Churchill from the beginning invariably addressed national rather than local issues. Oldham (for which he sat in 1900-06) was an important cotton-spinning centre whose electorate favoured the Conservative policy of Protectionism, which advocated duties on cheap foreign textiles. Churchill’s Free Trader stance and consequent defection to the Liberals was based on national rather than local considerations, but as a result the Oldham Conservative Association passed a resolution that he "had forfeited their confidence in him."
Churchill stood again for the seat of Oldham at the 1900 general election. After winning the seat, he went on a speaking tour throughout Britain and the United States, raising £10,000 for himself. In Parliament, he became associated with a faction of the Conservative Party led by Lord Hugh Cecil; the Hughligans. During his first parliamentary session, he opposed the government's military expenditure and Joseph Chamberlain's proposal of extensive tariffs, which were intended to protect Britain's economic dominance. His own constituency effectively deselected him, although he continued to sit for Oldham until the next general election. After the Whitsun recess in 1904 he crossed the floor to sit as a member of the Liberal Party. As a Liberal, he continued to campaign for free trade.