions with each other in the context of a rapidly and unpredictably evolving political situation, as well as internal disagreements and changes that to a large extent determined their policies in the period. Attention is paid to the role of party elites in the main political events of the time, on one hand, and their own evolution under the influence of the changes in the party system, on the other hand. The general elections of 1922, 1923 and 1924 are analyzed from the standpoint of their influence on the evolution of the party system, as well as the various strategies utilized by the parties. A wide assortment of sources, including party archive materials, newspaper articles and the accounts of contemporaries, are used in the paper. The author concludes that the long-standing traditions of party politics played a decisive role in the eventual stabilization of the party system. The conservative nature of this stabilization had an ambiguous role in the subsequent British history. Although it ensured relative political stability in the rest of the interwar period, it also led to the perpetuation of socio-economic stagnation that characterized the epoch.


Key words: history of Britain, party system, political elite, interwar period, elections.


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