"The defeat of the Whigs in 1841 was solely the result of their own mistakes" How accurate is this view in your opinion?
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"The defeat of the Whigs in 1841 was solely the result of their own mistakes" How accurate is this view in your opinion? By Madhura Khasnobis Year 12.2 Between 1835 and 1841, the Whigs electoral support began to drain away, which enabled the Tory Party to win the 1841 elections with a majority of over seventy percent. Their defeat can be ascribed partly due to the weakness and vulnerability of the Whig government but also partly because of the strength and recovery of the Tory opposition. I am going to explore the reasons behind the Whig defeat in detail and examine the accuracy behind the quote in the question. One of the reasons behind the Whig defeat in 1841 was their loss of reforming zeal, after the 1832 Reform Act. Initially, they had won the day over with the 1832 Reform Act as a result of nationwide confrontation with the Tories and the House of Lords. However, Earl Grey's successor, Lord Melbourne relaxed the reformation programme.
The situation was made worse by Britain sinking into an economic depression, which gave rise to unemployment and high prices of food. The British working population was angered by the obvious unfairness of the 1834 Poor Law Amendment Act, which treated poverty as a crime and forced many people to work in the dreaded workhouses, sometimes known as "Poor Law Bastilles" for their harsh conditions. The frustration was also directed towards the government failure to create some sort of legislation for the working class and at the same time, the failure of the 1832 Reform Act to enfranchise them. Squalor in the cities and inadequate public health arrangements did add to the unhappiness of the working class. The 1833 Factory Act was another reason for working class hostility as the law only applied to textile factories. The "Ten-Hour Movement" was very disappointed as they had hoped to reduce a normal workday to ten hours and eliminate child labour. The Whigs further caused their own downfall by eliminating the pressure groups which had originally co-operated with the reforming legislation, especially the Evangelicals, Radicals and the Benthamites.
wished to see change and that they were willing to bring back the 'once-ridiculed' party, under Peel to demonstrate that they had indeed turned over a new leaf. There were several reasons as to why the Whigs lost the elections in 1841. Be it, loss of reforming zeal, loss of stable support or an increase in working class unrest, all point in one direction - the population were tired of the Whigs. For years they had suppressed the public opinion but 1841 definitely showed a change in the way the British population dealt with mismanagement within the government. I feel that at this point in history, whether or not the Tory Party had redeemed themselves, Whigs would have definitely lost the elections as anything would have looked desirable compared to the Whigs. Thus, I do not feel that the sudden revival of the Tories had much to do with the Whig defeat but the Whigs were to blame themselves for their eventual decline. I agree with the quote and believe that they did lose the elections due to their own mistakes.
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