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Lord Randolph Churchill

(1849—1895) politician


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(1849–95).

An MP from 1874, after the Conservative defeat of 1880 he led a small ginger group known as the Fourth Party undermining the leadership of Northcote. Churchill exploited the discontents of the provincial associations in the National Union and claimed to speak for a ‘Tory Democracy’ derived from Disraeli. Audacious in language and style, Churchill was a young man in a hurry, perhaps knowing that syphilis would shorten his career. His deal with Salisbury in 1884, abandoning the National Union in return for admittance into the collective leadership, ended Northcote's chances of the premiership. Secretary for India in Salisbury's 1885 government, Churchill had Burma annexed. Though he flirted with Parnell's nationalists, once Gladstone had proposed Home Rule Churchill hoisted unionist colours: ‘Ulster will fight and Ulster will be right.’ Chancellor of the Exchequer and leader of the Commons in 1886, he became impatient with cabinet colleagues and, seeking tactical alliance with Chamberlain's wing of the Liberal Unionists, he began to challenge Salisbury's leadership. When Churchill, frustrated over cutting the services estimates, offered a tactical resignation, Salisbury called his bluff and accepted. Harassed by health and financial worries, Churchill never recovered politically.

Subjects: British History.


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