By John Charmley (auth.)
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Additional resources for A History of Conservative Politics, 1900–1996
If 'Joe's War' had stymied 'Joe's pensions', then 'Joe's taxes' would provide a way of squaring the circle; old folk would have their pensions, but it would be the foreigner and not the domestic taxpayer who would cough up the money. An increase in government expenditure was necessary - indeed the Education Act alone would make that necessary - but if pensions and a strong navy were also desired, then the prospect of raising the money required through direct taxation was one with little appeal to any Conservative.
The 'free-fooders' blamed Tariff Reform, although as most of them lost their seats, this was a little perverse of them. The Chamberlainites found that 'Chinese Labour' had had 'an enormous influence', with trades unionists everywhere anxious about allegations that the Unionists had imported coolies into the Transvaal to undertake the work of reconstruction. Mrs Chamberlain found that 'Joe' had been met everywhere by cries of 'Chinese slavery' and drew the conclusion that what the ordinary working man really cared about was 'cheap labour'.
As for the rest, the presence of Lords Cranborne and Selborne is explained by their belonging to the Cecil clan, while Ritchie at the Exchequer and Arnold-Foster at the Home Office were the sort of heavy furniture which encumbers most Cabinets. Balfour, like all Prime Ministers who inherit Cabinets rather than winning a parliamentary majority at an election, was in a weak position - the careers of Alec Douglas-Home and James Callaghan show the problems this can present. However, in his case things were made worse by the presence of a supremely capable alternative in the shape of Joe Chamberlain.