“For it was Conservatives in previous governments that ended the slave trade, that stopped children working in factories and gave them universal education. They gave equal votes to women and equal rights to disabled people.”
George Osborne, 5 October 2015
George Osborne has just made his keynote speech to delegates at the Conservatives’ annual conference in Manchester.
As well as unveiling new policies for the rest of this parliament, the chancellor took a moment to look back, saying the party should be proud of its reforming history – citing a list of achievements from the abolition of the slave trade to votes for women.
A useful lesson in political history – or an attempt to rewrite it?
William Wilberforce: Abolitionist MP… Conservative?
Abolition of slavery
Mr Osborne said: “..it was Conservatives in previous governments that ended the slave trade…”
The slave trade was outlawed in the British Empire in 1807, decades before the modern Conservative party was founded in the 1830s.
In 1807 British politics was dominated by the Tories – the fore-runners of the Conservatives – and their rivals the Whigs, the precursors of the Liberal Party.
The Slave Trade Act of 1807 was not passed by a Tory government. It was introduced by the Whig foreign secretary Charles James Fox and passed by a national unity government headed by Whig prime minister Lord Grenville, the so-called “Ministry of All the Talents”. (more…)