How effective a Party leader was Peel in the years 1834-41?

In the years 1834-41, Peel was limited in his effectiveness as leader of the Conservative Party. However, he was looked upon by the Tories to be the most capable man to lead the party out of its serious difficulties as a result of the Reform Bill Crisis. Although on the other hand, he was greatly ineffective of upholding Tory polices and beliefs. Also as leader of the Opposition, Peel was not favoured within his party on a number of occasions example- the Ultra Tories during the 'Bed Chamber Crisis', because of the significant proportion of Ultra Tories within the party Peel faced a dire relationship with them.

However, Peel did attempt to reorganise the party, in an attempt to appeal to the newly enfranchised middle-classes, strengthened the Conservatives image and presented a party that was capable of operating a stable government. We could not describe Peel's personality as one that would normally be related to a popular leader. G. Kitson Clarke claimed Peel worked with a 'Blurred background, pollarded principles and no ardent or extensive ideas', he was also described as being cold 'his smile was like the silver plate of a coffin' – Daniel O'Connell, and 'like an iceberg with a slight thaw on the surface' – Lord Ashley.

He was very unpopular with a large section of his party who accused him of betraying the fundamental ideas of Toryism by undermining the Protestant establishment in Ireland and the protection of the agricultural interest in Parliament. He was arrogant and aloof which heightened this unpopularity. He was seen as a politician who betrayed his party's interests on numerous occasions. The Tory party in 1830 looked to be in total disarray after the passage of Roman Catholic Emancipation the previous year.

Moreover, the party was in serious difficulty because of the Reform Bill Crisis and seemed destined for a long-term period in the political Wilderness. When William IV dismissed Melbourne and invited Wellington to form a government, the Duke advised the king to send for Peel. This decision made Peel leader of the party, forcing him on the Ultra's. However before his government fell in April 1835 Peel had the status of the premiership behind him, he had presided over a General Election, which pulled the Party together and increased its parliamentary membership by some ninety MP'S.

Peel had star qualities, he had outstanding debating skills and command of parliament, and he gave a high quality of leadership to the party. 'The Times' – "Temper, capacity and powers… absolutely un-approached by only minister who had addressed Parliament since the beginning of the present century" Peel's speeches were very intellectual of any party member or member of the House of Commons, through these speeches he was able to gain support by impressing the members and was said that he 'dominated the House of Commons'-Rusconbe Foster.

The Tamworth Manifesto' was seen as a cunning and brilliant attempt to win over the middle classes electorate and party agents ensured that the message it contained occupied a prominent position in the national press. It proved to be the catalyst for changing the Tory Party into the 'Conservative' Party – a term that was first used for the election of that year. It does seem, therefore, that Peel's exhortations to the new urban middle classes, as distinct from the older professional and commercial elite, fell largely on deaf ears.

It was the Traditional Tory slogans – the Church in danger, the Corn Laws under threat-, rather than the new spirit of the Tamworth Manifesto, which prevailed in 1841. This is a sombre reflection on Peel's efforts to educate his party in the 1830's. Once again he damaged his relations with the Ultra Tories who looked upon this as betrayal and felt he was more concerned with national needs rather than party interests, they looked upon him with distrust due to his change in loyalties in 1829 concerning Catholic Emancipation. When Peel was in opposition, he didn't always behave in a way that was typical of the leader of the opposition.

He was interested in attracting disenchanted Whigs into his new Conservative Party, which would be a party of Moderate and Considerate reform. Peel had specific people (i. e. Whigs) in mind that he wanted to attract. Following the 1835 election the Whigs allied themselves with the Radicals and the Irish. This measure alienated the more conservative Whigs, who 'crossed the floor', to join the conservatives, which enabled the Tories to grow in numbers, principally because of their disenchantment with the Whigs, but also perhaps impressed by Peels authority in the Party. By 1835, Graham, and by 1837, Stanley were in contact with Peel.

By 1838, they were working together in the House of Commons. Though this proves that Peel was a good leader by organising his party but brought about more bad relations between him and the Ultra Tories because they wanted him to oppose every Whig government measure which he failed to withhold by supporting the Irish Church Reform Bill. Peel's efforts to broaden support for the Tories trying to gain support for middle classes was through the restructuring of the Party nationwide through F. R. Bonham (the first electorate agent). Bonham proved indispensable in organising the Party.

He identified suitable candidates for constituencies, got them to run for their seats and encouraged the newly enfranchised to register their votes. The main aim was to 'turn the Tory Party off one particular class, into the conservative Party of the nation' (N. Gash). It was however a good idea, and showed how Peel was trying to make some effect on strengthening the party, however failing. Despite Peels efforts to make the Party less dogmatic and standoffish, a careful analysis of 1841 election illustrates that the newly franchised middle class voted for the Whigs, not the Conservatives, as Peel had hoped.

The 'Bed Chamber Crisis' of 1839 also weakened the relations between Peel and the Ultra Tories. In 1839 Lord Melbourne resigned over a crisis concerning the Jamaican constitution, the young Queen Victoria called upon Peel to form a ministry. His supporters were delighted that such an opportunity had presented itself at exactly the right time in the new party's development. Peel, aware of the need for a public show of confidence from the Queen, demanded the removal of some, if not all, of the women holding household posts at court.

These posts were currently held by the wives of leading Whig noblemen and had been personal appointments of the outgoing Prime Minister, Melbourne. The Queen, who had never liked Peel refused, Norman Gash claimed, her hostility on the issue 'was because she was losing her minister, not her ladies'. In the event, Peel made the decision in turning down the opportunity, allowing the final two years of Melbourne's ministry. The Ultra's were increasingly frustrated because they wanted to be back in power and they were angry at Peel's cautious progressivism.

Peels effectiveness as leader of the Conservatives between 1834-41 is questionably and the quote 'everything turns on the name of Peel'- P. Adelman is inaccurate as the election results in 1841 showed that the electorate were voting for the established principles of Old Toryism, rather than those of New Conservatism. The newly franchised middle classed did not overwhelmingly vote for Peel, as he had thought. He was returned to power, based not on the new polices he had established, but rather on the old principles example protectionism, that he had tried to distance himself from.