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A Tory holds a political philosophy (Toryism) based on the traditionalism and conservatism originating with the Cavalier faction during the English Civil War (sometimes more scrupulously known as the "Wars of the Three Kingdoms"). This ideology is prominent in the politics of the United Kingdom, and also appears in parts of the Commonwealth, particularly in Canada. It also had exponents in parts of the former British Empire, such as the Loyalists of British America who opposed American independence during the American Revolutionary War. The Tory ethos has been summed up with the phrase 'God, King and Country.' Tories generally advocate monarchism, are usually of a High Church Anglican religious heritage, and are opposed to the radical liberalism of the Whig faction. Under the Corn Laws (1815-1846) a majority of Tories supported protectionist agrarianism with tariffs being imposed abroad at the time for sustainability, self-sufficiency and enhanced wages in rural employment.
The Tory political faction originally emerged within the Parliament of England to uphold the legitimist rights of James, Duke of York, to succeed his brother Charles II to the throne. James II was a Catholic, while the state institutions had broken from the Catholic Church—this was an issue for the Exclusion Bill supporting Patricians, the political heirs to the nonconformist Roundheads and Covenanters. There were two Tory ministries under James II; the first led by Lord Rochester, the second by Lord Belasyse. A significant faction took part in the ousting of James II with the Whigs to defend the Anglican Church or definitive protestantism. A large but dwindling faction of Tories held sympathy for Catholic Stuart heirs to the throne from the accession of the first Hanoverian monarch in 1714, many of which supported Jacobitism, the military campaigns of which saw them lost and castigated. Although only a minority of Tories gave their adhesion to the Jacobite risings, it was used by the Whigs to completely discredit the Tories and paint them as traitors. After the advent of the Prime Ministerial system under the Whig Robert Walpole, Lord Bute's premiership in the reign of George III marked a revival.
Conservatism emerged by the end of the 18th century—it synthesized moderate Whig economic positions and many Tory social values to create a new political ideology, in opposition to the French Revolution. Edmund Burke and William Pitt the Younger led the way in this. Daring interventionism and a strong military was to prove a hallmark of Toryism under subsequent Prime Ministers. Due to these Tories leading the formation of the Conservative Party, members of the party are colloquially referred to as Tories, even if they are not traditionalists. Actual adherents to traditional Toryism in contemporary times may be referred to as High Tories as the traditionalist conservative values of Toryism differ from that of the more liberal and cosmopolitan parts of the Conservative Party.
The word "Tory" derives from the Middle Irish word tóraidhe; modern Irish tóraí: outlaw, robber or brigand, from the Irish word tóir, meaning "pursuit", since outlaws were "pursued men". It was originally used to refer to an Irish outlaw and later applied to Confederates or Royalists in arms. The term was thus originally a term of abuse, "an Irish rebel", before being adopted as a political label in the same way as Whig.
Towards the end of Charles II's reign (1660–85) there was some debate about whether or not his brother, James, Duke of York, should be allowed to succeed to the throne. 'Whigs', originally a reference to Scottish cattle-drivers (stereotypically radical anti-Catholic Covenanters), was the abusive term directed at those who wanted to exclude James on the grounds that he was a Roman Catholic. Those who were not prepared to exclude James were labelled 'Abhorrers' and later 'Tories'. Titus Oates applied the term "Tory," which then signified an Irish robber, to those who would not believe in his Popish plot, and the name gradually became extended to all who were supposed to have sympathy with the Catholic Duke of York.
The suffix -ism was quickly added to both 'Whig' and 'Tory' to make Whiggism and Toryism, meaning the principles and methods of each faction.
Historically, the term Tory has been applied in various ways to loyalists of the British monarchy. The term was initially applied in Ireland to the isolated bands of guerrillas resisting Oliver Cromwell's nine-month 1649–1650 campaign in Ireland, who were allied with Royalists through treaty with the Parliament of Confederate Ireland, signed at Kilkenny in January 1649; and later to dispossessed Catholics in Ulster following the Restoration.
During the Exclusion Bill Crisis the word Tory was applied in England as a nickname to the opponents of the bill, called the Abhorrers. The word 'Tory' had connotations of Papist and outlaw derived from its previous use in Ireland.
English Tories from the time of the Glorious Revolution up until the Reform Bill of 1832 were characterized by strong monarchist tendencies, support for the Church of England, and hostility to reform, while the Tory Party was an actual organization which held power intermittently throughout the same period.
Since 1832, the term "Tory" is commonly used to refer to the Conservative Party and its members.
The term was used to designate the pre-Confederation British ruling classes of Upper Canada and Lower Canada, known as the Family Compact and the Château Clique, an elite within the governing classes, and often members within a section of society known as the United Empire Loyalists.
In post-Confederation Canada the terms "Red Tory" and "Blue Tory" have long been used to describe the two wings of the Conservative and previously the Progressive Conservative (PC) parties. The diadic tensions originally arose out of the 1854 political union of British-Canadian Tories, French-Canadian traditionalists, and the monarchist and loyalist leaning sections of the emerging commercial classes at the time - many of whom were uncomfortable with the pro-American and annexationist tendencies within the liberal Grits. Tory strength and prominence in the political culture was a feature of life in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, Ontario, and Manitoba.
By the 1930s, the factions within Canadian Toryism were associated with either the urban business elites, or with rural traditionalists from the country's hinterland. A "Red Tory" is a member of the more moderate wing of the party (in the manner of John Farthing and George Grant). They are generally unified by their adherence to British traditions in Canada.
Throughout the course of Canadian history, the Conservative Party was generally controlled by MacDonaldian Tory elements, which in Canada meant an adherence to the English-Canadian traditions of Monarchy, Empire-Commonwealth, parliamentary government, nationalism, protectionism, social reform, and eventually, acceptance of the necessity of the welfare state.
By the 1970s the Progressive Conservative Party was a Keynesian-consensus party. With the onset of stagflation in the 1970s, some Canadian Tories came under the influence of neo-liberal developments in Great Britain and the United States, which highlighted the policies for privatization and supply-side interventions. In Canada, these tories have been labeled neoconservatives - which has a somewhat different connotation in the US. By the early 1980s there was no clear neoconservative in the Tory leadership cadre, but Brian Mulroney, who became leader in 1983, eventually came to adopt many policies from the Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan governments.
As Mulroney took the Progressive Conservative Party further in this direction, with policy initiatives in the areas of deregulation, privatization, free-trade, and a consumption tax called the Goods and Services Tax (GST), many traditionally-minded Tories became concerned that a political and cultural schism was occurring within the party.
The 1986 creation of the Reform Party of Canada attracted some of the neo-liberals and social conservatives away from the Tory party, and as some of the neoconservative policies of the Mulroney government proved unpopular, some of the provincial-rights elements moved towards Reform as well. In 1993, Mulroney resigned, rather than fight an election based on his record after almost nine years in power. This left the PCs in disarray and scrambling to understand how to make toryism relevant in provinces such as Quebec, Saskatchewan, Alberta, and British Columbia that had never had a strong tory tradition and political culture.
Thereafter in the 1990s, the PCs were a small party in the Canadian House of Commons, and could only exert legislative pressure on the government through their power in the Senate of Canada. Eventually, through death and retirements, this power waned. Joe Clark returned as leader, but the schism with the Reformers effectively watered down the combined Blue and Red Tory vote in Canada.
By the late 1990s, there was talk of the necessity of uniting the right in Canada, to deter further Liberal majorities. Many tories - both red and blue - opposed such moves, while others took the view that all would have to be pragmatic if there was any hope of reviving a strong party system. The Canadian Alliance party (as the Reform Party had become), and some leading tories came together on an informal basis to see if they could find common ground. While Progressive Conservative Leader Joe Clark rebuffed the notion, the talks moved ahead and eventually in December 2003, the Canadian Alliance and the Progressive Conservative parties voted to rejoin into a new party called the Conservative Party of Canada.
After the merger of the PCs with the Canadian Alliance in 2003, there was debate as to whether the "Tory" appellation should survive at the federal level. Although it was widely believed that some Alliance members would take offence to the term, it was officially accepted by the newly merged party during the 2004 leadership convention. Stephen Harper, leader of the Conservative Party of Canada, and the Prime Minister as a result of the January 2006 election, regularly refers to himself as a Tory and has suggested that the new party is a natural evolution of the conservative political movement in Canada.
The term Tory or "Loyalist" was used in the American Revolution to include those who remained loyal to the British Crown. Since early in the 18th century, Tory had described those upholding the right of the King over Parliament. During the revolution, particularly after the Declaration of Independence in 1776 this use was extended to cover anyone who remained loyal to the British Crown. Those Loyalists who settled in Canada, Nova Scotia, or the Bahamas after the American Revolution are known as United Empire Loyalists.
In Texas 1832–36 support for the Texas Revolution was not unanimous. The "Tories" were men who supported the Mexican government. The Tories generally were long-term property holders whose roots were outside of the lower South. They typically had little interest in politics and sought conciliation rather than war or they withheld judgment from both sides. The Tories preferred to preserve the economic, political, and social gains that they enjoyed as citizens of Mexico, and the revolution threatened to jeopardize the security of their world.
In Britain after 1832 the Tory Party was officially replaced by the Conservative Party, and "Tory" has become shorthand for a member of the Conservative Party or for the party in general. Some Conservatives call themselves "Tory" and the term is common in the media, but deprecated by some media channels.
In Canada, the term "Tory" may describe any member of the Conservative Party of Canada, its predecessor party the Progressive Conservative Party of Canada, or any similarly named provincial party; the term is frequently used in contrast to "Grit", a shorthand for the Liberal Party of Canada.