Politics and the Tory Gamble
Michael turns his attention to the Tories of the day, the party that seemed to be dicing with political death as tensions over Home Rule in Ireland turned from potential to reality.
The one hundredth anniversary of the start of the First World war looms on the horizon. 1914 is a date forged into the British consciousness, just as it's carved into monuments the length and breadth of the UK and many places beyond. With that awareness comes an understanding that it was the war to end all wars, shocking the culture, politics, and societies of Europe, but particularly Britain, out of their comfortable progress and reshaping everything.
But in this series Michael Portillo challenges that notion. Looking at a series of themes, the suffrage movement, the Irish question, the decline of the liberal party and the arts, he argues that to a large extent Britain was already in a state of flux by 1913 and many of the developments we think of as emanating from or being catalysed by the war, were actually in full flow.
If pre-war politics is remembered for anything it's the dying days of the Liberal party as a dominant force in British politics. But Michael turns his attention to the Tories of the day, the party that appeared to be dicing with political death as tensions over Home Rule in Ireland turned from potential to reality. The ambitions and manoeuvring of their leader Andrew Bonar Law make sobering reading for a former Tory politician.
Producer: Tom Alban.