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Why Disraeli Passed The 1867 Second Reform Act

957 words - 4 pages

Why Disraeli Passed the 1867 Second Reform Act

The 1867 Second Reform Act was an extremely intelligent piece of
politics and demonstrated how clever Disraeli was as a politician, the
act itself would enable Disraeli to the gain power amongst the
Commons. With the death of Palmerston in 1865 the question of Reform
was immediately back on agenda. Palmerston had been such a major
political figure that while he was present, reform would never be an
issue in the Houses of Parliament.

Within a couple of months of the Derby administration coming into
power there were two days of riots in Hyde Park over the reform of
Parliament, involving clashes with police and the destruction of some
of the park railings. If the Conservatives wished to remain in power
something needed to be done, or so Disraeli said when he made a speech
to the Commons in 186 7 saying that reform needed to be passed in
order to "destroy the present agitation". However, we know that this
is not really the case as these riots were nothing in comparison to
the riots in 1932 over the first Reform Act when the entire city of
Birmingham was seized by protestors and rioters, this was merely given
as a reason to help gain support of the MP's in Parliament in passing
the Act.

A similar reason that Disraeli presented to the Conservative Party for
the need to Reform was a phrase that he coined Tory democracy, this he
explained was the theory that the Conservatives should not resist
social Reform but should in fact use it to gain the support of the
newly enfranchised voters i.e. the working class. This meant that if
the Tory's passed an act of social Reform the working class may feel
that the Conservatives were attempting to give them equal status in
society and therefore, upon receiving the right to vote would repay
the favour by voting for the Conservatives in the next election. We
know also that this is not entirely true as when Disraeli created the
Bill he discretely placed in it an "insurance policy", although the
right to vote would be given to far more voter's in potentially
Liberal voting areas, they were still severely under-represented in
Parliament, so the support of the working class voters was not
necessary.

Tory democracy was not in actual fact beneficial to the working class,
indeed the only people who would benefit from it were the
Conservatives...

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