Last modified on September 16, 2016, at 23:56

How did democracy evolve in England between 1800 and 2000

While I outlined six major statutes reforming the British system over at the article describing democracy, there were a few important changes I failed to mention, such as the institution of the secret ballot in Britain by an act of 1872 (I think). Prior to that, an elector (man with the franchise) had to stand in front of election officials and his peers and state for all to hear, "I vote for. . ." What made British democracy viable throughout the period in question was more than anything the independence of the judiciary and the Rule of Law.

In truth, the House of Lords was in decline in England before the Parliament Act of 1911. The last Prime Minister chosen from that House who was not forced to renounce his title was the Marquess of Salisbury in the late 1890s. I consider the Parliament Act to be of equal significance to any of the Reform Acts because it removed the power of unelected lords and ladies to block a budget, the lifeblood of modern government.

I may have given short shrift to post-World War II developments. For example, even before his second general election as party leader, Tony Blair reformed the House of Lords so that the vast majority of its members are life peers rather than hereditary ones who pass on their seat to their oldest child. Also, Margaret Thatcher attempted to introduce a poll tax in the 1980s, but this was rightly denounced as a potential severe restriction of the franchise. The rise and fall of the British welfare state would be a good topic to explore in an article on the Postwar history of Great Britain, although I do not see it as a necessary result of British democracy. -- Amyz, 10:08, June 4, 2007 (EDT)