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Fourth Party

Fourth Party was the name given facetiously to a parliamentary ginger group in the Conservative Party in 1880 (the other three being Liberals, Conservatives, and Irish). It consisted of Lord Randolph Churchill, J. E. Gorst, Sir H. D. Wolff, and, at some distance, Arthur Balfour. The Conservatives had just lost the general election and the contempt of the Fourth Party was as much directed at their own front bench as at Gladstone's administration. Sir Stafford Northcote was considered particularly supine and nicknamed ‘The Goat’. They began with opposition to allowing Bradlaugh as an atheist to take the oath or affirm and maintained harassing tactics towards the Liberals. When the Conservatives returned to office in 1885, all four were found employment. The main achievement of the group was to launch the spectacular career of Lord Randolph.

J. A. Cannon

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