Popular Conservatism in Imperial London, 1868-1906

The Conservatives achieved huge electoral success in London between 1868 and 1906, but the reasons why have never been rigorously examined, with historians tending to explain the late-Victorian party's 'transformation' in terms of the political preferences of the suburban middle classes.This work, the first in-depth survey of London Conservatism during this period, challenges that view. The author conclusively demonstrates that the rise in fortunes cannot simply be accounted for by the conversion of the middle-class 'Villa Tory' voter. By analysing the party's policies, discourses and structures at grass-roots level, he clearly shows that late-Victorian London Conservatism was above all populist, and that the party was better able than its opponents to construct electoral positions which adapted to social and cultural change. The book is also a key contribution to the historiography of late-Victorian London: a time when the capital's political, cultural and economic importance burgeoned.Throughout the book, the author brings out the complex interplay between local, national and especially the imperial identities in the late-Victorian city: London was the 'heart of the empire', and late-Victorian Conservatives routinely celebrated the imperial dimensions of their city, most notably during the 'khaki' election of 1900. Alex Windscheffel is Lecturer in Modern History at Royal Holloway, University of London.