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"Earl Grey was no fan of electoral reform." Why then, did his administration go to pass the Reform Act of 1832?

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Introduction

"Earl Grey was no fan of electoral reform." Why then, did his administration go to pass the Reform Act of 1832? In November 1830 Wellington was forced to resign and the Whigs under the power of Earl Grey were asked to form a Government. Earl Grey was a wealthy aristocrat and in no means in favour of political reform, however it was under his power in 1832 that the first political Reform Act was passed. There were several factors as to why Earl Grey went against all that he believed in during his time in government, however primarily his goal was to remain in power. The collapse of the Tory Government was a key factor as to why Earl Grey supported electoral reform. The Tories had consistently refused to extend the vote, arguing that ownership of property rather that the number of voters was the hallmark of Britain's successful political system. ...read more.

Middle

The Whigs had shown enthusiasm towards the idea of cautious reform, however they were not completely democratic. The Whigs believed that changes needed to be made to the current political system in order to preserve its key features rather than create a new system. Even though the majority members were aristocratic, they were aware of the needs and changing shapes within a working class society. Earl Grey was aware that if major change did not occur then he would lose electoral support from the voting pubic. Political reform for the working classes had became more evident since the industrial revolution. The development of industrial towns and cities had led to a more united workforce in urban areas. This particularly increased the power of the middle classes, more financial power increased their need for more political power. Industrialisation also highlighted the extent of poverty and suffering of the working classes. Workers believed that they were a key factor in the industrial revolution and believed that they were responsible for the countries recent wealth. ...read more.

Conclusion

Despite the fact that Earl Grey was not in favour of reform, his administration passed the Reform Act of 1832. There are several aspects as to why this occurred however the cause cannot be placed upon one pivotal factor. The Whigs did not create but merely recognised a situation that demanded reform and offered a practical remedy for a felt grievance. Earl Grey and the Whigs felt that the existing system was inadequate and wanted to get rid of the rotten boroughs and corrupt practices. They genuinely were concerned about the disharmony between the distribution of seats and the wealth and population. Factors such as the French and American revolutions also highlighted to Earl Grey that a repressive government was not the way forward. The Industrial Revolution had created a new generation of the working classes who now demanded a voice within politics. The alliance between the working and middle classes made it impossible to ignore the ever increasing need for change. Overall Earl Grey was aware that the demands for reform would not go away and a revolution had to be prevented/ avoided. Samantha Kirby ...read more.

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