The changing fortunes of The Conservative Party

Though Lloyd George was popular as Prime Minister, his ministry fell apart at the Carlton Club meeting on the 19th of October 1922 when the Conservative MPs decided that the Coalition was doing damage to their party, and voted 187 against the coalition and 87 in favour. After the vote, leading members of the Government gave their resignations to Lloyd George, and in turn, he offered his resignation to King George V.

As the largest party, the Conservatives were invited to form a new Government, with Bonar Law (see image on the left) serving as Prime Minister, and subsequently winning a general election, during which the government promised spending cuts and non-intervention in foreign affairs and disputes. He would later resign in May 1923 as a result of poor health, and was replaced by Stanley Baldwin, an important figure in this topic as he served as leader of the Conservative Party from 1923 to 1937, and held the position as Prime Minister a number of times during this period, serving a total of 7 years.

Although the Conservatives remained the largest party with 258 seats, when compared to Labour’s 191 seats and the Liberal Party’s 158 seats, the Government lost a vote of confidence in the House of Commons on the 21st of January 1924, paving the way for the formation of the first Labour government. Ramsay MacDonald was appointed Prime Minister of a Labour government on the advice of Baldwin. 

However, after leading The First Labour Government for just nine months, MacDonald lost his place as Prime Minister, and after winning a large parliamentary majority, Baldwin resumed his role as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom.

This conservative government was able to continue for the next five years. Focusing on keeping peace, the government was involved in the 1925 Locarno Treaties, an agreement between France and Germany that worked towards peace, reducing class conflict, improving quality of life and expanding social services, including unemployment and old age pensions. However, the government failed to prevent the General Strike of 1926 from taking place.