Defending the Empire: The Conservative Party and British Defence Policy, 1899-1915

Front Cover
Yale University Press, 1991 - History - 306 pages
0 Reviews

Deference issues were of central importance in British politics in the years before the first World War, as naval and military policy absorbed the attention of politicians of both parties. The growing menace to Briatin of the German Navy focused public attention on questions of naval strength and home defense. However, the heavy cost of overhauling the British Empire’s stretched defenses clashed with the domestic political priorities of successive governments. This book is the first scholarly work to examine the vigorous political debates over defense policy in this era from the perspective of the Conservative party, who were in office from 1899 to 1905 and in opposition from 1905 to 1914. It focuses in particular on the ideas and actions of Arthur James Balfour, leader of the Conservative party from 1902 to 1911

Rhodri Williams assesses how effective the Conservative leadership was in realizing its policy objectives. By explaining the Conservatives’ approach to contemporary controversies over conscription and the construction of Dreadnoughts, he highlights the complexity o the problems facing British policymakers in the period after the Boer War when, against a bleak financial background, they sought to rationalize and strengthen the Empire’s defenses.

The book is important for many reasons. It significantly advances our understanding of the nature of Conservative politics in the early twentieth century. It sheds fresh light on one of the major areas of party political contention in the Edwardian era. It gives us interesting information on Balfour and on a key period of his distinguished political career. And it offers a new perspective on the process by which British defense policy ceased to revolve around the "Great Game” with Russia in Central Asia and came increasingly to turn on Anglo-German naval rivalry in the North Sea.


What people are saying - Write a review

We haven't found any reviews in the usual places.


The Politics of Naval Reform 19003
Army Reform and the Militia Issue 1903 5
The Politics of Naval Reform 1903 5
Into Opposition 1905 6
The Greatest Army Bill for Centuries
The Politics of Naval Reorm 190610
The Last Word of Voluntary Service 190710
Dreadnoughts and Politics 190911
The Crisis of the Voluntary System 191011
New Leader Old Realities 191114
War and Office 191415
Biographical Index

Common terms and phrases

References to this book

All Book Search results »

Bibliographic information