Read e-book online Electing Our Masters: The Hustings in British Politics from PDF
By Jon Lawrence
During this engagingly written background of electioneering in Britain from the eighteenth century to the current, Jon Lawrence explores the altering courting among politicians and public. all through this era, he argues, British politics has been characterised by means of bruising public rituals meant to bestow legitimacy on politicians by way of obliging them to stand a regularly irreverent public on generally equivalent phrases. Face-to-face interplay used to be critical either to the disorderly civic rituals of eighteenth-century politics, and to the Victorian and Edwardian election assembly. probably unusually, it additionally survived in beautiful impolite wellbeing and fitness among the wars, regardless of the emergence of the recent mass communique media of radio and cinema. however the related can't be acknowledged of the post-war period and the increase of tv. this day so much politicians are content material simply to provide the appearance of significant engagement--walkabouts, canvassing and conferences are all designed to make sure that such a lot senior politicians come into touch purely with the smiling faces of that dwindling band, the "party faithful." Lloyd George and Churchill may have relished the tough and tumble of a tumultuous public assembly, yet their sleek opposite numbers are typically extra risk-averse (and no longer with out cause, provided that the cameras are constantly current to catch their mishaps). yet this isn't one other nostalgic lament for a misplaced "golden age." to the contrary, Electing Our Masters argues that politicians usually nonetheless crave the kudos to be derived from bruising encounters with an irreverent public--hence Tony Blair's so-called "masochism approach" within the 2005 election crusade, with its succession of gruelling classes ahead of reside studio audiences. As Lawrence issues out, the very important query for this day is: do we convince our broadcasters that such encounters needs to shape a staple of contemporary, mediated politics?
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Extra resources for Electing Our Masters: The Hustings in British Politics from Hogarth to Blair
But it cemented the perception of Gladstone, not only as the true champion of reform, but as a politician with the ‘common touch’—a ‘people’s tribune’. Hence John Vincent’s comment that ‘others sowed for Gladstone to reap’. ³⁰ As one might imagine, ‘respectable’ politicians proved even slower to embrace outdoor speaking, given its close association with the radical demagogues of the post-Napoleonic era. Indeed, if anything the direction of travel was the other way. Radical leaders, keen to stress the orderliness and ‘respectability’ of their cause, increasingly brought their politics indoors—preferring to address ticketed meetings in large venues such as the Manchester Free Trade Hall—a building which came to symbolize the success of a more disciplined and rational mass platform after the repeal of the Corn Laws in 1846.
A. Bridges may have had a point when he described such scenes as the result of the poor’s ‘innate rowdyism, and a love of what they considered sport’, in the right context such disorder could become overtly political. Indeed Bridges’ own vignettes of mid-nineteenth-century electoral tumult reveal as much. For instance, we are told that in the 1860s, the Shropshire poor threw rabbit skins at supporters of Sir Baldwin Leighton because he had outraged local custom by prosecuting his keeper for selling game.
Perhaps signiﬁcantly, Grego chose to end his massive history of electioneering since the Stuart era with this account of Thackeray’s heroics, perhaps suggesting his hope for the triumph of a more enlightened and humane approach to electoral politics. Grego’s account conveys an image of an upper-class colossus, in both physical and moral terms, seeking to impose order on the unruly masses who are his ‘inferiors’ in every sense. ²¹ Thirdly, and ﬁnally, one must recognize that partisanship and ‘opinion’ were much stronger forces in electoral politics after 1832 than before.
Electing Our Masters: The Hustings in British Politics from Hogarth to Blair by Jon Lawrence