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To what extent had democracy been achieved by 1918

Posted by lednum on March 25, 2007


“Democracy is a government for the people, by the people and run by the people”

-This quote from Abraham Lincoln accurately conveys the definition of democracy.

-During Edwardian Britain it is maintained by historians that the government had enfrachised a “laissez-faire mentality in the running of the nation.

-Concept of self-help was established in the masses of Britain.

-E.P Thomson made it apparent that the governement genuinely believed that the people were poor due to the indolent attitudes.

-Historians contend this wasnt the case, it was because of the casual labour scheme which ran throughout the nation.


Pat Thane

-Labour party was formed to represent the working and lower classes.

-Liberals and torries represented the wealthy and big businesses.

-The newly enfranchised working class had no representation, social groups eventually emerged with trade unions, which later became known as the labour party, this therefore made the country more democratic.

Right to vote

-T-Feguson ” the motives under which men act”

-in 1867 the new bourgeoisie were enfrachsed.

-in this time period the enfrachisement was substantially sexually based.

-Historians contend that it was not until 1928 when equality  existed in the enfranchisement  based on sexuality.

Access to information

-The improvement in the rail industry in the late 19th centruy made the spread of information quicker and more efficient, also allowed people from countryside to meet people from similar background s.

-However it is also put forward by hsitorians that the 1870 ( 1872 in scotland) education act, made it compulsary for children between 5 and 13 to attend school.

-The falling prices and increasing circulation of newspapers was also significant as they gave the working class and those living in isolated areas access to information such as political ideas.


Norman Gash

-It is fair that everyone has the chance to vote freely and anyway they choose.

-due to bribary, corruption and intimidation levles becoming apparent, in 1872, the 2nd ballot act was passed.

-leading to swift decline in intimidation.

-However, some historians maintain that corruption was still present despite ballots being made in secret .

-To counter act this, the corrupt and illegal practices act, went a long way towards creating equality among all constituencies.


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Road to war

Posted by lednum on November 6, 2006

For many years the Rhineland area had been a key industrial region of Germany, producing coal, steel and iron resources.

The Rhineland also formed a natural barrier to its neighbour and rival, France. In the event of a war, the River Rhine, if properly defended, would be a difficult obstacle for an invading force to cross.

One of the terms of the Treaty of Versailles was that the Germans would not be able to keep military forces in a 50km stretch of the Rhineland. Hitler resented this term as it made Germany vulnerable to invasion. He was determined to enlarge his military capability and strengthen his borders.

In 1935, Hitler’s plans to strengthen Germany and undermine the Treaty of Versailles were given a boost when the German-speaking Saar region voted to reunite with Germany. The region, important for coal production, had previously been removed from German control as a term of Versailles to weaken Germany industrially.

When the leading European nations did not react to this violation of Versailles, Hitler was encouraged to see how far he could go in breaking other terms of Versailles.

-In 1935 he reintroduced conscription of men into the armed forces.

-In the same year he revealed that he had built up an air-force and signed the Anglo-German Naval Agreement that allowed him to enlarge his naval forces.

-In 1936 Hitler boldly marched 22,000 German troops into the Rhineland, in a direct contravention of the Treaty of Versailles.

-Hitler offered France and Britain a 25 year non-aggression pact and claimed ‘Germany had no territorial demands to make in Europe’.

Reactions to Hitler


Britain did not act. The nation was weak economically and militarily and so did not want to commit itself to war unless it definitely had to.

-At the time, Britain was in dispute with Italy over its military campaigns in Abyssinia (Ethiopia) and British forces had been moved into the Mediterranean in case Italy became aggressive. There was little Britain could do to stop Germany.

-There was a popular view that the Germans were only ‘going into their back-garden’ by re-entering an army to the Rhineland. Although the British government denounced the breaking of the terms of Versailles, they did not think it merited war.


France did not act. France was between governments when Germany re-occupied the Rhineland. The Hoare-Laval fiasco (where France and Britain tried to appease Italy’s leader Mussolini by agreeing to offer him land in Abyssinia) had been deeply unpopular and had eventually brought down the government. France could not act to stop the Germans.

-French military forces had previously been moved from the Rhine to the Alps and Tunisia because of the political tension with Italy. As such, their forces near the Rhineland were weakened.

-French generals also thought the German occupying forces were much bigger than they actually were. They would not attack without more support.

-The French would only act on Germany with Britain’s aid. British reluctance to stand up to Hitler meant the French also took no action. France placed its faith in the Maginot Line of fortifications on the Franco-German border.


Hitler had significantly improved his status. Over the next two years the Germans built defences and within 18 months their rate of rearmament passed that of Britain and France. He did not agree to an Air Force Pact with Britain. He began to think he was infallible.

-France continued to strengthen the Maginot Line in an attempt to safeguard against future German aggression.

-France’s alliance with Britain became strained due to Britain’s refusal to stand up to Germany.

-French alliances with eastern European countries were undermined as France concentrated solely on defence against possible German aggression.

-Italy formed the Rome-Berlin Axis in July 1936.

-Hitler signed the Anti-Comintern Pact with Japan in November 1936 which formed an anti-Communist alliance between the two nations.

-Britain promised France and Belgium help if they were invaded (reaffirming Locarno).

-Austria now came under more German pressure.

-Britain began rearming its military forces.

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To what extent did the Liberal Reforms of 1906 – 1914 improve the lives of the British people?

Posted by lednum on September 20, 2006


the liberals removed the moral stigma of being poor = new liberalism

Benjamin Disraeli – why should we conseal from ourselves that this is a coutry of classes, and a country of classes it will forever remain.


liberal ministers were aware of the threat from labour.

did the liberals create the welfare state? Mortality rates increased due to young children starving to death.

by 1914,  Although liberals did did deal with focussed groups. The short fall in the country was most deffinately housing.

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What were the Liberal Reforms ,they aimed at helping people who faced pverty through no fault of their own

Posted by lednum on September 13, 2006

 The old, the young, the unemployed and the sick

From the turn of the 20th century, laissez faire (the policy of non-intervention in relation to social problems) became discredited. The same old problems of poverty and ill-health still remained.

The Liberal reforms of 1906 to 1914 are very important because they show a marked change in government policy from a largely laissez faire approach to a more ‘collectivist’ approach. The government now accepted that it should have a much larger role and responsibility in helping those sections of society who could not help themselves.

In the latter part of the nineteenth century governments began to take tentative steps towards the provision of basic welfare services, for example, the Education Acts and the public health laws that were passed.

However, many problems still needed to be tackled and it was in the relief from poverty that the government made the least movement from the Poor Law principle. Voluntary action, private charity and self-help were still the watchwords of the day, but local and national government now began to play a more positive part in enabling people to get back on their feet. The real turning point was when the Liberals passed their series of reforms between 1906 and 1914.

Between 1906 and 1914 the Liberal reforms attempted to deal with the problem of poverty. The Liberals focused on four groups in society – the old, the young, the sick and the unemployed.

Old age pensions

In 1908 the Liberals introduced old age pensions which became law in 1909. This Act gave pensions of five shillings per week (25 pence in today’s money) at the single rate to persons over 70 whose incomes were less than £21 per year. A married couple received seven shillings and sixpence a week. This sum could be collected at the Post Office. A smaller amount was paid to slightly higher earners. People who had an income greater than £31.50 per year received no pension at all. Those who had habitually failed to work or who had been in prison also received nothing.

The major criticism of this Act was that it did not go far enough. The money was not enough to enable people to pay for the barest necessities and, although it helped, it was not the answer to old age poverty. Also, many elderly people needed financial help long before they reached 70 years of age. In fact most died before receiving a pension.

‘Children’s Charter’

In 1906 the government allowed local authorities to provide free school meals for poor children. In 1907 school medical inspections began, although it was not until 1912 that free medical treatment was available.

Social reformers blamed poverty for causing crime among the young people. There was also the view that by sending young law breakers to adult prisons they would simply learn how to be better criminals. As such, in 1908 juvenile courts and borstals were set up.

These reforms, including forbidding the sale of cigarettes and alcohol to children under 16 years of age, were given the name ‘Children’s Charter’ because it was believed these measures would guarantee a better life for young people. However, the provision of school meals was not made compulsory until 1914 and researchers found that during school holidays the growth of children slowed and body weight often declined.

Medical inspections did little to solve any problems they uncovered and so it was not until free medical treatment became available in 1912 that the situation could get better. However, education authorities largely ignored the provision of free medical treatment for school children.

Finally, as we know by the standards of today, attempts to protect children from the effects of tobacco and alcohol have met with limited success.

Health insurance

In the early twentieth century a free National Health Service did not yet exist and the poor could not usually afford medical services. To help address this, the Liberal Government introduced the National Insurance Act in 1911.

For the first time, compulsory health insurance was provided for workers earning less than £160 per year. The scheme was contributory. The worker paid fourpence a week, employers paid threepence and the state paid twopence. The scheme provided sickness benefit entitlement of nine shillings (45 pence), free medical treatment and maternity benefit of 30 shillings (£1.50).

Unemployment insurance

The second part of the National Insurance Act dealt with unemployment. Most insured workers were given seven shillings (35 pence) unemployment benefit a week for a maximum of 15 weeks in any year if they became unemployed. This scheme was also contributory – financed through a combination of worker and state contributions to the scheme.

However, this Act only provided for the insured employee and not his family. Also, the Act was meant only to cover temporary unemployment and only applied to seven trades, most of which suffered from seasonal unemployment. When long term unemployment increased after World War I, the system began to break down as the government was taking in less money from workers than it was paying out to the unemployed.


Overall, the Liberal reforms marked a transition point between old laissez-faire attitudes and those of a more collectivist nature. The reforms made only limited inroads into the problem of poverty. The pensions paid were inadequate and the unemployment benefits were limited to only certain trades, and then provided only for the employee and not his family. The government was prepared to intervene to help the poor, but the poor had also to help themselves by making contributions towards their benefits.

Winston Churchill summed up the aim of the Liberals when he said ‘If we see a drowning man we do not drag him to the shore. Instead, we provide help to allow him to swim ashore.’ In other words, the Liberals tried to provide some help for the poorer sections of society in order that they could help themselves



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The Liberal Reforms of 1906 – 1914

Posted by lednum on September 7, 2006

Pressure from reports on poverty

The need for reform

During the late nineteenth century the British government, under the Liberal party, acted according to the principle of laissez faire. Individuals were solely responsible for their own lives and welfare. The government did not accept responsibility for the poverty and hardship that existed among its citizens. A popular point of view at the time was that poverty was caused by idleness, drunkenness and other such moral weaknesses on the part of the working classes. The poor were seen by the wealthy as an unfortunate but inevitable part of society.

There were no old age pensions, unemployment benefits or family allowances. If the main wage-earner died or could not work, a whole family could be plunged into terrible poverty. The state would not interfere.

During this period, the accepted role of the government was very limited. It was simply expected to:

  • maintain law and order
  • protect the country from invasion

Changing attitudes

At the dawn of the 20th century two social surveys were published that not only shocked the British public but changed popular opinion on the causes of poverty. They helped pave the way for a whole range of government-led welfare reforms.

Independently of each other, two wealthy businessmen, Charles Booth and Seebohm Rowntree, sponsored major investigations into the extent and causes of poverty in British cities. Their findings agreed on two key points:

  • up to 30% of the population of the cities were living in or below poverty levels
  • the conditions were such that people could not pull themselves out of poverty by their own actions alone. Booth and Rowntree both identified the main causes of poverty as being illness, unemployment and age – both the very young and the old were at risk of poverty

It began to be recognised that the government had a role to play. To do this, political and social reforms were necessary.
Boothe and rowntree did surveys in London and York on poverty

-Put presure to make the government react

-Dropped Laisez faire, replaced with state intervention policy.

-Mayhew and Dickens very influential

New Liberalism

Why social reforms happened

Historians have identified various factors and motives for the reforms being passed.

National efficiency

Fears that Britain was in decline as a world power led to the idea that Britain had to improve its national efficiency by taking steps to improve the quality of the workforce. If Britain was to compete and maintain its position as a world power, then it had to be run efficiently with a strong, healthy and well-educated workforce.

The Boer War (1899 – 1902)

During the war, the British army experienced great difficulty in finding fit young men to recruit as soldiers. One in three potential recruits was refused on medical grounds. This led to questions being asked about the physical condition of the working class male. Would he be able to perform the tasks expected of him in the workplace and on the battlefield? The Government would have to do something to ensure basic health levels among the population.

Popular socialism

The Labour Party had just been established and it was winning public support for its campaigns for social welfare policies, such as old age pensions and unemployment benefits. The ruling Liberal Party recognised the threat this new party posed to its traditional support in many working class areas. To counter the threat from the socialist and Labour movement, the Liberals realised that they had to instigate social reforms or risk losing political support from the working classes.

A new liberalism

A new type of Liberalism had emerged by 1906, and it was this ‘new liberalism’ which provided the inspiration for the reforms. New Liberals, such as Lloyd George, Winston Churchill and Herbert Asquith, argued that there were circumstances in which it was right for the state to intervene in people’s lives.

The German model

The example of Bismarck’s progressive social legislation in Germany, coupled with her economic and military strength, impressed both Lloyd George and Churchill. Among other measures, the Germans had instigated an early form of sickness insurance for its workers. Lloyd George and Churchill felt inspired to introduce similar style reforms in Britain.

‘Gas and water socialism’

Public works schemes to improve living conditions and public health had been established in the late 19th century, often set up and run by Liberals. These small, local schemes raised the possibility of similar schemes being a success on a national scale.


-Dropped self help

-introdueced stateintervention

-men could vote so politicians worked hard to get their vote

– Were they doing this to help them get elected or because they had genuine concerns about poverty

Political pragmatism

-Liberals and tories had to change their ideas to catch up with labour.

National Security

– Fearful of other countries of having better weapons

-boer war

-Men were rejected as they wer unfit and underweight because of malnutrition and Germany was starting to worry Britain.

National Efficiency

-The britain industrial revolution , 1890

-Japan and germany !910

-Britain was the workshop of the world

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WHY did democracy grow

Posted by lednum on September 3, 2006


oliagarchy, unelected hereditory type of government.

-respectiability, material possessions.

-working class represented by upper class and aristocrats.

– class consciousness, E.P Thompson

-chartistics, demanded reforms

-Benjamin Disraeli, self help.

-William Gladstone, state intervention.


-industrial revolution, people from countries working in factories.

-made people realise they were being treated bourly.

-formed the new middle class, Bourgeisie.

-norman Gash


french revolution, french killed monarchs.

-British monarchs, feared being killed.

American civil war, blacks fought for their rights.

-British did the same.


oliagarchy, hereditory, unelected, government.

class consciousness , people being aware of being a social group.

-1867 Reform act, enfranchised only people in towns and cities not countryside.

-oliagarchy ment people had no say in running it.

-E.P thompson

-John cannon


urbanisation – people were moving to urban areas, became more class consciousness.

-poverty, living in poor conditions, stick of deprevation.

-gender, woman werent allowed to vote.

-Sandra sand holten

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Democracy in Britain between 1850 and 1900

Posted by lednum on August 30, 2006


Prior to 1832, Britain was an oligarchy


Three national parties to vote for by the early 1900s Labour, conservative and liberals


Education act 1870 (1872 in scotland)


Abolition of property qualification for MPs; 1857 payment for MPs, 1911


Second reform act, 1867

The Reform Act 1867 (also known as the Second Reform Act, and formally titled the Representation of the People Act 1867), 30 & 31 Vict. c. 102, was a piece of British legislation that greatly increased the number of men who could vote in elections in the UK. In its final form, the Reform Act 1867 enfranchised all male householders and abolished compounding (the practice of paying rates to a landlord as part of rent). Due to this act working-class men gained suffrage for the first time in Britain. However, there was little redistribution of seats; and what there was had been intended to help the Conservative Party.

Third reform act, 1884 The 1867 Reform Act had granted the vote to working class males in the towns but not in the counties. William Gladstone and most members of the Liberal Party argued that people living in towns and in rural areas should have equal rights. Lord Salisbury, leader of the Conservative Party, opposed any increase in the number of people who could vote in parliamentary elections. Salisbury’s critics claimed that he feared that this reform would reduce the power of the Tories in rural constituencies.
Representation of the people act, 1918 

The Representation of the People Act 1918 was an Act of Parliament passed to reform the electoral system in the United Kingdom. It is sometimes known as the Fourth Reform Act.

Following the horrors of World War I, millions of returning soldiers were still not entitled to vote. This posed a dilemma for politicians since they could not withhold the vote from the very men who were considered to have fought to preserve British democracy.

The Representation of the People Act 1918 widened suffrage by abolishing practically all property qualifications for men and by enfranchising women over 30 who met minimum property qualifications. The enfranchisement of this latter group was accepted as recognition of the contribution made by women defence workers. However, women were still not politically equal to men (who could vote by age 21); full electoral equality wouldn’t occur until the Representation of the People Act 1928.


The ballot act, 1872 After the passing of the 1867 Reform Act working class males now formed the majority in most borough constituencies. However, employers were still able to use their influence in some constituencies because of the open system of voting. In parliamentary elections people still had to mount a platform and announce their choice of candidate to the officer who then recorded it in the poll book. Employers and local landlords therefore knew how people voted and could punish them if they did not support their preferred candidate. In 1872 William Gladstone removed this intimidation when his government brought in the Ballot Act which introduced a secret system of voting.

Redistribution of seats act, 1885 ( and also in 1867 and 1918)

The Act allowed Britain to advance a step further in gaining equal representation before this Act seats were unfairly distributed leading to harsh and unfair representation. This Act improved the balance of seats.

Each of these Acts allowed Britain to bridge the gap on reaching democracy, the Secret ballot Act minimised bribery and corruption which infiltrated the voting system they however did not wipe the system totally clean until the 1883 Corrupt Practices Act made it presence felt and eradicated both bribery and corruption for the system. The Third reform Act expanded the franchise by 50% but it was simply not a great enough extension to brand Britain democratic. The redistribution of seats Act improved equality in representation but the improvement was not immense. As a whole these Acts before 1900s edged Britain further to democracy but they did not deliver enormous changes, they of course were a vast improvement to the system to the way it stood before 1832, they were to be the last changes to the electoral system for some 30 years.

corrupt and illegal practices act

The Corrupt and Illegal Practices Prevention Act 1883 (46 & 47 Vict c. 51) was an Act of Parliament in the United Kingdom. It was a continuation of policy to make votes free from the intimidation of landowners and politicians.

Despite the Ballot Act 1872, William Gladstone‘s Second Ministry (1880-85) knew that to make voting less corrupt, certain measures were required to eradicate intimidation and bribery. The act meant that the expenses of candidates were published and could be measured against a limit as to how much could be spent on “political campaigns”. It laid down rules for the conduct of parliamentary candidates, including a strict limit on expenses. Poorer men could also become parliamentary candidates and under the Act stiff penalties were imposed on those breaking it such as heavy fines and imprisonment. Although it did not entirely remove corruption from the voting system, it strengthened the Corrupt Practices Act 1854 and was aided by a number of disenfranchised, small boroughs.

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