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The term Tory is a shortened alternative for Conservative in the sense of the United Kingdom Conservative Party, for which a valid alternative name is the Tory party. A similar usage for Tory exists in Canada to describe the Progressive Conservative Party. It was also used during the American Revolutionary War to refer to British Loyalists in the colonies.

Currently this term is considered to be derogatory by many Conservatives since many UK voters associate it with uncomplimentary recollections of the governments of Margaret Thatcher and John Major. "Tory" is unlikely to fall from common usage, however, since newspapers find it too useful as an alternative for "Conservative" when space is limited.


The term originates from the Exclusion Bill[?] crisis of 1678-1681 - the Whigs (initially a insult - whiggamor, a cattle driver) were those who supported the exclusion of James II of England, James VII and II from the thrones of England, Ireland and Scotland (the "Petitioners"), and the Tories (from an Irish term for an outlaw) were those who opposed it (the Abhorrers).

Discredited by its hostility and suspected disloyalty to the new Hanoverian dynasty installed in 1714, and deprived of its principal political raison d'etre by the collapse of organised opposition following the abortive Jacobite uprising of 1715, Toryism in its original form faded from the political scene, inaugurating half a century of Whig supremacy.

In the late eighteenth century the label of Tory came to be applied to believers in the right of Kings to determine the direction of the state rather than to act merely in accordance with the wishes of parliament, politicians and the powerful families who largely dominated the parliamentary system in the absence of universal suffrage, secret ballots and equal constituencies.

Applied by their opponents to Parliamentary supporters of the ministries of Lord North (1770-1782) and the younger William Pitt (1783-1801), the term came to represent the political current opposed to the Whigs and the radicalism unleashed by the American and French Revolutions.

Generally, the Tories were associated with lesser gentry and the Church of England, while Whigs were more associated with trade, money, larger land holders (or "land magnates"), expansion and tolerance. Both were still committed to the political system in place at that time. Neither group could be considered a true political party in the modern sense.

After becoming associated with repression of popular discontent in the years after 1815, the Tories underwent a fundamental transformation under the influence of Robert Peel, himself an industrialist rather than a landowner, who in his 1835 "Tamworth manifesto" outlined a new "Conservative" philosophy of reforming ills while conserving the good.

Though Peel's supporters subsequently split from their colleagues over the issue of free trade (1846), ultimately joining the Whigs to form what would become the Liberal Party, Peel's version of the party's underlying outlook was retained by the remaining Tories, who, led by the Earl of Derby and Benjamin Disraeli, adopted his label of Conservative as the official name of their party.

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