The South African parliamentary opposition, 1948-1953.
The primary focus of the thesis is the attempt by the United Party, between 1948 and 1953, to regain political power. It argues that although policy issues were important, insufficient attention has thus far been paid to the United Party's organisational weakness, particularly in regard to its inability adequately to register and delete voters, as an explanation for the Party's 1948 defeat. The United Party had, therefore, from a far more heterogeneous base of support, not only to implement organisational reforms so as to evince an efficiency equal to that of the National Party but had also to clarify what it intended to achieve by its pragmatic race' policy. It is argued that the essence of the latter had been white immigration. Only a substantial white population, it was felt, would induce that sense of white security sufficient to allow the peaceful accommodation of the' aspirations of the unenfranchised. Faced with the immediate curtailment of immigration and unable to emphasise, through fear of alienating marginal Afrikaans-speaking voters, its importance, the Party was progressively forced to give ii ground on its race policy. Its tendency to do so and yet demand the retention of constitutional guarantees made the Party an easy target for Government manipulation. Seen against this background the United Party initiative in encouraging the establishment of the War veterans' Torch Commando, its formal alliance with the Labour Party and the considerable structural reforms it was able to implement as a consequence of its informal alliance mining interests, failed to halt the voters away from it. with financial and swing of marginal The United Party's 1953 General Election defeat not only resulted in a crippling collapse of its financial support but also led to a gradual realignment of opposition parliamentary politics towards a rapprochement with those extra-parliamentary forces which were already assuming their place as the real opposition to the National Party Government.