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Changing political attitudes

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Facts about the role that changing political attitudes played in influencing democratic change in Britain in the 1800s

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Changing political attitudes

  1. 1. Changing attitudesChanging attitudes By the mid-1800s, political attitudes were beginning to change. The previous opinions of the political classes – that poorer people could not be trusted to vote – were beginning to shift, for different reasons.
  2. 2. LiberalismLiberalism New political ideas began to spread, including Socialism (workers should control their country) and Liberalism (the idea that people should be free to express opinions). Political thinkers like John Stuart Mill and Karl Marx published important books supporting this.
  3. 3. ArtisansArtisans The rise of artisans (skilled workers) also played a role. They had trades which required great talent, and many also attended night schools to improve education. Some artisans took a political interest too.
  4. 4. Political involvementPolitical involvement The growth of political and workplace pressure groups also had an impact. The working classes began to organise trade unions to secure workplace rights, or join with groups such as the Chartists to get the right to vote.
  5. 5. Changing politicalChanging political attitudesattitudes Changing attitudes had a major impact in on democracy. Politicians such as William Gladstone believed that artisans were deserving of the right to vote, especially as to deny them this might lead to revolution.
  6. 6. Changing politicalChanging political attitudesattitudes The artisans’ interest in politics persuaded many politicians that they deserved the vote. Many working class people supported the anti-slavery campaign in the USA, including not working with slave cotton.
  7. 7. Changing politicalChanging political attitudesattitudes However even though attitudes were changing, they had not done so fully. Only one-third of men got the vote in 1867, and by 1884 this was increased to two-thirds, meaning large numbers were still excluded.
  8. 8. Changing politicalChanging political attitudesattitudes Although artisans showed respectability through skills and roles in pressure groups, this was often undermined. Violence sometimes occurred at protests marches, supporting the view that the working class could not be trusted to vote.
  9. 9. Changing politicalChanging political attitudesattitudes Although artisans showed respectability through skills and roles in pressure groups, this was often undermined. Violence sometimes occurred at protests marches, supporting the view that the working class could not be trusted to vote.

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