Forgotten Liberal heroes: Earl Grey

Nick Robinson has returned to the radio for a second series of his short portraits of British Prime Ministers and in the list this time is Earl (Charles) Grey, one of the figures I’ve previously highlighted as a forgotten Liberal hero.

Robinson’s piece is history as light entertainment – so it starts off with the connection between Grey and the tea that we now know as Earl Grey and then moves on to his high profile affair before getting stuck into the more serious aspects of his record. But as a quick canter through his life in a style that is illuminating without being academic, it’s a good show.

Cup of teaGrey’s career has many modern echoes – leading his party after years in opposition into power, pushing through a radical political reform program and attacking the sort of personal patronage which he himself had benefited from. Yet he’s all but forgotten.

So if you too have not heard of him or know much about him, a fun way of passing 15 minutes is to listen to the 15 minute show on the iPlayer, which is available until January 1, 2099 (!).

One topic Nick Robinson touches on is how radical, or not, the Great Reform Act really was. This was also one of the subjects of a meeting that I spoke at earlier this year. Whilst I talked about how the current political reforms compare with 1832, the History of Parliament Trust’s Dr Philip Salmon looked at just how great 1832 was. You can listen to that meeting here.

Read more by or more about , , , , or .
This entry was posted in Op-eds.
Advert

5 Comments

  • I may point out a discrepency here. Earl Grey was, in fact, a Whig – whilst the Whigs became Liberals, they were NOT the same party. Furthurmore, The Great Reform Act was designed with the singular purpose of gaining more Whig votes, all other reforms being passed afftterwards being unintended by Lord Grey (who described the Act as “The Most Aristocratic Act ever passed by Parliament)

    Now, William Gladstone is a different matter….

  • Patrick Smith 29th Apr '11 - 8:43pm

    I see the motives of Earl Charles Grey were as a constitutional reformer first and as a Whig second but the work that he started in getting rid of the 2 MPs for Old Sarum and gaining MPs for Manchester and Birmingham where ther were none before 1832 surely amount as is stated by Nick Robinson as the `the first steps that made Democracy possible’?

    I suggest the difference between 150 wealthy aristocrat landoweners choosing 307 MPs and giving a vote to 300,000 male householders with £10 or over income was quite a leap forward in 1832..

    The prospect of abolition of slavery that sprang from Grey and funding new schools and bringing down child labour by later passage of Factory Acts must surely be seen as the mind of a Liberal Prime Minister?

  • Great reform act was a regressive measure appeasing electoral reform pressure by giving the vote to a tiny extra portion of the electorate. This was also the man who introduced the workhouse as he disliked the poor taking relief money.

  • Richard Underhill 15th Jun '11 - 3:39pm

    There was also an element of rioting. The Duke of Wellington’s windows were broken.

Post a Comment

Lib Dem Voice welcomes comments from everyone but we ask you to be polite, to be on topic and to be who you say you are. You can read our comments policy in full here. Please respect it and all readers of the site.

If you are a member of the party, you can have the Lib Dem Logo appear next to your comments to show this. You must be registered for our forum and can then login on this public site with the same username and password.

To have your photo next to your comment please signup your email address with Gravatar.

Your email is never published. Required fields are marked *

*
*
Please complete the name of this site, Liberal Democrat ...?

Advert



Recent Comments

  • User AvatarPeter Martin 9th Jul - 6:43am
    @ JoeB @ Michael BG Joes's simple example shows how we take $$ from the rich and give it to the poor. If Milton Friedman...
  • User AvatarKatharine Pindar 9th Jul - 1:29am
    The sad scandal of the unprotected care homes in which so many have died before their natural time will not be put right by any...
  • User AvatarMike Jay 9th Jul - 12:26am
    The article in "The Australian" that Peter referred to is behind a paywall. However, the article is freely available at https://environmentalprogress.org/big-news/2020/6/29/on-behalf-of-environmentalists-i-apologize-for-the-climate-scare
  • User AvatarMike Jay 8th Jul - 11:28pm
    I'm reminded of my undergraduate days back in the 1960s. The students' union repeatedly passed motions demanding that the US Government withdrew from the Vietnam...
  • User AvatarJoseph Bourke 8th Jul - 11:01pm
    Michael BG, Torry is clear that a tax increases are only viable if the net disposable income of the great majority of taxpayers is increased...
  • User AvatarGraham Evans 8th Jul - 10:29pm
    It's all very well blaming the care sector for its shortcomings but you get what you pay for. Providing social care is extremely labour intensive,...