Why did Parliament bring in the Reform Act in 1832 and how important was the Act?


IN this module I shall answer the question “Why did Parliament bring in the Reform Act in 1832 and how important was the Act?” I shall split the question up and answer different causes whether economical or political. There were many short-term causes and long term causes, I shall answer just six of them, three long-term causes and three short-term causes.


Unemployment increased after 1829. This called for Reform because when most working-class people had jobs they were too busy to be interested in politics and they wanted the country to stay that way, supplying them with jobs constantly. But after the Napoleonic Wars from 1798 to 1815 there were surplus soldiers in England. All these soldiers lost their jobs in the army and also lost their jobs they had before the Wars. So now the working-class people were upset at their government for not listening to people who had fought for king and country and their demands for more jobs. They thought that if they had the vote they could vote for someone who understood their needs, possibly a working-class person themselves…


Because the working-class people were so desperate for a reform in voting, a lot resorted to violence. There were riots in Derby and Nottingham and rioters held the city of Bristol for three days! The Government was getting very neurotic. When there was a peaceful protest at St. Peters Park in Manchester the army was sent in. After the first ten minutes 11 people had been killed. They were protesting that Manchester, a mammoth city, had no MP’s while Old Sarum, a village that had fallen into the sea in the Middle Ages, still had two MP’s…


Because Manchester either did not exist or was very small when the constituencies of the villages were laid before Parliament in the Early Middle Ages, no one protested. But during the Industrial Revolution Manchester rocketed in growth. But the Government at that time, the Tories, had a policy that everything stayed the same as it was in the Middle Ages (to some extent!). But their opposition, the Whigs, believed in some reform in voting and new constituencies. But no reform came until 1832 because the Tories had been in power for 47 years! But in the years directly before 1832, the Tories had problems finding a good leader…



t The Duke Wellington became Prime Minister in 1828, but then became unpopular and resigned after two years.


The general who commandeered Britain and her allies to victory in 1815 against Napoleon, Wellington, became Prime Minister from 1828 for two years, until 1830. People joked “He’s a good general but a bad politician!” That literally meant he should stay in the army and stay out of politics. That was because he was so used to being a General he gave orders to members of his party so much that some actually left the party! Wellington did not want a voting reform, which made him very unpopular with the constantly growing unemployed workers of Britain. Eventually, Wellington could take the strain of politics no longer and resigned, in 1830.


Meanwhile, the Whigs had a very good leader who was called Earl Grey, and is very famous for the tea that is named after him. While the Tories had a very bad leader the Whigs had a very good leader, which gave them a very good chance of winning. But while the Tories were still in power there were still protests, and bands of protesters began to band together to form groups…


These groups became known as workers’ parties, or sometimes just parties. The protesters began to form parties when some of them realized that a lot of protesters with the same cause had more power than just one protester. These parties had slogans and mottos like: “United we stand, divided we fall.” These mottos and slogans were designed to attract even more workers and protesters to join their parties. Often, multiple parties with the same views fused together to form super-sized groups. These parties had a lot of power and put immense pressure on the Government for a reform. These parties still exist, and are still very powerful but most of them today are