New website material on ‘From the Grassroots’

Canvassing in Plymouth, 1959 ((C) Plymouth arts and heritage service)

Canvassing in Plymouth, 1959 ((C) Plymouth arts and heritage service)

As many of you will know, over the past two years we’ve run a wonderful oral history project in Devon with the support of the Heritage Lottery Fund: ‘From the Grassroots: an oral history of community politics in Devon.’ Sadly the project is about to come to an end – but not before we were able to record 70 interviews with local political activists, soon to be available at the Devon Heritage Centre, and share this new material in events, an exhibition, and through specially-written schools materials.

We will keep adding materials based on this collection to the From the Grassroots website, however – and this week we’ve added a number of articles and digital stories, many thanks to our fantastic volunteers.

Two digital stories have been created for the website thanks to Anna Somner and Claire Marchetti. Digital stories are short videoclips created using audio from our interviews and images from the project – we held a workshop on creating digital stories as part of our training. In the two digital stories you can hear Conservative Councillor Jeff Coates’ memories of his first political campaigning as a teenager, and Liberal activist David Verney on the 1945 election campaign in Devon.

As well as a number of new biographies and audioclips from our interviewees (including the Devon Council Leaders John Hart and Saxon Spence CBE), another of our volunteers – Imogen Crarer – has written an excellent thematic article on the 1970 General Election in Exeter. On this occasion local politics reflected national politics, with an upset in the Exeter election matching the surprise Conservative victory nationally.

Now we’ve finished ‘From the Grassroots’, a big thank you to all our volunteers and interviewees who made it possible, as well as our partners at the Devon Heritage Centre, Plymouth and West Devon Record Office, the University of Exeter, Plymouth University and of course the Heritage Lottery Fund. We’ll have more from From the Grassroots online in the future, and plenty from our other oral history projects – running and to come!

EP

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Parliament in a portacabin: the routine maintenance of Westminster Hall in the Middle Ages

During the summer recess staff at Parliament take the opportunity to undertake repair work on the Palace. This is a practice that was undertaken throughout the ages, as Dr Hannes Kleineke, Senior Research Fellow on the Commons 1422-1504 section, discusses…

Complaints over the length of the parliamentary summer recess (much like teachers’ summer holidays) are a time-honoured staple of the political commentariate struggling to fill the summer hole with anything more exciting than a couple of party leadership elections. Nevertheless, the temporary absence of the Lords and Commons does provide an opportunity for the long-suffering support staff of Parliament to make at least minor repairs to the fabric, fixtures and fittings of the Palace of Westminster. Those charged with this task in the summer of 2015 may take some comfort, however limited, from the knowledge that they are following in the footsteps of generations of others faced with similar chores, dating all the way back to the early centuries of Parliament.

In the later middle ages, care for the chambers of the lords and commons and their preparation for the sessions fell to their porters (or ushers). While these men were Crown servants of considerable status, who clearly carried out their duties by using a staff of menials, the tasks they oversaw included the routine (such as the provision of fresh straw on the stone floor of the chambers) as well as the whimsical (like a chair for the king to sit in, which was required in the absence of a throne for Parliament’s meeting at Leicester in 1450).

While not a normal meeting place of the medieval parliament, William Rufus’s great hall, today very much an integral part of the post-1834 Palace of Westminster, deserves a mention here. In the middle ages, the hall provided the venue for three of the principal law courts of England – the courts of King’s bench, common pleas, and Chancery, which sat in wooden structures partitioned off the main hall. The care of these structures and their furnishings was the responsibility of the undersheriff of Middlesex, an officer who in the fifteenth century was usually drawn from the ranks of the clerks of one of the benches. The works he carried out were funded from some of the fines imposed by the justices, and the undersheriff in his turn compiled short accounts detailing them.

Wear and tear was considerable in the courts. In the summer of 1459, as on an almost annual basis, the undersheriff accounted for the ‘mendynge and ioynynge togedir of the bordis of the … Kynges bench’, as well as the cleaning of the courts. New benches and tables for the justices and clerks of the courts had to be procured on a regular basis, and the cushions for the justices’ comfort were also renewed from time to time. Routine consumables included, apart from candles and ink, the matting that covered the stone floor, which had to be replaced on a quarterly basis at a not inconsiderable cost of about 2s. per term. The various cloths that covered some of the furnishings and stonework around the courts suffered both from wear and from the smoke of the candles and torches used for lighting the courts. They periodically had to be repaired, and more frequently laundered, a task which in 1466 provided a modest additional income for the cryer of the King’s bench.

On occasion, the fabric of the building itself required attention. In 1504 the stairs between the King’s bench and the court of Chancery had to be repaired; in 1605 various workmen were paid for brickwork, making windows and carrying away rubbish; while a year later exceptional expenditure was incurred for the repair of both the ‘great window’ and a further window on the south side of the hall.

Not all of these works could wait until the law courts were out of session. In 1499 Undersheriff Richard Coton not only had to pay five carpenters for working after noon and at night, but also had to find 6d. for the keeper of the hall to let them in after dark.

The story of the annual refurbishment of the Westminster law courts and their surroundings has a footnote that resonates in the light of the major works that the present Palace of Westminster needs to undergo in the near future. In the 1390s, Richard II ordered a complete remodelling of Westminster Hall, covering up some of the surviving Norman features in the masonry, and installing the splendid hammer-beam roof that forms one of the hall’s most striking features to the present day. This, of course, meant that the hall was unavailable for use when Richard’s final Parliament (not counting the aborted assembly of 1399) gathered at Westminster in September 1397. While the lords and commons might have met in their normal meeting places, a bigger venue was needed for the state trial of the earl of Arundel. To overcome this problem, a ‘longe and large house of tymbur…that wasse called an hall, keuerde with tiles and open atte bothe sidez and atte the endez’ was constructed in the courtyard between the north end of the Great Hall and Edward III’s clock tower, and it was here that the earl was tried.

According to several chronicle accounts, King Richard, himself seated on an elevated throne, had deliberately left the sides of the building open to provide a clear field for the Cheshire archers with whom he had surrounded the structure. Intended as a hardly veiled threat to anybody who should defy the royal will, the archers nearly caused an unplanned bloodbath (with the monarch caught up in the middle of it) when they wrongly assumed that a quarrel had broken out in the assembly, and began to prepare to shoot. Only the King’s hurried personal intervention prevented a further escalation.

In spite of the inauspicious nature of the precedent of 1397, the special construction of a temporary building to house parliament was a device to which Henry V took recourse at Leicester in 1414 (when the buildings of the Franciscan friary were evidently found wanting).

HK

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A tribute to Professor Paul Langford FBA

Our director, Dr Paul Seaward, and Dr Robin Eagles, Senior Research Fellow in the House of Lords 1660-1832 section remember Professor Paul Langford FBA…

Professor Langford at the launch of the Commons 1820-32 volumes, in 2009

Professor Langford at the launch of the Commons 1820-32 volumes, in 2009

The death of Professor Paul Langford FBA at the end of July robs us not only of one of our best historians of the eighteenth century, but also of a formidably effective man of enormous charm and kindness who was closely connected to the History of Parliament. Despite many other commitments, he enthusiastically took on membership of the editorial board in 2004, and its chairmanship from 2008 until 2012, presiding over an enormously productive period in the history of the History, in which we published our biggest works yet, The House of Commons, 1820-32, The House of Commons, 1604-29, as well as launching the History of Parliament Online, and publishing our interim volume on the House of Lords in the 1660-1715 period, Honour, Interest and Power.

Paul Langford’s contribution to the study of British history in the 18th century was immense. The period has at times struggled to attract the same level of interest as those of the Tudors and Stuarts, or Victorian Britain. Perhaps this is because it in some ways appears particularly remote, but also because of its reputation on the one hand for complex political machinations; on the other for uninspiring ‘stability’, dare one say ‘dullness’. Paul’s great contribution was to demonstrate the extraordinary contrasts and liveliness of the period. From his early work on the first Rockingham administration (1766-67) and on the Excise Crisis (1733), he went on to produce a series of seminal studies considering the century as a whole. A Polite and Commercial People: England 1727-1783 formed the first volume of the New Oxford History of England and at once revolutionized the way in which historians thought of Georgian England. This was a period in which the enthusiasm of evangelicals rubbed shoulders with the scientific discoveries of the Enlightenment, and exquisite culture was contrasted with Hogarthian detritus. Two years later, the publication of his Ford Lectures as Public Life and the Propertied Englishman 1689-1798 added to his vision of contrasts and brought to the fore the importance of the middling sort in a period otherwise best known for aristocratic excess or plebeian depravity.

Alongside of studies such as these and a number of important articles, Paul also made several contributions to more general, ‘accessible’ works. He was the general editor of a new series, ‘The Short History of the British Isles’, for which he provided the volume covering the eighteenth century, and also wrote a both scholarly and very readable entry for Kenneth Morgan’s Oxford Illustrated History of Britain. Paul’s contributions to the Oxford DNB were perhaps characteristic of the things that were important to him. He wrote the article on Edmund Burke, whose writings and speeches during the period 1766-74 he had edited, and he provided the biography of Vivian Green, a former colleague at Lincoln (and also a predecessor as rector).

As well as a ground-breaking author, Paul was an inspiring teacher. He was supremely thoughtful and generous to research students in the field, whether his own or those he was examining, and took care and pleasure in encouraging new work, so much of which owes a huge debt to him. A number of present and previous staff at the History have cause to be grateful for that encouragement.

But Paul Langford will be remembered principally here along with Sir Lewis Namier and Dame Lucy Sutherland as one of a number of great historians of eighteenth-century Britain who have been intimately and very creatively associated with the History of Parliament project as a whole. We are very proud of our association with him, and will miss him deeply.

RDEE/PS

Posted in 18th Century history, historyofparliamentonline.org | Tagged | 1 Comment

The boy who saved a king

Today in 1600 James VI of Scotland (later James I of England) survived the Gowrie conspiracy thanks to the quick thinking of his page, John Ramsay. Our new research reveals that his heroics were even more impressive thanks to his young age, as Dr Andrew Thrush, editor of the House of Lords 1603-1660 section, reveals…

On the morning of 5 August, 1600, James VI of Scotland made preparations to go hunting. As the small royal party was about to leave Falkland Palace, James was approached by the nineteen-year old Alexander Ruthven, Master of Ruthven, who brought news that his elder brother, the 3rd Earl of Gowrie, had detained a foreigner carrying a pitcher full of gold coins at Perth. The tale was obviously far-fetched, but the curiosity and greed of the ever impecunious James had been aroused, and by early afternoon he and his small band of followers had arrived at Gowrie House, in Perth. Shortly after dining, James was escorted – alone – to a tower room by Ruthven, who, instead of producing the mysterious foreigner with a pot of gold, put a dagger to his breast and accused him of murdering his father, the 1st Earl of Gowrie. Leaving the King in the custody of a servant, Ruthven subsequently went to fetch his brother, who had been trying to convince the rest of the royal party that James had now left. During this brief interlude, James persuaded the terrified servant to open one of the windows. As James was about to open the other window, Ruthven returned. An angry Ruthven now attempted to bind the hands of the King, whereupon a struggle ensued.

The Gowrie Conspiracy; engraving by Jan Luyken (1649-1712), via Wikimedia Commons

The Gowrie Conspiracy; engraving by Jan Luyken (1649-1712), via Wikimedia Commons

From his position at the stables, where he had been left holding the royal falcon, the King’s page, John Ramsay, heard James’s desperate cries for help. While other members of the royal party found their passage to the main staircase barred by a locked door, Ramsay made his way up to the tower room by a narrow side entrance. There, in an adjacent chamber, he found James and Ruthven locked in a fierce struggle (the servant had fled). James had somehow managed to place Ruthven in a headlock, and was desperately trying to prevent his assailant from drawing his sword. On seeing his page, James shouted instructions, whereupon Ramsay threw down his falcon, rushed forward and repeatedly stabbed Ruthven about the face and neck with his short sword. Seriously wounded, Ruthven fell to the floor, and was pushed down the stairs by James, where he was finished off by another of the King’s servants, Thomas Erskine, who then proceeded to rush up the tower with the club-footed Dr Herris. No sooner had these welcome reinforcements arrived than Gowrie and seven of his servants appeared, but not before James had been bundled into the tower room out of sight. A fierce fight now ensued, and before long all three of James’s defenders had sustained wounds. It was only a matter of time before they were overwhelmed. However, at the height of the mêlée, the quick-witted Ramsay demanded to know why they were still fighting when the King was already dead. Startled at this news, Gowrie lowered his sword, whereupon the resourceful Ramsay seized his chance, and ran the Earl through the heart.

In the aftermath of the so-called ‘Gowrie Conspiracy’, Ramsay, not surprisingly, was the hero of the hour. Knighted by James, probably on the spot, he was subsequently granted by the Scottish Parliament an estate near Dunbar, to be held of the King in return for a red rose, payable on 5 August every year. James, convinced that Ruthven had meant to murder him, never forgot the debt of gratitude he owed Ramsay. On 5 August each year, for the rest of his life, he held a feast in which Ramsay was the guest of honour. He also set about transforming Ramsay’s station in life. By 1604 at the latest (by which time James had ascended the throne of England), Ramsay was de facto keeper of the King’s Bedchamber; two years later he was created a member of the Scottish peerage, as Viscount of Haddington. In 1608 Ramsay was married into the English aristocracy, to the daughter of the 5th Earl of Sussex, and eventually became an English peer himself (as Earl of Holdernesse). Ramsay spent the rest of his life basking in the adulation of others – as late as 1623 one correspondent addressed him admiringly as ‘the sword of grace’ – and he quickly learned to milk the King’s undying gratitude. When his debts became so heavy that he was unable to pay them, he had James step in, even though the Crown was itself deeply indebted.

Ramsay has never received much attention from historians. He was a man of limited ability and, to many early modern Englishmen, was just one of several greedy Scots whose importunity helped to impoverish the King. Modern biographical dictionaries afford him only brief mention, and all declare that he was born in or about 1580, making him about twenty years old at the time of the Gowrie Conspiracy. Recent research by the History of Parliament, however, has not only shed light on his life following the Gowrie Conspiracy, but also revealed his true date of birth. Far from being a twenty year old man when he defended his king and killed Gowrie, Ramsay was, in fact, a twelve-year old boy (having been born on 1 May 1588). His extreme youth makes his feat of heroism all the more remarkable. It also helps to explain one of the most puzzling aspects of his life hitherto: why James did not admit him to the Scottish peerage until June 1606. The answer is that in May 1606 Ramsay turned eighteen – the earliest age at which James could reasonably bestow such a high honour.

AT

Posted in Early modern history | Tagged , , , | 5 Comments

1945 Election: A political awakening

Clement Attlee, Labour Prime Minister 1945-51

Clement Attlee, Labour Prime Minister 1945-51

Seventy years ago yesterday the results of the 1945 General Election were declared. Although the poll had been held on 5 July, the results were only announced on the 26th because of the time needed to return the ballots of service men and women from overseas. The result – a Labour landslide – had a dramatic impact on British politics. The new government led by Clement Attlee introduced legislation to extend the welfare state (including the creation of the NHS) and to nationalise many British industries. This programme defined British politics until 1979. The election result was a considerable shock to many political commentators at the time, few expected wartime leader Winston Churchill to lose so decisively, including Churchill himself.

For many of the MPs interviewed for our oral history project, the 1945 general election was a significant event in their political lives. For the generation born before the Second World War the election not only defined the political landscape that they grew up in but – as the first general election held in ten years – stood out for many as a major event in their developing political consciousness.

In some ways our interviewees’ reaction to 1945 mirrored that of the wider country. There was shock, from those of all political views but especially from those on the right, that Churchill had lost the election. Our interviewees were ‘absolutely stunned’ (Robert Maclennan, later leader of the SDP), or ‘astounded’ (Sir Edward du Cann, future Chairman of the Conservative party) that Churchill had been ‘rejected’. Several who would later become Conservative MPs were serving in the army as the votes were cast, which gave them a different perspective. The future peer Peter Carrington was unsurprised at Attlee’s victory because he knew how the men in his squadron felt about the election. Sir Philip Goodhart, later MP for Beckenham, remembered the split between officers and men when the results were announced:

Having been commissioned, I went to the regimental depot in Winchester when the war came to an end, and there was the election result some weeks’ later. When the result came through the whole of the depot echoed to unceasing chants of: “move to the left in threes, left turn”. This happy view was not reflected in the officers’ mess.

Some Conservative MPs remember that they soon consoled themselves by criticising the government’s mistakes, for Patrick Ground (MP for Feltham & Heston, 1983-1992) ‘they soon became a laughing stock in our household’.

For those on the left of British politics, they remembered the excitement around the election victory, as well as the impact that it had on their political consciousness. John Cartwright, Labour MP for Woolwich East (1974-1983) is one example:

I remember 1945 very sharply – the Labour landslide of 1945 – and the sense this was a new start, a new beginning, something very dramatic and unusual, and that the world would never be quite the same again. That really had an impact on me I think because I would be, what? 12 I suppose…There wasn’t any politics in the war in any sort of meaningful way, so it was a sudden release of the tensions in 1945.

Ivor Richard, MP for Baron’s Court (1964-1974) also enjoyed his first experience of an election, playing truant from school to see what was happening:

For many MPs across the political spectrum the 1945 election was the first time they remembered having an active involvement or interest in politics. For some this was through school, for example David Mudd, Conservative MP for Falmouth and Camborne (1970-1992) remembered both organising and standing in his school’s mock election (under a ‘patriotic’ banner and using the slogan ‘don’t be muddled, be Mudd-led’!) Dick Taverne, Labour MP and Liberal Democrat peer, remembered being one of only three boys in his school pleased with the result of the election.

Others took an active part in politics for the first time. Peter Pike, Labour MP for Burnley (1983-2005) remembered that his aunt told him, aged 8, that he should go in to parliament because of his interest in politics. The Labour MP and journalist Richard Leonard acted as a teller at his local polling station, aged just 14 he was delighted to be mistaken for someone old enough to vote. Labour, SDP and Liberal Democrat Bill Rodgers remembered how heckling the Tories led to a surprising invitation:

One of our interviewees – the former Labour Chancellor Denis Healey – was old enough to stand in his first election in 1945, in the safe Conservative seat of Pudsey and Otley. He may not have won the seat, but his standing was indicative of the result across the country, reducing the Conservative majority from over 11,000 in 1935 to just 1,651.

EP

You can also read about the 1945 election in Devon on our ‘From the Grassroots’ website, also using extracts from oral history interviews.

For more on our oral history project, visit our website or read some of our oral history project blogposts.

Posted in 20th century history, Elections, oral history, Post-1945 history | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Summer Events at the History of Parliament

ICHRPI group at Magna Carta memorial

ICHRPI group at Magna Carta memorial

It’s been a busy summer already at the History of Parliament. As I’m sure you know during the course of 2015 we’ve been celebrating, along with many others of course, a number of important anniversaries in parliamentary history. The two most important of these – the sealing of Magna Carta in 1215 and Simon de Montfort’s 1265 parliament – formed the inspiration for two major events for us in June and July.

Firstly, we launched our latest book: ‘The Story of Parliament: Celebrating 750 years of Parliament in Britain’, published in collaboration with St James’s House. The book explores the history of the British Parliament from its medieval origins (including the role of Magna Carta) until the present day, with sections written by leading historians of political and parliamentary history – including of course many of our research fellows! It aims to bring together the extraordinary story of Parliament’s development, and its involvement in all aspects of life: society, the economy, culture and belief.

The book was launched in a very apt venue – the cloisters of Westminster Abbey – on June 22nd. It is available to purchase through the Houses of Parliament shop, priced at £14.99.

Reception in the Old Rolls' Chapel, KCL

Reception in the Old Rolls Chapel, KCL

Only a week later we were delighted to host the annual conference of the International Commission for the History of Parliamentary and Representative Institutions. Following the themes of the two anniversaries, ‘Making Constitutions, Building Parliaments: Constructing Representative Institutions, 1000-2000’ explored the origins and developments of parliaments across the world in venues at King’s College, London, Royal Holloway, University of London and in Portcullis House, UK Parliament.

One of our sessions at Portcullis House

One of our sessions at Portcullis House

Nearly 150 speakers from Europe, the US and Latin America gave papers on their specialist research and we held round tables on digitisation of parliamentary archives, oral history and parliamentary research, analysing parliamentary discourse and national parliamentary projects such as our own. Our two fantastic plenary lectures – Professor David Carpenter (KCL) on ‘Simon de Montfort, Magna Carta and the development of Parliament’ and Professor Colin Kidd FBA (University of St Andrews) on ‘Founding myths and their Discontents: the British and American Constitutions compared’ were enjoyed by both delegates and members of the public.

peaker's House reception

Speaker’s House reception

Professor Adam Sutcliffe welcomed us to King’s College at a reception in the Old Rolls Chapel (now party of the Maughan Library, KCL); Professor Jonathan Philips welcomed us to Royal Holloway with a reception on the hottest day of the year following our plenary lecture; Professor Lord Norton of Louth, one of the History of Parliament’s trustees welcomed us to Parliament at a reception in the Speaker’s House by kind permission of Mr Speaker (and we were lucky enough to have an impromptu talk from Pugin expert Rosemary Hill). The conference-goers had the opportunity to benefit from tours of the picture gallery at Royal Holloway, Runnymede meadow and the Palace of Westminster. We ended the conference on Friday night with a dinner in the Members’ Dining Room, Palace of Westminster.

Many thanks indeed to all who contributed to both our latest publication and to a fantastic conference. Special thanks to all at the History of Parliament, KCL, Royal Holloway, UK Parliament 2015 Anniversaries and the Magna Carta 800th Anniversary Organisational Committee for their support. With these events done we’re now back to normal – and preparing for our next publication!

Conference dinner in the Members' Dining Room, Palace of Westminster

Conference dinner in the Members’ Dining Room, Palace of Westminster

EP

Thanks also to our conference delegates for these photographs!

Posted in Conferences/seminars, Events, historyofparliamentonline.org, Magna Carta & Simon de Montfort | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Parliaments, Politics and People seminar: Alex Middleton, ‘The idea of Whiggism in mid-Victorian politics’

In an excellent conclusion to this term’s seminar programme, Dr. Alex Middleton of Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford, discussed Whiggism in nineteenth century British politics. He blogs for us about his paper…

This paper examined how the mid-Victorians understood Whiggism and the Whigs. It started from the premise that despite Whiggism being one of the defining creeds in British political history, little attention has been paid to its decline – and virtually nothing has been written on how that decline was handled intellectually, and in public political debate. The paper dealt specifically with the period between the collapse of the last ‘Whig’ government in 1852, and the Home Rule crisis of 1886. It argued that Whiggism, and its cognate terms Whiggery and Whig, remained vitally important parts of the later-nineteenth-century political lexicon, and had a much more complex history as political words than the existing literature indicates.

Charles James Fox

Charles James Fox

The first part of the paper introduced the basic discursive frameworks within which mid-Victorian debates about Whiggism and Whigs were set. It suggested that the dominant narratives attached to Whiggism in this period were about anachronism and exhaustion, and looked at how contemporaries sought to account for Whig decline. It noted the absence of any significant international context for the discussion of Whiggism, and highlighted the profound significance of the British political past in arguments about the nature and future of the Whigs. Commentators did not forget 1688, but in these decades Whiggism was seen to be defined rather by events in the age of Edmund Burke, Charles James Fox, and Earl Grey.

Earl Grey

Earl Grey

The second part of the paper sought to draw out the main conceptions of what ‘Whiggism’ actually meant in this period – while recognising that different conceptions were not mutually exclusive, that some were considerably more partisan and politically charged than others, and that the categories presented could be extensively finessed and subdivided. It discussed in turn the ways in which Whiggism was presented as a distinct, defined, positive political creed; as an essentially pragmatic political middle ground; as a politics of oligarchy and/or property; and as a synonym for Liberalism, or at least as Liberalism’s main progenitor.

The last part of the paper examined how contemporaries saw the Whigs as a parliamentary force within the mid-Victorian political order. Both Conservatives and Radicals increasingly sought to assert that there were fundamental distinctions between the Whigs and the rest of the Liberal party. Conservatives endeavoured to prove that the Whigs’ natural home, as defenders of the constitution, was with the Conservatives; Radicals and advanced Liberals tried to show that modern Liberalism left no room for the apparently effete, aristocratic, short-sighted Whigs of the present day. Yet the counter-argument was also made that Whiggism remained a distinctive creed, that it belonged in the present, and that it belonged in the Liberal party – and furthermore that Whigs remained the natural and necessary leaders of the Liberal party. All these different positions were backed up by distinctive readings of late-eighteenth- and early-nineteenth-century British political history. The paper concluded by suggesting that paying more systematic attention to mid-Victorian conceptions of Whigs and Whiggism can help us with specific questions about the Home Rule crisis and the foundation of Liberal Unionism, and with broader debates about the mutation of political language, the structures of party politics and partisan debate, and the nature of British political modernity.

The discussion which followed raised important issues about the significance of religious questions, about leadership and leaders, about Irish policy, and about when precisely we should see Whig decline as having become terminal. Electoral politics, and especially electoral geography, were identified as crucial areas for investigation as the research progresses.

Thanks to Alex and to all the speakers who have contributed such a variety of interesting papers to our 2014-15 programme. The ‘Parliaments, Politics and People’ seminar will return in the autumn term.

Posted in 19th Century history, Conferences/seminars | Tagged | Leave a comment