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The Conduct of Parliamentary Elections in Kidderminster 1832-1880.

Groom, Richard (2010) The Conduct of Parliamentary Elections in Kidderminster 1832-1880. PhD thesis, Coventry University in collaboration with the University of Worcester.

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Abstract

Local studies are a crucial means to understanding the actual working of the political process in the post-Reform Act period. This applies particularly to Kidderminster which was enfranchised in 1832 and where the town and parliamentary constituency covered broadly the same area throughout the period. This correlation enables valid judgements to be made about the key drivers in the twelve general elections held in Kidderminster from 1832 to 1880 and to analyse the elements of continuity and change in both the process and the issues. This thesis is based on evidence from contemporary local and national newspapers, election petition reports, local archive collections, poll books, directories and official reports. It reviews the relevant historiography and identifies and weighs what actually happened during parliamentary elections, how the parties organised themselves and their supporters, and the impact of industrial relations, the publican lobby and differences in religion. It also compares voting patterns in municipal as well as parliamentary elections. The thesis concludes that corruption and violence were embedded in the electoral process in Kidderminster. Corruption, whether in the form of outright bribery, treating or the provision of sinecures, began with the first general election in 1832 and reached its height with the campaigns of Albert Grant in 1865 and 1874. Election petitions alleging corruption were prepared after six elections, and prosecutions took place after two. The evidence from these petitions indicates that corruption was Richard Groom 4 widespread and indiscriminate. In terms of violence, including intimidation by blocking and boycotting, there were riots in 1832 and 1835, with the threat of disturbance present at virtually every election. It was the norm for the army to be stationed in or around the town in the elections of the 1830s and 1840s. This violence reached its peak in 1857 with the attempt to murder the MP Robert Lowe. The propensity for violence and corruption was fuelled both by generally hostile industrial relations where riots and destruction of property in trade disputes spilled over naturally into political divisions and by the existence of 150 public houses. The thesis also argues that no tenable conclusions can be drawn from a comparison of municipal and parliamentary elections in Kidderminster, because they were for and about entirely different things. Local elections were primarily concerned with keeping council expenditure to a minimum in order to keep rates low. Parliamentary elections, on the other hand, were far more about national issues and the opportunity to be paid for good sport.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information:

A thesis submitted in partial fulfilment of the University's requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy

Uncontrolled Keywords: parliamentary elections, politics, electoral process, Kidderminster
Subjects: J Political Science > JN Political institutions (Europe) > JN101 Great Britain
D History General and Old World > DA Great Britain
Divisions: Academic Departments > Institute of Humanities and Creative Arts
Depositing User: Janet Davidson
Date Deposited: 29 Oct 2010 13:59
Last Modified: 20 Aug 2011 05:00
URI: https://eprints.worc.ac.uk/id/eprint/1032

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