GRA (UP) - Medium to Long term results of the Act


Impact on the middle class

  • Membership of the Commons saw no change
  • The aim of splitting the m/c and w/c was achieved because many m/c men were enfranchised (e.g. small-scale business men, shopkeepers, some craftsmen)

But...there was no immediate sharp rise in m/c MPs in Parliament

  • Local politics was seen as more rewarding than central gvt
  • Most m/c could not afford to be an MP because there was no salary - this means that membership in Parliament mostly stayed the same, with the aristocracy continuing to have influence
  • Wealthy landowners still dominated, despite businessmen and industrialists coming in
  • 50 pocket boroughts remained and landowners nominated MP. This meant new tenant farmers with the vote felt obliged to support landowner's candidate
  • Position of the Lords remained unchanged and so Tory fears of being edged out of control were not relevant or justified at this moment in time 
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Impact on the power of the Commons and Lords


  • Were strengthened, as the crisis revealed how powerful a determined gvt with a Commons majority and backed by public opinion could be, which could overcome the opposition of the aristocracy and the monarchy.


  • Weakened a little. The abolition of rotten boroughs and reduction of pocket boroughs decreased their scope of exercising the powers of patronage in choosing representatives in the Commons

The aristocracy and landowning classes:

  • Still had a strong influence in Parliament. County MPs had to possess a landed estate of £600 so mostly everyone came from aristocracy. Without secret ballots, landlords continued to influence voters.
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Working Class betrayal

  • Working class members were bitter and disappointed at getting the vote and felt betrayed
  • Whigs did not deny that the £10 property qualification was designed to exclude lower classes from voting
  • The National Union (Atwood) claimed that the bill was a trick to keep power for the propertied and exclude lower classes
  • This led to further demands of reform and the emergence of the Trade Union and Chartist movements
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Effective Party Organisation

  • New registration of voters led to the formation of committees from both Tories and Whigs to keep electoral rolls up to date and ensure maximum support. These developed into local party organisations with party managers aware of public opinion. This meant a national party system strengthened
  • The est. of the Tory Carlton Club in 1832 and the Whig Reform Club in 1836 added to this trend
  • Whigs tended to win elections in SCOT, WAL, and IRL and gradually built up influence outside of southern counties. But independent MPs still had influence and local, not national, issues dominated constituencies
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Impact on Monarch's influence

  • Disappearance of rotten boroughs reduced Crown's influence on politics
  • Crisis revealed monarch's failure to ensure majority at a time of crisis, for William was forced to rely on Gret after Wellington failed to form gvt during the May Days Crisis 1832.
  • It showed a gvt could survive without Crown and Lord support, but not without the Commons
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Demand for future change

  • It was the first major breach of the 18th century constitution system
  • Starting point to democracy, even though Grey and the Whigs hadn't intended it
  • Much to the disappointment of Grey and Whigs, who hoped it would satisfy reform appetites and be final settlement, it led to further demand for parliamentary change.
  • Because of this, there were peaceful political changes which reformed Parliament in the upcoming years e.g. 1867, working class men in towns given the vote; 1918, women over 30 given the vote.
  • The Act also encouraged those arguing for other reform e.g. poor laws, mines, factories, local gvt
  • Overall, it disappointed many reformers at the time, but it was a major change because it opened the door to further reform, both political and social. Therefore, Peel was correct in preditcting this would be the start of change and Grey was wrong in his belief of using moderate reform to end all further reform.
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