- March 30th (Creation)
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This is the Primrose League Diploma of Association for the membership of James Green, March 30th 1886.
The Primrose League was established in 1883 by Lord Randolph Churchill and John Gorst in the wake of the Conservative Party's loss to Gladstone in the 1880 election and after the death of Benjamin Disraeli in 1881. Disraeli had been the hero of Popular Conservatism and had actually done much to expand the franchise to working class men in the cities in particular. The Primrose League would try to reach out to these new voters using innovative campaigning and imaginative social opportunities. (Nothing new under the sun today!)
The reason that the Primrose was chosen as an emblem was because it was purported to be Disraeli's favourite flower and it was already being worn by Conservative Party members on the anniversaries of his death.
The Primrose League would prove to be a milestone in political development in Britain as the League galvanised political participation and provided a more social aspect to political campaigning and lobbying.
It began an extensive network of social activities which included music hall dances, high teas, summer fetes, excursions by train, cycling clubs and many other activities which had hitherto not been associated with the political process in Britain. It also appealed to women at a time before they were able to vote. Indeed by 1891 over half of the membership of the League were women.
Despite its use of novel events and campaigning methods, the ideology behind the League was deeply conservative in nature. It was designed to appeal to what was thought to be an innate patriotic attitude of many voters and of property owners in particular in an era when there was still a property element to who could actually vote. The Primrose League Pledge read:
"I declare on my honour and faith that I will devote my best ability to the maintenance of religion, of the estates of the realm, and of the imperial ascendancy of the British Empire; and that, consistently with my allegiance to the sovereign of these realms, I will promote with discretion and fidelity the above objects, being those of the Primrose League."