Why are Conservatives called Tories? Origin of the Conservative Party nickname explained - and is it an insult
Many people refer to the Conservative Party as the Tories, but contrary to popular belief the name is not an abbreviation of Conservative
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Many people refer to the Conservative Party as the Tories, but contrary to popular belief the name is not an abbreviation of Conservative.
The nickname is popularly used in the press, with some Conservatives even identifying with it themselves.
However, it can be used in a derogitory way, with others feeling uncomfortable with its use.
But where did the term come from and why is it still used today? Here’s everything you need to know.
What does the word Tory mean?
The name Tory or Tories goes back further than the actual creation of the Conservative Party, with its origin dating back to the 1600s.
The word Tory comes from the Irish Gaeilge word tóraidhe, which means outlaw.
However the name has other meanings, with the Irish Post saying it was used by Irish people to describe anyone who had been forced to steal, after being evicted from their homes by English settlers.
Why are Conservatives called Tories?
The name was first used around 1679 during the Exclusion Crisis, which occurred when parliament was trying to find a suitable successor for King Charles II.
Two separate parties in parliament could not agree on who would be next in line to the throne, as Charles’ heir, his brother James, was a catholic and the current religion in England at the time was Church of England thanks to Henry VIII.
The largest party at the time, who were called the Whigs, did not believe a catholic should be king, whilst the opposing group, who called themselves the Tories, decided to go against the grain and back him.
The Tories eventually got their way and James was crowned King of England in 1685, reigning until 1688.
The party kept the name the Tories up until they disbanded in the 1700s.
They later reformed in 1834 as the Conservative Party, however the previous name has followed them.
Is the word Tory an insult?
Although the term Tory could be an insult if you speak Irish Gaeilge, it is generally not seen in that way today, with many using it as a shortened version for members of the Conservative Party.
The media often use the word Tory when writing about the Conservatives in news articles both online and in print, purely because it saves valuable space.
Conservative MPs and party members also choose to call themselves tories, identifying with the name.
But that is not always the case, with some feeling the name is still used in a derogatory way.
In an interview with BBC in 2015, former Conservative MP Sarah Wollaston said: “When people call me a Tory they’re often doing so pejoratively: if they’re being nice they’re more likely to call me a Conservative".