|Historical leaders|| William Beckford |
|Merged into||Liberal Party|
|Newspaper|| The Westminster Review |
The Black Dwarf
|Grassroots wing||Hampden Clubs|
|Ideology|| Chartism |
|Political position||Left-wing [ citation needed ]|
|This article is part of a series on|
|Politics of the United Kingdom|
The Radicals were a loose parliamentary political grouping in Great Britain and Ireland in the early to mid-19th century, who drew on earlier ideas of radicalism and helped to transform the Whigs into the Liberal Party.
The Radical movement arose in the late 18th century to support parliamentary reform, with additional aims including lower taxes and the abolition of sinecures.John Wilkes's reformist efforts in the 1760s as editor of The North Briton and MP were seen as radical at the time, but support dropped away after the Massacre of St George's Fields in 1768. Working class and middle class "Popular Radicals" agitated to demand the right to vote and assert other rights including freedom of the press and relief from economic distress, while "Philosophic Radicals" strongly supported parliamentary reform, but were generally hostile to the arguments and tactics of the Popular Radicals. However, the term “Radical” itself, as opposed to “reformer” or “Radical Reformer”, only emerged in 1819 during the upsurge of protest following the successful conclusion of the Napoleonic War. Henry "Orator" Hunt was the main speaker at the Manchester meeting in 1819 that ended in the Peterloo Massacre; Hunt was elected MP for the Preston division in 1830-32.
Radicals inside and outside Parliament were divided over the merits of the Whig Reform Act 1832. Some continued to press for the ballot and universal suffrage,but the majority (as mobilised in unions like the Birmingham Political Union) saw abolition of the rotten boroughs as a major step towards the destruction of what they called "Old Corruption" or "The Thing": "In consequence of the boroughs, all our institutions are partial, oppressive, and aristocratic. We have an aristocratic church, an aristocratic bar, an aristocratic game-code, aristocratic taxation....all is privilege".
The 1832 parliament elected on the new franchise – which raised the percentage of the adult population eligible to vote from some 3% to 6%– contained some fifty or sixty Radicals, a number shortly doubled in the 1835 election, leading many to envisage a House of Commons eventually divided between Radicals on the one side and Conservatives (Tories and Whigs) on the other.
In fact, the Radicals failed either to take over an existing party, or to create a new, third force and there were three main reasons. The first was the continuing strength of Whig electoral power in the half-century following the 1832 Act. The latter had expressly been designed to preserve Whig landlord influence in the counties and the remaining small borough– one reason a radical like Henry Hetherington condemned the bill as "an invitation to the shopocrats of the enfranchised towns to join the Whiggocrats of the country". Whigs were also able to profit in two-member constituencies from electoral pacts made with a more reforming candidate.
Secondly, there was the wide body of reforming opinion inside (and outside) Parliament concerned with other, unrelated issues, including international liberalism, anti-slavery, educational and temperance reform, non-conformist disabilities.
Thirdly, the Radicals were always more a body of opinion than a structured force.They lacked any party organisation, formal leadership, or unified ideology. Instead, humanitarian Radicals opposed philosophic Radicals over the Factory Acts; political Radicals seeking a slimmed-down executive opposed Benthamite interventionists; universal suffrage men competed for time and resources with free traders – the Manchester men.
By 1859, the Radicals had come together with the Whigs and the anti-protectionist Tory Peelites to form the Liberal Party, though with the New Radicalism of figures like Joseph Chamberlain they continued to have a distinctive political influence into the closing years of the nineteenth century.
Following the First Reform Act, popular demand for wider suffrage was taken up by the mainly working-class movement, Chartism. Meanwhile Radical leaders like Richard Cobden and John Bright in the middle class Anti-Corn Law League emerged to oppose the existing duties on imported grain which helped farmers and landowners by raising the price of food, but which harmed consumers and manufacturers. After the success of the League on the one hand and the failure of Chartist mass demonstrations and petitions in 1848 to sway parliament on the other, demand for suffrage and parliamentary reform slowly re-emerged through the parliamentary radicals.
By 1864, with agitation from John Bright and the Reform League, the Liberal Prime Minister Earl Russell introduced a modest bill which was defeated by both Tories and reform Liberals, forcing the government to resign. A Conservative minority government led by the Earl of Derby and Benjamin Disraeli took office and introduced the Reform Act 1867 – which almost doubled the electorate, giving many working men the vote – in a somewhat opportunistic party fashion.
Further Radical pressure led to the secret ballot (1872) and the Corrupt and Illegal Practices Act of 1883, followed by the Representation of the People Act 1884.Progressive liberals like John Morley and Joseph Chamberlain continued to value radicalism as a unifying bridge between the classes, and a common goal. However in 1886 Chamberlain helped form the breakaway Liberal Unionist Party that mostly supported Conservative governments. The long career of David Lloyd George saw him moving from radical views in the 1890s to becoming Prime Minister in coalition with the Conservatives in 1918. From 1900 and the rise of the Labour Party and the gradual achievement of the majority of the original Radical goals, Parliamentary Radicalism ceased to function as a political force in the early twentieth century.
The Liberal Party was one of the two major political parties in the United Kingdom with the opposing Conservative Party in the 19th and early 20th centuries. The party arose from an alliance of Whigs and free trade-supporting Peelites and the reformist Radicals in the 1850s. By the end of the 19th century, it had formed four governments under William Gladstone. Despite being divided over the issue of Irish Home Rule, the party returned to government in 1905 and then won a landslide victory in the following year's general election.
The Whigs were a political faction and then a political party in the parliaments of England, Scotland, Great Britain, Ireland and the United Kingdom. Between the 1680s and 1850s, the Whigs contested power with their rivals, the Tories. The Whigs merged into the new Liberal Party in the 1850s, though some Whig aristocrats left the Liberal Party in 1885 to form the Liberal Unionist Party, which merged into the Liberals' rival the modern day Conservative Party in 1912.
Sir Robert Peel, 2nd Baronet, was an English Conservative statesman who served twice as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom and twice as Home Secretary. He is regarded as the father of modern British policing, owing to his founding of the Metropolitan Police Service. Peel was one of the founders of the modern Conservative Party.
The Representation of the People Act 1832 was an Act of Parliament of the United Kingdom that introduced major changes to the electoral system of England and Wales. It abolished tiny districts, gave representation to cities, gave the vote to small landowners, tenant farmers, shopkeepers, householders who paid a yearly rental of £10 or more, and some lodgers. Only qualifying men were able to vote; the Act introduced the first explicit statutory bar to women voting, by defining a voter as a male person.
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland was a sovereign state that existed between 1801 and 1922. It was established by the Acts of Union 1800, which merged the kingdoms of Great Britain and Ireland into a unified state. The establishment of the Irish Free State in 1922 led to the country later being renamed to the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland in 1927, which continues to exist.
John Russell, 1st Earl Russell,, known by his courtesy title Lord John Russell before 1861, was a British Whig and Liberal statesman who served as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1846 to 1852 and again from 1865 to 1866.
Following the Peterloo Massacre on 16 August 1819, the government of the United Kingdom acted to prevent any future disturbances by the introduction of new legislation, the so-called Six Acts aimed at suppressing any meetings for the purpose of radical reform. Élie Halévy considered them a panic-stricken extension of "the counter-revolutionary terror ... under the direct patronage of Lord Sidmouth and his colleagues"; some later historians have treated them as relatively mild gestures towards law and order, only tentatively enforced.
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The Anti-Corn Law League was a successful political movement in Great Britain aimed at the abolition of the unpopular Corn Laws, which protected landowners’ interests by levying taxes on imported wheat, thus raising the price of bread at a time when factory-owners were trying to cut wages. The League was a middle-class nationwide organisation that held many well-attended rallies on the premise that a crusade was needed to convince parliament to repeal the corn laws. Its long-term goals included the removal of feudal privileges, which it denounced as impeding progress, lowering economic well-being, and restricting freedom. The League played little role in the final act in 1846 when Sir Robert Peel led the successful battle for repeal. However, its experience provided a model that was widely adopted in Britain and other democratic nations to demonstrate the organisation of a political pressure group with the popular base.
The Society of the Friends of the People was an organisation in Great Britain that was focused on advocating for Parliamentary Reform. It was founded by the Whig Party in 1792.
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Radicalism was a historical political movement within liberalism during the late 18th and early 19th centuries and a precursor to social liberalism. Its identified radicals were proponents of democratic reform in what subsequently became the parliamentary Radicals in the United Kingdom.
"Unreformed House of Commons" is a name given to the House of Commons of Great Britain and the House of Commons of the United Kingdom before it was reformed by the Reform Act 1832.
The Redistribution of Seats Act 1885 was an Act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom. It was a piece of electoral reform legislation that redistributed the seats in the House of Commons, introducing the concept of equally populated constituencies, a concept in the broader global context termed equal apportionment, in an attempt to equalise representation across the UK. It was associated with, but not part of, the Representation of the People Act 1884.
The Philosophical Radicals were a philosophically-minded group of English political radicals in the nineteenth century inspired by Jeremy Bentham (1748–1832) and James Mill (1773–1836). Individuals within this group included Francis Place (1771–1854), George Grote (1794–1871), Joseph Parkes (1796–1865), John Arthur Roebuck (1802–1879), Charles Buller (1806–1848), John Stuart Mill (1806–1873), Edward John Trelawny (1792–1881), and William Molesworth (1810–1855).
Brighton was a parliamentary constituency of the House of Commons of the Parliament of the United Kingdom from 1832 until it was divided into single-member seats from the 1950 United Kingdom general election. Covering the seaside towns of Brighton and Hove in East Sussex, it elected two Members of Parliament (MP) by the block vote system of election.
Liskeard was a parliamentary borough in Cornwall, which elected two Members of Parliament (MPs) to the House of Commons from 1295 until 1832, and then one member from 1832 until 1885. The constituency was abolished by the Redistribution of Seats Act 1885.
The Nonconformist conscience was the moralistic influence of the Nonconformist churches in British politics in the 19th and early 20th centuries.
The National Political Union was an organisation set up in October 1831, after the rejection of the Reform Bill by the House of Lords, to serve as a pressure group for parliamentary reform: “to support the King and his ministers against a small faction in accomplishing their great measure of Parliamentary Reform”.