By John Davis (auth.)
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Extra info for A History of Britain, 1885–1939
Churchill had not previously been associated with the Tory rank-and-file organisations, and his attempts to use NUCA in 1883-4 savour of opportunism. His concern was narrowly organisational, to gain for NUCA a greater role in the party's processes, and he was easily bought Liberal Disintegration 23 off by Salisbury with the offer of an enhanced propaganda role for the National Union. Thereafter, although NUCA was hardly docile, the more inconvenient resolutions at its national conferences in the 1880s and 1890s, in favour of protection, for instance, or women's suffrage, could simply be ignored.
The 1886 Ministry, which formally adopted the term 'Unionist' in 1890, had not been the negative government of 'resistance' that had once appeared likely, partly because of the need to retain Chamberlain's loyalty, but largely because Salisbury recognised that reactionary Conservatism would lose votes. There was no escaping the fact, though, that virtually all the Ministry's initiatives had been undertaken with an eye to Conservative electoral strength or the refurbishment of conservative groups in society.
He was immune to the Disraelian myth of Tory philanthropy, preferring to emphasise self-help, 'one of the most certain and remarkable fruits of the Christian religion'. 2 His scepticism, and a gloomy view of mankind, reduced his political practice to a visionless control of the levers of government. He was no utilitarian, but his detached and unsentimental approach to politics bred a materialistic view of political motivation. He understood patronage as well as any modern Prime Minister, and 'played' the honours system with precision, if not always with restraint.