British Prime Ministers: Arthur Balfour

A.P. Ryan introduces the life and career of The Earl of Balfour: Conservative Prime Minister, 1902-5; Foreign Secretary, 1916-19; President of the Council 1919-22, 1925-9.

The first Earl of Balfour would much have enjoyed British politics since 1950. He had prophesied, in the Nineties, that changes in the political world would make it inevitable that, at some time in the future, a government would have to take office in a democratic parliament with a small majority, and he confessed to looking forward to that experiment with the greatest interest and curiosity. He would have relished the last few years at Westminster, because he was a tireless student of political affairs which he followed throughout his exceptionally long career—never going stale and never allowing enthusiasm to colour his innate and detached cynicism.

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