Why did the Tory Party Collapse between the years 1827-30?

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  • Created on: 04-04-13 20:53

Pressure from the emerging middle class

- New middle class wanted political reform, in order to be represented better in parliament as a class

- They wanted the government to move faster towards free trade

- Middle classes were the backbone of the new industrial economy, and wanted political power

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Working class discontent

- Industrialisation and Urbanisation led to working class realising their place in society - which led them into becoming more radicalised

- The working class seemed to be working with the middle class, by providing the numbers in many political unions like BPU, to stress the importance of political change

- Government threatened by the influence of radicals amongst working class, thus percieved the working class as a threat

- Effectively, majority of working class wanted better pay rather than an extension of the franchise

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Political Unions

- Political unions organised protests and had a political agenda. Groups such as BPU, led by Thomas Atwood, put pressure on the government

- Middle classes seemed to be representing the working class, a union threatening the government, as the middle class had financial power to get the message of the working class across effectively

- However, some unions lacked a national organisation

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- Between 1829-30 bad harvests led to an economic depression, where prices of food increased

- Higher food prices led to radical pressure for reform to intensify in the late 1820s. There were swing riots in South and East of England. Swing rioters targeted threshing machines, machines which had put them out of work, or caused farmers to pay them lower wages

- Middle class also dissatisfied, with the fact that economic growth was constantly followed by periods of recession, unemployment and large bankruptcies

- Contributed to a growing fear of insecurity, placing Tories under a large strain

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Trade Unions

- Wave of public strikes and demonstrations combined with rural unrest, triggered government to think radical threat was real.

- Government percieved a threat from the unions and the middle class

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International Events

- July 1830- revolution in France where Charles X overthrown

- Revolution in Belgium and Hapsbury Empire ( Austria)

- Threat that British radicals would be inspired by these revolutions and attempt to provoke one in Britain

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Catholic Emancipation, 1829

- fear of open revolt/civil war in Ireland because O Connel was not granted his seat as an MP in parliament, led to the government, particulary due to Peel and Wellington's insistence, to grant Catholic Emancipation

-142 Tories voted against the bill ( as written in Derrick Murphy's book)

- It's passing split the Tory Party- allowing Whigs to seize the opportunity to gain popularity

- Peel's reputation with Ultra Tories tarnished, because of his support towards Catholic Emancipation

- Peel credited Canning for making him realise the importance of Catholic Emancipation

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Death of Liverpool

- Liverpool's resignation had a devestating effect on the rest of the leadership of the party. 

- Lord Liverpool was good at keeping the balance of too much or little authority within the party,and holding the party together,despite the massive differences between opinions and personalities

-Without him, this balance was not maintained, causing more internal divisons, and therefore, the collapse of the party in this period

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Ineffective Leaders

- Liverpool's death in 1828 led to the appointment of 2 ineffective and decisive leaders : Canning, Goderich and Wellington

- Neither of them were able to deal with the issues of Britain at that time

- Canning was unpopular with most sections of his party, due to his support of Catholic Emancipation - which caused politicans Peel and Wellington to resign under him. He was also regarded as 'vain' and 'overbearing'.

- Goderich's ministry regarded as the worst ministry of that time, and soon collapsed in Jan 1828

- Wellington considered unsuitable for the role of PM by many, because of his brutal honesty and lack of tact

- Wellington's status as a Ultra intimidated the Canningnites of the party

- Near the end of this period, 3 factions had emerged in the Tory Party : Canningnites ( followers of Canning), Ultras, and Supporters of Wellington.

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Internal Divisions

- Internal divisions within the Tory party during this period, made it incredibly hard for the party to maintain its effeciency, and threatened the unity of the government.

- Liberal side of the party alienated by refusal of moderate redistrubution of seats

- Ultra Tories alienated by Catholic Emancipation

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Parliamentary Reform

- Parliamentary reform proved to be decisive when 142 Tory Party members who voted against Catholic Emancipation in 1829, began to support parliamentary reform on the basis that an extended franchise would reject Catholic Emancipation

- Opposed Parliamentary reform contributed to the downfall of the Tory Party, as the new king ( William IV) had begun to become increasingly close with the Whig party, and favour their policies, as they supported parliamentary reform, showing how the attitude towards parliamentary reform within the Tory Party, cost them support from the monarchy, and triggered their downfall

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Past Exam Questions on The Collapse of the Tories

How important were the Ultra Tories in explaining why the Tory party disintegrated in the years 1827-30?

How far was the resignation of Lord Liverpool in 1827 the main reasons for the political crisis of 1827-30?

How important was Catholic Emancipation in relation to other factors in explaining the disintegration of the Tory party 1827-30?

*NB = These questions are all worth 24 marks. 

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