Andrew Bonar Law (1858-1923)

Map loading...

Andrew Bonar Law (16 September 1858 – 30 October 1923), commonly called Bonar (rhymes with honour) Law, was a British Conservative Party statesman and Prime Minister. Born in the colony of New Brunswick (now in Canada), he is the only British Prime Minister to have been born outside the British Isles. He was also the shortest-serving Prime Minister of the 20th century, spending 211 days in office. He had a much longer tenure as Conservative Party leader, November 1911 to March 1921 and October 1922 to May 1923, where he used his business background to good advantage in promoting better organisation and efficiency. His lack of aristocratic family connections helped him broaden the base of the party to include more businessmen.Law was born to a rural preacher and his wife in New Brunswick, where he spent his early life. A few years after his mother's death in 1861, his father remarried, and in 1870 Law moved to Helensburgh, Scotland, to live with his mother's sister Janet and her family, who ran a successful merchant bank. After an education at Larchfield School (now Lomond School), a preparatory school in Hamilton and the High School of Glasgow, Law left school aged sixteen to gain a "commercial education" at the family firm. A few years later the firm was sold to the Clydesdale Bank, putting Law's career in jeopardy until his uncles loaned him the money to buy a partnership in an iron merchants firm. Through hard work and his business acumen the firm flourished under Law, and by the time he was thirty he was a comparatively rich man.Law first entered politics in 1897, when he was asked to be the Conservative candidate for the seats of Glasgow Bridgeton and then Glasgow Blackfriars and Hutchesontown, accepting Blackfriars. Despite a large Liberal Party majority in his seat, Law campaigned successfully for the 1900 general election and was returned to Parliament. In the House of Commons he became noted for his excellent memory and oratory, and soon gained a position on the Conservative front bench. A strong supporter of tariff reform, Law was made Parliamentary Secretary to the Board of Trade in 1902. The issue of tariff reform split the Conservative Party, and Prime Minister Arthur Balfour resigned, prompting a general election in which the Conservative Party were forced into opposition. In opposition Law continued to argue for tariff reform, both in Parliament and within his party, largely avoiding the constitutional crisis surrounding the People's Budget in 1909. His appointment as a Privy Councillor that year marked him out as a conservative frontrunner, and when it became clear that Arthur Balfour would resign as Leader of the Conservative Party, Law put his name forward. Despite trailing third before Walter Long and Austen Chamberlain Law eventually won the election when the strong possibility of a draw between Long and Chamberlain that would split the party forced both to withdraw.As Leader of the Conservative Party, Law focused his attentions on two main areas; tariff reform, which he supported, and Irish Home Rule, to which he was opposed. As leader of the opposition he was in no position to make active changes, but his strong campaigning, particularly on Home Rule, turned Liberal attempts to pass the Third Home Rule Bill into a three-year struggle eventually halted by the start of the First World War.

Source: dbpedia is a Good Stuff website.