Peel’s Irish policy went against his party principal’s through out his career. The Tory party had many landowners in Ireland who wanted to protect their interests in Ireland. This included exploiting the Catholic’s, Peel also supported the Tories against catholic emancipation, but when an uprising threatened Ireland he brought the catholic emancipation act through the commons. He was considered a traitor and untrustworthy by the ultra Tories for the rest of his career.
The Tories also believed that the Church of England should be completely protected from the catholic faith, as they did not want any outside influence from the Pope in Rome. The Catholic priests however controlled a lot of public opinion in Ireland, and they were preaching against the act of Union with the rest of Britain. Peel tried to reconcile the Catholic public to the act of union, but realised that without the support of the catholic priests it would never succeed. So he created the Maynooth grant to provide money to educate the catholic priests, making them support the act of union, helping to change public opinion.
The extreme Tories however were not pleased with this, they believed that any money spent on religion should be spent in the Church of Ireland, the Irish branch of the Church of England, rather than on the catholic faith. This made Peel very unpopular with his own party. Peel also tried to set up the Devon commission to look at the land tenure in Ireland; it recommended improvements in the living conditions of the Catholic’s in Ireland. However the House of Lords rejected it. Peel also believed that the best way to help the poor and under privileged was to create a country with, low unemployment and more highly paid jobs.
The country also had a national dept of two million pounds. Something had to be done so peel set up income tax. Income tax taxed people in relation to their income. So the rich landed class were taxed more than the poor people who could not afford the high taxes. The scheme was so successful that it solved the problem of national dept; it also provided enough money to reduce trade tariffs, lowering the taxes on exports to other countries, increasing trade. However this was not very popular with all of his party. Some of them disliked having to pay more in taxes than they had done previously.
Many of the ultra Tories disliked peel for his policy on the foreign imports of sugar. Several of his party believed that the taxes should be raised on theses foreign imports to protect the colonial imports, many of the colonial sugar cane farms were owned by members of the Tory party, but peel rejected it and said it was unfair to tax one set of imports and not another. Peel could easily have compromised in the situation satisfying the members of his party, but he did not. Peel was also a man who had problems communicating.
This may have been out of shyness or it may have been because he was a haughty man who did not like talking to people who he believed were beneath him, such as his own back benchers. He was also stubborn, as in the sugar cane situation if he compromised it may have saved him a lot of problems. Peel’s economic policy of creating a country cheep for living, by striping away taxes, made many of the Tories afraid that he would remove the corn laws. Many of the Tories were rich farm owners; they believed that the Corn Laws protected their income from foreign imports of corn.
The Corn Laws were a set of laws that were created to protect the profits of farmers against foreign imports. They taxed all foreign imports of corn making the cheep foreign corn far more expensive. This meant that they could sell more of their own corn for less than foreign farmers and still make a large profit. Peel however had been cutting the taxes on all foreign imports with the exception of the corn taxes. Many of the Tories believed that the Corn Laws would be the next to be removed.
Peel also sent some people to find out how much corn was in the foreign stocks, they found that there was very little foreign corn to flood the British market. This meant that the Corn Laws were pointless, as they didn’t really do any thing to the price of Corn in Britain. A group of people also formed a group called the Anti Corn Law League. They were opposed to the Corn Laws and they set up mass demonstrations, and whipped up support from their cause by posting letters in newspapers. They were a radical group who frightened Peel.
He hated it; they were a non-government organisation that did not go through parliament, so Peel decided they must be stopped. They also stated all the things that peel believed about the Corn Laws. Peel decided that the most efficient way to remove them would be by carrying out their demands that the corn laws should be removed, however he could not just remove them, he needed an excuse. That excuse came from the new problem in Ireland, which was the massive famine. A large potato blight had wiped out all the potato crops in Ireland removing the only source of food for most of the Irish people.
Peel said he could not support a law that increased food prices in such circumstances, so he removed the Corn Laws. This was probably only an excuse, as the people of Ireland did not use corn in their food only potatoes, Peel also knew that the corn prices would not be changed by the removal of the Corn laws. Members of his party also pointed out that he could have temporarily suspended the laws rather than completely remove them. So many of the people of his party were very annoyed. Many of his party also joined with Disraeli in protest against Peel. Peel however did do many things to promote his party.
Peel inherited a party that had no real policies, this meant no one new what the Tory party stood for, except that the party stood for the past and did not want change, this was a very narrow minded attitude to take especially as the middle classes had just been given the vote, the party was also divided into several parts. To solve these problems Peel made the Tamworth manifesto which clearly stated what he believed the party should stand for. The manifesto tried to take into account the beliefs of both sides of the party while making it clear that the party stood for moderate – sensible reform.
Peel also made it clear he would use sensible opposition. This was supporting a Whig idea or policy if he believed it was a good idea and would benefit the country. When Peel became head of the Tory party he had to win the vote of the new middle class voters. This was difficult because the Tory party had fought against the Reform bill; the bill that had given the middle classes the vote, being introduced. Peel realised that if the Tories wanted any chance of being voted in at the next election he would have to gain the support of the middle classes. He did this by saying he would not change or repeal the reform bill.
He said this in the Tamworth manifesto he also said this would be the last parliamentary reform. The Tamworth manifesto also stated he wanted to unite all property interests in defence of the constitution. This included men of industry and commerce. This would allow an increase in trade pleasing the middle classes. The Tamworth manifest was designed to attract the vote of the middle classes and at the same time appease the extreme Tories. So from inheriting a party that was divided and stood no chance success in an election, he turned it into a successful opposition that eventually won the election in 1841.
Peel did do things to support his party but he did more in support of the country. In several cases such as the Corn Laws he evidently placed the need of the country before the need of his party, So the original question how far did Peel put country before party, can be answered by saying that Peel put the country before the party if he believed that the party principals were compromising the needs of the country. This can be seen that he went so far in protecting the needs of the country that his party was split and destroyed, and didn’t return to office for a generation.