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How Significant Was Popular Pressure in the Passing of the 1832 Reform Act?

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How significant was popular pressure in passing the 1832 reform act?
The use of popular pressure was quite significant in the passing of the 1832 reform act. Firstly, because of the protests and riots which occurred in the build-up to the reform act, the Government made some sort of concessions for the public, and were seen to give into popular pressure. Though on the other hand, it could be seen that the Whig’s were using the excuse of popular pressure to gain more power for themselves.
Popular pressure was significant in passing the 1832 reform act, because of the fact that Earl Grey knew that the reform act was public knowledge after the failure of the first attempt to pass the reform act, he knew that the public would not take kindly if he was to not push for the act again in the house of commons, this is backed up by a letter from Duke Wellington to Mrs Arbuthnot where he states “They will plunder, annihilate, all property in this country”, this is in reference to if reform was not passed. Wellington also stated in the letter “It may be relied on that we have a revolution”, this is furthermore showing the potential power of the masses, which shows that the fear of the people was prevalent even in the wealthy, who had a lot of political power within Britain at the time. This proves greatly that popular pressure was significant in the passing of the act because even in the early stages, the inclination of chaos was enough to intimidate Duke Wellington.
The BPU was the biggest threat to the Government at the time, and though their methods were usually peaceful, the Government was always in fear of it taking up arms, due to the large membership. They discussed the possibility of a rising if Wellington tried to form a Government during the Days of May, over 200 meetings were held at this time, and 300 petitions were presented to parliament asking them not to do anything until the House of Lords passed the reform act. This shows that there was massive public support for the Act, showing popular pressure had potentially a violent significance, as well as peaceful. This led to Earl Grey gaining back the prime minister title, due to popular pressure.
The refusal of William IV to create the necessary Whig MP’s to pass the Bill through the House of Lords led to Duke Wellington attempting to form a government and the 'May Days'. “The Gathering of Unions”, which urged the Lords "not to drive to despair a high-minded, a generous and a fearless people", had little or no effect because the meeting was not reported in London, when the cabinet had resigned. This furthermore shows that popular pressure was having an effect because the commons were exercising all their power, even in resignation, to pass through the reform act, during the days of May, there were many violent riots, which eventually caused William IV to reinstate Grey’s Government, and build a majority Whigs in Parliament, so that the “Great Reform act” could be passed.
Though it can also be seen that the Liberal Whig’s ‘rode the wave of popular pressure’ to gain power. Attwood proclaimed on 16 May 1832 that Grey "had been carried back ... on the shoulders of the people". As the Whig Government would gain a lot of support from the likes of the BPU and London rioters if they were seen to have been supportive of the people. And the way Grey used political manoeuvrability, by resigning at the right time, he was able to bully the King into reinstating him into more power, which is seen when he conceded a Whig majority in parliament, after Grey’s first resignation. This shows that Grey could have been personally motivated to keep power, instead of having the public’s needs at heart.
Though on the flip side, it can also be argued that Grey was in fact battling for the people, and using public pressure to his advantage to help the very people he represented politically. Grey again resigned on the 9th of May after King William IV refused him 50 or 60 more peers to pass the Reform Act. Legislation was finally allowed to pass after King William allowed Parliament to be filled with Whig’s and circulated a letter around to the Tories encouraging them to let the bill pass. This shows that Earl did in fact play a significant part in Passing the Reform act.
It seems to be clear that without the popular pressure exerted by the Political Unions, the BPU especially, the Reform Bill would not have passed parliament in 1832. As quoted in (The Destructive, 9 March 1833) "To this body, more than to any other, is confessedly due the triumph (such as it was) of the Reform Bill. Its well-ordered proceedings, extended organisation, and immense asemblages of people, at critical periods of its progress, rendered the measure irresistible". This shows that Popular Pressure was very significant, but also the tenacity of Grey, depending on your viewpoint, allowed the reform act to be passed.

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