The division between the political concerns of the Liverpool masses and the elite was never more evident than during the late 1840s. The social control of the elite, achieved by their monopoly of political and economic power, was seldom challenged. Political leaders attempted to mobilize popular support and, as a consequence, develop more open political machinery. The Conservatives made the most of the ‘Papal aggression’ crisis to unite the party, and they still held the upper hand in political organisation. The restoration of the party competition in the 1850s coincided with the increased importance of national issues and the decline of the local controversies over rating and the supply of water. The Liberal Party on the whole took a very moralistic view not just of bribery, but also of all forms of treating. The Liberal party held special meetings to discuss their future role in the council but no firm decision was reached.