Democracy in Britain

Topics: Democracy, William Ewart Gladstone, Voting Pages: 2 (893 words) Published: March 9, 2009
Britain was not all that democratic by 1918. However from times such as the 1850s it has severely improved as then people didn’t know what a democratic country was. It took a long period of time for change to happen and reform came about for numerous reasons. These included the pressure put on the government from trade unions and radicals. Also from the work of pro-reform politicians such as Gladstone and others, on top of that there was a growth in population therefore changes made to the franchise and representation would be needed. Britain had achieved a certain extent of democracy by 1918. Although change in the 1850s system was expected. In the 1850s Britain was an undemocratic country simply because only few people could vote as the government had vested interests and any change would affect their benefits. In Britain only 1 in 21 males could vote. 1/5 people in England. 1/8 in Scotland and 1/20 in Ireland , also industrial workers did not have the right to vote. Those who did have the right were made to vote in public , this was very undemocratic as people were then open to bribery and pressure. To be able to run for M.P you had to be a reasonably wealthy land owner, and this was made possible as tenant farmers felt as if they had to support them. “Much the same men continued to run much the same system”. Working class were very disappointed with the act and therefore turned to trade unionism. As the people of Britain were not satisfied with these reforms this along with other factors had been led to the 1867 2nd reform act. This brought Britain a step closer to achieving democracy. The death of Lord Palmerstone in 1865 let the reformers lead the Liberals, he had been against reform claiming “Democracy will bring scum to the top”. These were the internal reasons for the 1867 Reform act. The American civil war and Giuseppe Garibaldi’s visit to Great Britain were external reasons. They both had publicised ideas for...
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