The Whigs

In modern day, when asked to state the three major political parties, the most common answers would The Labour Party, The Conservative Party, and the Liberal Democrats. However, back in the Victorian era, the answers would have been slightly different. The Labour Party were not formed until 1900, and the Liberal Democrats as we know them technically did not form until 1988 when the Social Democrats and The Liberals joined together. During the nineteenth century, the answer would have instead been The Conservative Party and The Whigs.

The Whigs were a political party that formed in 1678 in order to support a central-right wing political agenda and became one of the major political parties throughout time until eventually, they disbanded in 1859. After they disbanded, members eventually formed the Liberal Party which then continued to play a major role in politics up until the twentieth century. The Whigs and The Conservatives would constantly battle for ultimate political power and the Prime Minister of the country was always formed from one of either party until their disbandment in the Victorian era. The Whigs played a fundamental role in the Glorious Revolution of 1688 which renowned them as a key political party for the remainder of their existence. Their origin stemmed from opposition to absolute monarchy and believed in constitutional monarchism, which served as the basis of their political beliefs as a party. They also believed in other policies such as protectionism, conservatism and radicalism.

Their role within Victorian society was particularly significant due to the support they received from Queen Victoria. Lord Melbourne, a renowned Whig Prime Minister, was a special advisor and father figure to the Queen throughout her life, meaning that this political party received a large amount of support from the monarchy. Many of Victoria’s ladies were the wives of Whig MPs, meaning that they appeared to have the support of the Queen despite supposed to be remaining impartial, which eventually led to the Bedchamber Crisis in 1839. Therefore, the Whigs began to rise in importance throughout this era, despite previous corruption and a lack of support, until their dissolving in 1859 where they formed the newfound Liberal Party to rival The Conservative Party until 1900 when The Labour Party was formed.

From, The Victorian Blogger.


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