Leap in the Dark

January 5, 2018 | Author: Anonymous | Category: Social Science, Political Science
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Leap in the Dark Article by Paul Smith

• ‘Leap in the Dark’ = a hunting metaphor. • • • •

What would happen after the 1867 Reform Bill? 2 big questions Why did Conservatives pass such a radical Bill? How did they get it through the House of Commons?

• Answers either through a macro (big social forces) approach or a micro (look at details of events) approach.

Great social forces (macro approach) • Powerful forces in British society in 1860’s • Victory of ‘democratic’ north over ‘aristocratic’ south in Am civil war • British w/c more respectable – worthy of full citizenship. • But Macro approach must combine with micro

Pressure from below • Historian Royden Harrison- Hyde park riots against background of cholera epidemic and economic depression put pressure on Parliament. Reform league. • But recent studies are sceptical of this view – no evidence that the govt or parl was intimidated or coerced by pressure of agitation (no external pressure) • Activity of Reform league and demonstrations helped persuade politicians of necessity for reform but not to pass such a radical Act

The Conservatives’ position • Party politics sees manoeuvring for position • Disraeliregains initiative after 20 years out of office - ‘cynical opportunism’ or ‘Tory democracy?’ • Strategic needs of Tories? How to get back to power and square things with their principles?

Tactical opportunity • • • •

Death of Palmerston Liberal split – Adullamites Tories need to settle great debate over Reform It was a major advantage to keep details of Reform in Con hands so that franchise and redistribution were adjusted to their needs.

Tory Democracy? • Disraeli’s vision of Tory Democracy. i.e the idea that Disraeli passed 1867 act because there might be large numbers of working classes who would vote Tory. • Modern historians say this was not the case. • In fact Disraeli had been wary of introducing a reform bill at first. • The reality was that it did not matter how many voted in the boroughs (towns) because this could be balanced out by redistribution of seats to the counties. • The point was that Disraeli preferred any concessions to avoid his Conservative bill being defeated.

Ideological Dimension •How did men of property reconcile themselves to a new working class majority in the boroughs? •Himmelfarb says – it was easier for Conservatives to accept reform than Liberals. Why? •Conservatives had a greater faith in the obedience of the masses to traditional authority. •Vincent says ‘Disraeli was a Conservative social optimist….. Too sceptical to feel threatened or fearful as Liberals did.’ •After the Bill passed at the Carlton Club – Conservative HQ ‘here’s to the man who rode the race, who took the time, who kept the time, and who did the trick’ •Disraeli ‘dished the Whigs’

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