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The Waning of "Old Corruption": the Politics of Economical Reform in Britain, 1779-1846

by Harling, Philip A

The Waning of
  • ISBN: 9780198205760
  • ISBN10: 0198205767

The Waning of "Old Corruption": the Politics of Economical Reform in Britain, 1779-1846

by Harling, Philip A

  • List Price: $150.00
  • Binding: Hardcover
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press
  • Publish date: 05/01/1996
  • ISBN: 9780198205760
  • ISBN10: 0198205767
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Description: Most historians of Britain now take for granted that a narrow and mostly landed elite managed to retain its social supremacy throughout much of the nineteenth century. But as yet, there is no thorough explanation for the persistence of the old elite's political authority in an age when that authority was seriously questioned by many Britons. In this original study, Philip Harling furnishes an important part of this explanation. He argues that the mostly Pittite governing elite helped to allay the suspicions of parasitism at the root of the familiar critique of 'Old Corruption' by responding to intense pressure to sanitize government. They did this by reducing and redistributing the tax burden; by eliminating serious administrative abuses such as the grant of lucrative sinecures and unmerited pensions; and by ostentatiously dedicating themselves to public business rather than the pursuit of wasteful privileges for themselves and their hangers-on. If the frugal, liberal state that partly resulted from these reforms was scarcely capable of ameliorating social injustice, at least it could no longer be seen to contribute to it through favouritism and a heavy and inequitable tax load. Such a state was well-suited for the preservation of a narrow ruling elite.
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