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Metropolitan Whiggery, 1832–55

  • Ben Weinstein

Abstract

Historians of early and mid-Victorian politics have tended to characterize London as city dominated by an independent, artisanal, anti-statist, and anti-aristocratic radical political culture.1 Whiggery’s role in the construction of London’s Victorian political culture, meanwhile, has been almost entirely ignored.2 Yet, while it is true that elements of ‘old radicalism’ were central to London’s early Victorian political culture, it is equally true that Whiggery wielded significant influence over metropolitan politics during this same period. In fact, it can be argued that the anti-statist and anti-aristocratic agenda promoted so successfully by what Patrick Joyce describes as ‘Reynolds’;s-style’ radicalism in the 1850s remained resonant in London precisely because the Whig aristocracy, and the Russellite vision of an enlarged state, remained such prominent influences on metropolitan political culture in the 1840s and 1850s.3 Although metropolitan radicalism was by no means merely reactive to Whig policy, Whiggery did exert a powerful ‘negative influence’ over the construction of the early Victorian metropolitan radical identity. The decline of Toryism in the metropolitan boroughs after 1832, and Whiggery’s simultaneous elevation into a creed of government, enhanced and ensured this influence.

Keywords

Political Culture Electoral Success Social Elite Paternalist Leadership Central Board 
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Notes

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Copyright information

© Ben Weinstein 2005

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  • Ben Weinstein

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