Political Unions, Popular Politics and the Great Reform Act by Nancy D. Lopatin

By Nancy D. Lopatin

This e-book is the 1st at the production, improvement and impact of well known politics, in particular the function of Political Unions, at the nice Reform Act of 1832. Political Unions and the strength of public opinion performed an essential function in seeing the Reform invoice via Parliament and surroundings England at the direction of peaceable, legislative reform. Their emphasis on representing the 'industrious' sessions associated the Unions to the rising debates - political and socio-economic - in later Victorian Britain and the evolution of British participatory democracy.

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They openly speculated about the new BPU which represented an alliance of the middle and working classes. Some hinted at revolution and urged the Duke of Wellington to, 'look at Birmingham.. 75 England waited and watched the BPU for signs that its reform campaign had begun. But the BPU was relatively inactive after the initial January meeting. Subscriptions for membership were coming, but slowly. Some Council members expressed concern that only 2,200 names were listed on the Union's roll. Attwood himself was worried that those who had joined the BPU were almost exclusively workers or small shopkeepers, brought to the organization by Russell, Pares or Edmonds.

George Ashworth, a Council member of the Todmorden Political Union which had adopted the BPU's Rules and Regulations almost to the letter, described the Council as the fulcrum to the general Union's lever. 50 The Union was clearly no democracy and its leaders were able to keep a tight hold over the general membership and the way in which the organization would agitate for reform. The Council justified the concen- The BPU and the Origins of the Campaign 27 tration of such power in its hands by arguing that only a central authority, not a collaborative effort, could handle such responsibilities.

At a Political Union dinner held in October, Attwood played upon the emotions of the 3,700 community members in attendance by asking, 'Where is the man among you who would not follow me to the death in a righteous cause? 93 Things were not so clear when, instead of espousing the proposals of a rejected scheme, the prospect of a government-sponsored parliamentary reform measure appeared. When Wellington resigned in November 1830 and Lord Grey led the Whigs into office, parliamentary reform was no longer a dream.

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