Posts Tagged ‘Disraeil’

Labour history uncut: “I’m alright Jack” say the skilled working classes

15/11/2012, 04:15:53 PM

Pete Goddard and Atul Hatwal continue their look at the development of the unions and their role in establishing the Labour representation committee (LRC) in 1900

By 1866 the Tories had been out of power for 18 of the past 20 years and were pretty ticked off. What’s the point of being a Tory if you can’t lord it over the little people by being in government?

In the meantime working people had started to organise in earnest. Unions were springing up, Duncan’s horses were eating each other and civilisation was teetering on the brink of the abyss – at least as far as the landed gentry saw things.

Worst of all, there was pressure to extend the vote to the working classes. The Tories failed to see why anyone should be allowed to vote if they didn’t even have enough sense to be born into a wealthy family. But apparently, some people thought otherwise.

Throughout the 1860s various attempts by Liberals to broaden the franchise were defeated by a combination of Liberal splits and Tory opposition.

But it was only a matter of time.

In 1866 the Tories squeaked back into government as a minority administration. After so many years out in the cold, and with a toxic electoral brand, the Tories’ first moderniser, Benjamin Disraeli had a plan.

Previous approaches to voting reform had involved saying “no”, and then when pressed, shouting “NO!” much louder and storming out in a huff.

Core Tory supporters loved this approach and it always went down a storm in the House of Lords, which incidentally was where the core Tory support sat, literally. But, out in the electorate, enthusiasm was rather lacking.

Disraeli’s big idea was to stop saying “no” and start saying “sort of.”

It was going to happen at some point anyway, so the Tories might as well be the ones to do it. They could then claim the credit and still only implement low-calorie suffrage, thus averting the risk that the Liberals might implement something bonkers like votes for everyone. Those Liberals were crazy.

Disraeli, shortly after his appearance on "Pimp my Tory"

Disraeli, shortly after his appearance on "Pimp my Tory"


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