The Growth of Democracy
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The Growth of Democracy WHY?. Agenda. The focus for this part of the course is on the background changes in society that caused an increased demand for democracy. Why? Essay – The Plan. Urbanisation and industrialisation Means to spread democracy – transport: trains, post, newspapers

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The Growth of Democracy WHY?

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The Growth of Democracy WHY?


Agenda

  • The focus for this part of the course is on the background changes in society that caused an increased demand for democracy.


Why? Essay – The Plan

  • Urbanisation and industrialisation

  • Means to spread democracy – transport: trains, post, newspapers

  • Attitude to working class vote – education and religion

  • Attitudes of Political Parties

  • Pressure groups – trade unions and suffragettes


Urbanisation & Industrialisation Definitions

  • Urbanisation = the movement of people from the countryside to the towns.

  • Industrialisation = Industrial revolution - Extensive mechanisation of production systems resulting in a shift from home-based hand manufacturing to large-scale factory production, coal mines and ship yards.


Britain in 1850

1815 --- 12.15 million 1821 --- 14.21 million 1831 --- 16.37 million 1841 --- 18.55 million 1851 --- 20.88 million

Total Population

1801

1851

Changes in the Cities

Bradford 13 104 Glasgow 77 329 Liverpool 82 376 Manchester 70 303 Leeds 53 172 London 957 2362

Figures in Thousands


1850

IT WAS A PERIOD OF RAPID CHANGE IN BRITAIN

New ideas and new technology were being put into practice.

New technology, new machinery made farming more effective.

In the Country

Those who worked the land were out of work - in order to find work, they moved from country to the towns.

Result:


1850

IT WAS A PERIOD OF RAPID CHANGE IN BRITAIN

New ideas and new technology were being put into practice.

New technology, new machinery made farming more effective.

In the Country

Those who worked the land were out of work - in order to find work, they moved from country to the towns.

Result:

From Ireland

Due to famine and other domestic problems the Irish moved into towns, again in the hope of work and a better life.

Town could not cope with the increase in demand for houses which the influx caused.

Housing was not planned well enough. Overcrowding. Poor Sanitary Conditions. Disease. Houses deliberately built near factories. Drinking water polluted.

Result:


Industrialisation: demand for wider suffrage

  • Middle Class

  • Britain had changed. Industrialisation had created or expanded new classes like the middle class who were educated and politically motivated to demand a greater share in political power. The middle class saw themselves as wealth generators in GB as it was their factories that made GB rich, now they felt they should have a say in running the country as well.

  • Analysis - Middle class get vote in 1832 but increasingly demand political power on town councils – For example, the Chamberlain’s in Birmingham – or later as MPs in Parliament – For example, Joseph Chamberlain.


  • Working Class

  • At the same time the very poor working and living conditions e.g. long hours, low pay, dangerous conditions etc, of the working class gave them an interest in more political power in order to improve their conditions.

  • Analysis – The government had ignored the working class because they did not have the vote. But as the working class had an interest to improve their poor working conditions – they first formed trade unions and then demanded the vote.


Urbanisation: demand for wider suffrage

  • Small rural communities moved from the countryside to the growing industrial towns or cities like Paisley, Glasgow or Manchester. They moved for jobs and housing yet the new towns were terrible places to live e. g. overcrowded disease ridden, poor housing and living standards etc.

  • Analysis – As with industrialisation, the working class demands to improve their living conditions were ignored as they did not have the vote. The working class sought the vote to try and force government to improve these conditions.


Urbanisation: demand for equal votes

  • Urbanisation also changed the political map of Britain as the new industrial towns had little or no representatives. MPs still mainly represented rural areas. The 19th Century also saw a great demand for equal votes e.g. The Scottish Highlands had 8 MPs and a few thousand inhabitants at this time yet a city like Glasgow had only 3 MPs yet ½ million inhabitants.

  • Analysis - Fewer people elected more MPs in the Highlands than in cities like Glasgow which was clearly unfair. This led for a demand for the redistribution of MPs to make voting more equal. By having equal sized constituencies (voting areas) all votes should be equal in strength.


Transport

  • In the 19th Century trains transported not only goods but also ideas as well. The growing railway system not only allowed goods to move quicker but it allowed national newspapers to grow and an efficient postal system which aided the growth of national political movements. The growing popular press, after the 1850s spread the idea that many of their skilled working class readers deserved the vote; the unskilled working class could not afford newspapers and so were largely ignored.


  • Analysis – Transport allowed easy movement of democratic ideas – eg. Early democratic movements like the Chartists failed as could not communicate quickly/efficiently with all areas. Now trains allowed movement of speakers, letters and national newspapers which spread ideas of democracy.


Attitude to Working Class Vote

  • EDUCATION -

  • Compulsory primary education – introduced 1870 (England).

  • Analysis – In the 19th Century many thought illiterate people did not deserve the vote. Better education made the working class more deserving of the vote. It also made the working class better able to campaign for the vote – e.g. produce pamphlets, organise meetings etc.


  • RELIGION –

  • The working class in the early 19th Century were also denied the vote as they were felt to be immoral.

  • Believed that poor people deserved to be poor - many examples of self inflicted poverty such a drunkenness and immorality.

  • Later 19th Century saw a great religious revival and with it the conviction that some of the more ‘deserving poor’ (those better off working class who were educated, sober and hard working) had a right to vote.

  • The development of Methodism and the Temperance movement made the poor now seem more moral.


  • Analysis – Like education, many thought the working class were immoral and not deserving of the right to vote. But with the growth of working class religion, self help groups (e.g. cooperatives) – the working class were now viewed in a better light.


Political Parties - Attitude

  • Liberal Party –

  • Leader William Gladstone saw the better off skilled working class as their natural supporters.

  • They had middle class values of hard work, education and moral values.

  • Called them the ‘respectable elite’.


  • The generally peaceful behaviour of skilled workers, their interest in political matters and their educational achievements were noted by Gladstone in 1866 when he stated that it would be unwise for Parliament to ignore the “increased fitness of the working class for political power”.

  • The Liberals did not want to give the vote to the poorer unskilled working class who they viewed as little better than criminals.


  • Conservatives –

  • Did not wish to give vote to the working class yet their government passed the 1867 Reform Act (1868 in Scotland). Why?

  • Their leader Disraeli persuaded them that they could not ignore reform and to allow the Liberals to pass the reform act might alienate potential new voters


  • Conservatives passed 1867 Reform Act which gave the vote to 1 in 3 working men (yet had always voted against it!). They thought the new voters would support them as a thank you.

  • 1884 Act passed in an attempt to get support for the Liberal Party and distract the working class from socialism.


  • Analysis – At first political parties were against widening the franchise. But then both the Liberals and Conservatives saw advantages in doing so:

    1. To stop potential unrest from the working class.

    2. They believed that the party who did give the working class the vote would be rewarded with their loyalty. For example, the skilled working class following 1867 voted Conservative and the unskilled following 1884 voted Liberal.


Pressure Groups

  • Chartists –

  • Campaigned for political change in the 1830s and 1840s.

  • Peoples’ Charter – eg. Universal suffrage, equal constituencies etc.

  • Though they ultimately failed to achieve their goals at the time, they certainly had an influence on the 1867 Reform Act.


  • The National Reform Union (1864) – Mainly Liberal middle class organisation that wanted a limited vote for skilled workers.

  • The Reform League (1864) – More radical working class organisation that demanded universal male suffrage.


  • Trade Unions –

  • Played an influential role in the growth of democracy.

  • TUC formed in 1868 deliberately set out to pressurise governments into further change.

  • Working with the Liberal Party at the end of the 19th Century to introduce reforms and to campaign for widening of the franchise.

  • Sponsoring the new Labour Party in Parliament after 1906 certainly helped get the Parliament Act passed in 1911.


  • Suffragists and Suffragettes –

  • Biggest pressure groups.

  • Began to campaign for the extension of the franchise from the late 19th Century onwards.

  • NUWSS – peaceful campaign methods – petitions, marches, lobbying etc.

  • WSPU – after 1906 – more militant – eg. Arson, hunger strikes, cat and mouse etc.


  • Analysis – The early pressure groups like the Chartists failed to change attitudes. However, well organised groups like the National Reform Union, the Reform League, Trade Unions, the Suffragists and Suffragettes did put pressure on governments to change. This is evident when working class men got the vote in 1867 and 1884 and women in 1918.


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