A Revolution in Parties: 1827–30

  • William Anthony Hay
Part of the Studies in Modern History book series (SMH)


Opposition parties in Britain rarely drive governments from office, but rather seize upon an administration’s own failure to hold power. The Whigs realized in the late 1820s that they could gain office only after Liverpool’s government and the Tory phalanx that sustained it had collapsed. The Tory ascendancy cracked when a stroke on 17 February 1827 left Liverpool ‘if not actually, at least politically dead’.1 The Morning Chronicle. rightly deemed it ‘extremely unlikely that he will ever again submit to the toils and anxieties from which it is understood he has long been anxious to free himself’.2 The consequent scramble for power revived factionalism among Tories and Whigs alike, throwing politics into confusion for the next several years. Holland shrewdly predicted a ‘revolution in parties’ that would produce either ‘a liberal ministry with an intolerant court opposition, or an intolerant court ministry with a liberal opposition’.3 Brougham urged coalition with Canning to secure a liberal government, but Grey opposed a union he thought inconsistent with Whig principles. Differences thus emerged among Whigs just as the Tories fell into their own factional quarrels.


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© William Anthony Hay 2005

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  • William Anthony Hay

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