Politics in Britain at the end of the eighteenth century was described as the “Old Corruption”. The state was, at every level, in the hands of the great landowners and their allies. It was used to serve their interests, to protect their wealth and privilege, and they ruthlessly pillaged it to further enrich themselves. Place and position were wholly at their disposal. What made all this possible was the enormous scale of social and economic inequality. This Old Corruption came under sustained assault from a number of directions in the course of the nineteenth century.