Great Reform Act (UP) - Opponents of Parliamentary Reform


The Tories

  • BR was wealthy and stable, so there was no need to change it. FRA had experimented with it and it ended in Terror and dictatorship
  • Although Burke was a conservative Whig, his conservative policies dominated Tory party ideas by the late 1820s. BR system would grow through natural evolution, for sudden unnatural reform would lead to revolution, anarchy and dictatorship
  • Small changes must be opposed for they encouraged extreme and dangerous change. Summed up in Peel quote
  • An aristocratic proprited governing class was best: no need to extend the franchise, for property ownership not voter numbers was key to system; MPs were representative of the entire nation and so all Britons were "virtually represented"; aristocracy were natural leaders as they best understood BR interests; reform would increase social tension but setting country against industry
  • Reform would damage constitutional balance
  • Vested interests: rotten and pocket boroughs provided essential ministers
  • Wellington was against it, and gave a speech saying it was a flawed system but the best in EUR.
1 of 5

King George IV

  • Opposed constitutional reform
  • Feared it could lead to more radical demands, revolution and chaos
2 of 5


  • Afraid their interests would be damaged if Commons was reformed and dominated by the m/c
  • Others were arguing against the repeal of the Corn Laws
3 of 5

Others with vested interests

  • Included corporation members and freemen voters who opposed extension and feared getting fewer bribes if electors increased
  • Rotten and small boroughs feared losing MPs and influence in the Commons
4 of 5

Why did opponents become less able to oppose it?

  • Tories: less able after their split and fall from power in 1830 -> Whigs want reform
  • Landowners: Economic slumps in countryside led to urban migration and Swing Riots and those remaining were unhappy. Those in urban areas may be enticed by Whig reform.
  • MPS: Mainly Tory
  • Monarchy: George IV was dead and William IV could get removed if there was a revolution
5 of 5


No comments have yet been made

Similar History resources:

See all History resources »See all Pitt to Peel resources »