Why where the Whigs out of power for quite such a long time between the 1760s and 1830? Then, how did they stay in power for quite so long after 1830, with only a couple of Tory blips in more than half a century until 1885? Put another way, how does a useless, fractious, unpopular and seemingly purposeless political party transform itself so radically in opposition that it comes to win consecutive elections, form many governments, and utterly dominate the national scene with perfect confidence for two generations? If you - like Michael Howard - wish to know the answer to these questions, then read William Hay's superb analysis of the early-nineteenth-century Whig revival, which is replete with modern-day political messages.
The three very long premierships of Lord North (1770-82), William Pitt the Younger (1783-1801 and 1804-6) and Lord Liverpool (1812-27) meant that the aristocratically interconnected family network that was the Whig party was kept out of power for