Extracts from memoirs and diaries show the current chaos is nothing newby Ian Irvine / July 18, 2018 / Leave a comment
1831 Thomas Babington Macaulay, the historian and Whig MP, described the Commons vote on 30th March at 3am on the Great Reform Bill to clean up and extend the voting system:
“Such a scene as the division of last Tuesday I never saw, and never expect to see again. If I should live 50 years the impression of it will be as fresh and sharp in my mind as if it had just taken place. It was like seeing -Caesar stabbed in the Senate House, or seeing Oliver [Cromwell] taking the mace from the table… The crowd overflowed the House in every part. When the strangers were cleared out and the doors were locked we had 608 members present, more than 55 than were ever in a division before. The Ayes and Noes were like two volleys of cannon…
“We were all breathless with anxiety, when Charles Wood who stood near the door jumped on a bench and cried out, ‘They are only 301.’ We set up a shout that you might have heard to Charing Cross, waving our hats, stamping against the floor and clapping our hands. The tellers scarcely got through the crowd: for the House was thronged up to the table, and all the floor was fluctuating with heads like the pit of a theatre. But you might have heard a pin drop as -Duncannon read the numbers. Then again the shouts broke out, and many of us shed tears… And the jaw of [the Tory leader Sir Robert] Peel fell, and the face of Twiss was as the face of a damned soul, and Herries looked like Judas… We shook hands and clapped each other on the back, and went out laughing, crying, and huzzaing into the lobby. And no sooner were the outer doors opened than another shout answered that within the House. All the passages, and the stairs into the waiting-rooms, were thronged by people who had waited until four in the morning to know the issue.”
The bill was voted down in the Lords, leading to public unrest. A subsequent reform bill became law the following June.
1911 Following the House of…