Pressure for Parliamentary Reform 1780-1872

  • Created by: ktommo
  • Created on: 04-05-17 20:24
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  • Pressure for Parliamentary Reform 1780-1872
    • Problems with Electoral System
      • Pressure
        • Problems with the electoral system were a main motivator for Reform e.g. a limited franchise, dominance of aristocracy, lack of representation for industrial towns.
        • Increasing influence of M/C & industrial M/C (1832)
        • Increasing literacy and respectability of the skilled W/C (1867)
      • Limitations
        • Problems with the electoral system remained and Parliamentary Reform was piece-meal e.g. still no secret ballot until 1872.
        • Further Parliamentary Reform was required in 1884/5
    • Political Issues and Radical Press
      • Pressure
        • The revival of the Whigs and collapse of Tory Party was instrumental in the 1832 Reform Act.
        • The radical press helped identify political problems and make the link between economic distress, mis-govt and Parliamentary Reform.
        • Chartists used the radical press to spread their ideas e.g. Northern Star.
      • Limitations
        • The Tories consistently opposed Reform up to 1832.
        • Although radials appealed to the W/C they were often not of the W/C nor had the interests of the W/C in mind.
    • Popular Protest
      • Pressure
        • A fear of civil war or unrest in Ireland ensured Catholic Emancipation was passed by Peel and Wellington.
        • Popular Protest was instrumental in the passing of the 1832 Reform Act e.g. Days of May saw Lords back down from opposing Reform.
        • Swing Riots 1830-32 and Merthyr Rising 1831 added to  the fear of revolution  during the Reform Crisis.
        • Chartism helped to highlight many electoral grievances through high profile protests e.g. Kennington Common, Petitions, Newport Rising.
        • Hide Park Riots in 1866 were an influence on the passing of the 1867 Reform Act.
      • Limitations
        • Popular protest did not always ensure success e.g. revolutionary underground and chartism ultimately failed.
        • Debate over the possibility of Revolution in Britain in 1790s and 1830-32.
        • As the C19th developed popular protest became less important e.g. popular protest was less of an influence in 1867 than it had been in 1832.
    • Social
      • Pressure
        • Increasing economic and social influence of the industrial M/C in the early C19th (1832).
        • The emergence of the 'respectable working class' (1867)
        • Demands to reduce influence of landlords and corruption during elections (1872)
      • Limitations
        • W/C were excluded from the vote in 1832 Reform Act.
        • Landlord intimidation continued until the early C20th
    • Role of Individuals.
      • Pressure
        • Individuals helped ensure that Reform was passed e.g. Earl Grey and the 1832 Reform Act
        • Daniel O'Connell and the County Clare by-election was very significant in the passing of Catholic Emancipation as was the role of Peel and Wellington in getting it passed in parliament,
        • Gladstone's 'conversation' to Reform and Disraeli's ideas of 'Tory  Democracy' were a key motivator in the passing og 1867 Reform Act
        • John Bright was key to the passing of a Secret Ballot Act
      • Limitations
        • Fox's support for Parliamentary Reform in the 1790s did not ensure success.
        • Quite often directed at self-interest e.g. Earl Grey ensurede moderate Reform to preserve the dominance of the aristocracy.
        • Disraeli's ideas of 'Tory Democracy' can be questioned and his backing for Reform was more due to individual self-interest and opportunism.
        • Gladstone's 'conversion' to reform was misinterpreted to how he intended it to be.
        • Gladstone only conceded Secret Ballot Act 1872 as he wanted Bright in his cabinet. Gladstone was otherwise not in favour of a Secret Ballot.
    • Economic
      • Pressure
        • Reform often coincided with economic depression e.g. 1832 and 1867
        • Economic slumps contributed to popular protests = added to fear of revolution / social unrest
        • Merthyr Risng 1831 saw economic issues and Paliamentary Reform being contributed
        • Radical Press made the connection between economic depression, mis-govt and Parliamentary Reform 1812-22
      • Limitations
        • Despite unemployment in the 1790s, people continued to support the status quo.
        • Chartism was very much a 'Knife and Fork' question = mainly motivated by economic issues
        • Chartism can be seen as ultimately failing due to improving economy
    • International
      • Pressure
        • French Revolution 1789 gave momentum to radicalism in Britain and inspired attempts to try and introduce reform in 1790s
        • The French Revolution 1830 added to fears of revolution in Britain if Reform wasn't passed = 1832 Reform Act
        • Italian Unification and American Civil War influenced a mood in favour of Reform = 1867 Reform Act
      • Limitations
        • French Revolution 1789 ultimately had a negative effect as Reform became associated with revolution and being unpatriotic especially after war with France 1793 = no Reform in 1790s
        • Garibaldi was held up as a 'Democratic Hero' but this was not necessarily the case
    • Religion
      • Pressure
        • Religion was extremely important in the passing of Catholic Emancipation i.e.90% of Ireland was Catholic. Catholic Emancipation opened the  way for 1832 Reform Act
        • Growing influence of Non-conformists throughout the 1790-1867 period = non-conformists held radical beliefs
      • Limitations
        • Catholic Emancipation took a long time to be passed = held up Parliamentary Reform
        • Tories changed voting qualification in Irish counties from £2 to £10 = a negative consequence

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