This book explores the rise and fall of British radical politics between the general election of 1847 and the first year of Lord Palmerston's third and final ministry 1859–60. The introduction of the 1832 Reform Act invigorated radicalism, mainly by enlarging the powers of parliament and by enhancing the role of independent MPs. The key events of British and European politics in the 1850s were of crucial importance in determining the ideology of the Liberal Party after 1860. British liberalism took shape as MPs, activists, journalists, and intellectuals responded to the changing realities of mid-19th-century domestic and international politics. The shift to liberalism was seen by Chartist historians not as a political development, but as a retrograde step in class consciousness.
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