Lord Bolingbroke’s theory of party and opposition

Max Skjoensberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)


Bolingbroke has been overlooked by intellectual historians in the last few decades, at least in comparison with ‘canonical’ thinkers. This article examines one of the most important but disputable aspects of his political thought: his views on political parties and his theory of opposition. It aims to demonstrate that Bolingbroke's views on party have been misunderstood and that it is possible to think of him as an advocate of political parties rather than the ‘anti-party’ writer he is commonly known as. It has been suggested that Bolingbroke prescribed a state without political parties. By contrast, this article seeks to show that Bolingbroke was in fact the promoter of a very specific party, a systematic parliamentary opposition party in resistance to what he perceived as the Court Whig faction in power. It will also be argued that Bolingbroke at no time envisaged a final end to political conflict and that his opposition party should not be interpreted as a party to end all parties.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)947-973
JournalThe Historical Journal
Issue number4
Early online date18 Apr 2016
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2016


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