1867 Reform Act

1391 Words6 Pages
Assess the claim that the most important reason behind the passing of the 1867 Reform Act was political expedience. Many reasons contributed to the passing of the 1867 Reform Act, most revolving around the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Benjamin Disraeli, who put forward the bill. One of the main factors was indeed political expedience, an action Disraeli would have taken to gain the advantage in the Commons over Gladstone. However, the social unrest and frequent protests at the time were another significant factor, pressuring Disraeli into implementing reform, to which he responded. Of course, the ineptitude of the opposition was also key, many Liberals in particular had the opportunity to humiliate Disraeli but failed to do so, meaning his reputation was perhaps far more positive post-reform than it ought to have been. The Conservatives had been seen as a party that had previously shied away from reform, yet if this bill was passed, they would satisfy the naysayers like the Radicals and members of the Reform League, and increase their chances of being re-elected as the next government. Many of the policies Disraeli chose to include were signs that he was attempting to appeal to certain groups in order to win their vote. By granting the skilled working man the vote, they would be more likely to vote Conservative, which was crucial given the proportion of the electorate this group was. In addition, Disraeli ensured the inclusion of safeguards in an attempt to persuade other senior figures to support the bill or his party. The fancy franchises, when you have more than £50 in a savings account, appealed to the middle classes whilst the Radicals were appeased by the reduction of the borough franchise from £10 to £1. Further terms included the personal payment of rates as well as a two-year residence qualification before you could vote. It was the combination of
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