Reform

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  • The 1832 Reform Act: Concession or genuine desire for democracy?
    • Concession to prevent revolution
      • Anthony Wood
        • In favour of the opinion that the main factor that influenced the passing of the Reform Bill was the threat of revolution
        • Mention of October 1831, when Britain came so close to violent revolution.
          • Nottingham - castle belonging to the Duke of Newcastle was burnt
          • Derby - Prison broken into and prisoners released
          • Bristol - Mobs set fire to the jails, the town halls and the bishop's palace
      • Bruce Morrison
        • Elites make concessions to improve democracy when faced with the threat of revolution
        • 1829 - emergence of popular reform organisations
        • Revolutionary movements in Europe, especially France in by 1830
        • Necessary to pass reform as previously 'skittish' reform groups now gained confidence seeing the impacts across England and Europe of small-scale riots.
    • Improving democracy
      • John A Phillip and Wetherel
        • Tories embraced the reforms as a step towards better representation and an aversion of an ugly political system
        • The previous electoral system only gave the vote-holders little more than a theoretical voice in parliament.
        • Not so much a concession, the revolutions influenced the passing of the bill as the king felt it necessary to create more peers.
          • Without this, the Lords may have continued to vote the bill down, despite the 'threat' of revolution
        • Long term changes and shifts in democratic attitudes as a result.
      • Trygve R. Tholfsen
        • Far from revolting against the elites, the working class began to build a relationship with the other classes and provided an important social role.
        • The Reform Bills 'gradually democratised a long established system of representativegovernment'
    • D.G. Wright
      • Some elements of revolution were present, however, most of this violence was non-political
      • Benthamite radicals would suggest to the government that the public were ready to revolt, but were in fact fairly ignorant.
      • Peel believed these smaller reforms would lead to more drastic reform, which would 'inevitably culminate in democracy'

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