How significant was the Great Reform Act of 1832?
The Great Reform Act passed in 1832 was brought in due to a number of inside and outside pressures. For example, the fall of the Tories and the economic crisis of 1829-30. Britain pre 1832 was known as one of the most unrepresentative countries. English counties elected 82 MPs-only men who owned property worth over 40 shillings a year could elect these MPs (only the ruling classes.)Boroughs or towns elected 394 MPs-most voters were in southern England therefore new industrial cities such as Birmingham & Manchester had no MPs to represent them. There were rotten boroughs and pocket boroughs- corruption and bribery. In some areas there was no competition about who to elect the local landowner was so powerful that nobody would stand against him. Election campaigns were influenced by bribery- voters sold their vote! Voting in addition was not secret- voters had to stand up and announce their decision in public. All MPs were from the upper class resulting in the lower working class to be unable to afford to pay to either vote or stand for MP. The fall of the Tories played a huge role to the cause of the act, as they held power in the House of Commons had had great opposition to reform, as well as having leaders resign and being replaced with less experienced ones. The Tories then split in 1827-28 into Conservatives and Liberal Tories causing talented Liberal Tories to resign weakening the Tories power. Catholic Emancipation also caused a greater divide within the Tories as it allowed more people to vote and those Tories who became agitated by the fact Catholic Emancipation was introduced became more reform minded. The fall of the economy also didn’t help matters as an economic slump caused the reform movement to be revived with the likes of Hunt and Cobet. Unemployment then rose along with the price of bread causing more and more people with less money and less food. In 1811 Attwood was appointed high bailiff of...
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