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How Democratic Was Britain By 1914?

Uploaded by surfchick on Jan 03, 2005

How Democratic Was Britain By 1914?

In a democracy, there should be a vote for all adults and voters should be able to cast their votes without fear. The country should be divided into equal constituencies and anyone should be able to stand as an M.P. The government should be by the elected representatives of the people elections should be held regularly. In order to ascertain whether Britain was democratic by 1914 it is necessary to examine whether these features were in place at that date.

One of the most important features of democracy is the right to vote by all adults. Prior to 1832, only upper or landed classes enjoyed that privilege but after that date the middle class was admitted to the franchise which meant that now 1 in 7 men could vote. In the 1850's there was little inclination to extend the franchise further as the working class tended to be regarded as the ignorant masses that needed to be represented by their "betters". However by the 1860's, the skilled workers had so impressed to politicians by their interests in politics and their good habits that it was decided to widen the franchise to encompass the skilled workers. Thus by 1847 1 in 3 men could now vote. Further reform of the franchise took place in 1884 when qualifications in the country and in the towns or boroughs became uniform. Great strides had been made in granting the right to vote but since not all adults could, Britain could not be said to be democratic.

Another feature of democracy is the right to cast ones vote without any fear. The old method of voting was not democratic as it encouraged both corruption and bribery. This method was open casting the voter would stand up on a stage and shout out his vote. Often M.P's would pay voters to vote for them, sometimes the voters were threatened to vote for a certain party. The politicians spent a lot of money on the elections provoking people to vote for them. The ballot act changed the situation because it now made voting secret but still there was not a wipeout of corruption and bribery. The Corrupt and Illegal Practises Act meant that if anyone was caught bribing or intimidating anyone into making them vote for a certain party then they would be fined or sent to prison. Now the method of voting was...

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Uploaded by:   surfchick

Date:   01/03/2005

Category:   European

Length:   4 pages (963 words)

Views:   11577

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