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How democratic was Britain by 1918?

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Introduction

How democratic was Britain by 1918? In early 19th century Britain was an undemocratic country. Boroughs and counties divided the electoral system. There were voting differences between them. Men had to be of a particular age and a particular wealth to earn the franchise. Seats were not distributed equally - not by population. Bribery and corruption was apparent throughout the country. Only the rich could stand for election because it was an unpaid job with an entrance fee. There were no frequent elections. However between mid 19th century and 1918 there was vast progress. Greater equality and less power based on wealth helped this. Economic, social and political changes assisted the country into becoming democratic. The reform act of 1867 extended the franchise and introduced a fairer distribution of mps. In boroughs all male household owners satisfying a one year residence could vote. In counties all male household owners owning property to the value of �5 could vote. In boroughs all male lodgers living in rooms worth at least �10 could vote. In counties all men renting property with an annual value of �12 could vote. These acts increased the number of voters to 2,445,847 in 1869. 1 in 3 males had the vote. Even though the number of voters had dramatically increased the franchise was still dominated by wealth. ...read more.

Middle

The party was now assessable and accountable. He also established the national union of conservative associations. In 1874 there were 400. Democracy was increasingly important to a vast amount of people. As the world went forward with changes so did democracy. Houses were cleaner, hospitals were more efficient and successful. People were living longer. The railways had opened up Britain and with it brought holidays for all, better food and healthier living. By 1868 there were 16 towns with newspapers. News spread quickly and by 1901 there were 71 towns with papers. The world was attempting to become fair an equal to all. However the houses of lords increased its numbers. This is unfair because its not democratic, the people do not decide on who achieves a seat in the house of lords, members of the house of lords are honoured with their title or they inherit the title. The explanation for this increase was: a protection against the tyranny of the commons majority. But the house of commons was voted in by the people, the House of Lords thought democracy was a tyranny There was a local government act in 1894, this was the establishment of local councils, this was the government developing a system, a structure that was an important part of democracy. ...read more.

Conclusion

Returning officers expenses and election costs were to be met by public funds and not by candidates. This establishment of the electoral system made things faire. It set a more organised system. One undemocratic law not ruled out was the number of votes a certain person could have. Business owners and university graduates could have two votes. Between 1922 and 1945 the conservatives owed about nine seats to university graduates and about 7-11 seats to business owners. Constituencies were reorganised so that each was as near 70,000 votes reasonably possible. Apart from 10 double membered borough seats, old borough county division disappeared. This was very democratic apart from the ten double member borough seats. Having an equal system all around Britain, this was the setting and establishing of a system which would be the basis of any future decisions over constituencies. By 1918 the country was reasonably democratic. There were many factors holding Britain back at this time from being democratic. The vote was one of these, even though it had improved dramatically. The vote still needed the equality of suffrage and an age decrease to 18. Still some people could have two votes, this was deffanatly undemocratic. The last undemocratic factor was the ten double membered seats. However changes were taking place and soon the country would be able to call it democratic. Jennifer Dickson ...read more.

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