1. SHORT LIVED GOVERNMENTS
- Four Prime Ministers in 2 years was TOO MUCH CHANGE. People were crying out for stability.
- The King had made it clear that he wanted Pitt as Prime Ministers. MP's were always looking out for PATRONAGE so they GAVE PITT A CHANCE.
- Pitt LEARNED FROM THE MISTAKES of other Prime Ministers and LEARNT HOW FOX WORKED.
- Fox emerged as a POWER-HUNGRY OPPORTUNIST - people didn't like him.
Failure in the war with America.
Rockingham March - June 1782
Shelburne June 1782 - Feb 1783
Fox ruined him
Portland March - Dec 1783
King ruined him
Fox was desperate to be Prime Minister but the King's dislike for him meant this never happened.
2. STRONG FIRST IMPRESSION
- His father was remembered as a STRONG PRIME MINISTER.
- Many people knew he put the COUNTRY BEFORE PERSONAL GAIN and he "RADIATED POSITIVITY".
- Pitt was seen as the opposite of Fox - HONEST AND MORAL.
- He SPLIT/WEAKENED THE OPPOSITION and Robinson bribed people to side with Pitt.
- The King supported Pitt so many were SCARED TO OPPOSE HIM.
- He was young and fresh - he had an UNTARNISHED REPUTATION.
- The KING'S FRIENDS supported Pitt. (One hundred MP's who always voted as the King wished.)
3. THE 1784 ELECTION
The 1784 election gave Pitt a majority as it was a huge victory, and MP's were impressed by his achievements. Pitt put the election off so it gave people a chance to see that he would be a success.
4. THE REGENCY CRISIS
- Pitt GAINED THE SUPPORT OF THE PUBLIC by defending their King's postion (the prince of Wales was unpopular).
- He also gained EVEN MORE SUPPORT FROM THE KING - he was impressed at how vigorously Pitt had defended him.
- Fox emerged as a POWER-HUNGRY OPPORTUNIST and people disliked him even more, so he lost support.
THE REGENCY CRISIS
- In 1788 King George III fell ill and was declared mad. It seemed likely he would die. This was bad news for Pitt as his support from th King was important.
- Fox immediately called for an unrestricted Regency, giving George IV (a close friend of Fox's) complete power, despite the fact that he had been calling for a reduction in the Monarch's power for years.
- Pitt resisted demands for a Regency bill at first, but was eventually pressured into framing one. However it restricted the power of the regency to prevent George IV filling parliament with his favourites. However, in 1789 the King suddenly recovered, so there was no need for a Regency bill.
5. THE INDIA ACT
- Pitt showed he was NOT POWER-HUNGRY as he did not gain personally from his solution.
- He did NOT OFFEND THE KING OR PARLIAMENT with his solution.
- He showed Fox as INCAPABLE as Prime Minister as he had failed to resolve the India Problem when he had attempted to.
THE INDIA ACT
- By the 1780's the East India Company (a British trading company which had grown to have political power in India) was close to bankruptcy. Britain could not afford to lose influence here especially after losing the US colonies.
- When Portland was PM (1783) Fox had pushed to create a London based Board of Control to take the reins of the company.
- Fox said that parliament rather than the King would select men to work on this prestigious Board. Parliament would have power that the King could not interfere with. This is why the King "encouraged" the House of Lords to reject the idea.
- Pitt decided to sort out the India problem as soon as he became Prime Minister. A London based Board of Control would be created but the company itself would select who worked on it.
6. ECONOMIC STABILITY
Pitt wanted to achieve economic stability through:
Pitt was particularly good with finance which is why he was confident with his economic solutions. This is also why he appointed himself to be in charge of the country's finances.
ECONOMIC STABILITY: TRADE
- He reduced IMPORT DUTIES on products no produced in Britain. The duty on SUGAR was reduced from 119% to 20%, TEA from 100% to 12.5%. Smuggling therefore became less profitable. The cost of living in Britain fell.
- He made TREATIES with countries allowing their goods to enter Britain at preferential rates as long as Britain enjoyed similar privileges, eg. THE EDEN TREATY WITH FRANCE.
- Pitt introduced BONDED WAREHOUSES at British parts in which, under government guard, goods could be stored such as tobacco, spices, furs meant for re-export.
- THE HOVERING ACT of 1787 said that any ship not actually coming into a British port had to sit 12 miles out from shore, making smuggling more difficult.
ECONOMIC STABILITY: FINANCE
- He introduced NEW TAXES ON LUXURIES such as racehorses, carriages, hair powder, wigs, servants and windows.
- He REORGANISED THE CUSTOM AND EXCISE SYSTEM so the one tax was applied to all items.
- He REORGANISED THE INTERNAL TAX SYSTEM. There were many different accounts for many different taxes, which led to stealing. In 1786, Pitt set up the Consolidated Fund so all taxes were put here and spending taken from it.
ECONOMIC STABILITY: RETRENCHMENT
- SINECURES were gotten rid of. (MP's who were paid to do nothing).
- THE SINKING FUND helped reduce debt. Pitt put £1m into a savings account every year to attempt to get rid of the country's debt. There was limited access to it to prevent stealing. By 1793, the national debt had been reduced by £10m.
7. FOREIGN POLICY
- THE NAVY
- Pitt appointed Admiral Lord Howe to revive the British Navy, which was in a very poor state. He wanted to make the Navy something Britain could be proud of. By 1788, the Navy had 90 ships ready for action.
- BRITAIN'S REPUTATION IN EUROPE
- Britain was a "friendless" country when Pitt came to power - resented for it's imperial expansion and many thought it was a fading power after the loss of America.
- In 1787, France attempted to take over Holland, and Pitt threw his full support behind Prussia when they tried to defend Holland. The Prussians successfully got rid of the French and Britain regained respect and a powerful alliance with Prussia and Holland.
FOREIGN POLICY (CONTINUED)
- Nootka Sound
- In 1789, Spanish forces attempted to seize a small British settlement on the coast of Canada called Nootka Sound. Pitt sent 37 battleships and demanded the Spanish leave Nootka Sound, leave the American coast free from Spanish colonisation & pay Britain compensation. The Spanish gave in and Britain regained some respect.
- Pitt tried to attack Russia but was attacked in the commons by Fox and gave in.
Pitt's foreign policy helped him dominate because he regained respect for Britain thus increasing support.
8. WARREN HASTINGS AFFAIR
- Governer General of Bengal.
- Accused of being tyrannous, faithless and extortionate.
The King wanted Hastings to be let off, but determined to prove he was not the King's puppet, he ensured Hastings had a fair trial. This showed he believed in justice and was not being controlled by the King.
9. CONTENTIOUS REFORMS
- POLITICAL REFORM
- Proposed a bill to give MPs to industrial towns, eg. Manchester, Leeds.
- Aimed to extend the franchise by 30%
PLANS REJECTED BY THE COMMONS 248/174
- REFORM OF SLAVERY
- In 1791, Pitt tried to improve conditions on slave ships.
- Two more bils were proposed which would have completely abolished slavery.
PLANS WERE REJECTED BY THE COMMONS
Fear of losing his majority saw him drop future plans
CONTENTIOUS REFORMS (CONTINUED)
- Roman Catholic Emancipation
- Pitt passed the Catholic Relief Act in 1792;
- Wealthy Catholics are now allowed to vote
- Catholics could now be lawyers.
- Pitt passed the Catholic Relief Act in 1792;
Pitt showed he had the ability to dismiss or shelve plans that were unpopular, that he cared about Britain, he was imaginative and creative and he managed to retain the King's support.
10. WEAKNESS OF THE WHIGS
- Internal problems
- The King despised Fox and used patronage keep Pitt in power.
- Fox's reputation was tarnished due to the Warren Hasting's affair, the India bill, the Regency crisis and his behaviour in the short-lived governments.
- Foxite Whigs were never united. They wanted varying levels of reform in varying areas.
WEAKNESS OF THE WHIGS
- THE FRENCH REVOLUTION
- Split the Foxite Whigs; Fox, Sheridan and Whitbread supported the overthrow of King Louis XVI and refused to criticise the violence. Burke, Windham and Portland disapproved of the working classes seizing power in France and feared revolution could spread to Britain.
- It tarnished Fox further. He continually showed his support for the French Revolution and made no secret of it that he wanted revolution in Britain.
- Boosted Pitt's majority; Pitt seized the opportunity to humiliate Fox by offering important government jobs to disaffected Foxites.