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Rulers Who Neither See, nor Feel, nor Know.' How Appropriate Is This Verdict on Lord Liverpool's Administration in the Light of His Domestic Policies Between 1812 and 1822?

Essay by   •  January 5, 2012  •  Case Study  •  1,036 Words (5 Pages)  •  1,675 Views

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Lord Liverpool was elected Prime Minister in a time of great unrest in Britain. The country was still dealing with the consequences of the French revolution, the previous Prime Minister had been the first and last Prime Minister to have been assassinated while in office and Britain was going through its industrial revolution. Liverpool was educated in Oxford, became a Tory MP at the age of 20, he served as Foreign Secretary, Home Secretary and Secretary for War before becoming prime minster. As a Lord he was absent from debates in the House of Commons despite his roles within elected government. It is clear that Lord Liverpool had a very different upbringing and life to most of the people living in Britain at that time. One could certainly argue that the way he ran his government was because he simply did not understand the people he governed. Some would argue that it was simply a matter of inexperience. No other government, or people, in Britain had ever been under so much pressure before both with domestic and international affairs.

By 1816 Britain was entering recession. Industry that had benefited from war now saw a fall in demand now parts of Europe were struggling under post-war debt. This coupled with cut backs to the armed forces meant unemployment increased greatly. The industrial revolution meant more and more machinery was being brought in to replace workers. This meant that more workers were laid off and because the machines were so efficient supply outstripped demand quickly and export prices fell. With less money circulating the farmers suffered too. People began campaigning for fixed prices on corn and meat. Miners in the north went on strike. And riots began across the country. In 1815, the government brought in Corn Laws to prevent import of corn unless the price of British produce was sufficiently high. However, this seemed only to benefit rich landowners, and caused bread prices to rise for workers in cities. Income tax was abolished and in its place they introduced indirect tax of daily necessities and food. In 1816 the government introduced Game Laws prohibiting hunting and poaching - something that had been a legitimate way of feeding your family beforehand.

The Game Laws, Corn Laws and introduction of the indirect taxes are said by critics to have been motivated by political gain. The Game Laws and Corn Laws drove up prices in the cities for meat and grain, which benefited the well off landowners in the country. City workers suffered but as only the landowners had a vote, one could argue, that the government wanted to appease the electorate first before tackling the problems of working classes. On the other hand, the government was under enormous pressure from the people of Britain. Never before had their been such a high concentration of people living in cities and needing to be feed - but not being able to produce their own food. The government had never dealt with anything like this ever before. It is possible to argue that the government was indeed trying to protect the economy generally. Falling bread prices,

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