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To what extent did the political and social legislation of Gladstone and Disraeli's ministries 1867-1885 influence the lives of the working class people?

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To what extent did the political and social legislation of Gladstone and Disraeli's ministries 1867-1885 influence the lives of the working class people? Both social and political legislation affected the working class, however in separate ways, having both long and short term effects. Both Gladstone and Disraeli influenced the lives of the working class by introducing them into the political arena by passing several political reform Acts in 1867, 1872 and 1884, thus increasing the franchise significantly from approximately 3.1 million in 1881 to 5.7 million in 1875. This had a big impact in the long term, as the electorate grew by approximately 2.6 million in four years. This played a role in the true representation of the people, as the limitations in the 1832 reform Act, was now removed. For example in 1832, the working class did not gain the vote. In Birmingham, only 5% of the population could vote-mainly the middle class. However by 1867, the electorate was significantly enlarged by approximately 1,120,000, thus adding to the previous total of 1,400,000. The greatest increase was amongst working class voters. In Birmingham, its electorate rose from 8000-43000. As a result the boroughs were predominantly working class. This shows that political change was most significant in influencing the working class life because of the impact on social agenda. However just as much as political legislation played a key role in improving the conditions of the working class, especially in the long run, education ...read more.


Gladstone passed several social Acts to improve education-Public Schools Act 1868, Trade Union Acts and also the expansion of the franchise-Ballot Act 1872 and the Corrupt Illegal Practices Act 1883. As H. J. Hanham stated, 'the whole system of election had to be created afresh...the parties had to create new candidates, to create new divisional association and divisional office...and generally begin things anew. The political legislation passed by Gladstone, in his second ministry between 1880-1885, was the basis for democracy and equality, with which we are affected by, today. This was because he passed his three most important Acts (as mentioned previously). The Representation of the People Act, passed in 1884, was arguably the most effective as the electorate increased from 3.1 million in 1883 to 5.7million in 1885. As one historian puts it, 'about 60% of the adult population gained the vote, however the remaining 40% remained without the vote until 1918.' This shows that there was still work to do on increasing the franchise, however politics now had a big influence on working class lives. Their vote counted towards the political party who would stand up for their rights and demands. Manchester, April 1872, 'the first consideration of a minister should be the health of the people. Social legislation, such as that of the Artisans Dwelling's Act passed in 1875, benefited the working class considering the fact that living conditions were very poor. ...read more.


Death rates had decreased from 35,000 during the 1870's, however they were still high. In conclusion, political reform lead to social change. Political legislation had an effective long term effect on the development of political control in England, was that governments could rely on tighter party discipline and acquired more grip on the procedure of the House of Commons. They were thus increasingly able to control the content and progress of legislation and the balance between executive and legislature shifted in favour of the former. As E. J. Feuchtwanger stated, 'these developments met up with and were complementary to the rapid expansion of Sate activity and of bureaucracy, a process that had been going on throughout the nineteenth century...the demand for legislation went up by leaps ad bounds and governments were progressively more able to meet it.' Thus political legislation set the basis for the development of social legislation, however it could be argued that education also played a large role in the demand for an increase in the franchise, as the working class became more aware of politics in England, thus became more involved in voting and having a say on which party would represent the country. This in turn placed more demand for the political parties to appeal to the working class and fulfil their demands. As E. J. Feuchtwanger stated, 'the working class became more important as determinants of political affiliation.' History task 2 centre no: 58603 Christina Baghdady word count: 1,811 1 ...read more.

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