How successful was Peel as leader of the Conservative Party to 1841?
It is undeniable that between December 1832 and the election of 1841, under the leadership of Peel, the Tory party enjoyed a revival in terms of its popularity and organisation, under the leader ship of Robert Peel. Although some historians believe that this success can mainly be attributed to the actions of Peel, such as the Tamworth Manifesto, strong evidence, argued by reputed historians such as Eric Evans exists to suggest that the successes of the Conservative Party in the 1830’s can only partially be attributed to Peel himself.
It is argued by some that Peel was greatly successful up to 1841 due to the fact that he brought the Tory Party from being a “beleaguered minority” (Adelman, 1989) to being a strong, relevant power once again. However, this ‘low point’ of 1832 is often greatly exaggerated by admirers of Peel. Arguably the high levels of support that the Whig’s received in the election of 1832 was predominantly down to the fact that they advocated the issue of Parliamentary Reform, meaning that it can be argued that the period of unpopularity that the Tory party suffered in 1832 could only ever have been temporary. Arguably even if Peel had not advocated the policies which many consider to be very ‘successful’, the fortunes of the Tory Party would have still recovered, as many of the newly enfranchised voters, far from punishing the Tories, enjoyed the exclusivity of Parliament and wanted to retain that exclusivity through conservative policies. Although the skills of Peel as an orator did contribute to the Tory revival to a certain extent, the Whig majority in Parliament was so fundamentally fragile that it hardly needed exploitation by Peel. Although Peel did contribute to disuniting the Whig majority by, for example, exploiting the Whig difficulties in the management of Anglican Church funds in Ireland, the opportunity to do so arose spontaneously, and merely needed to be...
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