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How far do you agree that the transition from meritocracy to democracy between 1832 and 1932 was the result of pressure from below and timely concession from above?

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Introduction

How far do you agree that the transition from meritocracy to democracy between 1832 and 1932 was the result of pressure from below and timely concession from above? The move towards democracy may have been helped along by popular pressure, the coming together of groups in society for a political cause but as to whether it was the main driving force for concessions by Parliament, is a different matter. There are two types of pressure, the first being moral forces, which is those that use peaceful protest to get their views heard, the second grouping physical forces used other methods such as violence to put their point across, as they believed it to be the only way that worked. There are other factors that may have had an impact that should be considered also, such as the war. The physical forces within the Chartist movement (1837 to 1848) and the Suffragettes movement (1903 to 1914), proved to be a destructive to their causes more than anything else. After a Chartist meeting in Birmingham in July of 1839 there were the Bull Riots which saw the arrest of William Lovett, the leading spokesman of the "moral force" Chartism view, shortly after this the House of Commons rejected the Chartist petition, the riots would have had a negative effect on this decision, however small. ...read more.

Middle

This showed that there were elements of the working classes that were stake holders in society with property, rented and owned, thus they merited the vote. In 1871 the Trade Union Act was passed, after the Royal Commission had advised Gladstone to do so. Trade unions became very involved in politics and in getting political reform, at the turn of the century trade unions became linked with the Labour Party, trade unions decided in1900 to found their own political party, the Labour Representation Committee, which became the Labour Party in 1906. By becoming a political party, Trade Unions established themselves as a part of the system, thus showing that they are working within the meritocratic principle which equates to them not being a threat to the aristocracy as they were working with them, under their terms. Gaining concessions through out this period proved to be a difficult task as the aristocracy wanted to maintain their position within society and so before any concessions could be made they had to be sure they would still be in the driving seat. It was the ends what they kept in mind, the means were almost an irrelevance. ...read more.

Conclusion

The Suffragists proved that women were not hysterical or without reason as well as that they worked within the meritocractic principle leaving little reason for them not to be enfranchised. They also helped in the war effort stopping everything to help, they also changed the name of their magazine to "Britannia" to show patriotism. The women who received the vote in 1918 did nothing with it, which proved that they were no danger to the political system, they may even make it more conservative, and so the Equal Franchise Act in 1928 was not going to be a huge risk for the government to take. Once again the transition to democracy was based on the results being of no threat to the aristocracy, therefore not timely concessions or popular disorder. Physical forces proved to be ineffective as governments could not afford to be seen to be giving in to violence, moral forces on the other hand made politicians see that they merited the vote and although they are not the primary reason for the transition they certainly played a part. It is clear that the governments in office gave concessions only when it suited them, it was all for their benefit. Therefore the meritocratic democracy that was put in place was come to by fault rather than intention. ?? ?? ?? ?? 1 Louise Vaz St. Charles Six Form College ...read more.

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