How far was Britain a democracy by 1918?
At the beginning of the time period, 1850, Britain was not democratic. There was not a lot of choice concerning the political parties, there were only two parties: The Liberals and the Conservatives. Woman did not have any right to vote and were considered second class citizens. In England and Wales only one million and five men could vote and some men could vote twice. The distribution of seats did not take into account the migration of Britain. The House of Lords (HOL) were aristocracy that were their because of their ancestry. MP’s were unpaid and had to own property so the poorer classes could not be MP’s and therefore opinions not heard. A democracy is one which has universal suffrage, equal distribution of seats, wide range of choice of parties that cover a wide range of issues, everyone has the right to be an MP and the HOL should be trusted members of the public. By the end of the time period, 1918, the majority of these had been overcome, lots of people had the right to vote, redistribution of seats made it more equal, there were now more than two parties, the property qualification in becoming an MP was abolished and they were paid salaries and the HOL lost the right to veto laws and hold them for two years, they could only hold them for one year. In 1850 the only men who could vote where upper class men who owned property, this changed in the1867 Reform act meant that skilled working middle class men who owned or rented property above £10 a month got the franchise. This act doubled the amount of men who could vote and in the growing towns this number was even greater. However not everyone thought that this act was beneficial as historian M. Pugh said that the 1867 Reform act ‘was never likely to be more than a temporary expedient to meet the needs of the government of the day’, basically saying that the act was a means of avoiding a revolution, however ‘immoral’ according to the times. Although the franchise...
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