Author: Matthew Cragoe
Publisher: OUP Oxford
View: 6241Culture, Politics and National Identity in Wales 1832-86 offers the first comprehensive account of politics in the principality between the first and third reform acts. Based on a wealth of previously unused sources in both English and Welsh, and grounded firmly in recent scholarship on electioneering elsewhere in Britain, Cragoe challenges the existing narrative of political history in the principality. There was more to politics in Victorian Wales, he suggests, than the current focus on nonconformity and radical liberalism after 1860 allows. The book's focus on elections and election culture creates a natural context within which a wider spectrum of political opinion can be sampled. Cragoe examines the differing ideologies of the major political parties - Tory, Liberal and Radical - and then explores how these ideas were carried into the electoral arena through party organisation, campaigning, and propaganda. Later chapters examine some of the ways in which individuals were prevented from recording their true political opinions and the relationship between the unenfranchised and the political process. Throughout, politics is presented as a highly participatory process, one in which ideals and principles played a key role for both candidates and voters alike. It was into this world that the typically 'Welsh' style of radical politics, imbued with the values of militant dissent and armed with new conception of national identity, was born in the 1860s. Weaving that singular political phenomenon back into its contemporary setting and recognising the extent to which its ideas have monopolised modern accounts of Welsh political history, is the purpose of this stimulating and, at times, controversial book.