Constitutional and Political Reforms in the UK. The nineteenth century was an era of reforms in England. These included central administration, local government, the electoral system, civil liberties, free trade, rapid industrialization, reduction in the monarch’s powers, growth of cabinet system, the decline in the privileges of the House of Lords, etc. The century also witnessed the Liberal-Tory political dialogue and competition, the Chartism Movement’s failure, progressive development of the labor movement, and the trade unions’ organization.
In 1867, the Tories passed a new v Reform Bill about elections to the House of Commons. The Radical Associations led by Bright and Cobden, and the British workers now organized in trade unions struggled for voting rights and held large suffrage rallies; However, both parties opposed their demands. In the beginning, Disraeli finally agreed to enfranchise the workers and petty-bourgeois sections. He wanted to pro a new image for his Tory Party of which was the leader. The agricultural worker’s industrial laborers living outside munition limits got the right to vote by the Act of 1.
The Dissenters, Catholics, and Jews also granted civil and political rights or an equal basis. Thus the privileges of the Angola church were discontinued. The capitalist oligarchy that existed in the eighteenth century gradually transformed into bourgeois democracy; However, workers voted in an election the House of Commons, yet no member of the working-class or any trade union activist a chance of being elected to Parliament at a historical juncture. The Labour Party was yet in existence. Politically the working was still a subject class.
Imperialism and British Democracy Laski has rightly pointed out a symbiotic relationship between imperialism abroad and British demos at home. Along with constitutional reform in England, the nineteenth century also twin complete colonization of India the cruel; wars in China, brutal colonial wars worldwide, the violent suppression of freedom state in Ireland, etc. France, Germany, and R emerged as commercial and colonial rivals great Britain in different parts of the won.
In 1880 a new era commenced in history. This was the age of global imperial expansion and domination of the finance of Great Britain. Other capitalists joined hands in the colonial partition of A in dividing China into spheres of influence, consolidating Colonial exploitation in western and southern Asia, in the Suez Canal’s construe, and extending imperialism to Latin America inconjunct; with the United States.
Imperialist rival the British and German capitalists to fig first world war. British democracy, like the Athenian democracy of ancient Greece, founded on a restrictive concept of democracy, which denied freedom and equal rights to slaves in one case and colonial subjects in another. Race and or class fixed the bound of democratic rights in both cases: Party System and Responsible Government.
During the phase of the rise of imperialism, the two-party system in England was elucidated. The British ruling class, first divided between the Whigs and Tories, later adopted the Liberal and Conservative designations; the existence of two major parties facilitated the growth of parliamentary government in England.
To begin with, Parliament did not represent the British people. While the upper house was constituted on a hereditary basis, the lower house was elected on severely restricted franchise and under a thoroughly corrupt electoral system.
The British political system was oligarchical in its essence. With the extension of suffrage, new social classes found representation in the House of Commons, but the government remained under the two bourgeois parties’ effective control.
The Conservative and Liberal Parties could later be regarded as two wings of the same ideological party, just two factions of the quarreling bourgeoisie. Industrial capital eventually joined hands with the finance capital. Consequently, the industrialists supporting the Liberal Party tamed Conservative.
Radical intellectuals and manual workers thought in terms of creating a separate political association. Thus, the organized Trade Unions and radical party bourgeois individuals jointly laid the British Labour Party’s foundation at the beginning of the twentieth century.
With the rise of large-scale mechanized production, the size of factories and trade unions grew bigger, and thus, giant trade union organizations came into existence.
When the working-class got a vote, the Labour Party, based on trade unions’ organized power, was bound to emerge sooner or later as a third political grouping. The Chartists first demanded manhood suffrage, but the ruling class delayed its grant for another fifty years. Capitalism not only denied the franchise to the workers, but it also refused to grant it to women for a century. The adult franchise was ultimately won in the United Kingdom due to the working-class agitation and the British women’s suffragist movement.
The new Conservative Party gradually absorbed the Liberal Party. The Labour party-finally emerged as the main rival of the Conservatives in British parliamentary politics. Between the two world wars, the state sower mostly remained with the Conservative party.
The minority Labour Governments of 1924 and 1929 were short-lived, which could not implement heir program. Thus, the conservatives could not maintain their status as the United Kingdom’s chief ruling party and the British Empire for a long time.
After the second world war, the Labour Party got an opportunity to form its government by securing a majority in the House of Commons for the first time. This time the Party did get a chance to carry out its program.
However, the Conservatives were voted to power again m 1952, continued to rule till 1964, and undid some of the previous Labour administration measures. The Labour Party got another chance to govern in 1964 but was replaced by the Conservatives in 1970, who ruled till 1974; between 1974 and 1979, Labour Party exercised power again.
Then Thatcher and Major ruled England on behalf of the Conservatives for eighteen uninterrupted years. In 1998, Labour was replaced with power under Tony Blair. It tums out that while the Tory or Tory-led governments ruled Britain for 66 years after the first world war, the Labour Party was only in power for about eighteen years. That shows that the British two-party system is heavily loaded in favor of the Conservatives and against the Labourites.