Conservatives In the age of Sir Robert Peel 1834-1850 - WJEC


Conservatives in the age of Peel 1834-1850

The Nature & Ideas of the Conservatives in 1841
in the 18th century, there was a tiny electorate. Politics had been dominated by the wealthy landowning families, the ‘Whigs’ & ‘Tories’. Tories were keen to defend the status quo; Whigs were more likely to embrace innovation neither wanted radical changes that were proposed by the most extreme of MP’S – the Radicals.
H! The bulk of MP’s were in neither group. These were the ‘Independents’ who looked at issues on a case-by-case basis and had to be courted by ministers and ministers depended on to their personal relationship with the monarch. – Politics of the Elite. 1815, after Pitt the Younger, a more identifiable party division emerged in parliament. Many were concerned about this ‘factionalism’, fearing it would create an unpatriotic competition within the system.  H! It was only in the 1830’s that the 2-party system really began to establish itself. From that point until 1846 (Corn Law crisis), the Whigs & Tories acted as opposing parties. The Tories were led by Peel & became known as the Conservatives. Although conservatives broke up over the Corn Laws in 1846, the party remerged again in 1867. After 1867 a 2-party system of Liberals & Conservatives continued until the 1st world war. There was a social difference; the lower classes accepted their position in society and tended to respect their superiors.

Conservatives: wanted to keep society as it is (status quo), had a dislike for change & a distrust of Radicalism/intellectual dogma. Conservative tradition in Britain was centred on an adherence to monarchy, the Church of England & the defence of property. Unlike left-wing theorists, conservatives in the period were against the reordering of society. Even if those at the top sympathised and felt bound to help those at the bottom, the order of society must be preserved. It has always attracted those who distrust collective legislative solutions for social problems, but at the same time suited of the caring ‘paternalistic’ rich. H! Some conservative leaders have appreciated the need to adjust their priorities to encompass new voters & interests. Although the landed interest maintained a dominant presence in the Tory & Conservative parties of the 19th century, the rise of industry & a wealthy middle-class of capitalists lead to attempts to broaden & re-define Conservatism for the new society. Peel was perhaps the most significant of those conservatives who aimed to re-shape the party this way.

1788 – Peel born, son of Sir Robert Peel, Tory MP & industrialist.
1809 – Enters Parliament, aged 21. He had been educated at Harrow & Oxford, attaining 1st ever double 1st in Maths & Classics.
1812 – Appointed as Chief Secretary for Ireland, after impressing Lord Liverpool, the PM. He retained the post until 1818.
1822 – Becomes Home Secretary. In this role he presided over penal reform and establishment of Metropolitan Police.
1830 – Whigs come to


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