Issue 1- an evaluation of the reasons why Britain became more democratic, 1851-1928. The 6 Factors



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Issue 1- An evaluation of the reasons why Britain became more democratic, 1851-1928.

The 6 Factors

  • Was it because of the influence of pressure groups (popular pressure)?
  • Was it because of the economic and social changes (industrialisation, urbanisation, communication)?
  • Was it because of the impact of WWI?
  • Was it because the political parties were passing reform to take political advantage over one another?
  • Was it because of foreign (international) influence?
  • Was it because the attitudes of politicians were changing?

You will create a hierarchy by deciding which arguments are the strongest, which are of moderate importance and which are of lesser importance, in leading to the spread of democracy in Britain.

  • You will create a hierarchy by deciding which arguments are the strongest, which are of moderate importance and which are of lesser importance, in leading to the spread of democracy in Britain.
  • Your KU marks will come from the examples you provide (I will make this clear)
  • Your analysis marks will come from your ability to argue why one factor is more important than another.

The Stronger Factors

  • The following factors have strong evidence to support the fact that they helped push Britain towards a democracy.
  • Social and Economic changes
  • Political parties attempting to gain political advantage over one another.
  • Which of them is more significant, is up to you to decide.

Before we begin…

  • Before 1851, what was the state of democracy in Britain?
  • -Only upper class, wealthy people could vote because voters required property to be able to vote.
  • -the middle class, working class and poor could not vote. Women could not vote.
  • -The House of Lords (unelected house) had equal power to the House of Commons (the elected house).
  • -There was widespread corruption and voting was done publicly.
  • Wealthy snobs in Britain believed that people less wealthy than them were ignorant and not deserving of the vote.
  • Who has the power to create democratic change and make Britain more fair?

Who were the two parties in Parliament?

  • What did each of the parties want in terms of democracy in Britain?

Social and Economic Changes

  • With the opening of factories, a new class emerged in Britain, which would become quite wealthy and educated.  the middle class.
  • How did this social change lead to the spread of the vote in Britain?
  • Because there was a new (and large) class of men who were deserving of the right to vote, parliament could not ignore their political voice.

A factor of great importance in the spread of democracy was the social and economic changes occurring in Britain.

  • A factor of great importance in the spread of democracy was the social and economic changes occurring in Britain.
  • For example, the spread of factories and new business owners led to the rise of a middle class. This middle class was now wealthy and educated, and wanted a say in political matter.
  • Therefore, parliament could not ignore them and needed to award them the vote, leading to an increase in democracy.

How do we know that this social change led to the spread of democracy?

  • Evidence
  • Evidence of the importance of the rise of the middle class occurred in 1867, when parliament passed the Reform Act of 1867, which awarded the members of the middle class the vote, in both towns and in the countryside.  credit for analysis
  • It can be said that parliament awarded the middle class the vote because their increasing numbers and wealth meant they deserved a say in politics. extra credit for analysis

Social Changes

  • The Spread of Railways
  • One major impact of more railways was that small, isolated parts of Britain now became connected.
    • They received national news, and people in small towns began to care about national political issues.
    • Therefore, people were less isolated from the rest of Britain, and now deserved to have more of a say in politics.

Social Changes

  • The Spread of Railways
  • Prime Minister Gladstone began the trend of using the railways to travel to different parts of Britain to make political speeches.
  • Both literate and illiterate people would come to listen.

Social and Economic Change

  • Tens of thousands of people would show up to see these celebrities speak, spreading interest in politics where it didn’t exist before.
  • What EVIDENCE do we have that the spread of railways helped to spread democracy in Britain?
  • Prime Minister William Gladstone made a tour of Midlothian, where 50,000 people showed up for only 6000 seats.
  • William Gladstone and the Liberal Party passed the 1884 Reform Act which awarded the vote to the majority of men in the countryside and towns.

Social and Economic Changes

  • When writing an essay, we need to balance our strong evidence with negative points.
  • Balance:
  • - These social changes put pressure on the government for change, but often, politicians passed reform for their own purposes, without considering the social and economic changes throughout Britain.

Political Advantage

  • Democracy spread throughout Britain for a number of reasons, but the change had to come from parliament alone.

The Tory Party (Conservative)

  • The Tories were supported by the most wealthy members of British society, as well as the upper middle class.
  • As a result, these were the men who were opposed to voting reform, and fought to strike down the reform bills of the Whigs.
  • However, in 1867 the Tories decided to pass their own reform act, we will look at the reasons why later in this lesson.

The Whigs- Politicians

  • Gladstone
  • Failed to unite the Liberal Party to bring a Reform Act to parliament in 1866.
  • Led the Whig Party and became Prime Minister 3 times.

The Conservatives- Politicians

  • Lord Derby
  • Led the Tories as Prime Minister in 1867 alongside Benjamin Disraeli.
  • Derby was Prime Minister at a time when the British people started to get angry again. There were riots in London’s Hyde Park, and there was a call for reform as there had been in 1832.
  • Lord Derby and the TORIES!!! Passed the Reform Act of 1867 through Parliament!!!
  • - WHAT?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?

The Conservatives- Politicians

  • Benjamin Disraeli
  • Was a leading member of the Tories in 1867.
  • Was a major influence on Prime Minister Derby to pass the Reform Act of 1867.

The Tories Take Power

  • The Liberals had been in power for 20 years, but by 1866, they could not successfully pass voting reform.
  • The Queen invited the Conservatives to form a government because of the Liberal’s failure.
  • The Conservatives had been out of power for 20 years!!!!
  • The Conservatives were reluctant because Britain was a mess.
    • Voting reform had not been introduced since 1832 (its 1866!!) so the people were angry and there was rioting in London’s Hyde Park.
    • The Conservatives had a minority in the House of Commons, so it was not hopeful that they could get anything done!!!!

This new Conservative government was led by PM Derby.

  • This new Conservative government was led by PM Derby.
  • However Benjamin Disraeli was a strong figure in the party.
  • Disraeli had to convince members of his own party and members of the Liberal Party in order to pass his new reform bill through the House of Commons.

Why was the 1867 Reform passed?

  • There was a real chance to gain a political advantage in passing the 1867 Reform Act.
  • If the Conservatives continued to resist democratic reform, they would lose the next election to the Liberals, and maybe lose power for another 20 years.
  • Disraeli knew if the Conservatives spread democracy to working class men, the newly enfranchised men might vote for them in the next election.

1867 Reform Act

  • Boroughs (cities & towns)
  • All male homeowners could now vote.
  • Renters paying £10 per year could now vote.
  • Counties
  • Owners of property valued at £5 per year.
  • Renters paying £5 per year could now vote.
  • 1 in 3 males could now vote
  • The electorate increased to 2.5 million people
  • Middle class people could now vote
  • A very high percentage of males in the boroughs could now vote.
  • Spread the vote to more people than Disraeli intended.

How democratic was Britain after the 1867 Reform Act?

  • Getting there, but still not close:
    • No secret ballot
    • Candidates in elections could spend as much money as they would like to influence voting (food, drink, bribes)
    • MPs were not paid
    • Universities had the ability to elect MPs
    • The House of Lords had equal power to the House of Commons
    • Men in the counties did not have the same voting rights as men in the boroughs
    • Select groups of men could not vote
    • Woman could not vote
    • Men with property in multiple constituencies could cast multiple votes

Corruption

  • There were no laws which stopped rich politicians from using their money to win.
  • Politicians transported voters to voting stations to vote for them
  • Some would bribe factory owners into forcing their workers to vote for them. Since voting was public, if a employee did not vote for who their boss demanded, they would be fired!!!
  • These are just some examples.

The Ballot Act of 1872

  • Introduced by the Liberal government under Prime Minister Gladstone.
  • Booths were set up so voting was done in secret.
  • As a result, voters could no longer be intimidated into voting for someone they do not want.
  • However, Corrupt spending practices continued

Corrupt and Illegal Practices Act of 1883

  • An election candidate’s spending became limited.
  • Campaign money could no longer be spent on things like food and drinks.
  • A record of spending had to be kept.
  • 4. Disobeying the law would result in a candidates disqualification for 7 years!!
  • 5. Involvement in corruption would result in fines or imprisonment.

Why were these two acts passed?

  • Which party had the wealthier members and followers?
  • Since the Conservatives had wealthier members and wealthier supporters, the Conservatives were more often involved in corrupt practices.
  • So the Liberals passed these two acts to remove corruption, and potentially weaken the power of the Conservative Party.
  • Also, the Liberal’s hoped that the British people would be grateful to the Liberals for removing unfair voting practices.
  • ‘ By limiting the amount of spending on elections, some Liberals believed the advantage held by wealthier Conservative opponents would be reduced. This made political reform an action based on the hope that reform would give an advantage to the party in power.’ –John A. Kerr and James McGonigle.

1867 Reform Act

  • Boroughs (cities & towns)
  • All male homeowners could now vote.
  • Renters paying £10 per year could now vote.
  • Counties
  • Owners of property valued at £5 per year.
  • Renters paying £5 per year could now vote.
  • 1 in 3 males could now vote
  • The electorate increased to 2.5 million people
  • Middle class people could now vote
  • A very high percentage of males in the boroughs could now vote.
  • Spread the vote to more people than Disraeli intended.

Pressure Groups

  • Two organisations fought for democracy in Britain during this time:
    • The Reform Union 1864
    • The Reform League 1865

Pressure Groups

  • Read section 3 of pages 8 and 9
  • Give 2 examples of popular pressure before 1867. Remember to include statistics, dates and locations to secure KU marks.
  • What is historian Royden Harrison’s opinion towards the significance of pressure groups in spreading democracy?
  • What is the opinion of modern historians regarding Harrison’s opinion?
  • How significant do you believe pressure groups were in leading to the spread of democracy?

Impact of WWI(strong to moderately important)

  • Traditionalist historians believe that WWI greatly influenced the spread of democracy.
  • Traditionalists hold that some women gained the vote in 1918 because of the dangerous war work they committed themselves to.
  • Therefore the spread of democracy was a result of rewarding women for their role in munitions factories.

However, the traditionalists argument is weak, due to the fact that the women who worked in factories were typically under 30 years old.

  • However, the traditionalists argument is weak, due to the fact that the women who worked in factories were typically under 30 years old.
  • Therefore, women’s war work did not lead to the enfranchisement of the women who participated in the war work and it cannot be said that WWI led directly to the spread of the vote to women.

Conversely (on the other hand), WWI did lead to the expansion of the franchise to men.

  • Conversely (on the other hand), WWI did lead to the expansion of the franchise to men.
  • It was politically unacceptable for the British government to deny men who fought in the war the ability to vote.
  • As a result, in the 1918 Reform Act, all men over age 21 could vote, as well as any man over age 19 who served in the war.
  • Therefore…..

Changing Political Attitudes

  • Intellectual writers such as John Stuart Mills wrote about the need to spread the vote to the people of Britain.
  • John Stuart Mills published his ideas in his book On Liberty in 1859.
  • This book began to change political attitudes towards democratic reform, because it was written by a renowned intellectual and it popularised the idea of spreading reform.
  • However…………………..

Changing Political Attitudes

  • Before the 1867 Reform Act was passed, skilled working class men did not have the right to vote.
  • However, members of the skilled working class were attending night school all over Britain.
  • Therefore, these men were demonstrating to politicians that they were deserving of a political voice, which may have influenced the decision to spread reform.

Changing Political Attitudes

  • However, this is a weaker argument because skilled working class men in the towns and cities were given the vote, but skilled working class men in the countryside were not given the vote.
  • Therefore, the idea that changing political attitudes helped to spread reform is a weak argument because….

International Influences (weak argument)

  • Although it is a weak argument, the influence of foreign nations must be considered.
  • Britain viewed itself as one of the most democratic nations in the world.
  • However, by 1914 and the beginning of WWI, Britain had failed to award Women the vote, while other nations had.

The first example of foreign influence was the enfranchisement of women in nations such as Finland, Norway and New Zealand.

  • The first example of foreign influence was the enfranchisement of women in nations such as Finland, Norway and New Zealand.
  • Britain first granted partial female suffrage in 1918 and full women’s suffrage in 1928. However, more democratic nations around the world had declared women’s suffrage much earlier on. For example, New Zealand granted women’s suffrage in 1893, Finland in 1872 and Norway in 1907.

It can be said that the granting of women’s suffrage outside of Britain, put some degree of pressure on the British government.

  • It can be said that the granting of women’s suffrage outside of Britain, put some degree of pressure on the British government.
  • Britain considered itself the ‘cradle of democracy’ so the idea of other nations surpassing Britain in terms of democratic freedoms for women meant that Britain could lose its status.
  • However, there is no documented evidence that foreign influence actually pressured members of parliament into passing voting reform for women.
  • Essay question:
  • To what extent was popular pressure a major reason for the spread of democracy in Britain between 1851 and 1918?


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