A variety of circumstances brought Lord Grey and the Whigs into office at the end of 1830.1 One was that the death of George IV in the previous spring had removed the royal ban on the Whigs. William IV was happy to work with them (he was, indeed, to be of signal service in getting the great reform bill on to the statute books). Another was that the elections of 1830, which, as the law then stood, were required by the accession of a new monarch, had revealed a strong current of anti-government sentiment in the most open constituencies and had brought gains to the opposition. Party ties were still too indistinct for a general election to determine the fate of a government at once (the first government to resign immediately after a general election rather than test its strength in parliament was Disraeli’s in 1868) and the Duke of Wellington and his ministers remained in office to meet the new parliament. The government ranks were, however, in a sorry state. The Tory Party, held together by Lord Liverpool for fifteen years, had disintegrated into three groups — the Canningites (whom the bulk of the party had refused to act with during Canning’s short-lived government in 1827), the regular supporters of Peel and Wellington, and the ultras (estranged from the party leaders by Wellington’s decision to turn round on his public statements and preside over the passing of the act of Roman Catholic emancipation).
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