This formed a major development for political struggle. This is because it is through the trade unions that most political movements took place. The elite working class people took advantage of this legislation and used the trade unions to fight for democracy and equality. The growth of the trade unions enabled the working class to represent their views on social, political and economic issues in an effective way. Struggle for better status and more power for women and children was another force for reforms to be made in the legislation (Heywood Colin 2002).
Women were not allowed to vote and could not pursue the same professional careers as their counterparts men did. This made them lack skills hence was employed as unskilled labourers. They were exploited in the factories in that they were overworked and paid very little. The women were also not given maternity leaves in the event that pregnancy occurred. This made most of them to lose their jobs during the maternity period. Child labour also existed. Children who worked in the factories were exploited just like the women.
The trade unions pushed for reforms in the social legislations that would provide better conditions for this group of workers. Some reforms were made which resulted to child labour being abolished and children were given the right to education. The French evolution which took place in 1789 was had a great impact on democracy in the whole of Europe and especially in Britain (Hamilton 1980). The revolution caused unrest in Britain as the citizens became radical in fighting for their political and social rights.
This struggle for democracy threatened the government and ruling class of Britain. Majority of the individuals in the ruling class were opposed to any changes and reforms in the constitution as they did not want to lose the privileges that came with the positions they occupied. There ancient Britain constitution had undesirable legislations especially with the voting system. Women and individuals in working class were not allowed to vote. Only those in the ruling class and few of the middle class individuals could vote. The citizens felt that the country was undemocratic.
They did not also feel that there was ‘citizenship’ in the country. Because of this, the working elite class formed movements through the trade unions and pushed for reforms in the legislation that would allow everyone to vote for whoever they wanted to represent them. Chartist movement was formed which pushed for universal suffrage and annual elections. The parliament though with some resistance took action and made several reforms in the legislation that allowed more men to vote. There also were cases of prosecution of the minority groups in Britain.
The Catholics for example were discriminated against in their political and social rights. They were not allowed to hold any public office because of their religion. During this period, Britain was also still involved in slave trade. The slaves had no civil, political and social rights whatsoever in this country. This was a force to push for reforms and as a result, the Catholic Emancipation Act which allowed Catholics to hold public offices just like any other British citizen was passed. Slavery was also abolished in 1934 hence gave all the slaves in Britain their freedom.