British history is lined with individuals, moments and situations which have always provided the inspiration for us, no matter our geographical location, to defeat difficult circumstances.
Today the left seeks to demonise British history because of their ignorance, absence of proper knowledge or desire to erase the foundations which have provided us with the society we live in today.
However, the great values, moral competence and selfless actions of men such as Sir Robert Peel could never be erased especially at a time when they can provide the inspiration we need to defeat the prevailing Pandemic.
Sir Robert Peel, regarded as the founder of the Conservative Party served twice as British Prime Minister 1834–1835 and 1841–1846 while also serving as Home Secretary.
Sir Robert, although the son of a wealthy textile manufacturer, always enacted a vision which was based on improving the lives of those around him, even if it meant eroding his own personal or political standing as we saw with the repeal of the Corn Laws in 1846.
The Covid-19 Pandemic has led to significant hardships, economic burdens and social turmoil throughout the world. What it couldn’t grab intangible elements, it stole via the intangible such as hope and belief.
Leadership across the world, despite the strength of their economic systems, are called to adapt to the new normal. However, the life and leadership of Sir Robert Peel can provide some insight as to how we can defeat this Pandemic.
Peel’s innovation for one is an element which Government’s should seek to follow. In 1829, viewing the need to have some form of protection for possible unrest, uprising as well as crime, Peel would form London’s first-ever Metropolitan Police force. Today we all enjoy the protection of the Police thanks to Peel’s recognition that some form of advancement was needed to protect society.
Like Peel did in 1829, governments and world bodies must now look at innovative measures by which they can get economies, businesses and citizens back on track after this colossal hit of the Pandemic.
One of the most admirable aspects of Peel’s leadership was his ability to separate his personal beliefs for the greater good. Peel was once heavily against Catholic emancipation and one of the main critics to the point he was even called “Orange Peel”. Peel’s Anglican convictions led to his refusal to join Canning’s government in 1827 as he understood support for the Anglican Church was the life-blood of Toryism. The Tories believed that there could be no yielding over the central rights of the Established Church.
However, by 1828 Peel started to realise that the only way to protect peace and prevent any uprising from the strong Catholic movement was to ensure that they were emancipated as well as included. Peel put duty before principle and in February 1829 proposed the Catholic Emancipation Bill to an astounded House of Commons. After all, for the past twenty years, Peel had been the one man who had consistently opposed the measure.
If World leaders are to successfully defeat this Pandemic they must put national duty before personal principles as Peel did.
Peel’s most defining moment in his career was a bittersweet moment as it marked the moment that his career ended. Within the first two years of the Great Irish Famine (1845/46) deaths began to rise at an alarming rate given the massive food shortage. One of the only ways in which food could be provided would be lowering tariffs and protection on imports, but this was widely opposed by the majority of MPS on the Conservative bench.
Sir Robert Peel opted to stand against the members of his party, he chose to put his career on the line by uniting with the Opposition Whigs to repeal the Corn Laws. Not only did Peel ensure possible ease to the starvation but at that moment he created the foundation for free-trading Britain. Peel would soon be defeated by his own Conservative Members and Whigs in the Commons months after, forcing his resignation and end of his political career.
The only way Governments can protect citizens and protect their prosperity emerging out of this Pandemic is to make decisions which even though against their politics but are in line with saving lives as Peel did.
Our Pandemic world needs a Sir Robert Peel.