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Parliamentary Reform
1780 - 1886…read more

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1785 ­ Pitt towards reform
There were obvious defects in the old voting system, with
only 11% of adult men having the vote. Plus, there was a lack
of representation in the Midland, the North and Wales and
over representation in `rotten' boroughs and the South.
Voting was conducted in public and openly recorded and
Pitt attempted to respond to this in 1785 by trying to make
limited changes, like abolishing small boroughs and
extending the vote to long-term tenants.
Pitt's attempt was rejected in the Commons because of
political self interest, as the existing system benefitted the
Tories and ensured they continued to hold government
power ­ Tories could control the overwhelming number of
borough seats and dissolving rotten boroughs would weaken
their power.…read more

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1829 ­ Catholic Emancipation
Outside pressures from Catholic Association and Daniel
O'Connell in the County Clare Election, threatening a civil
war in Ireland and even revolution. Plus, the Swing Riots
were causing unrest in Britain.
To prevent a civil war, Peel introduced the bill in the
Commons, where Wellingtion bullied the Lords into
passing it, causing internal pressure.
Political self interest, as a revolution would threaten
Whigs saw a way to gain power, as Tories eventually split
on the matter in 1830…read more

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Up to 1830 ­ Repressive policies
The French Revolution has a massive impact on resistance to
reform for the Tories up to 1830.
Fear of a revolution in Britain turned Pitt against reform in
1790s and into a period of repression, due to the fact they
couldn't cope with a war and a revolution
Economic problems after the war, 1815-20 under Liverpool's
government, caused widespread demands outside
parliament for reform ­ Spa Fields 1816 and Peterloo 1819
The Tory government stood firm against reform, again
introducing repressive policies to prevent a revolution ­
Political self interest, as a revolution threatened parliament
Political self interest for Radical, as they starting spreading
ideas of utilitarianism and drawing on the hardships of the
working classes to encourage unrest…read more

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1832 ­ The Great Reform Act
Internal pressures, as the Tories had split over Catholic Emancipation, so
Whigs could introduce the bill. Radical ideas were becoming mainstream
and the death of George IV allowed it to be passed.
Outside pressure, as there was still a fear of revolution. The Whigs
believed further repression may provoke it. Unrest across the country
through the Swing Riots and the Days of May 1832
Political self interest, as the change to the system would benefit the
Whigs, as they could gain votes off the new voters, plus it would fulfil
Whig principle to achieve moderate parliamentary reform.
Social change, as the creation of an industrial middle-class, who were
starting to get a voice, could no longer be ignored. So, the Whigs
reformed enough to keep the respectable middle-classes on the
government's side and separate them from the working-classes.
1832 reform act aimed to exclude urban industrial workers and
agricultural labourers by setting the borough franchise at £10 ratepayers
Jeremy Bentham and his radical ideas started to become mainstream ­
uniting m/c and w/c.…read more

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1838-1850 ­ Chartism
A response to economic hardship due to unemployment and lower
wages through the introduction of machines. Also, a response to
unfair 1832 Reform Act.
The working-classes and radicals response did generate a lot of
outside pressure, but no immediate effect on the political system.
It did focus public attention of the appalling hardships of working-
classes, influencing many social and economic reforms by Peel, but
no parliamentary reforms
The way the Chartists were peaceful during their protests, changed
the upper classes view of the working-classes.
In the 1850s and 60s social change occurred, where respectable
trade unions and successful working-class self-help schemes
convinced politicians, like Russell and Gladstone, that they could
justify giving the vote to some working-class men.…read more

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