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How and Why Did Pitt Stay in Power for so Long?

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How and Why Did Pitt Stay in Power for so Long? William Pitt the Younger is generally regarded as a great Prime Minister lasting for 17 years. He could be seen as the dominant force in British politics at that time, a clear minded person and a good tidier upper. To stay in power for all that time is seen as an achievement but it was down to six key reasons. When Pitt was appointed by King George III in 1783, despite the fact that Pitt had much less support than the Foxites or the Northites, he was in a weak position. He fell vastly short of a majority in the House of Commons. The opposition was convinced that they would be able to defeat the 'mince pie administration' by Christmas. However they could not. This was because of the King and the royal support. George III would do anything to prevent the Foxites or the Northites gaining power, this was because they wanted to limit the power of the king. George III had to call an election whenever the government kept losing bills. However the King, when asked by Pitt if he would delay the election to persuade independent MP's and the public, didn't until Pitt was in a good position. This meant that George III was using his powers in an attempt to advantage Pitt and disadvantage Fox and North. ...read more.


His skill also to not pursue unpopular bills in the House of Commons when they were defeated was key also to his longevity. Erhman, a historian, said that defeats on key issues 'are significant not because they threatened his position but rather because they suggested how he might buttress his strengths.' In other words he had the skill to learn from his mistakes and realised what to sacrifice for political longevity. However, there were other factors as well. Pitt's financial abilities also helped him to be popular with the electorate. He had shown his competency with finances while being Chancellor of the Exchequer. When Pitt entered office the national debt was �250 million pounds and the deficit was �10 million pounds. Exports had fallen by 12% due to the American War of Independence. When he left office, trade flourished, agriculture and industry had revolutionised. The debt and deficit had gone. He achieved this by raise revenues through indirect taxes such as window tax. He also introduced the first form of income tax. Also by cutting smuggling, using the Hovering Act and Commutation Act which made smuggling less profitable, he increased revenue from trade. These taxes hit the luxury goods only consumed by the rich elite. He cut spending by employing specialised people in areas of expertise, for example Charles Middleton on the Navy who cut spending in the Navy but increased ships produced. ...read more.


However these reforms we contradictory to the way Pitt guaranteed his political longevity in the 1784 general election using especially created sinecures in exchange for support. However these reforms are seen by historians as the essence of Pitt's reforms. On the other hand not all of the reasons of his longevity were down to skill. He was very lucky. The fact that King George III didn't involving himself in matters that Pitt pursued unless absolutely necessary was lucky because it meant that he could get on without interference. Also the fact that the economy grew again, as explained below, and the industrial and agriculture revolution started just as Pitt came into power because the underlying and, initially, masked economic success from it meant that Pitt could claim it was due to his policies. The revolutionary events of 1790's were especially lucky for Pitt because it dominated political life and undermined Fox's credibility In conclusion all of the reasons explained contributed to the longevity of Pitt's political career. Overall, the key reason that Pitt was dominant was because of the support of King George III, this is because George III had the power to remove Pitt at anytime, but he didn't until 1801. It is significant that when Pitt resigned it was the second time they had disagreed, on Catholic Emancipation. The relationship between them was crucial to Pitt's survival and George III powers, which would have been reduced without Pitt, had they not disagreed Pitt would certainly stayed for longer. Ben Cooper 12.2 ...read more.

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