Back to Birmingham

Posted by Helen Tuesday, October 04, 2016 ,

The Conservative Party's conference this year, as readers of this blog know, is in Birmingham. They were there in 2008 when I wrote about a party conference of an earlier period, in 1880, to be precise, when there was a great battle between some of the grandees one of whom was that scrapper, Lord Randolph Churchill.
The story is quite fascinating and puts to pay the notion that somehow politics was a much more gentlemanly affair when it was run by “gentlemen”. The Salisbury/Northcote fight with Churchill was anything but gentlemanly. In the end, Churchill lost not because he was a nicer person but because, seduced by apparent party adulation, he could not envisage anybody outmanoeuvring him as Salisbury did. Lord Randolph Churchill, it seems, believed that he was indispensable – the most dangerous delusion any politician can have.
In the end, as we know, Lord Randolph lost the battle because he forgot about Goschen. In 1886 the enfant terrible of the Conservative Party resigned from the Chancellorship, assuming that he was irreplaceable. Lord Salisbury disillusioned him on the subject.

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