Richard Oastler, Toryism, Radicalism and the limitations of Party, c.1807-1846

ROBERTS, Matthew (2017). Richard Oastler, Toryism, Radicalism and the limitations of Party, c.1807-1846. Parliamentary History.

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Abstract

Richard Oastler (1789-1861), the immensely popular and fiery orator who campaigned for factory reform and for the abolition of the new poor law in the 1830s and 1840s, has been relatively neglected by political historians. Few historians, however, have questioned his toryism. As this article suggests, labelling Oastler an ‘ultra-tory’ or a ‘Church and State Tory’ obscures more than it reveals. There were also radical strands in Oastler’s ideology. There has been a tendency amongst Oastler’s biographers to treat him as unique. By comparing Oastler with other tories – Sadler, Southey and the young Disraeli – as well as radicals like Cobbett, this article locates him much more securely amongst his contemporaries. His range of interests were much broader (and more radical) than the historiographical concentration on factory and poor law reform suggests. While there were periods when Oastler’s toryism (or radicalism) was more apparent, one of the most consistent aspects of his political career was a distaste for party politics. Far from being unique or a maverick, Oastler personified the pervasive anti-party sentiments held by the working classes, which for all the historiographical attention paid to popular radicalism and other non-party movements still tends to get lost in narratives of the ‘rise of party’.

Item Type: Article
Departments: Development and Society > Humanities
Depositing User: Matthew Roberts
Date Deposited: 08 May 2017 13:53
Last Modified: 18 Oct 2017 19:29
URI: http://shura.shu.ac.uk/id/eprint/15675

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