1998 年 13 巻 p. 198-206,274
The aim of this paper is to examine the canvassing which the Primrose League undertook in the late Victorian era in order to illustrate an important feature of election campaigns by the British Conservative Party in the present century. How did the Conservative Party, without surrendering its tradition, manage to maintain its grip on power despite changing political conditions in the late Victorian era? An answer to this question depends on the popular basis of Conservative support and its organization. According to Martin Pugh, however, the popular basis of Conservative support remains a relatively untrodden field. And the Conservative rank and file, as Stuart Ball suggests, has been curiously neglected in the study of modern British politics. Hence this paper offers an explanation by studying the activities and role of members of habitations, or branches of the League from 1883 to 1900.
The most important facts are as follows:
I. The Conservative candidates were able to depend on the canvassing of the League within the law at that time because the League mobilized its members as voluntary workers for the campaign.
II. The League systematically managed to make house-to-house visits, supported by Dames, Wardens and Sub-wardens of habitations.
III. The female members of the League took an active part in canvassing to assist the Conservative candidates.
On a survey of various historical materials this study shows the following conclusions:
The Primrose League formed the basis of campaign activity in constituencies and, above all, played a large part in modern Conservative politics as it gave importance to grass-roots activism. It is obvious from a historical point of view that constituency canvassing in present-day Britain has its beginning in the volunteer activities the League set about in the 1880s and 90s.