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Britain 1850-1979. Reasons For the Growth of Democracy. Introduction. Outline why Britain could not be described as a democracy before 1832. Point out that during a period of a hundred years significant political changes took place which made the British political system democratic.

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britain 1850 1979

Britain 1850-1979

Reasons For the Growth of Democracy

  • Outline why Britain could not be described as a democracy before 1832.
  • Point out that during a period of a hundred years significant political changes took place which made the British political system democratic.
  • Then lead into your question and main factors.
industrial revolution
Industrial Revolution
  • Created a new wealthy middle class who resented the political domination of the upper class.
  • Rural to urban shift in the population highlighted the need for a redistribution of seats as industrial cities lacked MPs.
  • Town-dwellers wanted improvements in living and working conditions but had no political power.
french revolution
French Revolution
  • French Revolution 1789 led to the violent overthrow of the French King and upper class. There was concern that this could happen in Britain.
  • Led to the formation of Reform Societies e.g. Chartists, National Reform Union as people discussed the idea of political reform.
  • Upper class were determined to hold onto power and control any changes that took place.
pressure groups
Pressure Groups
  • After the 1832 Reform Act, pressure groups such as the Chartists campaigned for further change.
  • They called for radical changes e.g. universal male suffrage and attracted huge support but their People’s Charter was rejected by MPs and the movement died out by 1850.
  • By the turn of the century new groups arose, such as the Suffragists and Suffragettes who campaigned for women to get the vote.
  • The success of different groups can be debated but it could be argued they kept the issue of political reform on the political agenda.
trade unions
Trade Unions
  • As democracy grew in Britain more of the working class had joined trade unions.
  • As the working class got the vote many who were in trade unions were encouraged to vote Liberal. But the Liberals were reluctant to appoint working class candidates.
  • Trade unions realised working class needed a political voice.
  • Along with other groups they helped to form the LRC in 1900.
  • LRC had its first major election breakthrough in 1906 after which it became known as the Labour Party
  • During 19th century there was a definite shift away from laissez faire towards collectivist ideas.
  • This was partly influenced by the fact that the working classes now had the vote and politicians had to consider the issues that affected them.
  • 1906-1914 Liberal Government introduced a range of social reforms. Introduction of National Insurance led to a political clash with the House of Lords and the passing of the 1911 Parliament Act.
impact of the first world war
Impact of the First World War
  • It could be argued that the war removed the issue of votes for women from the political agenda.
  • On the other hand the 1918 Act gave the rest of the male population the vote and women over 30. A reward for men who had served in the trenches and women who had served in the workplace.
  • It could be argued that the war speeded up political change in Britain.
  • Sum up the main factors which all played a part in the growth of democracy.
  • Address the question – which factor was the most important and justify with evidence.
  • Industrial Revolution was the most important factor – created first major demands for political change and once the first Reform Act was introduced, others would inevitably follow.