By Robert Stewart (auth.)
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Additional info for Party and Politics, 1830–1852
It was an important financial and imperial measure, affecting as it did the revenue of the country and relations between Great Britain and the sugar colonies in the Caribbean. The bill was defeated in the House of Commons by 36 votes; and the Conservative opposition, seeing that the government meant neither to resign nor to ask for a dissolution of parliament and put itself to the test of electoral judgement, introduced a motion of no-confidence in the government in the House of Commons. Ministers, Robert Peel told the House, did '];1Ot sufficiently possess the confidence ofthe House ofCommons to enable them to carry through the House measures which they deern of essential importance to the public welfare' and 'their continuance in office, und er the circumstances, is at 49 Party and Politics, 1830-1852 variance with the spirit of the constitution'.
The Tory case against the bill received so me years ago an ample defence from Professor Gash. 24 Almost every point that they made, every fear that they expressed, were good points and well-founded fears, even though the whig majority rejected their validity and denied their justification. Sooner or later all the major prophecies of the opposition came true ... taken as a whole the tory case against the reform bill was an accurate analysis of the real consequences of reform. Gash argued that three fundamental Tory objections were vindicated by subsequent events: (1) that the bill would destroy the existing balance of power between king, lords and commons by transferring effective power to the lower House alone; (2) that the bill would divide the country into rural and industrial interests and would therefore shift the political battle away from one conducted between parties towards one conducted between classes; and (3) that by obeying the voice of the people, bowing to the rioters and the Radicals who prophesied revolution if the bill were not carried, the Whigs delivered an awesome weapon into the hands of the people, teaching them that organised opinion, by threatening disorder, could compel government behaviour.
3 When Melbourne's government was abrupdy dismissed by William IV at the end of 1834, Peel hurried back from a vacation in Italy to take up the reins of government. He was gran ted a dissolution by the king and his so-called manifesto (the word appears nowhere in the document) was really nothing more, in its form, than an open letter to his Tamworth constituents such as every candidate in those days issued at the beginning of his canvass. Its language and its implications, however, were broader than usual, because Peel took the opportunity to enunciate the general principles on which he intended to conduct the Conservative government which he had just been called upon to form.