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How far did Britain become more democratic between the mid nineteenth century and 1928?

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How far did Britain become more democratic between the mid-nineteenth century and 1928? Britain became fairly democratic between the mid-nineteenth century and 1928 and many changes and improvements helped this to happen. These included a gradually extending franchise, with more and more people gaining the right to vote, easier access to information raising awareness of national issues, and fairer choice for voters, for example, the Secret Ballot Act of 1872. Other important improvements included increasing participation with a wider variety of people able to become an MP. Finally, an improvement in fairness greatly helped Britain to be more democratic. An example of this is the 1885 Redistribution of seats which made electing MPs much fairer. However, by 1928, changes still needed to be made for Britain to be fully democratic. For example, plural voting was still accepted and the House of Lords were still able to delay laws made by the House of Commons. An important way in which Britain became more democratic was in extending the right to vote. The Reform Act of 1867 gave the vote to men owning property above a certain value and (male) lodgers paying rent above �10 a year. This meant that the vote was extended to skilled working men who could afford to live in property above that value and this resulted in the number of men who were entitled to vote increasing greatly. ...read more.


This meant they had to be over 21 years old, regardless of property ownership. Increasing and easier access to information was another way in which Britain became more democratic. In the 1860s, the Industrial Revolution changed where people lived and worked and so it demanded a more efficient transport network. This encouraged the development of railways which led to a national network of rapid and reliable communications. Railways, along with national newspapers, helped to create a national political identity where the people in Britain were aware of national issues. Newspaper owners saw this as a chance to widen their market and politicians took the opportunity to spread their points of view far and wide. With the spread of basic education making more people able to read and write, and the development of cheap new printing technology, popular newspapers aimed at the working classes spread national and local news. In response, political parties organised themselves into national units with local associations assisting the spread of national policies. Also, with an increasing number of people becoming able to read and write, more libraries opened around Britain. This was another opportunity for the public to gain access to information and become aware of national issues. Another way in which Britain became more democratic was in making voting fairer. The 1872 Secret Ballot Act was an important example of fairer voting as it allowed voters to vote in secret in polling booths whereas before then, they had to vote in public. ...read more.


The Trade Unions agreed to finance the Labour Party with money from the subscriptions paid by Union members and the Labour Representation Committee (soon called the Labour Party) was formed. The Labour Party provided greater choice and meant that all sections of the electorate were represented. Finally, participation increased in 1911 when MPs began to be paid. This allowed ordinary people to participate more fully in the political process. Before this point, MPs were not paid and had to own land. The property qualification to become an MP ended in the 1850s but working class men, who had to work for their living for fairly low wages, could not afford to give up their day job to become a 'politician'. Giving the working classes the opportunity to participate fully in the electoral process greatly helped Britain to become more democratic. In conclusion, by 1928 Britain had become more democratic in many ways. However, for Britain to be fully democratic changes still needed to be made. For example, voting was not made completely fair as plural voting was an undemocratic feature of nineteenth century voting which continued into the twentieth century. Men who owned property in a constituency different from the one in which they lived gained one extra vote(or more, depending on the businesses they owned) while university graduates also had a vote in both their home and university constituencies. The unelected House of Lords could also still have a say over new laws made by the elected House of Commons (unless to do with budgets or bills). ...read more.

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