E.H.H. Green

E.H.H. Green is the author of The Crisis of Conservatism: The Politics, Economics and Ideology of the Conservative Party, 1880-1914.

We are now familiar with the spectacle of a Conservative leader appointed after his Party has suffered a severe electoral setback, troubled by warfare within his own ranks and confronted by a broad alliance of political opponents. Can William Hague draw any comfort from the experience of his similarly beleaguered predecessor Andrew Bonar Law, a scarcely visible figure in the pantheon of Tory leaders? What is best known about him is that he is ‘unknown’. Lord Blake’s celebrated biography, The Unknown Prime Minister (1955), took its cue from Asquith’s perhaps apocryphal remark at Bonar Law’s funeral at Westminster Abbey in 1923: it was fitting, Asquith said, to ‘have buried the Unknown Prime Minister by the side of the Unknown Soldier’. It was the kind of cruelly smart comment that Asquith was given to making, and in this instance the lack of generosity was only to be expected because Bonar Law had been instrumental in ending Asquith’s Premiership in 1916.‘

‘In a progressive country,’ Disraeli told his Edinburgh audience after the passage of the 1867 Reform Bill, ‘change is constant; and the great question is, not whether you...

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