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The Waning of ‘Old Corruption’The Politics of Economical Reform in Britain, 1779-1846$
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Philip Harling

Print publication date: 1996

Print ISBN-13: 9780198205760

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198205760.001.0001

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Liberal Toryism and Economical Reform, 1815–1830

Liberal Toryism and Economical Reform, 1815–1830

(p.136) 5 Liberal Toryism and Economical Reform, 1815–1830
The Waning of ‘Old Corruption’


Oxford University Press

After Waterloo, Britons expected to be relieved from the onerous wartime burden of debt and taxes. Nevertheless, the impact of post-war retrenchment should not be dismissed as negligible. Its long-term impact was profound, for it reversed the established trend towards ever greater levels of public spending. Tory ministries wished to prove to themselves and to their more ‘respectable’ critics (Whig and independent MPs, landowners and tenants, and, less frequently, the urban middle classes) that they could govern frugally and responsibly. The postwar Tories are often depicted as successful pragmatists, whose concessions to an assertive and rapidly growing political audience and dedication to the efficient management of public business got Britain safely through a tumultuous era in politics. It is argued here that the extensive retrenchments and administrative reforms presided over by a series of Tory governments between 1815 and 1830 were largely the results of external pressures for ‘cheap government’ and ‘good government’.

Keywords:   Waterloo, post-war retrenchment, public spending, Toryism, economical reform

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