Presentation on theme: "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."— Presentation transcript:
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’