Wednesday, 10 June 2015

WHAT 'WHIGS' & 'TORIES' STOOD FOR IN THE 17th CENTURY - IS THERE ANY REAL DIFFERENCE TODAY?

I though this article published in the 'Chronicle of Britain and Ireland' is interesting.

England 1679
"New names for old faces can now be heard mentioned in the houses of parliament with the advent of tags for adherents of different political philosophies.'Whigs' and 'Tories' - both terms of abuse - denote government supporters and opponents. Broadly, the Whigs form the court party; they back the established church and the monarchy, and their instincts are conservative. The Tories are broadly anti-government and support the Roman Catholic Duke of York

The word 'Tory' was originally used to describe a particular unpleasant type of Irish robber. A 'Whig', on the other hand, is a Scottish outlaw, covenanter and sanctimonious prig.

Political commentators go further. "A 'Tory' is a creature with a large forehead, prodigious mouth and no brains," says one pamphleteer. A 'Whig' "has principles like chaos" and "prays for the kind with more reservations than the honest man" says another.

The 'Whigs' were a major political party from 1679-1832 that held liberal principles and favoured reforms and later became the Liberal Party. In later use the term was used to refer to conservative members of the Liberal party.

The article therefore seems quite apt when considering our political parties today. It might also be considered appropriate for Labour MP Dennis Skinner to refer to the Tories in a statement he uttered in Parliament by saying - "50% of those on the benches opposite are criminals". After the Speaker had asked him to withdraw his remark, the quick-witted Member for Bolsover responded: "50% of those on the benches opposite aren't criminals".

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