The Great Reform Act & the modernisation of British politics: the impact of the Conservative Associations, 1835-41

Cragoe, Matthew (2008) The Great Reform Act & the modernisation of British politics: the impact of the Conservative Associations, 1835-41. Journal of British Studies, 47 (3). pp. 581-603. ISSN 0021-9371

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Abstract

When did nationally based party alignments become significant at the grassroots of British politics? The issue has divided historians. For some, the dramatic rise in contested elections following the Great Reform Act, and the unprecedented partisanship of the enlarged electorate, suggest a real modernization of British politics in the 1830s. John Philips, for example, has argued that the measure “helped orient popular politics more consistently around national issues,” and Frank O’Gorman and Philip Salmon have both pointed to the way in which the system of annual voter registration introduced in 1832 worked toward a similar end: not only did local parties develop new machinery to deal with registration, but their annual canvass of those eligible for the franchise, in Salmon’s words, “brought the agency of party into every elector’s home and … the politics of Westminster much closer to the electorate.” “By bringing individual voters face to face with political realities on a regular basis,” he goes on, this process generated the partisanship measured by Philips. Taken together, such evidence suggests that the Reform Act had a profound impact, tying the localities into an increasingly national political debate.

Item Type: Article
Schools and Departments: School of History, Art History and Philosophy > History
Subjects: D History General and Old World > DA History of Great Britain
Depositing User: Matthew Cragoe
Date Deposited: 06 Feb 2012 20:43
Last Modified: 08 Mar 2017 17:37
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/27677

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