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Title: Aspects of British electoral politics 1867-1880
Author: Bennett, David
Awarding Body: King's College London
Current Institution: King's College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2014
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This dissertation examines the development of electoral politics in Great Britain between 1868 and 1880. It focuses on the general elections of 1868, 1874 and 1880 together with the intervening by-elections and explores the impact on popular politics of changes in the size and composition of the electorate as well as alterations to the electoral system arising from the 1867 Reform Act and the Ballot Act of 1872. It further argues that electoral statistics are important and useful but many historians have chosen not to use them in relation to this period because of the inherent difficulties in their measurement when there was a preponderance of multi-member seats. This is corrected by the use of an improved technique - a stratified voter methodology - to calculate these statistics more accurately and provide a more meaningful basis for analysing voter turnout, swing and related trends. Core themes are the nationalisation of popular politics and the development of mass support for the Conservative party. These are considered through an exploration of the interaction of ideology, language and electoral politics and the ways parties sought to build their allegiances and support through ideas, language and organisation. The impact of the Ballot Act on corruption, undue influence and party organisation is investigated together with the importance of by-elections to the electoral process, emphasising their importance in the development and nationalisation of popular politics. Finally, a new survey of approximately 900 candidates’ addresses is used to show the development of ideology and language, together with the construction of national party messages. These investigations show the rapid decline of the importance of localised ‘politics of place’ in elections in this period but also that local organisation was important to the development of national ideology and was more extensive in 1868 than previously thought. Overall, the parties, especially the Conservatives in developing their support amongst the new electorate, are shown to have had a more adaptable and positive approach than they have sometimes been given credit for.
Supervisor: Readman, Paul Andrew ; McLean, David A. Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available