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Peel 'The Great Betrayer Of his Party' - How Far Do You Agree?

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Introduction

Michael Bradley Peel. 'The Great Betrayer Of his Party' -How Far Do You Agree? In 1845 during Peel's third ministry, after Russell could not take office because he was a known supporter of free trade, Peel faced 5 months of having to face accusations that he had betrayed his party and they no longer had their confidence. These accusations were not from the Whigs, however, but from his own party, mainly the backbenchers, who were fed up with Peel for ignoring them. I am going to analyse if Peel really betrayed his Party and why through events such as the protectionists argument of the Corn Laws, the backbenchers, the Maynooth Grant, Peel's opposition to Catholic Emancipation, Peel's coercion Bill's and Peel himself. In 1946 Peel's ministry ended because his Party had no confidence in him anymore and Peel ended his time as leader of the Conservative Party. Was this because he betrayed his Party? When Peel was elected into Government in 1941, he was elected on a commitment to maintain the Corn Laws; therefore in this he breached the confidence and trust of the landed elite. ...read more.

Middle

Peel effectively did betray his party in this matter but he did have his reasons to repeal the Corn Laws. He had already taken the tariffs off many goods and to repeal the Corn Laws was just another tariff to be taken off and it was evolutionary not revolutionary. Peel also used the argument that if the Corn Laws were repealed then the Irish would be able to afford cheap grain through the famine, this was not the case however because the peasantry could still not afford the cheap grain and many died from starvation. There was also a threat of revolution from the Anti-Corn Law League if the Laws weren't repealed and Peel didn't realise that one of the long term aims of the Anti-Corn Law League was to get rid of the aristocracy! Peel also was now a believer in free trade and personally wanted the Corn Laws repealed. Peel may have betrayed his Party but he believed that repeal was beneficial for the country and ultimately, his party. This was the case whether Peel really believed it or not because the Repeal of the Corn Laws led to 30 years of economic prosperity afterwards. ...read more.

Conclusion

Even though 149 Conservative Backbenchers revolted and voted against this, Peel continued with it and it was passed with the help of the Whigs. This event attracted the attention of the press and Punch magazine described Peel as 'a twisting eel, ascending through the slime' and also stated that Peel had changed with time, meaning his opinion to the Irish Catholics had changed now they could become MPs. Gladstone, Peel's President of the Board of Trade resigned over the Maynooth Grant, which shows the amount of opposition it faced within the Conservative Party because Gladstone was a well known Peelite. In conclusion I believe that Peel was 'the great betrayer of his party' because he never agreed with his party's decisions and he went against them and relied on the opposition for support. I believe that Peel had the country's best interests at heart but could not persuade his party to have the same philosophy. I think Peel also betrayed his party because he only went with the decisions he wanted and if he didn't get what he wanted he would behave immaturely and threaten to resign and the Conservatives didn't want the Whigs in power so they had to support him. For this reason I think that Peel was a great Prime Minister but a poor party leader and a betrayer of his party. ...read more.

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