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Reform

1867-8: Representation of the People Acts

In this People's Journal poem, included in Blair's The Poets of the People's Journal, A. W. addresses working-class pro-reformers and references Gladstone, Bright, and Russell. He also alludes to Edward Stanley (son of Lord Derby), Conservative Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs; Spencer Walpole, Conservative Home Secretary; Lord Derby, Conservative Prime Minister; Benjamin Disraeli, Conservative Chancellor of the Exchequer, and Robert Lowe, a passionately anti-Reform Liberal MP who was strongly opposed to trades unions and dangerous principles of equality, hence a ‘traitor’. Disraeli (‘Dizzy’) had attempted to turn the Tory party towards Reform. He introduced his bill in March 1867, and after many amendments it was eventually passed and became the Second Reform Act in July 1867. Lancaster, Totnes and Yarmouth, also referenced in this poem, were all boroughs under investigation for electoral corruption in autumn 1866.