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Citizenship in Britain: A History

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Citizenship in Britain

Citizenship in Britain A History

Derek Heater

Edinburgh University Press


Derek Heater, 2006

Edinburgh University Press Ltd 22 George Square, Edinburgh Typeset in Goudy Old Style by TechBooks, and printed and bound in Great Britain by Antony Rowe Ltd, Chippenham, Wilts A CIP record for this book is available from the British Library ISBN-10 0 7486 2225 X (hardback) ISBN-13 978 0 7486 2225 2 (hardback) ISBN-10 0 7486 2226 8 (paperback) ISBN-13 978 0 7486 2226 9 (paperback) The right of Derek Heater to be identified as author of this work has been asserted in accordance with the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988.


Preface Introduction 1. Early constitutional and humanist themes

Citizenship and its equivalents Medieval and Renaissance writings Religion and Civil War clouds 2. The efflorescence of political thinking

The emergence of radicalism Unenthusiastic republicanism Hobbes and Locke: obligation and rights 3. Fighting corruption and France

Virtue and property Nationhood The development of radicalism 4. Two generations of progress

Nineteenth-century reforms John Stuart Mill and participation Local government 5. Two issues of status

Women’s citizenship Empire and Commonwealth citizenship 6. Focus on social citizenship

The British Idealists Wartime civic spirit Beveridge and the Welfare State Marshall’s three strands

vii 1 4 4 15 21 30 30 43 52 66 66 74 81 99 99 112 121 134 134 152 166 166 176 184 196

contents 7. Citizenship as a key concept

Party doctrines and education Celtic nationhoods The world impinging upon Britain Concluding thoughts References Index

206 206 216 228 243 246 256



In my study I have on display a treasured old cartoon. It portrays a middleaged man staring disconsolately at his typewriter. His wife stands behind him enquiring, ‘What do you mean you have plagiarist’s block?’ I have written books on the subject of citizenship before, so, for fear of committing self-plagiarism, this will be the last. And, because, very sadly, my wife is no longer available to ask her gently penetrating questions, I offer this volume in her memory. A word or two about the content and its organisation. The sequence of the chapters is roughly chronological, but the sections within them are based upon themes. This sectional organisation seemed to be more useful and interesting than an entirely sequential structure. Strict adherence to chronology would also have required a narrative coverage, whereas I wished to have the freedom to omit or slide over some potentially relevant material for the sake of concision and the overall shape of the book. After all, this is a short history; hence too the limited list of references. I have gained much knowledge, understanding and pleasure from my work on citizenship over the past quarter of a century, and I am grateful for the easy collaboration with and help from Edinburgh University Press during the past few years. Derek Heater Rottingdean, 2005



The topic of citizenship has never before commanded so much interest, controversy and concern in Britain. The issues of immigration, cultural differences, the balance of citizens’ rights and security, the citizen’s duty of loyalty, devolution, citizenship of the European Union and the role of schools in providing the necessary knowledge, skills and attitudes are being constantly debated. Chapter 7 brings the reader up to date (at the time of writing) on these pressing matters. However, the purpose of this book is not to focus on the present but to provide a broad historical picture – for its own sake and to offer some perspective on the present. The history of the concept and practice of citizenship is a tale of the accumulation and entanglement of a variety of meanings. And it would be difficult to find a country that has spun out and entwined quite so many variations as Britain managed over the many centuries that the status and its equivalents have existed in these lands. One reason for this complexity must be immediately explained because it accounts for the use of the plural word ‘lands’ and, more importantly, of the word ‘Britain’ both here and in the title of the book. The relationships between England and the two other main components of the British Isles have frequently changed, and, with these changes, the nature of citizenship in these units often assumed different characteristics. Accordingly, the chronologically neutral term ‘Britain’ seems to be most appropriate as a generic word. The difficult task of unpicking the tangle of the meanings of citizenship as a universally used concept – let alone the particular problems presented by its British history – and revealing a skein of a few main threads has often been essayed. Yet these attempts have rarely produced a satisfactory multum in parvo pattern: accommodating much in a small package is never easy. Even the most influential – that devised by T. H. Marshall to explain the British experience – has been subject to valid criticism (see pp. 202–4). To try yet another here would be presumptuous. Suffice it to say that the following 1

Citizenship in Britain chapters survey the topic by according the term an elastic meaning, hence the phrase ‘and its equivalents’ above. This philological generosity has been necessitated for two major reasons. One is the reluctance of the British, except in theoretical works and for obvious constitutional reasons, to use the term ‘citizen’ when it would be quite applicable; the other is that it would be misleadingly constricting to exclude civic institutions and behaviour other than the individual-state relationship, which has been the strict derivative meaning from the Roman civis. Hence we encompass: status, feeling of identity and competence; civil, political and social; rights, duties and behaviour; what are termed here elite, full and second-class citizens; local, national and supranational; and both theory and practice. However, a mere list like this, itself disputable, cannot display the extraordinary interplay and contradictions among this multitude of facets. To take an example – from the Victorian age. One historian has declared that ‘in the 1860s . . . the term “citizenship” remained a deeply ambiguous one’ (Hall et al., 2000, p. 57), while the novelist Mrs Gaskell, writing in 1855, knew what she meant by citizens, describing the best of factory workers as ‘steady thoughtful men; good hands, and good citizens, who were friendly to law and judgement, and would uphold order’ (Gaskell, 1994, p. 186). But the historian is referring to citizenship as status, the novelist, as behaviour. True, as already indicated, the complexity and confusion is not a British monopoly. The condition is only to be expected of an idea and a status that have existed for two-and-a-half millennia. Adaptation to different sociopolitical environments and needs was bound to lead to considerable variegation. Even so, if it can be argued that this process has been more complicated in Britain than in other countries, the reasons need to be indicated. It would be too simplistic to offer the usual facile answer that the matter is yet another example of Britain’s penchant for ‘muddling through’. On the other hand, Britons have managed, lacking a design, to live through their history without the caesura of a thorough revolution in modern times and have therefore missed the opportunity and obvious need for drafting a clear, single constitutional instrument, in which the status of citizenship might have been defined. But, then, Britain also escaped tyrannous regimes and therefore, through relative tolerance and freedoms over many centuries, was able to enjoy a long evolution of civic life at both local and national levels, though Ireland, admittedly, had a less felicitous experience than the rest of the British Isles. This last sentence sounds dangerously like Whiggish history, or the Tennysonian interpretation of the history of England, ‘Where Freedom slowly broadens down,/ From precedent to precedent’. Let us immediately


Introduction insist that the evolution of citizenship in Britain was not a smooth ride down the track of history: there were firm institutional, customary and social barriers to overcome and conservative reversals to counter. Since the primary purpose of this book is to record the positive achievements, these negative problems will be alluded to only in passing in the text. Lest that negative message be too weak, it has been felt prudent to highlight the matter here and to provide a few examples of both barriers and reversals. Whole-hearted citizenship in the modern world rests upon the acceptance that collectively the people are (or nation is) sovereign, a principle famously enshrined in the French 1791 Declaration of Rights, for example. In Britain, however, this status has yet to be achieved. The monarchy retains a residue of its erstwhile sovereignty in the forms of prerogative powers and the legal position of Britons as subjects of the Crown. Also, because of the persistence of the idea of allegiance to the monarch and the mystique of monarchy, we can almost say, ‘No republic, no citizenship’. More seriously, the British constitutional system is structured on the principle that the Westminster Parliament is sovereign, a bone of contention with the Scots ever since the Act of Union in 1707 and an inhibiting factor in the use of referendums. Nor has the British social system been conducive to the development of full, universal citizenship, though Britain has not been unique among the states of Europe, for instance, in this regard. Indeed, the French term ancien r´egime has been Anglicised and used, notably by J. C. D. Clark, to describe the period prior to the reforms of 1828–32, when the aristocracy and gentry dominated a capitalist, patriarchal society with the emphasis both in theory and practice on the maintenance of order and the defence of property. The citizenship of the lower orders would for the most part best be described as ‘secondclass citizenship’ and their behaviour often uncitizenly. Retrogression in the history of citizens’ rights can be illustrated here by a few examples: withdrawal of civil rights in times of perceived crisis by the suspension of Habeas Corpus; withdrawal of political rights from some by raising the franchise qualification in the shires in 1430 and the formal exclusion of the franchise to women in 1832, thus closing the loophole that had allowed at least a minute number of women to vote previously; and the reduction in the quality of social rights for some by the Poor Law Amendment Act of 1834. None the less, overall progress there has been, however lethargic, intermittent and discriminatory. And that very patchiness together with the complexity, the richness of the theoretical and polemical writings and the activities of those demanding civic rights over the centuries impart a fascination that deserves to be studied.


Chapter 1

Early constitutional and humanist themes

Citizenship and its equivalents The title of ‘citizen’ was first conferred on the inhabitants of Britain by the Romans. However, the word was ‘civis’ and the status was that of the Roman citizenship, not British. A parallel today would be if Britons held the status of citizens of the European Union but had no comparable national citizenship. Britain became a Roman province in ad 43 following the invasion by the Emperor Claudius. Furthermore, he resumed the lapsed policy of extending the grants of citizenship to the provinces, though not as generously as has often been suggested. In Britain only Verulanium (St Albans) was accorded the status of a municipium, which conferred the standing of citizen to its native inhabitants (see Sherwin-White, 1973, p. 242 n. 8). In later centuries, true, many more Britons acquired the title of civis Romanus. After the end of the Roman period the word ‘citizen’ was, until recent decades, used but shyly in Britain in practice (although more boldly in writings) to denote the civic status of the country’s populace. Never in its history has the term been deployed with the pride and vigour we can detect in the word ‘civis’ as pronounced by the citizens of republican Rome or in the word ‘citoyen’ by the citizens of republican France. We may suggest two reasons for this reluctance to employ the term, one linguistic, the other, constitutional. Medieval English society had perfectly serviceable terms such as ‘freeman’ and ‘burgess’ to describe men who had a certain status, sundry rights and a sense of social identity somewhat analogous to what we might call, a trifle anachronistically, a civic style of life. What need, therefore, of the post-Conquest Norman-French word ‘citesein’? Though, as we shall see below, it was used, albeit in a restricted meaning, deriving from the Latin original, ‘civitas’, state or city. This Latin derivation also hints at different juridico-political arrangements from the English. In the classical origins


Early constitutional and humanist themes of citizenship, Greek and Roman citizens related to their states; Englishmen related to their local institutions, notably the folkmoots, hundreds and wapentakes – courts and popular assemblies of Teutonic and Viking provenance. In any case, the feudal structure of medieval times stressed allegiance not to an impersonal state but to one’s lord, and one’s position as subject of the king. In the Middle Ages there evolved in England a powerful notion, the implementation of which started to unravel the feudal-monarchical nexus so inimical to citizenship. This was the idea of the commune, that, arguably, offered an opportunity for the creation of something like a citizenship in the classical sense, but aptly attuned to Anglo-Saxon rather than GraecoRoman traditions. The term ‘commune’ – communa in the legal Latin of the time – became a key term in medieval England. In the words of one historian, It was, indeed, an influence that affected all England in the thirteenth century, changing the values of political forms, modifying political action, and breaking down the restrictions and immunities of feudalism. Its governing idea is the recognition of a general political association of which the basic rights, status, and duty of all the members are identical, and where obedience and loyalty are owed equally by all to a political form in which the commune is embodied. (Jolliffe, 1961, p. 321)

‘Commune’ became a portmanteau term: communes of merchants, the borough commune, the commune of parliament, even of the realm. Communes gave organic life to their particular groupings, assumed rights and duties and provided opportunities for their members, or a selection of them, to engage in civic affairs. Kings encouraged this movement – such a strong word can be justly applied – as a means of debilitating the feudal nobility, who threatened the monarch’s sovereign authority. Yet, at the same time, the commune system built up institutions and cultivated activities which, at least in part, supplemented or even supplanted the royal framework of government and administration. Moreover, by their participation in the pyramidal pattern of borough, county and parliamentary communes, those who chose or elected members to perform these functions or themselves directly performed them were surely behaving collectively as, let us call it, a proto-citizenry. We shall now briefly examine each of these layers in turn. Boroughs had already evolved as centres for defence, trade and justice by the eleventh century. By the thirteenth, they were well on the way to having their own courts and administrative structures, appointing their own 5

Citizenship in Britain leaders in the form of mayors, achieving independence from their local barons, the shires (counties) in which they were geographically located, and, to a lesser degree, the royal government by securing a range of identifiable rights through the bestowal of royal charters. Towns with the status of boroughs were not only becoming self-governing, they were also sending representatives regularly to the shire court and, as the national representative institution came into existence, two burgesses each to Parliament. Two features of the flowering of borough identity, including civic identity, were especially significant: the creation of guilds as the merchants’ fraternal bodies and the creation of communes as a means of enhancing civic pride. These, together with the established borough and city courts provided the bases for advancing to some form of autonomy. Although London was exceptional because of its size, location, power and status as the capital city, we shall examine it as an illustration of what could be achieved. There is another reason too for this choice: in towns the freemen were called ‘burgesses’; in cities they were called ‘citizens’. Accordingly, in writing about London, we can linguistically and legally refer to ‘citizens’ as the correct term. This is the specific, restricted usage referred to above, a confined definitional propriety that was still held by some authorities as the truly valid meaning of the title in England until only a century ago. The privileges and responsibilities of boroughs and cities, as already mentioned, were enshrined in charters. London received two important ones – from William I and, in the twelfth century, from Henry I. The latter provided the citizens with wider self-government than any other municipality in the country; though, under the next king, Stephen, many of these privileges were withdrawn. At the end of the century, in 1191, London gained recognition as a commune, the status being conceded during the constitutional confusion provoked by the absence of Richard I on crusade. The leading citizens of London supported his brother, John, who assumed the title of ‘chief ruler of the whole realm’. The civic title of commune was a quid pro quo. Partly because of its size and partly because of the freedoms it acquired, London evolved a very thorough system of local government. It has, indeed, sometimes been seen as an English equivalent of the medieval Italian communes, which were in effect city-states. London self-government was operated in layers. The whole city was divided into wards, which in turn were sub-divided into precincts, which were composed of parishes. Each administered its own affairs – an example, to use the modern jargon word, of subsidiarity. Matters, particularly legal issues, affecting the whole city were placed before the folkmoot three times a year. All Londoners were required 6

Early constitutional and humanist themes to attend, summoned by the tolling of a bell to an open-air assembly at St Paul’s Cross. Weekly meetings, called hustings, were held in the Guildhall by the aldermen, the officials in charge of each of the wards. The ward was the administrative unit where, under the leadership of the alderman, the people ran their own affairs. Also it was where they behaved as citizens in the other classical meaning of the term by performing military duties, training each summer. A sixteenth-century document reveals this: ‘ev’y alderman by himself musteryd hys owne warde yn the fields, vewing theym in harness and sawe that ev’y man had a sworde and a dagger and suche as were not meate to be archers were turnyd to pykes’ (quoted, Ackroyd, 2001, p. 49). However, it must be stressed that citizenship (a word, in fact, not used before the seventeenth century) was strictly a status held by an elite. (It has indeed been found useful to coin the term ‘elite citizen’ for this book.) London was an oligarchy; citizens by title were members of the exclusive guilds. This condition came to anger the lower classes. And so, in 1377 craftsmen set up a Common Council – thus originating the title of ‘Councillor’. By the fourteenth century, and in many respects well before, London was replete with institutions which had formulated a vast number of regulations. These covered all aspects of life in the city, were administered by the courts and monitored by sundry officers. To a considerable degree the city was governed by its own citizens, in the loose, non-legal sense of the term. Londoners can be counted as having been citizens in several different ways. They lived in a city; they participated in its running – by assisting in legislation, paying taxes, looking after its environment; they helped maintain law and order and defence by involvement in the obligatory hue and cry in pursuit of suspects and in the annual militia muster; and the elite freemen were citizens in the strictest definition of the word. The leading citizens, supported by the lower orders, claimed an authority that endowed them with a kind of national citizenship, even though the assertion had no constitutional foundation. This was embodied in the assumed right to elect the king of England, when the succession was disputed. And such intervention was influentially used in support of Stephen in 1135 and Richard III in 1483. There was a certain irony in the former occasion because, as we have already noticed, once installed on the throne by their favour, Stephen reduced the number of privileges the citizens of London enjoyed! In the late twelfth century other cities were recognised by the king as communes and/or were granted the right to elect mayors – Bristol, Oxford, Winchester, York, for example. Many boroughs, too, trod similar paths to civic identity and autonomy as the cities; always remembering 7

Citizenship in Britain that for ‘citizen’ read ‘burgess’, though the distinction in nomenclature was of no significance. Some boroughs even took London as a model in structuring their civic arrangements, despite the obvious differences in scale. One authority has summarised in the following sentence the thoroughness of the manner in which, over the centuries, the burgesses used the opportunities for caring for their towns: So we find in the sixteenth century boroughs which had street-cleaning, lighting, fire brigades, piped water supplies, salaried doctors to look after the poor, relief for the unemployed and municipal stocks of coal and candles for use when these commodities became seasonally rare and costly. (Plucknett, 1960, p. 684)

After the boroughs had shaken themselves free from the shires, these latter administrative areas remained as co-existent, though senior, units of local government. In what sense, we must now ask, did they afford opportunities in the period we are surveying in this chapter for the exercise of what we now call citizenship? They gradually took on an identity of their own, freeing themselves from baronial control by use of their ancient courts. Eventually the French term communes des cont´es came to be used to indicate this status. Furthermore, they were encouraged in this development by the kings, who placed increasing judicial and fiscal responsibilities upon them, but these duties could be discharged only if the shires were able to provide suitable officials. Thus emerged a recognisable body of landowners of moderate means as an administrative class, who in due course were referred to as knights of the shires. From the late twelfth century they performed a multitude of unpaid and time-consuming tasks, mainly through membership of juries, to investigate and adjudicate upon issues requiring local knowledge. For example, in 1202 140 men undertook this work in Lincolnshire and 79 in Northamptonshire. And from this corps of gentry there evolved, by the reign of Edward III, the Justices of the Peace. Efficient and authoritative initially, that institution decayed in the fifteenth century, to be revived and brought to its apogee by the Tudors. By that age, the system operated as a kind of noblesse oblige – the typically Tudor philosophy of political duties in return for social advantage. Judicial, moral and economic supervision came within their purview in such a volume of work that William Lambard, in a book entitled Eirenarcha (administration of peace), published in 1581, declared, ‘How many Justices may now suffice (without breaking their backs) to bear so many, not Loads, but Stacks of Statutes, that have been laid upon them?’ (quoted, Bindoff, 1950, p. 57). All for a pittance. Was this not citizenly activity, albeit undertaken by a limited elite of well under a thousand men nationally? And 8

Early constitutional and humanist themes would not Aristotle have recognised such men as citizens demonstrating their excellent civic virtue? Yet in the sphere of local government in Tudor times, this form of citizenship was not confined to the high strata of social standing and commitment. To quote Stanley Bindoff: ‘Within each unit of local government – manor, parish, township, hundred or shire – there were offices to fill, juries to man, returns to make, taxes to collect, and all competent citizens were expected to take a share in these tasks’ (Bindoff, 1950, p. 56). Note his apt use of the word ‘citizens’. And Keith Thomas stresses this, declaring that, ‘one of the distinguishing features of Tudor and Stuart England, by comparison with most continental countries, was the wide degree of participation in local government enjoyed by men of humble status’ (Thomas, 1974, p. 60). He goes on to quote Sir Thomas Smith (see pp. 19–20) about working men: “‘in cities and corporate towns, for default of yeomen, inquests and juries are impanelled of such manner of people. And in villages they be commonly made churchwardens, ale-conners, and many times constables, which office toucheth more the commonwealth” ’ (quoted, Thomas, 1974, p. 61). In truth, some men of quite modest means, as well as the wealthier, were also eligible to elect members to the English national Parliament. For half a millennium until the 1832 Reform Act, each town with the status of borough and each shire sent two members to Parliament, thus forming the House of Commons – burgesses from the boroughs and knights from the shires. Edward I’s ‘Model’ Parliament of 1295 contained 232 burgesses and 74 knights. But it is the ownership of the right to vote for these representatives and the exercise of this suffrage that have been major signifiers of citizenship down to our own day. Who, then, from the later Plantagenets to the early Stuarts, were voters in parliamentary elections? The knights of the shire tended, not surprisingly, to be elected by landowners of some wealth, though there is firm evidence of much wider participation in elections in earlier generations. In fact, in 1430 the county franchise was severely limited, the entitlement being restricted to men who owned freehold property worth at least 40 shillings a year. In the seventeenth century the Puritan pamphleteer William Prynne commented on this change: Before this Petition and Act . . . every inhabitant and commoner in each county had a voice in the election of knights, whether he were a freeholder or not, or had a freehold only of one penny, six pence or twelve pence by the year. (Quoted, Thomas, 1974, p. 64)

Rules for elections in boroughs were and remained chaotic. Until the seventeenth century each borough chose its own arrangement; and only 9

Citizenship in Britain from 1832, as we shall see in Chapters 3 and 4, was there any tidying up. A few examples from the second half of the sixteenth century will be revealing. J. E. Neale wrote that, ‘it seems fairly clear that in a substantial majority of Elizabethan boroughs the electorate was the corporation. At King’s Lynn, the Mayor, twelve aldermen, and eighteen common councillors are regularly recorded as electing Elizabethan members’ (Neale, 1949, p. 247). Fewer than a hundred voters seems to have been the norm for such corporation boroughs. There were, however, boroughs which had adopted more democratic franchises, such as all householders. For example, Neale cites over 400 holding the suffrage in Shrewsbury and, after further extensions of the franchise in Jacobean times, about 600 in Coventry in the election of 1628 (see Neale, 1949, p. 248). During the century before the outbreak of the Civil War in 1642, the number of citizens in England and Wales, defined as those eligible to vote in national elections, gradually rose. With increase in wealth, more men became forty shilling freeholders in the counties; with pressure for greater participation in some towns, more men acquired the franchise in the boroughs. In some boroughs, however, there was so much uncertainty as to who was enfranchised and so many disputes that from 1604 the House of Commons accepted the responsibility of adjudicator, in the 1620s often coming to judgements in favour of expanding the electorate (see Thomas, 1974, p. 62). Our reference to the Jacobean age in the above paragraph is a reminder that, in 1603, with the accession of James VI of Scotland as James I of England, the Crowns of the two kingdoms were conjoined. Consequently, we need to explain in what sense citizenship existed in the Scottish kingdom during the period embraced by this section. One may detect similarities and differences in comparison with England. Both local town government and Parliament evolved with less dispatch than in England. Charters were awarded to a few burghs from the early fourteenth century, yet, writing of the arrangements as late as the fifteenth century, J. D. Mackie explained that, The burghs, as they shook themselves clear of crown control, had developed only very slowly a system of self-government. As yet there was seldom a provost, sometimes called an alderman, and though various Acts of Parliament mention a council it does not appear how this council was constituted. (Mackie, 1978, p. 107)

As regulations were enacted to standardise procedures, the effect, however, was to create oligarchies for protecting and advancing their economic interests. Nevertheless, the burghs did secure representation in Parliament 10

Early constitutional and humanist themes by the mid-fourteenth century because of the kings’ needs of taxation. The inclusion of burgesses in the 1327 Parliament hints at that assembly being the equivalent of the English ‘Model’ Parliament of 1295. However, an Act of 1469 had serious implications for the citizenly rights of burghers. Ancient Burgh Laws allowed ‘the good men of the town’ to elect their magistrates and council. But because of the ‘great trouble and contention through the multitude and clamour of the commons’ (quoted, MacKinnon, 1924, p. 294), this Act was introduced to deprive the burgesses of their electoral rights. It decreed that each year in all burghs a new council should be elected by the outgoing. The body of burgesses lost not only their municipal civic rights, but also the right to vote for the burgher representatives in Parliament to these self-perpetuating councils. What, we must therefore now ask, of the constitutional theory and practice that would allow us to discern some kind of political citizenship at the national level? The age of Robert Bruce can be taken as a useful startingpoint. A council of the clergy issued a declaration in 1309 that Bruce (as Robert I) had been chosen king by the consent of the people, including the commons. Monarchy dependent on popular consent was a concept often expressed in medieval and Renaissance scholarly writing and famously expounded by the Scots John Major and George Buchanan (see pp. 14, 20–1). Robert also played a significant role in the evolution of Parliament. A recognisable Parliament of three Estates in the continental style (clergy, substantial landowners and burgesses) came into existence by the adding of the burgesses by Robert I in 1327, though, admittedly, not until the Reformation were the burgesses regularly called, or did they regularly attend when summoned. The civic spirit in this parliamentary context was indeed weak. In the words of Professor MacKinnon, up to the sixteenth century the duty of taking a share in parliamentary legislation is one that the ordinary free-holder shunned as a troublesome and unwelcome privilege. Parliamentary government was in rather a bad case when even the more considerable free-holders had to be threatened into attending, and the attendance of the lesser was past hoping for. (MacKinnon, 1924, p. 273)

On the other hand, the Parliament did on occasion show that it had a civic conscience; for example, in 1424 it passed an Act to counter anti-social behaviour, forbidding the playing of the disorderly game football, anyone breaking that law being liable to a fine of 4d! Scholarly interest in classical humanism (for an explanation of this term, see p. 26) and the religious upheavals enhanced the belief in civic responsibility and activity. To quote MacKinnon again: 11

Citizenship in Britain the Reformation undoubtedly quickened the spirit of political liberty as well as religious conviction and passion, and henceforth the tendency to evade the rights and obligations of citizenship gives place, in the lesser barons and the burgesses alike, to a growing self-assertion in public affairs. (MacKinnon, 1924, p. 274)

Two signal pieces of evidence for this change of attitude may be cited. One was the attendance of the unusually high number of over 180 at the Reformation Parliament (the assembly that declared the Scottish Church to be Protestant). The second was the re-enactment in 1585 of an Act which enabled middling freeholders to elect two members to Parliament and which had lain dormant since it had been passed in the legislatively energetic reign of James I a century and a half before. Even so, in the judgement of one authority, To think of – or see contemporaries thinking of – the 16th century Scottish parliament as a parliamentary institution in anything much like the English parliament came to be regarded in the next century, is to go very far wide of the mark. (Williamson, 1979, p. 116)

These constitutional developments took place against a background of a growing sense of Scottish nationhood from the late thirteenth to the early fourteenth century. Despite the Anglicisation of the south of the country in the Middle Ages and Edward I’s ambition to incorporate Scotland (and Wales) into a united realm, the Scots kept their own monarchs, even exporting the House of Stuart to England in 1603. And their independence from their powerful southern neighbour was secured when Robert I defeated Edward II at Bannockburn. The Scottish resistance, led first by William Wallace, then by Bruce, demonstrated a determined patriotism and willingness for army service among the ordinary folk of Scotland. It reflected too a feeling of community responsibility among the lesser clergy and landowners. Let us cite the assessment of Professor Duncan about this civic and national mood. First, in connection with Wallace’s uprising: If contemporaries saw only a military significance in ‘army’ we are entitled to read into it the social groups of freeholders – lesser knights, freeholders and rich peasants – who had hitherto had no part in politics but now rose voluntarily and gathered without aristocratic leadership.

And writing of the war waged by Robert I from 1309 to 1314, he explains that ‘the foundation of this war was a capacity to by-pass the reluctant leaders of the “community” and to appeal to and command the opinion of other social ranks in the “nation”’. Finally, tracing this evolution down to the Declaration of Arbroath in 1320, Duncan notes that ‘the growth of national 12

Early constitutional and humanist themes sentiment [is] clearly testified by the appeal to the gens and natio Scottorum’ in that document, a development derived from military service required of the freeholder class (Duncan, 1970, pp. 14, 21, 31). And, to repeat, is not military service a classical indicator of the status and duty of citizenship? The Declaration was sent to the Pope, to seek his help in the Scots’ struggle for freedom and independence from England. The signatories were what we have termed ‘elite citizens’. James G. Kellas has described their role rather as ‘the articulators of the idea of the nation and of nationalism. They are the counterparts of the Scottish nationalists of today’ (Kellas, 1998, p. 30). It is illuminating to compare Kellas’s use of the term ‘articulators’ with Arthur Ferguson’s term ‘articulate citizen’ about Renaissance political writers (see p. 15). Of greater interest, because of the interweaving of several strands, is the period of the late sixteenth to the early seventeenth century, concentrating on the reign of James VI (1567–1625). The four other features of this age central to our theme are: the response to civic humanism, loyalty to clan nobility and patriotism, the broad issue of national identity, and the question of whether Scots should have the civic right of naturalisation as English subjects. Scotland was not a peaceful land in the sixteenth century, much of the turbulence stirred by the passionate hostility between Catholics and Protestants, in addition to clan enmities. In 1596 James forcefully demanded the cessation of these splintering conflicts by the adoption of a civic-mindedness that would rescue the country from its current plight. The idea of civicmindedness would have been understood by the educated. Civic humanism was more readily received into Scotland at this time than England because of the history of instability and the consequent need for a unifying precept. (England had been effectively unified under Elizabeth, even though the bloody Civil War was later to reveal deeply held divisions.) There were also other factors favourable to this kind of citizenly thinking. One was the absence of the kind of deep-rooted Anglo-Saxon customs of law and local administration that were inimical to classical humanism in Scotland’s neighbour. Another was the use of this mode of thinking by the Presbyterians in order to argue against the hierarchical implications of the Episcopal Church. A third – paradoxically in the light of the civil upheaval – was the tradition of an aristocratic form of patriotic civic virtue as an acceptable preventive of royal tyranny. The case for the harmony of clan and country loyalty through the existence of a free, virtuous nobility was cogently argued by the renowned Presbyterian intellectual David Hume of Godscroft. As Arthur Williamson has explained, 13

Citizenship in Britain In Hume’s thinking . . . such a nobility was so essential a feature of Scotland . . . that loyalty to them – understood as loyalty to one’s ‘freinds’ in an extended sense – became an inescapable ingredient of loyalty to one’s country . . . The extensive ties of blood did not frustrate civic-mindedness, but helped to realize it. What Scotland needed was an educated, active, virtuous, and independent nobility. (Williamson, 1979, pp. 133–4)

In other words, elite citizens. But should Scots, because of their distinct traditions, feel themselves as Scots, or, because of the influence of Anglicisation over the generations and as a consequence of the union of the Crowns when that came about, as Britons, members of a larger British ‘empire’? Two eminent scholars argued for the latter attitude. One was John Major, who published his History of Greater Britain in 1521. The other was James Maxwell, who was writing a century later. Not surprisingly, this vision of a Greater Britain was stoutly supported by King James VI. One of Major’s pupils, who later became the king’s tutor, was George Buchanan. His thoughts on the nature of citizenship we shall treat below (see pp. 20–1). What concerns us here is that he diverged from his teacher on the issue of Britishness. Scottish culture and language, he asserted, rendered an amalgamation unsuitable, undesirable indeed. Even so, when James VI became James I of England, the question arose whether there should be a full political union and whether Scotsmen could automatically become eligible for naturalisation as Englishmen. The issue was thoroughly debated on 25 February 1607 at a conference of the two Houses of the English Parliament. The most distinguished advocate in favour was the philosopher-statesman Francis Bacon – arguing on two, related grounds. One was the precedent of the Romans, who were generous in conceding the status of the Roman citizenship, and who, by so doing, advanced their power. The second argument, common at the time, supported the objective of political greatness, of increasing England’s strength through demographic expansion. The attempt was defeated because of the fear of professional and commercial competition from the Scots. However, the following year, those Scots born after the union of the Crowns, termed post-nati, were counted as natural-born subjects of England. And so the matter remained until the constitutional amalgamation with the Act of Union in 1707 (though the Scots, emphasising that arrangement as being concluded between two states, have preferred the term ‘Treaty’ rather than ‘Act’). The reader will have noticed that, although we have explained the development of citizenship in Scotland, no comment has been made about the other Celtic lands of the British Isles, namely, Wales and Ireland. This is 14

Early constitutional and humanist themes not an oversight. Because, in comparison with Scotland, there is much less to report for this period, rather than have here two postscripts, as it were, for England’s western neighbours the early histories of citizenship in these countries will be described in the section on modern Celtic nationhoods in Chapter 7. Yet here is a postscript. Although we have made passing references to classical humanism and religion in promoting civic consciousness in the period covered in this section, we need to develop these allusions, and in so doing, this will take us on to the second and third sections of this chapter respectively.

Medieval and Renaissance writings An awareness of citizenship can be detected in political writings in two ways. As Arthur Ferguson has shown in his thorough study, The Articulate Citizen and the English Renaissance, for example, one way lies in the very publication of commentary on public issues: this in itself is an act of citizenship; the author is behaving as a citizen. As Ferguson observes in this work, the increasing willingness to analyze and to search for constructive policy . . . implies a sense of duty on the part of the man of learning, experience, and virtue, the man of wisdom in the Renaissance meaning, to contribute to the flow of counsel upon which he believed good government to depend. (Ferguson, 1965, p. xv)

The second sense of a published awareness of citizenship lies in an author’s concern to pronounce on that specific subject. Again, as in the first section of this chapter, the notion of citizenship can be discussed in some writing of the era we are examining whether or no the actual word is used. It is necessary to make it clear that we are here using the term ‘citizen’ in the generalised, state, national meaning, not in the strict application of the time in England to a freeman of a city. The most distinguished medieval English political theorist, John of Salisbury, offered little of relevance to our subject – for two reasons. In the first place, because of the tenor of his era, his interest in politics was concentrated on Church and monarchy. Second, he lived a century before Aristotle’s Politics, the key work on citizenship, was easily available in western Europe in a Latin, that is, much more widely readable than the original Greek, translation – John’s magnum opus, Policraticus, was completed in 1159. Nevertheless, he was taken with the analogy used by the Roman poet Virgil of the co-operative communal life of the beehive and the idea 15

Citizenship in Britain of the common good that should commend itself to humans in their civic life. John quotes the lengthy passage from the Georgics to make his point (see John of Salisbury, 1990, VI.21, pp. 127–9). However, from the next century political consciousness gradually spread and deepened in England: the concept of ‘the commune of the realm’, the consolidation of Parliament as a fixed component of the country’s constitution and the acceptance of English (in place of French and Latin) as the national language were all features of this development. Political verse and pamphlets started to blossom by the late fourteenth century, revealing an awareness of and willingness to protest publicly about contemporary problems. This mood included an understanding that Parliament was the channel through which grievances could be remedied. Thus, one versifier explained: When all a kingdom gathered is In God’s law, by one assent, For to amend that was amiss, Therefore is ordained a parliament. (Quoted, Ferguson, 1965, p. 15) If we are seeking a man in late medieval England upon whom to pin the labels ‘articulate citizen’, to use Ferguson’s term, and ‘elite citizen’, by which we mean a person of high social rank using his position for citizenly purposes, then it must be Sir John Fortescue (see Ferguson, 1965, pp. 111–29). He wrote so learnedly on constitutional law, most notably, Governance of England, which he worked on in the 1470s, that he has been described as ‘the only articulate theorist in a declining age’ (Jolliffe, 1961, p. 494). Indeed, his fame lasted down to the nineteenth century. As to his public life, he was Chief Justice of the King’s Bench during the last nineteen years of the reign of Henry VI. His basic beliefs run along the following lines. Grounded in the principles of common law, the English constitution was that of a balanced, mixed polity – dominium politicum et regale – in which royal power and authority are tempered by the understanding that these attributes must not be abused. Indeed, the king derived his power from the people and legislation required ‘the assent of the whole kingdom’, that is, via Parliament (see Allen, 1960, p. 151 n. 1). Government should be both firm and just, for the benefit of all. However, he was worried by the decay of England’s governmental and administrative systems so that reform was needed to strengthen the ‘regal’ side of the balance. Fortescue understood that citizenly pressure was essential if his agenda was to be put into effect, hence his decision to couch his last two works, including the Governance, in a semi-popular rather than scholarly style. 16

Early constitutional and humanist themes Fortescue’s last works bring us to the brink of the early Tudor age. In Ferguson’s view this was a key era. He writes: The pamphlet literature of that period reflects a new sense of citizenship and new attitudes toward society and government, in particular a new willingness on the part of the educated, experienced, and potentially articulate citizen to explore the problems of public concern analytically as well as critically, and even to volunteer positive suggestions for constructive policy. (Ferguson, 1965, p. 133)

Four writers and some of their works from these years demand our particular attention because they made comments on subject-matter germane to the subject of citizenship and all sought reform. We start with Thomas More’s Utopia: the first work chronologically, quite distinct in design and by far the most famous. Its author, too, was the most renowned of our writers. In truth, in the period we are now looking at both More and his Utopia are unique. Sir Thomas More served his country with distinction for two decades, successively as Speaker of the House of Commons and Chancellor. His Utopia was published, in Latin, in 1516, as a quirky description of an impossibly perfect society (‘utopia’ means ‘nowhere’), while satirising the social and economic faults of contemporary England. In fact, like so many commentators of this time, his primary, even overriding, concern was economic rather than political. He does not use the word ‘citizen’, yet there is a civic thread to his message. This has been summarised thus: ‘The moral purpose of a community, as More idealized it, was to produce good citizens and men of intellectual and moral freedom’, in addition to a just and honest socio-economic system (Sabine, 1973, p. 405). Twenty years later, Thomas Starkey started to write his Dialogue between Cardinal Pole and Thomas Lipset, though it remained unpublished until 1871. Its significance therefore is to be found not in its influence but in its revelations concerning political thinking in the reign of Henry VIII, especially the views of Pole, a member of a most distinguished family and who was later to become Archbishop of Canterbury. Starkey, ‘the most reflective of English humanists’ (Ferguson, 1965, p. 371), was very much part of what we would today call ‘the Establishment’: he was chaplain to the king and Master of Corpus Christi College, Oxford. Like Fortescue and unlike More, Starkey’s purpose was pragmatic: to urge government action to tackle current evils and thus create, to use the vogue phrase, ‘the very and true commonweal’. Our other two writers, Cheke and Crowley, wrote their important works in the years 1548–50 and were particularly disturbed by the mood of rural discontent, which burst forth most threateningly in the rebellion led by Robert 17

Citizenship in Britain Ket in Norfolk in 1549. They were not public men (though Cheke had government connections). Sir John Cheke was a scholar and Robert Crowley was a printer. Hoping to help prevent further discord by recommending reform, Cheke wrote a pamphlet entitled The Hurt of Sedition. Crowley’s most significant pamphlets were An Information and Petition against the Oppressors of the poor Commons of this Realm and The Way to Wealth. (The first and third of these titles are given in abbreviated form.) Concepts and practices that are clearly components of citizenship can be found in the works just listed and it is instructive to see how the authors dealt with them. Our starting-point, as it was with the commentators, must be the notion of commonweal – that, through reform, a vision of an ideal society could be approximated to in practice. Starkey gives a lucid definition of ‘a very and true commonweal’ as ‘nothing else but the prosperous and most perfect state of a multitude assembled together in any country, city or town, governed virtuously in civil life, according to the nature and dignity of man’ (quoted, Ferguson, 1965, p. 371). Thomas More, it is true, was sceptical. Only in his impossible utopia could the altruism that was required be achieved: ‘Elsewhere, people are always talking about the public interest, but all they really care about is private property’ (More, 1965, p. 128). Despite this scepticism – or cynicism or realism, as you will – much thought was given at this time about ways in which England could progress to the goal. Christian love must be fostered as a binding force, though, in Cheke’s view, ‘Love is not the knot only of the Commonwealth . . . but also the strength and might of the same’ (quoted, Allen, 1960, p. 141). All men must contribute to this endeavour, as Crowley especially emphasised. Working towards this end, to express the idea in another way, is to behave as a consciously good citizen. This behaviour included the performance of one’s civic duty, another word that crops up, unsurprisingly, in the texts we are considering. Ferguson writes of Crowley’s speaking ‘with a strange intensity of the duty of articulate citizenship’, citing him as declaring that, ‘It shall be every true Englishman’s duty forthwith to employ his whole study to the removing of’ the great evil of sedition’ (quoted, Ferguson, 1965, p. 145). The word ‘every’ is significant. Crowley reiterates the message that all men have a civic duty. Also, in the Dialogue Starkey presents Lipset arguing the case for the performance of civic duty as having the supreme claim on the life of a man, of both high and low station. He asserts that, ‘when every part . . . doth his office and duty . . . then shall there be stablished and set in such a multitude of people so governed . . . that thing which we so long have sought: that is to say, a very and true commonweal’ (quoted, Ferguson, 1965, p. 371). 18

Early constitutional and humanist themes This discharge of duty is an indication of a man’s civic virtue, an attribute that has lain at the heart of the civic republican notion of citizenship since classical times. But there can be no virtue without knowledge and understanding, argued the Renaissance writers. The equation of vice and ‘ill education’ is especially evident in Starkey’s exposition. True citizenship is impossible without citizenship education. How, then, should the good citizen exercise his duties? More has surprisingly modern ideas about this question. In his perfect society there would be voting by secret ballot in elections for local and national government, for the priesthood and for the fate of those imprisoned for major crimes. To take the example from local government: ‘Each town has two hundred Stywards [representatives of groups of households], who are responsible for electing the Mayor. They do it by secret ballot, after solemnly swearing to vote for the man they consider best qualified’ (More, 1965, p. 74). However, More’s cynicism peeps through again when he gives the name Senatus Mentiranus to Utopia’s parliament: translatable as ‘Lietalk’! (see More, 1965, p. 153). In comparison, despite the weaknesses of the English Parliament in the early sixteenth century, both Starkey and Crowley accept that this institution is the only possible channel between people and monarch for effecting change. After all, Crowley’s Information and Petition was written on that understanding. Starkey goes even further, claiming that the highest authority in the land is not the monarch but ‘the common counseyl and parliament’; for the king holds only delegated power. Also, because the purpose of the commonwealth is the welfare of the community as a whole, the people have the right to change their government. He even puts into the mouth of Pole in the Dialogue the suggestion that the monarch should be elected. We are approaching the proposition that the body of citizenry is sovereign, an idea that will come to the fore a century later. In making our transition to the post-1558 period, we must take notice of Sir Thomas Smith, who straddles that somewhat artificial divide, a man of many parts, fitting the descriptions ‘articulate’ and ‘elite’ citizen admirably. He was university professor, priest, lawyer, diplomat and statesman, serving as ambassador in Paris and twice Secretary of State. He produced two major works: these were Discourse of the Common Weal of this Realm of England, written contemporaneously with the pamphlets of Cheke and Crowley, though published posthumously, and De Republica Anglorum, which described the condition of England in 1565. Like the mid-century writers we have just summarised, Smith was anxious to suggest practical solutions to current, especially economic, problems, and was also insistent, in the manner of Starkey, that the importance of education for a civic purpose be appreciated – in Smith’s case, a melding 19

Citizenship in Britain of moral philosophy and experience in public affairs. Our prime interest in Smith, however, is to be found in his views about Parliament, as expounded in his De Republica. His explanation of the authority of this institution reveals how strong he considered it to be when acting in concert with the monarch and how representative it was of the whole citizenry of the land. Here are the key sentences: The high and absolute power of the realm of England consisteth in the Parliament . . . For every Englishman is entended to be there present . . . from the Prince to the lowest person. And the consent of Parliament is taken to be evry man’s consent. (Quoted, Allen, 1960, p. 264)

This proposition is indicative of the fact that towards the end of his life Sir Thomas Smith’s thinking was in advance of his contemporaries’ writings in the mid-century. Indeed, Ferguson calls him unique for his generation because of his conclusion that England was possessed of a form of legislative sovereignty (see Ferguson, 1965, pp. 390–1), though this judgement surely underplays the forward thinking of Starkey. We may add that the thesis in the passage just cited, under the name of ‘virtual representation’, was argued as far down as 1832 (see e.g. pp. 100–1). But even more important for our purposes, Smith accorded to elite citizens wider responsibilities than had been previously considered. For, in his view, summarised by Ferguson, The counselor, whether acting as a public-spirited citizen or as a member of the duly appointed governing circle, became one whose task it was not merely to point out wrongs to be redressed as in a court of law, but to understand the inner workings of society and to devise policy accordingly. (Ferguson, 1965. p. 361)

The year in which Sir Thomas arrived in Paris as ambassador, the Scotsman George Buchanan, who had spent much of his life in France, died in his native land. He is famed as a fine Latinist and poet, as a tutor of James VI and as the author of a political work, De Jure Regni apud Scotos, Dialogus (The Powers of the Crown in Scotland, Dialogue), published initially, and posthumously, in 1578, though the constant interest in this work over two centuries from its original publication did not lead to consistent praise from twentieth-century scholars (see e.g. Burns, 1951, p. 61). The reason for his fame as a political theorist was his justification for the deposition of his pupil’s mother, Mary, Queen of Scots (a quaint example of tutor–pupil relationship!). Our interest, of course, rests on the citizenship implications of his argument. 20

Early constitutional and humanist themes The very basis of the dialogue is Buchanan’s case that, in effect, a monarch’s authority is merely delegated from the people: echoes of Fortescue and Smith. Following this proposition to its logical conclusion, he states that no legislation, even approved by a representative body, can be valid law without the sanction of the populace as a whole. He bluntly states that there is a contract between king and citizens (the word he uses is ‘civibus’; see Allen, 1960, p. 340). But supposing some of the people are not to be trusted as having sound judgement? Buchanan simply considers that those persons cannot be rated as true citizens, except that he puts the matter positively, defining citizens as: ‘Those who obey the laws, who maintain human society, who would rather undergo every hardship and every peril for the well-being of their fellow countrymen, than, through cowardice, grow old in dishonourable ease’ (Burns, 1951, p. 64). However, here, crucially, Buchanan lets us down. How are the quantity of the people on the one hand, and the quality of the citizens on the other, to be relatively weighed in the processes of legislation and monitoring the actions of the monarch? The answer in De Jure Regni is vague (see e.g. Williamson, 1979, pp. 112–14, 116). None the less, in seventeenth-century England the main thrust of Buchanan’s work made him popular, irrespective of his scholarly weaknesses, when the powerful authority of the descendants of Mary, Queen of Scots was being challenged.

Religion and Civil War clouds Intermittently, from the accession of Elizabeth I to the outbreak of what Clarendon called ‘the Great Rebellion’, two main issues rose to the surface pertinent to the matter of political citizenship, and, in fact, contributed to that collapse into civil war. (The rising political consciousness of the gentry and professional classes resulting from socio-economic movements and tensions, while contributing to the outbreak of the war, had an ambivalent relationship to the development of citizenship; it consolidated civic elitism and hindered its democratic expansion.) The two main issues were: the insistence that membership of and commitment to the Anglican Church was the essential badge of national citizenship, and the mounting claims of Parliament, especially the Commons, as the elected House, to have a rightful and powerful say in government. These issues eventually led to fratricidal war between ‘Roundheads’ and ‘Cavaliers’ for two political reasons. One was that Elizabeth’s compromise policy of handling Parliament broke on Charles’s uncompromising belief in divine right kingship. The other reason was that the Elizabethan Religious Settlement after the strained disputes of 21

Citizenship in Britain her half-siblings’ reigns could no longer contain the mutually hostile Puritanism of a number of members of the Houses of Parliament and the High Church Arminianism of King Charles I. Citizenship is involved in these scenarios in complex ways, as we shall now investigate. The belief that monarchs ruled by divine right was quite incompatible with the notion of the rights of citizenship. The doctrine asserts that the king is appointed by God, he is answerable only to God, he is a father to his politically childlike subjects. It was a conviction learnedly expounded by James, Charles I’s father, and therefore passed on to the son. The concept and practice of citizenship in any full political sense was consequently impossible without the crippling of this doctrine. Furthermore, the political implication of Charles’s own personal religious beliefs was an absolutist style of government. If that outcome had transpired, then the gradually growing citizenship in the sense of popular representation in an effective legislature would have been stymied. To turn to the Religious Settlement and its civic purpose. The creation of the Church of England in 1559 as a broad Church was intended to accommodate all but the ultramontane (i.e. loyal to the Pope) Catholic portion of the population. To be an English citizen was to be in communion with that Church. A religious schism would portend the disintegration of national citizenship – a threat that in due course appeared from both the Puritan and Catholic wings. The relationship of Church and state was a live issue from the middle years of Elizabeth’s reign to the Interregnum in the mid-seventeenth century. In 1574, a decade before he became Archbishop of Canterbury, John Whitgift declared, ‘I perceive no such distinction of the commonwealth and the Church that they should be counted as it were two several bodies governed with divers laws and divers magistrates’ (quoted, Allen, 1960, p. 174). The deepest thought to the matter was given by Richard Hooker in his magisterial multi-volume The Laws of Ecclesiastical Polity, written in the last few years before his death in 1599. There, he stated quite bluntly that, ‘We hold, that seeing there is not any man of the Church of England, but the same man is also a member of the commonwealth; nor any man a member of the commonwealth which is not also of the Church of England . . . no person appertaining to the one can be denied to be also of the other’ (quoted, Allen, 1960, p. 195). The voluminous literature on the question – both in defence of and hostile to this proposition – was occasioned by the trifurcation of the English body religious – Anglicans, Catholics and Puritans – and by the emergence of views about the likely effects of such a disintegration on the body politic. Although a sizeable proportion of the population remained adherents to Rome after 1559, the government hoped that, by a policy of leniency, these 22

Early constitutional and humanist themes people would nevertheless remain loyal citizens. And, in truth, most felt that they could sustain their dual allegiances. But this middle course was not to last. The attitude and activities of the Pope, the Jesuits, Mary, Queen of Scots (Catholic and claimant of the English throne) and His Catholic Majesty, King Philip II of Spain, raised fears that English Catholics could be, potentially, not just recusants, refusing to attend Church of England services, but outright traitors, even though the potentially treacherous were minute in number. Repressive laws were drafted with mounting severity during the last three decades of the sixteenth century. Thoughtful Catholics were placed in a quandary: they sincerely believed that the Christian Church was universal, that a national Church was a contradiction in terms. In 1581 the fine for non-attendance at Church of England services was raised twentyfold from the rate fixed in 1559 to a swingeing £20 per month. In these circumstances Catholics could scarcely be thought of as citizens in any significant meaning of the term, denizens of England, rather. Even worse was to come. In 1593 an Act of Parliament specified that anyone failing to attend Church services or attending any unauthorised religious gathering could suffer the penalty of exile or even execution. Now, this panic measure was directed more at the Puritans than the Catholics, for, with the execution of Mary in 1587 and the failure of the Armada the following year, the Catholic threat abated. Moreover, when James I came to the throne he rescinded the £20 fine. Yet the consciences of Puritans were troubled by several features of Elizabeth’s Settlement. A small number of them were disturbed to the point of seceding from the Church of England, hence the term ‘Separatists’ that was applied to them; for, by so doing, they separated from their brethren who stayed within the national Church, campaigning for reform. So could the Separatists be counted as citizens? They claimed that a Church was a congregation, however small in number, who gathered together to worship God, not a national institution. It was this perceived threat to the integrity of the Church of England that prompted Hooker to write his great work. In Scotland, meanwhile, the extremist Calvinist preacher John Knox, who commanded passionate support for his anti-Romanist campaign, was insisting that a civic loyalty to a prince must be overridden by adherence to the written word of God (as interpreted by Knox!). In Allen’s laconic summary, ‘Not only must there be a right to rebel against impious government, but rebellion is a duty, and refusal to rebel may entail damnation’ (Allen, 1960, p. 115). In effect, Knox was teaching that the good citizen must be defined theologically, not politically. As a result of Knox’s leadership and of military action, after 1560 a Presbyterian Church replaced the 23

Citizenship in Britain Episcopal in Scotland. Moving on to the seventeenth century, Charles I dispensed with the Scottish, as well as the English Parliament, for much of his reign. However, his attempt to interfere with the ways of the Kirk provoked the people to an alternative method of opposition, thus displaying an acute Scottish civic consciousness. A National Covenant was drafted, promising loyalty to the king but committing signatories, the Covenanters, to defending their Church. Committees, called the Tables, organised the movement, which drew support from clergy, nobles and people. The Covenanters raised an army, Scots even returning to their homeland from the continent in order to fight for the cause. Charles summoned a Parliament in the hope of defusing the crisis, but this body was now strengthened with a vital component of ‘the middling sort’ of professionals and modestly wealthy landowners. It required everyone to sign the Covenant. Meanwhile, relations between Charles and his recalled English Parliament had also reached an impasse. Civil war ensued, the manifold causes of which included the national, religious consciousness and resistance of the Scots, maintained even to the arbitrament of war (the Bishops’ Wars, 1639, 1640). Political awareness, also with a most powerful religious component, was intensifying in England as well. Three main points need to be made at this juncture. The first is to appreciate the range of barriers impeding the evolution of a modern citizenly mentality and acceptance of the need for institutions to facilitate its activation beyond or in place of the established medieval and Tudor forms already indicated above. The theory of divine right kingship has already been mentioned. The gentry acted as elite citizens at both county and parliamentary levels but would be resistant to any extension of the civic status and functions beyond their class. The classical republican mode of citizenship, revived most clearly in Renaissance Florence, was widely recognised as suited to small city- not large nationstates. Nevertheless, and this is our second point, there was, as we shall discover in Chapter 2, an undoubted sudden outburst of new civic awareness in the 1640s and 1650s, a phenomenon that requires explanation. One possible reason for this, our third point, is that Puritanism, despite its debilitating effect on the Church of England as a binding national institution, set the scene in its own inimitable way for the advent of a modern style of citizenship. To pursue the case in support of this third explanation we need to start with the distinguished study by Michael Walzer, The Revolution of the Saints. The saints were the Puritans, self-proclaimed elect of God, dedicated to the pursuit of a holy life as taught by Calvin. Walzer summarises his interpretation of the connection that interests us in these sentences: 24

Early constitutional and humanist themes What Calvinists said of the saint, other men would later say of the citizen: the same sense of civic virtue, of discipline and duty, lies behind the two names. Saint and citizen together suggest a new integration of private men . . . into the political order, an integration based upon a novel view of politics as a kind of conscientious and continuous labour. (Walzer, 1966, p. 2)

So many aspects of the Puritan’s view and style of life, Walzer argues, are what we might term here ‘pre-echoes of citizenship’. Walzer’s argument is thickly textured, so we shall tease out just a few fibres that are most useful for our story. The centre of the Puritan’s life was the congregation, a collective form of activity, which was, Walzer suggests, ‘surely a training for self-government and democratic participation’ (p. 301). He cites the congregational experience of the Levellers as a background for their citizenly campaigning (see p. 32). ‘Activity’ is indeed a key word. The Calvinist conviction that work is an essential virtue converts, in Walzer’s view, to political engagement: ‘Calvinism taught previously passive men the styles and methods of political activity and enabled them successfully to claim the right of participation in that ongoing system of political action that is the modern state’ (p. 18), expressed more trenchantly, ‘The activity of the Calvinist saints . . . required that all subjects were knowledgeable and active citizens rather than na¨ıve political children’ (p. 14). The preeminent characteristic of Puritans, their serious-minded zeal, also features in Walzer’s analysis. He holds to the opinion that this frame of mind was a reaction to the intense, if subconscious, fear these people felt in face of the perplexing social, economic and political changes taking place at this time and which were sapping the stability of the traditional structures. By the end of the seventeenth century, however, this anxiety had waned because the disorder of the struggle between the old and the new had been resolved. And the new brought with it the emergence of a liberal form of citizenship theory, epitomised by the work of John Locke (see pp. 62–3). In Walzer’s words, ‘Lockeian liberals found it possible to dispense with religious, even ideological, controls in human society’ (p. 303). Nevertheless, Walzer’s thesis has by no means gone unchallenged and has become entangled in an intense scholarly debate on how far an awareness of citizenship existed before the Civil War and Interregnum. The case against Walzer has been posited on two compelling grounds. One is the strong specific argument that secular humanist rather than religious thought was already well established by the Elizabethan age; the other is that the emergence of thinking about and consciousness of citizenship in the mid-seventeenth century resulted from multiple influences. The prime issue is how far the civic republican model of citizenship influenced thinking 25

Citizenship in Britain in England. This style originated in the ancient Greek city-states and the Roman Republic and the writings especially of Aristotle and Cicero, characterised by a stress on civic virtue. Interest in this political form was revived in the Middle Ages and especially during the Renaissance as classical texts became increasingly available. Florence was the centre of this thinking, called ‘classical’ or ‘civic humanism’. (This term, admittedly subject to recent scholarly controversy, may be construed as the belief that the ideal objective of a virtuous human life is to be achieved through political participation.) The work of Machiavelli was the most notable corpus of political theory in this field, particularly his Discourses on the First Ten Books of Livy. We may take three recent works illustrative of this academic debate. Classical Humanism and Republicanism in English Political Thought, 1570– 1640 by the Finnish scholar Markku Peltonen argues a confidently positive case. She writes: There is little doubt that the vocabulary of classical humanism was developed with a vengeance in the 1570s and 1580s . . . In articulating the key concepts of humanist tradition, the theorists . . . were further engaged in developing the consciousness of Englishmen as active citizens . . . everyone [should exercise] the full range of civic virtues. (Peltonen, 1995, p. 39; see also especially pp. 1–17)

The American scholar Donald Hanson, in his From Kingdom to Commonwealth: The Development of Civic Consciousness in English Political Thought, has argued to the contrary that native English traditions blocked any effective reception of Florentine civic thought. He argues that, until the convulsion of the 1640s, Englishmen could not have been possessed of a real, integrated civic consciousness because the country’s constitutional arrangements were grounded on a ‘double majesty’, that is, obligations to royal authority and the individual’s legal rights, which remained separated until the Interregnum. The most distinguished and influential of our chosen three books (and which will feature in Chapter 2) has been The Machiavellian Moment: Florentine Thought and the Atlantic Republican Tradition, by the New Zealand scholar John Pocock. In this work he argues that the English traditions of the ‘Ancient Constitution’, custom and common law allowed a peculiarly English ‘species of civic consciousness’, one ‘remote from civic humanism in the republican and Florentine sense’ (Pocock, 2003, p. 341). But he, more than most historians engaged in this literary fray, is at pains to insist that the complexities of the evidence allow no simple explanation. He writes: ‘The growth in England of civic consciousness . . . is a difficult subject of which less than enough has been written; but there is evidence to suggest that it 26

Early constitutional and humanist themes grew along a number of lines’ (Pocock, 2003, p. 336; see also pp. 553–84). One of these lines was in truth the humanist. A brief footnote on the matter of the humanist/republican tradition. The writers to whom Peltonen, for example, refers developed their views not from a Puritan theological stance, but from the starting-point of the secular political idea of virtue that was to be found at the very heart of the classical concept of citizenship. What one must not forget, however, is that the republican concept of civic virtue included a useful, even critical, contribution from a religion shaped to the civic purpose of political stability; Machiavelli, notably, made this plain in his analysis of Roman history. That most renowned English Renaissance man at the turn of the sixteenth century, Francis Bacon, also leant heavily upon the precedent of Republican Rome, arguing for a number of strands to citizenship, including ready opportunities for public service, notably in Parliament, a Scottish right to naturalisation (see p. 14 ) and – his key argument – military service. He firmly believed that the best citizen would be a small farmer, independent of any commitment to a landlord and with sufficient leisure to engage in public affairs (reminiscent of Aristotle’s model). Such a person would be virtuous in the republican sense of valorous. This notion was already being spread also through Machiavelli’s Art of War, translated into English in 1560 (the year before Bacon’s birth) and reprinted, perhaps not coincidentally, in 1588, the year of the Armada. Despite nervousness that an armed militia might turn on an unpopular government, the classical viewpoint about a citizen’s military service was widely held. Two other, perhaps minor, influences that can account for the burgeoning of thinking about citizenship from the mid-sixteenth to the midseventeenth century must be mentioned. One, to repeat the point made above, is the acute consciousness of what was called England’s ‘Ancient Constitution’, the unique melding over the centuries of custom, law and rights. It was a concept often referred to with pride in the period of the Civil War, and it may be interpreted as furnishing a basis for an awareness of the status of citizenship. Pocock asserts that ‘we can characterize it as a mode of civic consciousness particularly appropriate to the gentry asserting itself in parliament, in litigation, and in the local administration of the common law’ (Pocock, 2003, p. 341). This quotation also helps to remind us that the significance of the local, county level for the evolution of citizenship, despite being skewed by privilege, must never be forgotten (see e.g. Laslett, 1983, pp. 225–6). The other minor influence, though interpretable as an aspect of humanist thinking and already referred to above, was the development of the idea of the counsellor of the prince as what we have called an ‘elite citizen’. 27

Citizenship in Britain In recent years historians have engaged in a great deal of research, reinterpretation and debate about political thinking in England prior to and during the Civil War and Interregnum. It is not possible in a short book to survey this quantity of material. We confine ourselves here to making three observations. First, a magisterial review essay in the New York Review of Books by Keith Thomas provides a lucid analysis of important aspects of the field (Thomas, 2005). Second, the main purpose of that essay is to illuminate the work of Quentin Skinner, who has written so much on the political theory of this age, including republicanism. In particular, Thomas stresses Skinner’s recent exposition of his concept of the ‘neo-Roman’ idea of liberty. Thomas explains: ‘Skinner argues that Roman authors such as Cicero, Sallust, and Livy underpinned this notion of liberty as freedom from domination by stressing the importance of self-government, civic participation, and the pursuit of the common good’ (Thomas, 2005, p. 48). If Skinner is right that this portion of the classical inheritance was influential, thinking about citizenship at this time was very much alive. However, and the third point, this distinction between the Greek and Roman messages, the question of how far classical as opposed to ‘Ancient Constitution’ thinking weighed in the consideration of citizenship, and assessments about what years and among how many people in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries these ideas were seriously thought through – all these matters are problems still being argued about among historians. How, then, to sum up? This is most conveniently undertaken by projecting forward to the subject-matter of Chapter 2, where all the threads come together. But if we are to identify one element in the mid-seventeenth century that concentrated the country’s mind on citizenship the Roundhead army, as refashioned in keen and efficient Puritan shape as Cromwell’s New Model Army, must be recognised as signally performing that role. It was responsible for the, admittedly temporary, destruction of the monarchy, an act which allowed theoretical constitutional space for an active citizenship, the inhibiting status of subjecthood to the Crown no longer obtaining. It contained officers of distinguished intellectual calibre who showed themselves capable of discussing the central issue of the franchise and incorporating the case of the Ancient Constitution in their writings. And their adoption of active civic roles was a clear exemplification of the classical republican insistence on the duty of the citizen to bear arms. This comment in 1647 by a member of the New Model Army is characteristic: And so we took up arms in judgment and conscience to those ends, and have so continued them, and are resolved according to . . . such principles as we have received from your [parliament’s] frequent informations, and our own common


Early constitutional and humanist themes sense, concerning these our fundamental rights and liberties, to assert and vindicate . . . those common ends premised, against . . . all particular parties and interest whatsoever. (Quoted, Pocock, 2003, p. 372)

Thus did the Civil War become the catalyst for thinking about a new style of citizenship in England.


Chapter 2

The eff lorescence of political thinking

Emergence of radicalism The half-century from 1640 to 1690 – that is, from the collapse of effective censorship to the publication of John Locke’s Second Treatise on Civil Government – was a period of unprecedented political consciousness and flow of political publications in England. Not until the century c. 1760– 1860 – from John Wilkes to John Stuart Mill – was there to be a comparable period of such intense and publicised political thinking (see Chapters 3 and 4). The surge of pamphlet and newspaper output in those seventeenthcentury decades may be indicated by the following figures. There were no newspapers in 1640; in 1645 there were 722. The collection of tracts accumulated by the leading London bookseller George Thomason between 1640 and 1661 exceeded 20,000 titles (see Sabine, 1973, p. 456). The significance of this outpouring from the presses for our purpose is indicated by the American authority on this period, George Sabine: This pamphlet-debate was the first great experiment in popular political education using the printing press as the organ of government by discussion. However vague the ideas may have been or lacking in systematic coherence, they were at least being used to bring a measure of intelligent guidance into the political life of men in the mass. (Sabine, 1973, pp. 441–2)

How are we to explain this outburst of interest? Charles I’s ‘Eleven Years Tyranny’ of personal rule and the policies of his chief counsellors Laud and Wentworth caused discontent among the politically vocal, a category which expanded, so that, by 1640, according to Derek Hirst, ‘The common people were certainly actively involved in national political affairs’ (quoted, Richardson, 1977, p. 142). But religious issues, as we have seen in Chapter 1, aroused the greatest contention; on the other hand, religion and 30

The efflorescence of political thinking politics in this age were tightly enmeshed. The expression of points of view in print, often passionately held and passionately disputed, was subject during the middle Caroline years to stringent censorship and savage punishment meted out by the prerogative courts of Star Chamber and High Commission, a policy conscientiously pursued by Laud when he became Archbishop of Canterbury in 1633. Citizenship as enjoyment of civil rights was therefore constrained. The summoning in 1640 of what became the Long Parliament aroused some excitement; and the consequent relaxation of censorship – fostered by the members of the Parliament for their own, mainly religious, propaganda purposes – to use the hackneyed metaphor, opened the floodgates. Thus were released the pent-up words of the hitherto cowed and frustrated religious and political commentators. How widely were their messages absorbed? Who were the citizens, in the double sense of being politically literate and active? The very volume of the outpouring of publications is itself an indication of the broad ability and wish to read them, though, inevitably, the numbers varied wildly by social class and geographical location (see Laslett, 1983, pp. 229–31). Urban residents and middle classes were, naturally, the most literate. Yet, Peter Laslett has stated that overall, less than one-third of Englishmen could sign their names. The conclusion must follow that at least two-thirds of all mature males, and certainly a larger but not easily calculated proportion, were disabled from sharing to any great extent in the political upheavals of the seventeenth century. (Laslett, 1983, p. 229)

However, this statistical generalisation does not take into account three other considerations. One is the common spread of ideas by oral communication in a semi-literate society. The second is the prime political significance during times of upheaval of London as the capital city, where the level of literacy was very much higher than the national average. The third is that the proportion of the populace who were literate and the proportion who had the suffrage were higher in the seventeenth than in the sixteenth and late eighteenth centuries. Summarising research in the field of the franchise, R. C. Richardson has stated, ‘Both in town and countryside . . . voters were no longer a small, respectable minority . . . By 1640 . . . over the country as a whole, the electorate must have consisted of 27–40 per cent of adult males’ (Richardson, 1977, p. 143). It is instructive to compare that proportion with Laslett’s ‘less than one-third’ literates. Also, writing of the 1640 election and in connection with this enlarged electorate, Brian Manning has asserted that, ‘Political and religious questions became issues in the contests because of the intervention of the lower classes’ (quoted, Richardson, 31

Citizenship in Britain 1977, p. 143). What is more, functionally literate or not, popular political participation, stimulated especially by economic concerns, certainly had an effect. Explaining this phenomenon before the outbreak of the war, Hirst has shown that the House of Commons was increasingly responsive and ‘genuine consultations took place with large numbers of ordinary people’ (quoted, Richardson, 1977, p. 142). And Manning has explained the effect of popular movements in the 1640s: ‘the cause of the parliamentary opposition to the crown came to be identified with opposition to the urban oligarchies and with a movement for wider franchise’ (quoted, Richardson, 1977, p. 144). The exceptional role of London is exemplified by the fact that the central figures in developing and publicising the radical, Leveller proposals (see pp. 33–4) – Lilburne, Overton, Walwyn and Winstanley – worked in the city. Moreover, in the history of citizenship in Britain the mid-seventeenth century radical movement is of greater significance than the brevity of its life, effectively from 1645 to 1651, might suggest. Three main factors can explain its blossoming at this juncture. One was the Royalists being roundly defeated at the Battle of Naseby, an event which seemed to preclude the revival of Charles’s autocratic power and to offer the chance of alternative styles of government being seriously considered. Another was the emergence of the instrument of the King’s defeat on the field of battle, namely, the New Model Army, which was not just an efficient military machine, but also, by its organisation and the public consciousness of its members, in effect also a political movement. Third, many of these soldiers were enthused by the religious principle of Independency, which rejected any Episcopal or synodal authority (i.e. as espoused, respectively, by the Anglicans and mainstream Puritans). It was thus a relatively democratic sect that suddenly burgeoned at this time; and the habit of religious democracy was easily transferred to the hope of political democracy. From these propitious conditions there emerged the group, which became a quasi-political party, dubbed the ‘Levellers’, although it must be pointed out that, as the democratic agenda of the Levellers developed, a rift opened between them and the more moderate middle-class Independents. The Levellers were a remarkable body of men, especially their leaders, generating in this exceedingly brief span of time a highly advanced set of cogent political ideas germane to the subject of citizenship. Hence our concentration on them in this section. Before proceeding to our main purpose, that is, providing a little biographical information about our major writers and an identification of the principles of citizenship as seen through an analysis of a few of the most prominent texts, two detailed notes are apposite. One is that the adaptation 32

The efflorescence of political thinking of the term ‘Leveller’ to describe this radical political group occurred in 1647 during the Putney Debates conducted under the auspices of the Army (see pp. 35, 37). The allotting of the term to the group annoyed their leader John Lilburne considerably: he considered it a slanderous distortion of their aims (see Haller and Davies, 1964, pp. 1 n. 1, 178). Their own definition was succinctly given in a pamphlet entitled The Commoner’s Liberty: ‘equal justice to be impartially distributed to all, this is the levelling aimed at’ (quoted, Gooch, 1927, p. 119); that is, the civil rights of citizenship. The second note concerns the Levellers’ use of the term ‘citizen’. When a petition was drafted and its heading started, ‘A Remonstrance of many thousand citizens and other freeborn people of England’, we should construe the word in its legal sense of citizens of cities (see Chapter 1) because they are specifically distinguished from ‘other freeborn people’. However, when we come across phrases like ‘well-affected citizens’ and ‘citizens and soldiers’ (see e.g. Sharp, 1998, pp. 84, 150) we may feel that the word is perhaps being used in a looser sense, in the latter case, equivalent to ‘civilians’. The fact that ‘many thousand’ – 98,064 ‘and more to be added daily’, to be precise (see Haller and Davies, 1964, p. 30) – committed themselves to sign the remonstrance is powerful evidence of the widespread strength of civic feeling on this occasion. The circumstance was the incarceration of Lilburne. John Lilburne was a person of sterling citizenly qualities, including the skill of civic articulateness, and who became the effective leader of the urban artisan Levellers as well as wielding considerable influence with the Army regiments. We therefore need to know something about him. He was born in 1615, son of a Durham squire, and arrived in London to undertake an apprenticeship as a draper at the age of fourteen. As a man he revealed a mixture of personal characteristics that offer us clues as to his style of leadership and his effectiveness in this role. He was vain, stubborn and prone to quarrelling, and he was fearlessly dogged in fighting for his cause. We may add also, by way of explanation of his success, that he was ably and devotedly supported by his wife, Elizabeth. He was punished by being frequently incarcerated in the Tower of London and Newgate prisons for expressing his religious and political beliefs, taking the opportunities of his trials to make particularly brilliant, passionate and famous defences of his actions in his trials in 1649 and 1653. On his release from the Tower in 1640 Lilburne joined the Army, rising to the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel before returning to civilian life in 1644. He became a hero among the lower strata of society partly because of the vigour and honesty with which he prosecuted his campaign and partly also because he presented his arguments not as a personal case but as a case that affected all the people of the country. His 33

Citizenship in Britain basic message was that the Englishman’s birthright of freedom was being imperilled – ‘birthright’ was a word very much in vogue. Hence the nickname by which he has become known: ‘Freeborn John’. It is impossible here to do justice to his remarkable literary output, effectively Leveller manifestos, but these titles alone tell their tale (though for some, because of their anonymity, their attribution is not wholly certain): Englands Birth-Right Justified, The Freemans freedom justified and, arguably the most important, The Legall Fundamentall Liberties of the People of England. One of Lilburne’s co-authors was Richard Overton, a close associate. Unfortunately, there is not a great deal of information about him. We do know that he was a printer and fell foul of the Stationers’ Company for operating an illicit press on which he printed his own radical and satirical pamphlets. And when Lilburne was sent to the Tower in 1646 Overton defended him so strenuously in print that, for his pains, he was consigned to Newgate prison. Three years later he was also to see the inside of the Tower, together with Lilburne and two others who had probably collaborated in writing the petitions to Parliament entitled Englands New Chains Discovered and The Second Part of Englands New Chains Discovered. Overton had already made a name for himself with Araignment of Mr. Persecution. William Haller and Godfrey Davies have assessed both this work and The Second Part of Englands New Chains as ‘brilliant’ (Haller and Davies, 1964, pp. 6, 19). Andrew Sharp has contributed his praise by declaring that, ‘it is in his writings more than those of any other leveller that the doctrine of the inalienable rights of individuals is to be found, not just stated as an axiom, but justified’ (Sharp, 1983, p. 177). In fact, we have already referred to another of the tracts of which Overton was a co-author, that is, the Remonstrance of many thousand citizens, which he wrote with William Walwyn. Walwyn was another friend of Lilburne, though fifteen years his senior and a step above him in social rank, for he was a merchant of comfortable means. Also, whereas Lilburne set out to appeal to the masses through words, Walwyn was talented as an organiser, though his quill was at least as fluent as Freeborn John’s. It was Walwyn’s organising skills that mobilised Lilburne’s supporters, in the words of Haller and Davies, ‘to hold meetings, appoint committees, draft petitions, and get them printed, paid for, circulated, signed by a multitude, and delivered, sometimes by a noisy throng, at the door of the House of Commons’. ‘No movement of such a kind on such a scale organized for such a purpose,’ Haller and Davies continue, ‘had ever been seen in England’ (Haller and Davies, 1964, p. 7). For however short a period and among however small a proportion of the English population, Walwyn had created an effective active citizenship. 34

The efflorescence of political thinking By 1647 the Levellers and especially the rank-and-file in the Army were forming the spearhead of the radical reform movement. That was to be a momentous year in the history of citizenship. England really did have a politically conscious citizen-army in a style beloved of the civic republican theorists of citizenship. The officers and soldiers were initially provoked into political activity, debate and publication by a quarrel with Parliament, their constitutional concerns shaped by the current problem of defining what should be the relative powers of king, Lords, Commons and electorate. In order to present their grievances, each regiment chose two agents, or ‘agitators’, as they were named, who convened as the representative Council of the Army. In due course they produced a document entitled The Agreement of the People, clearly based on Lilburne’s programme (though it was watered down by the third draft). It was the definitive Leveller statement of all the constitutional principles they professed, so important indeed that we shall give it separate attention below. The Agreement was a major item on the agenda of the famous Putney Debates. These were conducted in St Mary’s Church of this village on the Thames among about forty officers, ‘agitators’ and civilian Levellers. The Debates illuminate the thinking on political and constitutional matters thrown up by the confusion of the Civil War and the disputes between the radical Leveller adherents to the Agreement and the more moderate Independents. Together, The Agreement of the People and the record of the Debates compiled by William Clarke, Secretary of the Army’s General Council, supply us with a remarkable insight into this flowering of thoughts on citizenship in the autumn of 1647. The most famous of the advocates at Putney of a democratic form of constitution was Colonel Thomas Rainsborough (sometimes spelt ‘Rainborough’); so democratic, indeed, were his convictions that they even outflanked those of many of his Leveller brethren. Of humble origin, he was especially incensed by the inequality of property-ownership and had risen in the Army to his senior rank through gallantry and skill in battle. The most vocal of the Independents was Commissary-General Henry Ireton, Cromwell’s distinguished son-in-law, who had compiled the moderate Heads of the Proposals, which the rank-and-file had countered with the drawing-up of The Agreement of the People. None the less, we must not exaggerate the divide between the two camps on the issues central to civil and political citizenship. Sabine has summed up their areas of agreement: The freedom of parliament must be secured . . . frequent meetings must be made certain . . . there must be a redistribution of seats to give more equal representation . . . parliament must control executive officers, including commanders of the army and navy . . . Religious toleration, except for Roman Catholics . . . the


Citizenship in Britain removal of specified abuses in the administration of the law. (Sabine, 1973, p. 449)

Meanwhile, ideas even further to the left than Rainsborough’s were being thought through so that, already in 1647, the term ‘True Levellers’ was coined to describe the adherents unsatisfied by the Lilburne strain of thinking. Lilburne stood for the civil and political rights of individual citizenship; the new group stood for the social and economic rights of community citizenship. The leading advocate of this programme, often described as communist, was Gerrard Winstanley. Like Lilburne, he moved from the provinces, in his case, probably, Wigan, to London to take up an apprenticeship. He became a cloth merchant and a freeman of the City, but the economic dislocation caused by the Civil War and the bitter winter of 1648–9 forced him to remove to Surrey. While tending cows he pondered on the communist idea of shared property, thoughts which gelled in a visionary trance to the notion that he should both publicise the principle and start putting it into practice. Another vision, in April 1649, directed him to St George’s Hill near the village of Cobham, where he gathered together a small group of poor men who started digging part of this common land to cultivate it – hence the name ‘Diggers’ by which they generally came to be known. Similar enterprises were springing up independently in various parts of England in response to the widespread problem of poverty (see Hill, 1975, pp. 117– 18), though none was allowed to last long. We know so much more about the Cobham experiment and Winstanley, because of his own publications, that it is convenient to focus on him. Coinciding with the St George’s Hill settlement, he produced The True Levellers’ Standard Advanced, but The Law of Freedom in a Platform, or True Magistracy Restored, published in 1652, is his real claim to fame as a social and political theorist, though by then the Cobham community had collapsed. This section of the present chapter is entitled ‘Emergence of radicalism’. What, we must at last enquire, were these radical ideas? The collapse of the established system of government brought forth four main strands of thought about how to proceed. One, in a spectrum from the political Right, was the die-hard return to the pre-war position. The second was a constitutionalist compromise, exemplified notably by The Heads of the Proposals, limiting the powers of the monarch and introducing some parliamentary reform. The third was the radical political position defined by the Levellers. And the fourth was the radical economic programme of the Diggers. The following famous short quotations illustrate, in order, the second, third and fourth strands. The first two quotations are taken from the Putney Debates, the last, from Winstanley’s Law of Freedom. 36

The efflorescence of political thinking Ireton: That by a man’s being born here he shall have a share in that power that shall dispose of the lands here, and of all things here, I do not think a sufficient ground. But I am sure if we look upon . . . what was originally the constitution of this kingdom . . . that is this: that those that chose the representers for the making of the laws by which this state and kingdom are to be governed are . . . the persons in whom land lies. And those in corporations in whom all trading lies. (Quoted, Wootton, 1986, pp. 287–8) Rainsborough: For really I think that the poorest he that is in England has a life to live, as the greatest he; and therefore, truly sir, I think it’s clear, that every man that is to live under a government ought first by his own consent to put himself under that government; and I do think that the poorest man in England is not at all bound in a strict sense to that government that he has not had a voice to put himself under. (Quoted, Wootton, 1986, p. 38) There is a twofold government, a kingly government, and a Commonwealth’s government . . . Commonwealth’s government governs the earth without buying and selling and thereby becomes a man of peace, and the restorer of ancient peace and freedom. He makes provision for the oppressed, the weak and the simple, as well as for the rich, the wise and the strong. (Winstanley, 1944, pp. 131, 133)

As we have imposed upon ourselves a self-denying ordinance, to use the 1645 term, to confine our analysis in this section to just the radical political ideas of the time, there now follows a survey of these from the third and fourth strands identified, that is, the ideas of the Levellers and the Diggers. The topics that are highlighted are those that relate directly to citizenship and are illustrated from a few of the most important tracts. In terms of importance, however, we must recognise the special position of the two key draft radical constitutions, The Agreement of the People and The Law of Freedom. Of the first, Don Wolfe has written that it ‘was the culmination of [the Levellers’] political theorizing and in some respects the most remarkable constitutional innovation of the Puritan Revolution’ (Wolfe, 1967, pp. 48–9). Of the second, Christopher Hill has estimated that, ‘Its significance lies not only in the general conception, remarkable enough at that date, but also in the detail with which it is worked out’ (Hill, 1975, p. 134). The foundation of the radicals’ civic thinking was their insistence on the right to freedom, even though they did not work through the concept with much thoroughness and consistency. At times the Levellers spoke of freedom as a right endowed by nature to all men or as sanctioned by reason, a human rather than a civic right, a distinction which occasioned some controversy. But they also buttressed their case by an appeal to national history, 37

Citizenship in Britain thus recognising freedom as a civic right: hence the terms ‘birthright’ and ‘free-born’ used in conjunction with ‘Englishman’. The Norman Conquest was cited as the cause of the loss of ancient liberties through the introduction of the status of villeinage (a form of serfdom). But, it was argued, by subsequent legal enactments, including Magna Carta, the status was abolished and Englishmen became in many respects free men, whose liberties must be jealously preserved and, moreover, further extended. Thus we can read in A Remonstrance of many thousand citizens, ‘We cannot but expect to be delivered from the Norman bondage whereof we now as well as our predecessors have felt the smart by bloody wars, and from all unreasonable laws made ever since that unhappy conquest’ (quoted, Sharp, 1998, p. 52), and in England’s Miserie and Remedie, The English nation is sensible of nothing more than the breach of their liberties and of violence offered to the freedom of their persons: witness the Magna Carta, thirty times confirmed by the princes of this island; and witness the cheerful readiness of the people to serve the public in this present great quarrel. (Quoted, Wootton, 1986, p. 279)

Notice the reference at the end of this quotation to the civic consciousness of the populace to defend their liberties. Now, if all can be deemed civically free, all, by implication are equal, all should have equal access to rights. The concept of civic equality was also bolstered by some Levellers with the religious argument of the equality of all in the sight of God – all are sons of Adam. These connections were made very plain by Overton in his An Arrow against all Tyrants: All men are equally born to like propriety, liberty and freedome, and as we are delivered of God by the hand of nature into this world, every one has a naturall, innate freedome . . . even so are we to live, every one equally alike to enjoy his Birthright and priviledge. (Quoted, Zagorin, 1954, p. 22)

This kind of proposition could be seen to have raised several questions about the status of citizenship. What did it entail for property, civil and political rights, and did it ultimately imply that the people were sovereign? We shall examine each of these matters in turn. The question of the relationship between property ownership and the franchise will be examined below when we deal with that topic. Here we just need a few words about the economic rights that may be thought to adhere to the status of citizen. The issue of the right to property had already arisen during Charles I’s ‘Eleven Years Tyranny’ because of his raising 38

The efflorescence of political thinking taxes without parliamentary authority. But, as we have seen, Winstanley took the subject of the right to property to a position that horrified the gentry, the very class that had objected to the king’s Ship Money. In his utopia, ‘Every freeman shall have a freedom in the earth, to plant or build, to fetch from the storehouses anything he wants, and shall enjoy the fruits of his labours without restraint from any’ (Winstanley, 1944, p. 192). In this manner he raised the question, in our terminology, of the economic rights of citizenship; though his communist solution collided so violently with the civil right of property ownership that, at the time and subsequently, his scheme proved quite unacceptable to British liberal thinking on citizenship. On the matter of civil rights, loud were the complaints in the 1640s about both the injustice of the legal system and the ways in which it was abused by the authorities. Accordingly, John Warr wrote in 1649: ‘When the poor and oppressed want right, they meet with law . . . Many times the very law is the badge of our oppression, its proper intention being to enslave the people’ (quoted, C. Hill, 1975, p. 272). Indeed, two years before, the first draft of The Agreement of the People placed as its central concerns, That in all laws made, or to be made, every person may be bound alike, and that no tenure, estate, charter, degree, birth, or place do confer any exception from the ordinary course of legal proceedings whereunto others are subjected. That as the laws ought to be equal, so they must be good, and not evidently destructive to the safety and well-being of the people. (Quoted, Wootton, 1986, p. 285)

These statements outline the bases of the civil rights of citizenship, relevant to this day. We arrive now at what is, arguably, the prime emblem of citizenship, the suffrage. This was an issue of great moment for the Levellers and was, as we have noticed, a major cause of contention at the Putney Debates. The components of the Leveller case – historical, birthright, eligibility for the franchise, constituencies, participation in local administration – are all admirably presented in a statement by Lilburne and his friends, a paragraph, therefore, well worth quoting in full. Whereas it hath been the Ancient Liberty of this Nation, that all the Free-born people have freely elected their Representers in Parliament, and their Sheriffs and Justices of the Peace, &c. and that they were abridged of their native Liberty, by the Statute of the 8.H.6.7 [i.e. the 1430 Act, see p. 9]. That therefore, that Birth-right of all Englishmen, be forthwith restored to all which are not, or shall


Citizenship in Britain not be legally disfranchised for some criminal cause, or are not under 21 years, or servants, or beggars; and we humbly offer, That every County may have its equal proportion of Representers, and that every County may have its several divisions, in which one Representer may be chosen, and that some chosen Representatives of every Parish proportionably may be the Electors of the Sheriffs, Justices of the Peace, Committee-men, Grand-jury men, and all ministers of Justice whatsoever, in the respective Counties, and that no such minister of justice may continue in his Office above one whole year, without a new election. (Quoted, Haller and Davies, 1964, p. 112)

That would have been real citizenship. Although there was controversy between the moderates and radicals about the reform of the allocation of seats – by the test of taxes paid or size of population respectively – concentration was focused, unsurprisingly, on the truly fundamental question of eligibility for the suffrage. There were basically three positions. The most extreme was the advocacy of universal suffrage. As one would expect, Winstanley advocated this and added effectively universal eligibility for office for good measure: ‘Every freeman . . . shall be capable to be chosen any officer, so he be above forty years of age; and he shall have a voice to choose officers though he be under forty years of age’ (Winstanley, 1944, p. 192). The principle of universal suffrage was also expressed even by Maximilian Petty, a close associate of Lilburne, at the Putney meeting. He stated curtly at one point, ‘We judge that all inhabitants that have not lost their birthright should have an equal voice in elections’ (quoted, Wootton, 1986, p. 286). On the other wing, the moderate Independents, represented at Putney most vociferously by Ireton, whose basic position we have already quoted, insisted on property qualifications. There were two main reasons for this, namely the tradition that representation should reflect group interests not individual opinions and the middle-class fear that instability, even anarchy, would ensue upon the enfranchisement of the ignorant and volatile multitude. A problem of interpretation has, however, emerged in modern studies of the topic concerning the categories of men who would have been excluded even by the mainstream Levellers. Notice in the lengthy quotation above that servants and beggars are not rated as fit persons to vote in elections. Sometimes, the ‘receivers of alms’, that is, those dependent on poor relief, were added to the unenfranchised. Two questions arise. One is, how could the Levellers logically deny the vote to any man when they insisted that, since the conditions of slavery, serfdom, bondage and villeinage had been abolished, all Englishmen were free-born? The other question is, what proportion of the population would have been excluded from the suffrage if their scheme had been put into effect? We are 40

The efflorescence of political thinking dependent on the work of Keith Thomas for at least loosening the knots of these entangled problems. Scholarly controversy has surrounded the accurate definition of the three categories for exclusion; and, of course, the wider the categories the more hypocritical the Levellers might appear to have been. Thomas favours three basic interpretations. First, the Levellers were themselves not all that certain or of one mind about how precisely to define the franchise, though most favoured the principle that the vote should be allotted to the heads of households, thus excluding adult sons and apprentices, categorised as ‘servants’, but these only temporarily, until they established themselves on their own. Second, hazarding figures, Thomas suggests that, if we assume that by excluding ‘servants’ the Levellers were temporarily denying the vote to at most 15 per cent of the population we shall not be far out. The figure would be increased by 0.1 per cent if we added beggars. (Thomas, 1974, p. 73)

However, he confesses to uncertainty about their position on wage-earners (a substantial uncertainty!) and alms-takers. Thomas’s third interpretation rests on his belief that the Levellers had expectations of economic improvement, and so concludes: What is certain is that they hoped that these [poorer] classes would wither away to the absolute minimum. In such circumstances the only adult males denied the vote would have been apprentices, temporary household servants and, possibly but not certainly, elderly or impotent persons dependent on public relief. Otherwise all men would enjoy a modest self-sufficiency. This would enable them to exercise political choice and to enjoy their birthright as freeborn Englishmen. (Thomas, 1974, p. 78)

If the people have or should have such fundamental liberties and rights, should not the populace be sovereign, the source of political power? The concept of sovereignty was much investigated by political philosophers in the seventeenth century. The Scotsman Buchanan, for example, as we saw in Chapter 1, was already thinking along these lines even earlier. Nevertheless, a clear presentation of the concept in Britain had to wait until 1645 with the publication of England’s Miserie and Remedie (see below). Thereafter, the notion is to be found quite commonly, including, notably, in a resolution of the House of Commons in 1649 thus: ‘The Commons of England in parliament assembled do declare that the people are, under God, the original of all just power’ (quoted, Sharp, 1998, p. 140 n. 2). This argument could 41

Citizenship in Britain be and indeed was used by the Levellers against the House of Commons when they were acting against the radical activists, especially Lilburne. For example, Overton wrote An Appeale From the degenerate Representative Body the Commons . . . To the Body Represented The free people in general. And in A Remonstrance of many thousand citizens . . . to their own House of Commons he referred to ‘the universality of the People, their sovereign lord, from whom their power and strength is derived, and by whose favour it is continued, and by whom (ad bene placitum) [by their good pleasure] it is continued’ (quoted, Sharp, 1998, p. 33). If the people, not a monarch, are sovereign, the country’s constitution must be, logically and by implication, republican. In A Remonstrance of many thousand citizens Overton advocated this. However, it is difficult to generalise over the whole group because they gave little deep thought to the question. Winstanley, of course, would have no truck with royal government: the ‘spirit of monarchy,’ he declared, fills ‘the heart of mankind with enmity and ignorance, pride and vainglory’ (Winstanley, 1944, p. 132). The antithesis, we may note, of the spirit of citizenship. However, the civic republican theory of citizenship was abroad at this time and might well have influenced the radicals, a matter to be discussed in the next section. At this point we need to draw some conclusions about the material in this section. Two balanced questions arise: what did the radical thinkers inherit and what was their legacy? Wootton asserts that not even Buchanan (see pp. 11,14, 20–1) ‘preceded the author of England’s Miserie and Remedie in clearly formulating and advocating the principle of the sovereignty of the people as a multitude of equal individuals’ and that the Levellers ‘had no clear precedent in traditional political theory’ (Wootton, 1986, pp. 53, 52). That is a pretty definitive answer to our first question. But were future generations conscious of this thinking? The organised group of radicals lasted for little more than a decade. Yet there is a temptation to point to a paradox – their evanescence as a movement and the endurance of their ideas. Wootton tentatively suggests that the Levellers ‘may well have later influenced Locke, who was a friend of the former Leveller John Wildman’ (Wootton, 1986, p. 52). Sabine, writing of the Levellers as a party, went further, stressing what we have called a paradox: ‘It failed in all its purposes but it represented with remarkable distinctness the modes of thought and argument which were to characterize revolutionary liberalism in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries’ (Sabine, 1973, p. 442). The English journalist Paul Johnson describes an MP at the time of the First Reform Bill claiming that he was being robbed of his ‘birthright’, ‘echoing the angry words of Edward Sexby [the “agitators” ’ spokesman] in the Putney 42

The efflorescence of political thinking debates’; also he later tells his reader that the twentieth-century prime minister Stanley Baldwin ‘brooded over the record of the Putney debates’, and ‘was fond of quoting Colonel Rainborough’ (Johnson, 1975, pp. 334, 528). But, apart from specific cases like these, what evidence is there of real linkage over the centuries? Christopher Hill, conscious of his responsibility as a professional historian, is circumspect: We need not bother too much about being able to trace a continuous pedigree for these ideas. They are the ideas of the underground, surviving, if at all, verbally: they have little trace. It is unlikely that the ideas of the seventeenth-century radicals had no influence on the Wilkesite movement, the American Revolution, Thomas Paine or the plebeian radicalism which revived in England in the 1790s. Unlikely: but such influence is difficult to prove. (C. Hill, 1975, p. 381)

In any case, at the time the Levellers, let alone the Diggers, were far ahead of their age. The mood and self-interest of the forces that emerged from the Civil War were in favour of adjusted conservatism. Even the attempted practice and thinking about republicanism in the mid-century were – apart from the exceptional Harrington – hamstrung by this hesitant mentality.

Unenthusiastic republicanism The trial and execution of King Charles I in January 1649 were desperate pragmatic acts to end the Civil War, not doctrinally driven actions to replace the monarchical with a republican form of government. None the less, the actual effect was that Britain did become, constitutionally, a republic. However, the fumbling attempts to create a stable constitutional settlement failed so dismally that the Interregnum lasted for a mere eleven years; nor did Cromwell’s dictatorship, which seemed to epitomise the non-monarchical regime, give republicanism an attractive appearance. Dispensing with the monarchy seemed not to be to the British taste. True, the Diggers were committedly hostile to monarchy, because the king sat at the apex of the unjust system of land distribution: ‘God made men and the devil made kings,’ wrote one (quoted, C. Hill, 1975, p. 123). But the mainstream Levellers, although tending to republicanism, were not as dogmatic. And, even so, by the 1650s both the Levellers and the True Levellers had petered out as active movements, though leaving The Agreement of the People remembered as a constitutional blueprint. After the king’s death the country was declared a Commonwealth, the usual term, as we have seen in Chapter 1, for a well-ordered state. Adopting 43

Citizenship in Britain the favourable word, supporters of republicanism called themselves ‘Commonwealthmen’. In 1653 Cromwell took the title of ‘Lord Protector’, Britain hence becoming a Protectorate. During the Interregnum, until his death in 1658, Cromwell became, de facto a military dictator. Citizenship barely existed. Indeed, in 1655 even civilian local government was emasculated by the creation of military regions administered by Major-Generals. To explain the reasons for the failure to establish a representative, parliamentary system of republican government would take us beyond our study of citizenship; suffice it to say that powerful privileged interests were hostile to any dilution of their current power. What is very pertinent is the light shed on our subject by the various, albeit unsuccessful, attempts to write a republican constitution during these years. The remnants of the Long Parliament – reduced to ‘the Rump’ by a military Putsch in 1648 (‘Pride’s Purge’) – continued to meet. A fortnight before the king’s trial it passed the resolution, quoted in the last section, about the people being the origin of all power. The statement continued by the Parliament claiming for itself in consequence full and sole legislative power. For a handful of MPs to claim to represent ‘all the people of the nation’ was extraordinarily arrogant. On the other hand, if it was an assertion of principle for a future constitutional arrangement, then we must note the significant echo of The Agreement of the People and hence a willingness to provide for a reasonably true form of citizenship. In fact, both monarchy and Lords were formally abolished (contrary to the widely accepted notion at the time that a republican form of government should be of a mixed form (see e.g. Harrington, 1992, pp. xiii– xiv)). Consequently, until 1653 the Army-backed Rump wielded power. Then because the members of the Rump were so transparently unwilling to surrender their position, Cromwell summarily dismissed them. Nor was the Army, any more than the politicians of the Rump, willing to accept any constitutional implementation of the principle of the sovereignty of the people. Yet, in the absence of king, Lords and Commons some new civilian institution(s) had to be created. The religious atmosphere offered the context for an alternative to a body of citizens, namely, ‘the godly’. Thus there was brought into existence the nominated Assembly of the Saints, later dubbed, after one of its members, the ‘Barebone’s Parliament’. They were too zealous for some, so saintly government was replaced by a more conventional arrangement. Cromwell turned for help to Major-General Lambert, a supporter of The Heads of the Proposals of 1647. He, with other Army officers, devised a new document, the Instrument of Government. On the matter of citizenship it is the defined nature of the Parliament in this document that is crucial. It was given clear rights – for example, triennial elections, which were to be 44

The efflorescence of political thinking held within an electoral system restructured by changes in the distribution of seats in favour of the counties. As with the Barebone’s Parliament, this was a Parliament of representatives from Scotland and Ireland as well as England (not to be repeated until 1801 (see Chapter 3)). However, the critical question for us, of course, is the franchise. This was anything but democratic, confined as it was to owners of real estate or personal property to the substantial value of £200. Yet, when the MPs elected under these arrangements tried to exercise their parliamentary powers, they clashed with the Protector. No republican constitutional stability was achieved. The country staggered to the Restoration. The confusion, rather than balance, of competing powers and interests and the absence of any persuasive, popularly supported theoretical underpinning for a republic meant that the experiment could not be sustained. None the less, there was interest in the republican idea, including classical civic republicanism, despite its unnaturalness in an English, particularly religious Puritan, setting. Pocock explains the adverse conditions with lucid economy: The premises on which such thinking rested were immensely remote from those at the foundations of normal English political thinking. This is why republican theories are hard to find in England before 1649, and why there were none to which the regicide regime could appeal. (Harrington, 1992, p. xiii)

This firm statement is at variance with Hobbes, who railed at the influence of classical writers, notably Aristotle and Cicero, for causing anti-monarchical ‘tumults’ and ‘rebellion’ (Hobbes, 1914, pp. 113, 174). It might also seem to contradict material presented in Chapter 1. Moreover, Pocock has been criticised for his view. He has, nevertheless, defended this interpretation by explaining, ‘My meaning was that it was only then [1649] that the English polity was imagined in the form of a republic’ (Pocock, 2003, p. 564; emphasis added). Some politically alert men did imbibe the reflections of the likes of Machiavelli and purveyed these ideas in writing; a few, notably Algernon Sidney, Henry Neville, Henry Marten and Thomas Chaloner, formed an organised classical republican group in Parliament in 1649 (see e.g. Worden, 1981, pp. 184–90). They were models of articulate and elite citizens, proud to call themselves ‘Commonwealthmen’, a term which persisted into the eighteenth century (see p. 68). Other advocates of citizenship in the classical mould were notable for their concentration on literary work rather than any political participation. The two most distinguished were John Milton and James Harrington. Milton, less than two years before Charles II’s 45

Citizenship in Britain restoration to the throne, published The Readie and Easie Way to establish a Free Commonwealth, in which he argued the case for reinvigorating the republic. However, he had already expounded his range of political ideas famously in The Tenure of Kings and Magistrates (1649) and Pro Populo Anglicano Defensio (Defence of the People of England) (1651), where he puts forward two points of view germane to our study. These are the right of people to consent to government by a monarch and the status of people who are fit to exercise political citizenly rights. In The Tenure, citing Buchanan, he declares that ‘regal power [is] nothing else but a mutual Covnant or stipulation between King and people’ (Milton, 1991, p. 25), accepting therefore that the people have civic power. Indeed, in the Defence he argues that where there is a king without consent, ‘those nations . . . cannot be considered as citizens or freeborn or free men’ (Milton, 1991, p. 194). But the crucial question, as so often, is how did Milton interpret the term ‘people’? In his later years certainly he was fiercely disapproving of any political participation by the masses. In Paradise Regained he exclaimed, And what the People but a herd confused, A miscellaneous rabble. (Quoted, Gooch, 1927, p. 207 n. 2) In the Defence, however, he had generously asserted, ‘It quite happens . . . that there are many more among the commoners who outdo lords in virtue and wisdom’ (Milton, 1991, p. 193) – qualities of citizenship in any civic republican’s book. He describes ‘the majority or better part of the people’, ‘the middle sort’ as being ‘almost the most sensible and skilful in affairs’. The ‘luxury and opulence’ of the wealthy and ‘the poverty and need of the poor’, at the extremes, ‘divert them from virtue and the study of statesmanship’ (Milton, 1991, p. 194). In arguing thus Milton was only expressing the same position as the civic republican thinkers like Sidney, for example. A particularly close friend of Milton was the editor of the Commonwealth’s newspaper, Mercurius Politicus, Marchamont Nedham. He consciously used this organ to educate the people to ‘learn to be true Commonwealthsmen’ (quoted, Worden, 1981, p. 192). His ‘editorials,’ Pocock deems, ‘add up to the first sustained English exposition of republican democracy in classical and Machiavellian terms’, for in these he describes ‘the classical ideal of the armed citizen’ (Pocock, 2003, pp. 382, 383). Nedham learned from Machiavelli and shared the Florentine’s fascination with Republican Rome as described by Livy. He hoped that England could emulate the achievements of Rome, and saw helpful signs of such a trend. It was an 46

The efflorescence of political thinking ambition common to the English classical republicans. Had England not already become a republic; and had not the New Model Army behaved as citizen-soldiers, notably their representatives at Putney, thus approaching the Machiavellian ideal? However, ‘Seventeenth-century classical republicanism, it has been well said,’ as Blair Worden has reported, ‘was a language, not a programme’ (Worden, 1981, p. 193). It was an inchoate attempt to think in secular terms about a political style for reconstructing a polity destabilised by civil war. Yet, for all its lack of strength, this mode and phase of thinking has an importance in the history of citizenship in Britain. It showed that citizenship could be a significant concept in the modern age as it had been in classical times; it continued, in metamorphosed form, into the eighteenth century as a weapon against corruption (see Chapter 3); and it did produce a political thinker of stature in James Harrington. Harrington was born in 1611 of gentry stock. Far from having antimonarchical thoughts during the Civil War, he in fact served as a personal attendant to Charles I during the last months of his life. The republican tenor of his main work, as Pocock has explained, derived from his wish ‘less to justify the fall of the English monarchy than to explain it’ (Harrington, 1992, p. ix). That book he entitled The Commonwealth of Oceana. It was published in 1656, interestingly the same year that Nedham published his important editorials in book form as The Excellency of the Free State. By the 1650s Harrington had absorbed Machiavelli’s Discourses and made personal republican connections, especially a friendship with Henry Neville, but he was decidedly unsympathetic to Milton because of the conventional religious stress in the latter’s political thinking. Harrington’s republicanism rendered him suspect at the Restoration and he was imprisoned. He died in 1677. Oceana is written as a work of fiction, depicting an imaginary island. Harrington intended it not entirely as a utopia, but rather as a model (the word he used for the core section of the book) of what England – Oceana is obviously England – might become if historical lessons could be learned. The book was designed as a scheme by which the country could take advantage of the constitutional plasticity of the 1650s and thus emerge as a well-ordered commonwealth. This advice is set in a broad historical context, though his study of specifically English contemporary history gives the work its weighty calibre. In the words of Pocock, it offers, ‘for the first time in intellectual history, an explanation of the English Civil Wars as a revolution, produced by the erosion of one political structure and the substitution of another through processes of long-term change’ (Harrington, 1992, p. xix). We, however, are interested not in Harrington as a historian, but the political philosophy he extracts from his study of the past, and especially, 47

Citizenship in Britain his place in the history of thinking about citizenship. Pocock assesses the importance of Oceana in this context in glowing terms: ‘The book’s historical significance is that it marks a moment of paradigmatic breakthrough, a major revision of English political theory and history in the light of concepts drawn from civic humanism and Machiavellian republicanism’ (Pocock, 2003, p. 384; however, for the criticism that Pocock has overemphasised Harrington’s Machiavellianism, see e.g. Riesenberg, 1992, p. 289 n. 28). Pocock’s analysis also leads him to identify two basic objectives in Harrington’s political theorising. One was to argue against the resuscitation of England’s ‘Ancient Constitution’, which had been based on a socioeconomic system that, by the seventeenth century, was obsolete. The other was that a new constitutional accommodation should rest on a secular basis, dispensing with any thought of a rule of the saints. Pocock explains that, For the first purpose, he constructed a civil history of the sword, based on a Machiavellian theory which depicted the possession of arms as crucial to both the distribution of power and the exercise of civic virtue; for the second, he developed a theory of citizenship which, in conjunction with the first group of arguments, showed the Englishman as citizen and the English republic as standing nearer to God than any oligarchy of self-selected saints. (Pocock, 2003, p. 385)

Harrington called Oceana/England a commonwealth, that is a state incorporating liberty supported by a just law, which, in turn, is supported by a civically minded populace, a nation-state with the civic benefits of a city-state. However, God is not forgotten. He is the source of reason and intelligence, qualities essential to citizenly behaviour. More than that, just as Oceana has parallels with the ancient republics, so it has characteristics in common with Heaven, for Harrington writes: Now if you add unto the propagation of civil liberty, what is so natural unto this commonwealth that it cannot be omitted, the propagation of the liberty of conscience, this empire, this patronage of the world, is the kingdom of Christ. For as the kingdom of God the Father is a commonwealth, so shall be the kingdom of God the Son; the people shall be willing in the day of his power. (Harrington, 1992, p. 232; emphasised words are from Psalms, 110:3)

Pocock’s exegesis of this metaphor, as expressed in another of Harrington’s works, is that this is ‘a Platonist theology of citizenship, one which eliminates the priest by elevating the citizen to perform his role’ (Pocock, 2003, p. 568). 48

The efflorescence of political thinking Before examining the constitutional features of Oceana and the place of citizenship in it, three related features must be reported, that is, the importance of landownership, military service and education. The appearance of the first two of these, their connection with citizenship and Harrington’s debt to Machiavelli have been stated succinctly by Pocock: ‘Harrington restated Machiavelli’s doctrine of the armed and active citizen in the setting of a history of land tenures as necessary to the exercise of arms’ (Pocock, 2003, pp. 565–6). Harrington demonstrates that a mixed government including opportunities for citizenly participation is the best polity; this is a commonwealth; and a commonwealth is distinguished by its wide distribution of landed property. His argument runs along these lines: ‘if the whole people be landlords, or hold the lands as divided among them, that no one man, or number of men . . . overbalance them, the empire . . . is a commonwealth’; furthermore, in such conditions ‘the power can never swerve out of the hands of the many’ (Harrington, 1992, pp. 13, 234). All citizens of Oceana aged eighteen to thirty are liable for military service and engage in that role qua propertied free men. Pocock considers this interconnection as vitally important in the history of the theory of citizenship in England. He writes: ‘The politicization of the human person had now attained full expression in the language of English political thought; God’s Englishman was ¯ politikon [a political animal] in virtue of his sword and his freehold’ now zoon (Pocock, 2003, p. 386). Yet we must not forget Harrington’s insistence on the place of education in this pattern. He wished for compulsory schooling for boys between the ages of nine and fifteen. The purpose of this education is to prepare the pupils for a useful life of employment and to ensure their good social and civic behaviour. Harrington calls education for this second purpose ‘the plastic art of government’ (Harrington, 1992, p. 189). Republican citizenship cannot properly be said to exist without citizens displaying civic virtue, so ownership of land and the carrying of arms, Harrington is here insisting, are not a complete recipe for its achievement; education is the essential third ingredient. Harrington’s description of Oceana’s constitution is extraordinary in his self-indulgence in inventing the most finicky detail, designed to encourage the citizens to virtue. He calls his system an ‘equal commonwealth’, by which he means the arrangement of constitutional devices to keep its components in equilibrium. He explains: An equal commonwealth . . . is a government established upon an agrarian, arising into the superstructures or three orders, the senate debating and proposing, the people resolving, and the magistracy executing by an equal rotation through the suffrage of the people given by the ballot. (Harrington, 1992, p. 34)


Citizenship in Britain By ‘agrarian’ he means an agrarian law to effect a balanced (not equal) distribution of land, as already mentioned. Also, he insists that rotation and ballot are umbilically connected features of the essentially participatory character of the commonwealth. Oceana has a pyramidal structure of parishes, hundreds and tribes, and a functional division into civil, military and provincial ‘orbs’. All these have to be administered so that, by multitudinous elections and frequent rotation, a picture emerges of the constant involvement of the citizenry in casting ballots and being elected to posts, from constables, justices and jurymen to members of the popular assembly, senators and generals. National elections for the senate and the prerogative tribe (i.e. popular assembly) are, in Harrington’s imagination, a great civic event: the parishes annually pour themselves into the hundreds, the hundreds into the tribes, and the tribes into the galaxies [conventions], the annual galaxy of every tribe consisting of two knights and seven deputies, whereof the knights constitute the senate, the deputies the prerogative tribe, commonly called the people, and the senate and the people constitute the sovereign power or parliament of Oceana. (Harrington, 1992, p. 118)

Notice, the sovereignty of Parliament. The composition and powers of the prerogative tribe are of especial relevance to our understanding of Harrington’s conception of citizenship. He retains the distinction between knights of the shires and burgesses in the English system, using the military terms of ‘horse’ and ‘foot’ respectively, confirming his republican belief that the carrying of arms lies at the very core of citizenship. The horse are citizens ‘who have above one hundred pounds a year in lands, goods or monies’ (Harrington, 1992, p. 76). Two comments are apposite here. One is that the ‘one hundred pounds’ is half the suffrage requirement for all the MPs of the Barebone’s Parliament (see p. 44); the other is the relaxation of the usual republican requirement that accountable wealth should be in the form of real estate. Harrington’s figures for the number of deputies and the reason for them are as follows: The prerogative . . . consisteth of four hundred and fifty horse, and six hundred foot . . . by which means, the over-balance in the suffrage remaining unto the foot by one hundred and fifty votes, you have . . . the deepest root of a democracy that hath been planned. (Harrington, 1992, p. 170)

Now this assembly has two functions. We have already quoted its relationship with the other two powers of the commonwealth: that it has the task of 50

The efflorescence of political thinking ‘resolving’. By this word Harrington means that when the senate passes an item of legislation to it the prerogative’s only purpose is to accept or reject it (see e.g. Harrington, 1992, p. 24). That is its narrow, though powerful, legislative function. However, it has a judicial function also, as Harrington summarises: ‘The people, or prerogative, are also the supreme judicatory of this nation, having power of hearing and determining all causes of appeal from all magistrates or courts provincial or domestic’ (Harrington, 1992, p. 237). In none of the quotations from Harrington thus far have the words ‘citizen’ or ‘citizenship’ occurred. He restricts his use of these terms to his definition of the status. The constitution of Oceana distributes ‘the people into freemen and citizens, and servants, while such; for if they attain unto liberty, that is to live of themselves, they are freemen or citizens’ (Harrington, 1992, p. 75). Also, citizens are divided by age for military purposes: eighteen to thirty-year-olds serve wheresoever they are needed; the over thirties are restricted to garrison duties. But citizenship requires responsibility as well as social status and military service; consequently, Harrington recognises that the state must have the power to deprive unsuitable men of the status: ‘if a man have prodigally wasted and spent this patrimony, he is neither capable of magistracy, office nor suffrage in the commonwealth’ (Harrington, 1992, p. 76). One senses, however, that it is probably not so much the foolish behaviour as the loss of wealth that causes the degradation. What qualifies a man to be a citizen of Oceana in the first place? In posing this question we revisit the problem of interpretation that has faced historians when analysing the Levellers’ intentions (see above). Perhaps we can say that the particular characteristic of Harrington’s approach to the subject of suffrage is fluidity. We may take note of the quotation above where, in distinguishing citizens from servants, he adds the little rider to the subordinate status, ‘while such’, and makes it clear that they can raise themselves to be citizens. In addition, when commenting on the scholarly uncertainty about the matter, Pocock writes: Harrington’s attitude to the economy has been much debated, and an attempt has been made to show that he thought of land as basically a market commodity, to be bought and sold at profit, which would make his citizenry a fluctuating and mobile class of entrepreneurs. (Pocock, 2003, p. 390)

Pocock, it is true, does not entirely align himself with this interpretation, believing that Harrington was sufficiently an Aristotelian to consider the constant leisure derived from inherited wealth to be essential to the virtuous discharge of the multifarious duties of citizenship. 51

Citizenship in Britain We hear echoes of Aristotle, too, in Harrington’s insistence on the rule of law. ‘The rule of law is preferable . . . to that of a single citizen,’ Aristotle declared (Aristotle, 1948, 1287a). Parenthetically referring to the Greek philosopher, Harrington writes of ‘the empire of laws and not of men’ (Harrington, 1992, p. 8). He accepts, however, that the reverse is also advocated, and suggests that two distinguished writers in the modern world epitomise the alternatives. Starting with his preference, he explains: ‘The former kind is that which Machiavel . . . is the only politician that hath gone about to retrieve, and that Leviathan . . . goes about to destroy’ (Harrington, 1992, p. 9). By associating his own political ideas with those of Machiavelli, Harrington was setting himself in opposition to the author of the Leviathan, a book published five years before The Commonwealth of Oceana. Its author was Thomas Hobbes. And it is scarcely an exaggeration to suggest that Harrington was too reluctant to use the term ‘citizen’ while Hobbes was too eager to use it, because, when Harrington writes ‘people’ he often means citizens and when Hobbes writes ‘citizens’ he really means subjects.

Hobbes and Locke: obligation and rights The undermining or actual overthrow of established regimes are powerful incentives for writers to expound their political proposals and theories. Some take the opportunity to advocate change, most radically the likes of Winstanley during the Interregnum in Britain; others, fearful of the effects of the decay of the old order, write to reinforce political authority. Hobbes is the great exemplar of this form of response. In 1651, one year before Winstanley’s The Law of Freedom in a Platform, he expounded his ideas to the fullest in the Leviathan, though he had sketched them out earlier in the 1640s, mainly in the relatively short work, De Cive (On the Citizen). Born in 1588, in his early years Hobbes developed his prime interest in mathematics, and thus came relatively late to the study of politics. However, the turmoil of the Civil War gave a timely resonance to the Leviathan as an analysis of the justification for absolute government. Yet, as he had already turned his mind to his thesis as early as the time of the pre-war Short Parliament, events on the continent might have been as potent a force in this refocusing of his thinking. Hobbes drew his political arguments from his pessimistic (realistic?) view of human nature: a man is always striving for self-improvement or the maintenance of his condition and consequently comes into competition with others; and thus arise envy and then hatred. Furthermore, this need for self-fulfilment leads to ‘a perpetuall and restless desire of Power after power, that ceaseth only in Death’, so that, without 52

The efflorescence of political thinking a ‘common Power’ (i.e. government), mankind’s life degenerates into ‘a civill Warre’ (Hobbes, 1914, pp. 49, 65). To Hobbes, this was no abstract theory. He desperately wanted peace and lived in an age of violence. He was ten years old when Henri IV of France was assassinated; he was living in Paris in 1648 at the time of the civil disturbance known as the Fronde; and he lived his early manhood against the background of the horrendous Thirty Years War, when the German area of Europe collapsed into a nightmare of bloody anarchy. Thus it happened, in the words of the splendid seventeenth-century gossip and biographer John Aubrey that, ‘For ten years together his thoughts were much, or almost together, unhinged from the mathematiques; but chiefly intent on his De Cive, and after that on his Leviathan, which was a great putt-back to his mathematical improvement’ (quoted, Hobbes, 1914, pp. viii–ix). Having experienced the continental background Hobbes was, nevertheless, inevitably only too aware of events in England. Indeed, he explains this in the ‘Preface to the Readers’ that introduces the 1647 edition of his De Cive. Describing his method of working, he comments: While I was filling it out, and putting it in order, writing slowly and painfully . . . it happened that my country, some years before the civil war broke out, was already seething with questions of the right of Government and of the due obedience of citizens, forerunners of the approaching war.

And he concludes by referring to the ‘country’s present calamity’ (Hobbes, 1998, pp. 13, 15). Hobbes’s central constitutional belief was the utter necessity of a society to lay powerful authority in the hands of a sovereign, and that this power, for the sake of eliminating contention within the realm, should be absolute. Hobbes could not therefore have any sympathy for those who objected to, protested about and fought against Charles I’s absolutist regime, to the ultimate point of regicide. He was basically a Royalist – as a result of his own principles of the right relationship between citizen and sovereign, rather than because of the current interpretation of divine right. This argument is to be found in De Cive; and it is this work, which, partly because of the expressed focus on citizenship in its title, will provide our main source of Hobbes’s ideas. We know that he finished the writing and had a few copies printed in 1642. Yet it was not until 1647 that the book was effectively published, as a second edition, under the title Elementa Philosophica de Cive, by Elzevir, the well-known Amsterdam house. So favourably received was it that it was rapidly reprinted. But the political thinking embedded in De Cive was by no means detached from his earlier philosophical consideration 53

Citizenship in Britain related to the nature of human morality. As recent editors have explained, ‘De Cive was written as his solution to the problem of moral conflict, a solution in which politics came to the rescue of ethics’ (Hobbes, 1998, p. xxii). In his Preface, already cited, Hobbes makes it clear what kind of behaviour he expects of his readers as citizens once they had digested his thesis. First, ‘that you will think it better to enjoy your present state (though it might not be the best) rather than go to war’. Second, As for those who refuse to be subject to the civil Magistrate and want exemption from public burdens and yet demand to be in the commonwealth and to be protected by it from violence and wrongs, I hope that you will regard them as enemies and saboteurs. (Hobbes, 1998, p. 14)

These unambiguous statements fit properly into Hobbes’s vision of citizenship. This may be baldly summarised thus. Men effect their transition from a state of nature to a civil society by surrendering their natural rights to a sovereign in return for protection, hence becoming citizens. But, in their turn, they are required to behave peaceably for the sake of their fellowcitizens, be obedient to the civil laws enacted by the sovereign and undertake civil duties. The stress on obedience and duty indicates that the role of citizens is to be subjects of the sovereign – subditi, Hobbes’s Latin word, has a firm meaning: those placed under. Accordingly, ‘Each of the citizens, and every subordinate civil person, is called a SUBJECT of him who holds sovereign power’ (Hobbes, 1998, p. 74). He even draws an analogy between sovereign and citizen and master and slave (see Hobbes, 1998, p. 104). However, the citizens have two kinds of obligations by virtue of the agreement of all to establish a sovereign; not just to the sovereign but also to each other, by the mutuality of the contract when conceding individual rights. Hobbes explains: ‘this is what each citizen says as he makes his agreement with each of his fellow citizens: I transfer my right to this man on condition that you transfer your right to him also’ (Hobbes, 1998, p. 90). Nevertheless, it must be understood that the recipient may not be one man. For, although Hobbes reveals a preference (in Chapter X) for the sovereign power to be held by a single person, a monarch, he is at pains to argue that a few or the many may with equal legitimacy be accorded that authority, depending on the constitution of the commonwealth. Thus, the citizen owes duties to one man in a monarchy, to several in an aristocracy and to themselves constituted as a people or their representatives in a democracy. Also, he envisages the very act of creating a civil society as being performed democratically, by the initial gathering. Power is then devolved 54

The efflorescence of political thinking to a sovereign authority, either one man or an assembly. If the assembly is a broadly based body, then a democracy rather than an aristocracy will exist. Hobbes calls an aristocratic assembly a ‘council of optimates’. Whether an elected assembly be democratic or aristocratic in composition, the body of the people acting in concert as the electorate cease to retain any civil or political rights, they being passed on to the elected sovereign institution. Although Hobbes accepts the legitimacy of assemblies, he has many reservations about this system for the exercise of power, most particularly if the body is a democratic institution. He cites, for instance, the ignorance of the majority, the distortions of parliamentary rhetoric, the divisiveness of factions (see Hobbes, 1998, pp. 122–4). The implication, therefore, is that he has little regard for the principle of citizenly participation in government. Hence his favouring of monarchy, whereby the nature and exercise of sovereignty is clear and unencumbered. We are now in a position to explain Hobbes’s thinking about the actions of men and their relationship to the sovereign power. He conceives of individuals as being, in different circumstances, members of a crowd, a people and citizens. As a crowd they are disorderly; as a people they act in unison to create a commonwealth by transferring their collective sovereign rights; a people are then transmuted to a body of citizens, for, as citizens they are members of a civil society, a commonwealth, or, in today’s language, a state. Once becoming a citizen, the individual has, in Hobbes’s view, a strict relationship with the sovereign. Three particular implications of the status are expressed in the following excerpts, where Hobbes uses ‘Monarch’ as an exemplar of ‘sovereign’. Once a sovereign has accepted power from a people, a people ceases to be a person; and once the person has ceased to exist, all obligation to the person also ceases. The ground therefore of the citizens’ obligation of obedience to their Monarch is simply the agreement by which they reciprocally committed themselves to all that the people might resolve to do, including obedience to a Monarch if the people should appoint one. Since . . . those who have obtained sovereign power in a commonwealth are not bound by any agreement to anyone, it follows that they can do no wrong . . . to the citizens . . . By contrast if a citizen fails to show obedience to the sovereign power, he is a wrongdoer . . . both against his fellow citizens on the ground that each man has agreed with every other man to show obedience, and against the sovereign because wrongdoers are taking back without his consent the right which they have given him. If a Monarch makes a promise to a citizen – or to several citizens together – which has the consequence of frustrating the exercise of his sovereign power, that Promise or Agreement, whether made with oath or not, is void. (Hobbes, 1998, pp. 96, 97, 100)


Citizenship in Britain The frailty of the citizenly status, the reality of subjecthood, could not be more lucidly presented. Nothing is further from Hobbes’s thought than the idea of reciprocal sets of duties between state and citizen. The balance is not between duties but between power and obligation: To the absolute right on the part of the sovereign ruler corresponds so much obedience on the part of the citizens as is essential to the government of the commonwealth, that is, so much as not to frustrate the grant of that right. (Hobbes, 1998, p. 82)

Hobbes calls this ‘simple obedience’, for without it the commonwealth would collapse. He does, however, concede that disobedience in matters of personal concern that do not affect the authority and power of the sovereign is acceptable. But, then, we may note, the person is acting as an individual not as a citizen. Similarly, in the Leviathan Hobbes explains that there are liberties that derive from ‘the Silence of the Law’ (Hobbes, 1914, p. 115). Yet, no polity is perfectly managed and firmly stable: not all citizens are obedient. At the extreme are those men who argue against, and consequently potentially behave to undermine, absolute power. Hobbes calls these men seditious. He devotes a whole chapter (XII) of De Cive to opinions and behaviour he considers to amount to sedition, and to the causes of these conditions. A few examples. ‘That judgments of good and evil belong to individuals;’ ‘That sovereign power can be divided;’ ‘How the stupidity of the vulgar and the eloquence of the ambitious conspire to dissolve the commonwealth.’ The behaviour induced by seditious thoughts may be taken as the antithesis of the recognition of citizenly obligations and obedience to them. Sedition is disobedience, the mark of a bad citizen. And yet, most citizens, naturally, are neither paragons of dutifulness nor utterly and perversely seditious. Usually, the power of the sovereign is, rather, weakened because some citizens ‘are intent on their private concerns and ignorant of public affairs’ (Hobbes, 1998, p. 84). Ignorance, it goes without saying, can be reduced by education, and Hobbes attends to this matter in some detail, not in De Cive, but in Chapter 30 of the Leviathan. He dismisses with some contempt the view that ordinary people are incapable of such learning and even suggests that resistance to public education derives from the interests of the powerful and scholarly, whose own intellectual weaknesses would be detected by an educated populace. He asserts that ‘in the instruction of the people in the Essential Rights (which are the Naturall, and the Fundamentall Lawes) of Sovereignty, there is no difficulty.’ He continues that it is the sovereign’s 56

The efflorescence of political thinking duty to ensure such instruction; ‘and not onely his Duty, but his Benefit also, and Security, against the danger that may arrive to himselfe in his naturall Person, from Rebellion’ (Hobbes, 1914, p. 180). Civic education for political obedience therefore. Hobbes is careful to outline a seven-point programme to achieve this objective, the third point of which contains the requirement that ‘the People . . . ought to be informed, how great a fault it is, to speak evill of the Sovereign Representative . . . whereby . . . their Obedience (in which the safety of the Common-wealth consisteth) [be] slackened’ (Hobbes, 1914, p. 181). How was this education for obedient citizenship to be achieved? Hobbes did give thought to practicalities. He had in mind the education of adults, not children, though the general habit of obedience should be inculcated into the young by their parents. Citizens should learn in both informal and formal ways about their state and about what is expected of them. Individuals may learn ‘from such as their Neighbours, or familiar acquaintances, as having the Faculty of discoursing readily, and plausibly, seem wiser and better learned in cases of Law, and Conscience, than themselves’ (Hobbes, 1914, p. 183). However, a more structured form of education is required, so Hobbes recommends a bold plan. This involves the release of citizens from their work on a regular basis in order to congregate and hear from their clergyman ‘those their Duties told them, and the Positive Lawes . . . read and expounded, and be put in mind of the Authority that maketh the Lawes’ (the fourth point, Hobbes, 1914, p. 181 and repeated, p. 183). John Locke, who made a much more profound study of the subject of education than Hobbes, was fifteen when the second edition of De Cive was published. It may appear perverse to treat Hobbes and Locke together in the same section of this chapter. After all, Hobbes is characterised as the archtheorist of absolute sovereignty involving the individual’s surrender of all his natural rights (bar self-preservation), while Locke is often recognised as the influential advocate of the individual’s ability to enjoy his natural rights. Yet the very fact that the two most distinguished philosophers in the history of English political thought should have worried about how to justify the obligations which citizens must owe to the sovereign institution of the state and used within half a century the same device, that of the social contract, to reach contrasting conclusions are reasons enough to compare them. Not that we should exaggerate Locke’s theory as weakening the power of strong government. Nevertheless, he clearly opened the way to the development of the liberal style of citizenship theory. There are other reasons also for examining the two men’s views on citizenship side-by-side: they shared a keen fascination in human psychology. As Peter Riesenberg has emphasised, this common interest 57

Citizenship in Britain means that Hobbes and Locke were not interested in citizenship in a narrow, traditional, legal sense. Rather, they were, as the ancients were, interested in man as thinking, moral being, embedded in his society and reacting to its demands out of his human nature . . . In this they look forward to the modern concept of citizenship as a more generalized and fundamental condition. (Riesenberg, 1992, p. 206)

Indeed, both writers considered that human individuals are rational creatures, equal entities in their relationship to the civil society they have constructed and accepted, because men have been discontented with the state of nature and are, by their own, human nature, equal. Hobbes declared that, ‘Nature hath made men so equall, in the faculties of body, and mind; as that . . . when all is reckoned together, the difference between man and man, is not . . . considerable’ (Hobbes, 1914, p. 63). And Locke wrote that in the state of nature, there is ‘nothing more evident, than that creatures of the same species and rank . . . should also be equal one amongst another’ (Locke, 1988, 4). Locke, however, was a more prolific and versatile writer – indeed, led a more versatile and active, practical life – than Hobbes. He was, sometimes admittedly for brief spells, a Classics don, a physician, a diplomat, a civil servant, a pamphleteer, fully conscious of and involved in the political events and circumstances of his time. Indeed, he was convinced that man could learn nothing without experience. An early influence was Lord Ashley, later the first Earl of Shaftesbury, leading Whig politician and advocate of religious toleration. He befriended and employed Locke, who reciprocated by influencing Shaftesbury’s views. From the Restoration of the Stuart monarchy and Anglican Church in 1660 to the accession of Queen Anne in 1702 Locke lived through an age of dispute about religious and political rights in Britain, including the flight of James II and the ‘Glorious Revolution’ in 1688–9. His Letter Concerning Toleration and his renowned Two Treatises on Government reflect his deep thinking about these matters and also his hesitant translation of the principle of natural equality to its civic forms, so much was he a man of his time. Our concern here is concentrated on the second of the two treatises. But why and when were they written and therefore for what purpose? They were published in 1690 and, since the main thrust of the argument of the second is the right of citizens to rebel if the sovereign abuses the power entrusted to him, it was for long assumed that Locke’s purpose was to justify the dethronement of James II two years previously. This cannot in fact have been so because it is likely that he worked on the text in the late 1670s, but decided not to publish it then. The reason for withholding the book was, in all probability, that 58

The efflorescence of political thinking it would have been construed as seditious in that tense time of hostility to the prospect of the Catholic James’s accession to the throne and attempts to exclude him (Charles II died in 1685); furthermore, the very active leader of the ‘Exclusionist’ movement was Locke’s associate Shaftesbury. By 1690, of course, the work could be safely interpreted as a theoretical legitimation of William and Mary’s joint occupancy of the British throne. To be sure, in his Preface to the Two Treatises he wrote: I hope these papers are sufficient also to justify to the world the people of England, whose love of their just and natural rights, with their revolution to preserve them, saved the Nation when it was on the very brink of slavery and ruin. (Locke, 1988, p. 138)

Locke, it must be conceded, barely mentions the words ‘citizen’ or ‘citizenship’ in the Second Treatise, and yet it is rightly considered a key text in the history of citizenship. We need, therefore, to examine some of its main features that relate to the concept and status. First there will be presented an exceedingly brief outline of Locke’s thesis as an introduction to an analysis of those ideas in the book that bear most relevantly on the attributes of citizenship; these are – consent and trust, virtue, freedom, rights, property and representation. We shall conclude with an assessment of what Locke contributed to the theory of citizenship. He wrote the Second Treatise for these overall purposes: to explain that, by the use of the gift of reason and from a desire to leave the state of nature, then create a civil government, man could establish a legitimate form of polity based on the rule of law and the enjoyment of basic rights; and to demonstrate how, in theory, both limits on the power of the monarch and resistance to an abuse of that power could be justified. Locke conceives of civil government emerging by means of two compacts – individuals consenting to come together to create such a society and consenting to place power in the hands of a government. These actions presuppose trust, again in each of the two situations. Individuals must trust each other sufficiently to believe that all will keep to the conditions of the first compact; and that he or those entrusted with the power of government will not abuse that position. Two features of this notion of trust are central to the mood of Locke’s political thinking. One is that the exercise of political authority and power is conditional. As we shall see below, Locke calls the seat of power the legislative. This, he insists, being only a fiduciary power to act for certain ends, there remains still in the people a supreme power to remove or alter the legislative, when they find the


Citizenship in Britain legislative act contrary to the trust reposed in them. For all power given with trust for the attaining an end being limited by that end, whenever that end is manifestly neglected or opposed, the trust must necessarily be forfeited, and the power devolve into the hands of those that gave it, who may place it anew where they shall think best for their safety and security. (Locke, 1988, 149)

The other feature of trust is the expectation that Locke has of human civic behaviour. In the words of Peter Laslett, ‘Trust is a matter of conscience, which . . . operates because of the sense of duty which Locke dogmatically, unthinkingly assumes in every man he contemplates’ (Locke, 1988, p. 121). Duty is a basic civic virtue. So trust is inextricably related in Locke’s thesis to virtue. Laslett places great stress on this, arguing that ‘the main theme of Locke’s book was the development of the implications of this doctrine of natural political virtue, defined, checked and safeguarded by the concept of trust’ (Locke, 1988, p. 117). But, it needs to be remembered, political virtue is not just characterised by a feeling and acceptance of one’s responsibility to discharge one’s civic duties, it also involves the acceptance of the legitimate wishes and needs of one’s fellow-citizens. The existence of the quality of virtue means that all can be trusted to work in spheres beyond the private life in an altruistic manner for the benefit of the commonwealth as a whole. This kind of attitude and behaviour, indeed, provides the conditions for and assurance of freedom. Locke recognises both negative and positive freedoms, as these quotations make quite clear. The liberty of man in society is to be under no legislative power but that established by consent in the commonwealth, nor under the dominion of any will, or restraint of any law, but what the legislative shall enact according to the trust put in it. (Locke, 1988, 22) The end of law is not to abolish or restrain, but to preserve and enlarge freedom . . . where there is no law there is no freedom. [Law provides a man with] a liberty to dispose and order freely as he lists his person, actions, possessions, and his whole property. (Locke, 1988, 57)

In addition, man has rights. ‘Man being born . . . with a title to perfect freedom . . . hath by nature a power . . . to preserve his property, that is, his life, liberty, and estate’ (Locke, 1988, 87). The idea of a simple list of ‘the rights of man’, often consciously drawn from Locke’s case, was a powerful driving force in the radical and revolutionary movements of the late eighteenth century (see Chapter 3). Yet the true meaning and thrust of Locke’s 60

The efflorescence of political thinking famous triad (usually referred to as ‘life, liberty and property’) have been the subject in recent decades of, sometimes quite bitter, academic controversy. Richard Dagger has certainly, though gently, warned that, ‘The extent to which Locke, Jefferson, and others conceived of rights as the exclusive property of individuals – as a kind of shield that surrounded each man and protected him against the depredations of others – can easily be exaggerated’ (Dagger, 1997, p. 19). However, to move from the general to the particular rights, let us start at the end, as it were – that is, Locke’s insistence that citizens have a right to defend their rights, by resistance or rebellion; albeit only as a last resort, that is, if tyrannical or illegal acts have extended to the majority of the people, or if the mischief and oppression has light only on some few, but in such cases as the precedent and consequences seem to threaten all, and they are persuaded in their consciences that their laws, and with them their estates, liberties and lives are in danger, and perhaps their religion too.

For, in such exceptional conditions the governing authority will have ‘put themselves into a state of war with the people, who are thereupon absolved from any further obedience’ (Locke, 1988, 209, 222). In normal conditions, however, Locke envisages the enjoyment of rights without interference. But how far do these rights extend in terms both of activities and levels of socio-economic class? Obvious liberties include, for example, freedom of conscience and from arbitrary arrest or unfair trial. The enjoyment and defence of one’s property also feature in Locke’s thinking, and here we come to the most controversial aspect of how to interpret his meaning. He insists, in fact, on the cardinal importance of the protection of property in its unequal distribution among men, a condition prevalent in any case in the state of nature. In writing about consent, for instance, Locke distinguishes between tacit and express consent to conditions or government actions (see Locke, 1988, 119). However, when it comes to property, no government can infringe that right, by taxation notably, without the explicit consent of the citizen or his representative. It has been suggested that Locke’s intention was to restrict rights in practice to property owners. There is even a school of thought that argues his objective to have been more to defend the capitalist interests of the wealthy subjects than to foster the citizenship rights of all. The extreme position is that he was advocating ‘a dictatorship of the bourgeoisie’ (see, especially, Macpherson, 1962). And yet, he does assert the egalitarian principle that there should be ‘one rule for rich and poor, for the favourite at Court, and the countryman at plough’ (Locke, 1988, 142). 61

Citizenship in Britain Civil equality, perhaps, but not political equality: Locke expresses no democratic thought in his advocacy of representative government. True, he believed that the legislative arm of government is most safely placed in the hands of an elected assembly, because, as the representatives serve only spasmodically, they themselves become subject to the laws they have enacted (see Locke, 1988, 143). Even so, apart from an attack on the rotten boroughs (see Locke, 1988, 157, 158 and Chapter 3 below), he appears quite content with the existing restricted property-based franchises. We come, therefore, to an assessment of the contributions these facets of Locke’s political theory made specifically to the history of citizenship. First of all, however, it must be explained that a certain vagueness in his exposition leads to some ambiguity and consequently the impossibility of giving precise or detailed answers to some of the questions that inevitably arise when analysing this matter. Crucially, it is difficult to tell whether or not Locke had an image of a kind of civic faultline, separating property-owning citizens or what were later to be called ‘active citizens’ on the one hand, and labouring subjects or ‘passive citizens’ on the other. His harping on about property and its protection appears to indicate that this distinction was in his mind. To put it bluntly, only in the last resort would property owners accept the civic support of the lower orders for a revolution in order to protect their property. It would, in fact, be surprising if this thought was not in his mind. The quite basic correlation of property and political citizenship persisted in Britain in thought and practice down to the early twentieth century (see Chapter 4). On the other hand, there are indications that Locke was moving towards an egalitarian rather than an elitist style of citizenship. When he writes that ‘there remains still in the people a supreme power’ and that ‘the community perpetually retains a supreme power’ (Locke, 1988, 149), he is both avoiding any class distinction and taking political thinking a big step forward from monarchical to popular sovereignty, and thus towards converting the individual – every individual – to citizen of the state as distinct from subject of the monarch. (He was not, however, entirely original in arguing this idea: compare the earlier writers in Chapter 1 above.) In addition, when Locke refers to basic rights he conspicuously does not exclude any individuals or groups from that entitlement. Bracketing Hobbes and Locke on this key issue, Faulks asserts that if, as they argue, political communities should be constructed on rational grounds and have as their ends security, liberty and equality, then citizenship as a status denoting membership of that community must necessarily be an inclusive and equal status.


The efflorescence of political thinking Any political community can then be reasonably judged on how well it performs the function of maintaining liberty, security and autonomy for all citizens. (Faulks, 1998, pp. 12–13)

One can perhaps summarise Locke’s thoughts on this issue as follows. He believed in an abstract civic equality, to be used as a yardstick, except when it came to the role of property, when economic inequality was a prime consideration. A fundamental feature of citizenship, that is, relationships of mutuality, between citizen and citizen, and citizen and state, certainly appear in Locke’s thinking. The point he makes about legislators dispersing after their work is completed and then being subject to their own enactments bears a similarity to Aristotle’s feature of citizenship as governing and being governed in turn. More importantly, Locke’s notion of the second contract portrays a system of government in which the state has the responsibility for protecting its citizens as well as the citizens’ obligations to support the government. This balance or reciprocity is a vital characteristic of citizenship. A commonly accepted simple interpretation of citizenship theory identifies two styles, the civic republican, which emphasises citizens’ duties, and the liberal, which emphasises citizens’ rights. Locke is traditionally placed in the category of thinkers expounding the latter model. But we have just indicated that civic obligations as well as rights play an essential role in his thesis. Dagger, whom we have already quoted, has presented a cogent case for understanding that the work of a number of liberal thinkers, including Locke, show that ‘the “republican” tendency is interwoven with the “liberal” ’ (Dagger, 1997, p. 5). Nevertheless, however he is classified, Locke is a key figure in the history of citizenship. Of that, the eminent authority Peter Laslett had no doubt. He has asserted that, After he had written and what he had written had had its enormous impact on the European mind, it was no longer possible to believe that politics went forward in a moral sphere in which the good man was a good citizen. Citizenship was now a specific duty, a personal challenge in a world where every individual either recognized his responsibility for every other, or disobeyed his conscience. Political duties have not changed since then. (Laslett, 1988, p. 122)

Although Locke’s influence on Whig thinking and policy was in the short term quite limited, by taking two important examples of legislation in the field of civil rights in his age, it will be clear that he was not by any means out of tune with current reforming trends. These examples are the Habeas Corpus Amendment Act of 1679 and the Toleration Act of 1689. 63

Citizenship in Britain Locke’s concern for the rule of law is reflected in the first of these Acts. The right of Habeas Corpus has had a long history in English jurisprudence, from its origins to strengthen the powers of the police and judiciary in the early thirteenth century to its abridgement in order to strengthen the powers of the police and judiciary in anti-terrorist legislation in the early twenty-first century (see p. 241). In the meantime, apart from occasional complete suspensions in times of crisis (see e.g. pp. 93, 102), the writ has been used to ensure that those arrested had to be charged or released within a reasonable time. The trouble was that government authorities over the years managed to find loopholes in this safeguard. Forensic testing of the system, rejected Bills and only partially successful Acts dotted the history of Habeas Corpus from at least 1627 to 1816. As part of this history the 1679 Act is of especial interest. In the years immediately preceding, two flagrant denials of the right highlighted the need for reform. These were the dispatch of Sir James Harrington, unjustly imprisoned in any case, to a remote island where the writ of Habeas Corpus did not run. The other was the more famous Jenkes’s case in 1676 when the writ was denied on the grounds that it was applied for during the legal vacation! Three years later, Lord Shaftesbury, Locke’s friend, found himself in a position to introduce a Bill which became the detailed 1679 Act. This required that, once the writ had been served, ‘any sheriff or sheriffs, gaoler, minister, or other person whatsoever . . . shall within three days after the service thereof’ bring the accused to the appropriate court. We may add that the need to strengthen this basic civil right was made particularly evident in the next decade when James II planned to repeal the Act. If the intention of Habeas Corpus in the seventeenth century was to treat all equally as citizens in respect of this civil right, there existed or was introduced legislation to ensure that, by the criterion of religious affiliation, some individuals were treated, to use the twentieth-century term, as second-class citizens. The temper of Charles II’s first Parliament, dubbed ‘the Cavalier Parliament’, was to penalise all but practitioners of the Church of England rites. And until the 1688–9 Revolution a series of laws enforced this mood. Thus, for example, the Corporation Act of 1661 and the Test Acts of 1673 and 1678 prohibited non-communicants of the Established Church from appointments to local and national public offices and even from school teaching. Opponents of this discriminatory regime campaigned for a Toleration Act. One of these was Locke, who expressed his recommendations in his Letter Concerning Toleration in 1667. He establishes two basic principles. One is that, ‘Liberty of conscience is every man’s natural right’; the other, that ‘the church itself is a thing absolutely separate and distinct from the commonwealth’ (Locke, 1946, pp. 128, 135). These positions might appear 64

The efflorescence of political thinking to indicate that Locke believed the enjoyment of civil rights should be unaffected by religious considerations. However, he had one minor, practical proviso. For, despite his insistence that ‘neither Pagan nor Mahometan, nor Jew, ought to be excluded from civil rights or the commonwealth because of his religion’, atheists should be, on the grounds that an unbeliever’s promise or oath could not be trusted (Locke, 1946, pp. 160, 156). Since even Protestant Nonconformist Dissenters were barred from public office by the Restoration Acts, Locke was very evidently more liberal than the majority in Parliament. Furthermore, when the Whigs gained strength after the Revolution and the Toleration Act was passed in 1689, it was a milkand-water measure. Relief for the Dissenters even was minimal, a condition that remained for over a century. The Age of Reason, which it is so often claimed was heralded in by Locke, was a hesitant mental transformation.


Chapter 3

Fighting corruption and France

Virtue and property If there was one word in the vocabulary of the classical concept of citizenship that was indispensable to its meaning it is that which is translated into English as ‘(civic) virtue’. In Aristotle’s Greek this was aret e¯ , in Cicero’s Latin, virtus, in Machiavelli’s Italian, virt`u, and in Rousseau’s French, vertu. True, the nuances of these words varied according to who used the word, so rich has it been in its understood elements. None the less, its essence is clear: the citizen is expected earnestly to feel a firm commitment to his polity and willingly to perform his civic duties. Now, the classical influence on English literature from the late seventeenth to the mid-eighteenth century penetrated so deeply that these years were dubbed the ‘Augustan age’ because of the keenness among writers at that time for the Roman authors who flourished during the reign of the Emperor Augustus. This trend impressed itself on political thinking also, and so firmly as to cause an especially thorough discussion about the nature and relevance of civic virtue. What is more, the ideas of the classical world became commonplace among the educated classes because of what we might call the ‘second Renaissance’ of the Enlightenment. As we saw in Chapter 2, political commentators in the republican tradition were writing in terms of civic virtue, adapting the classical idea of citizenship to the English context. This thinking was pursued with further adaptations in the early eighteenth century, and was so widely thought to be of cardinal relevance to the country’s condition that it has been argued, primarily by Pocock, to have submerged the political principles of Locke. But did the concepts of citizenship and civic virtue shape the thinking of politicians? It is important to remember that in the English political system in this period party allegiances – Whig and Tory – were not hard and fast. Commitment to and interpretation of the ideal of civic virtue


Fighting corruption and France are to be understood not in these terms but by recognising the distinction between the Court and Country interests (sometimes called ‘parties’ for all the looseness of their organisation). The politicians of the former group were primarily concerned to achieve and retain government office, while the aim of the latter was the preservation of a balanced constitution. This image of political poise was based upon the arrangements following the ‘Glorious Revolution’, whereby king, Lords and Commons each had powers that prevented the dominance of any one. Thinking through the ways of maintaining this balance, members of the Country interest – numerous writers as well as politicians – came to the conclusion, summarised by Harry Dickinson, that, It was particularly important to prevent the executive from corrupting the people’s representatives in the House of Commons. This could be achieved by two means: by placing limitations on the power of the Crown and by encouraging the virtue and patriotism of the citizens . . . [However,] The rights and privileges of citizenship should . . . be conferred only upon independent proprietors who were in a position to withstand the corrupting embrace of the most substantial landowners. (Dickinson, 1979, p. 103)

This is pure civic republicanism translated into eighteenth-century British terms, an era when civic virtue – so argued the Country party – was in desperate peril of being corroded by the insidious expansion of patronage, bribery and corruption, wielded by the monarch, government and wealthy landowners. Indeed, some observers were gloomily pessimistic about the prospect of improvement. For instance, the widely-read essayist Charles Davenant, writing as early as the reign of William III, complained that, ‘The little publick spirit that remained among us, is in a manner quite extinguished. Every one is upon the scrape for himself, without any regard to his country’ (quoted, Dickinson, 1979, p. 110). Yet the men of the Country persuasion believed virtue to be firmly rooted in England, further justifying their case by arguing that a balanced constitution, kept in equilibrium by civic virtue, could be dated back to Anglo-Saxon times. (This is a fascinating side-light on what we have recorded in parts of Chapters 1 and 2.) What is more, by its very actions in mounting its campaign the Country party demonstrated its own virtuous citizenly behaviour. The heading of this section contains the word ‘property’ as well as ‘virtue’ because the symbiotic relationship between these two factors in the composition of citizenship has been clearly evident in writings on its nature since Aristotle. Pocock has identified this connection in the period we are now examining, when property was defined strictly as freehold; it was


Citizenship in Britain founded upon real or landed property which was inheritable rather than marketable, was protected by the ancient sanctions of the common law, and brought with it membership in the related structures of the militia and the parliamentary electorate, thus guaranteeing civic virtue. (Pocock, 2003, p. 450)

The Country party, especially the radical portion named ‘the Commonwealthmen’, certainly held to the belief that virtue tended to adhere to landed owned wealth, not to that acquired by trade. Its argument ran along these lines. Wealth from ownership of land is reliable and provides the landowner with independence; he can consequently act responsibly, free of concern about what any political pressures might be exerted upon him. He is thus a real citizen. Even so, men who trade in goods, the Country party averred, could perhaps also be trusted in this way (though contrary to the view of Aristotle, and, indeed, of Alexander Hamilton in America at this time). In contrast to merchants, however, those men who acquire their income through banking and financial speculation – a form of wealth which lacks the stability of landed property, in any case – tend to seek luxury and use their money for corruption. And corruption was recognised as the very antithesis of civic virtue. The poet Alexander Pope wrote in 1733, with his characteristic acidity: Blest paper-credit! Last and best supply! That lends Corruption lighter wings to fly! (Quoted, Dickinson, 1979, p. 172) On the other hand, the Court party countered that its opponents did not have a monopoly on civic thinking. It claimed that the proof of a man’s virtue was in his behaviour, not the source of his wealth. If a man be industrious, manages his property with honesty and responsibility, he should be rated a citizen of virtue, from wherever he derived his wealth. The possession of some measure of wealth was also considered by those of the Country interest to be a requirement for membership of a citizen army, another crucial element in the republican concept of citizenship. They believed, furthermore, that civic virtue could prevail only in a country whose defence was in the hands of a civically responsible militia rather than a standing army. There was also another, distinct, though minor strand in the history of civic virtue in the first half of the eighteenth century. This was the work of the Societies for Reformation of Manners, which operated during this period. Their purpose was to effect prosecutions of those who offended against the societies’ religiously-based moral code. The following list for 68

Fighting corruption and France 1717 indicates their worries: lewd and disorderly practices (including prostitution), 1,927; trading on Sundays, 524; profane swearing and cursing, 400; keeping bawdy or disorderly houses, 33; drunkenness, 25 (see Burtt, 1992, p. 43 n. 10; Burtt uses the abbreviation ‘SRM’ for these organisations). What, one may indeed ask, have these sins and misdemeanours to do with civic virtue? Members of the Societies argued, simply, that living a moral private life would make a good citizen. But, it may well be argued, the offences they condemned rarely posed a threat to public order, and the use of the apparatus of the state to enforce a private morality is scarcely conducive to encouraging self-motivating civic behaviour, the very essence of true citizenship. One explanatory footnote, as it were. While the practice and thinking about civic virtue in this period was largely confined to men, a few women did engage in the debate (see Burtt, 1992, p. 5 n. 9). This, then, is a sketchy outline of the fundamental ideas about good citizenship in Britain during the half-century c.1690–1740. To provide a little more detail we shall now examine the ways in which three leading thinkers expressed themselves on the subject. (The following analysis is heavily dependent upon the work of Shelley Burtt (1992).) Yet the making of this selection must not be construed as indicating that broadcasting the idea of civic virtue was limited to a small number. Far from it. Parliamentary speeches, books, pamphlets and newspapers were all used in some profusion as vehicles for spreading the message. Two of our chosen authors are John Trenchard and Thomas Gordon, who, jointly and pseudonymously writing under the nom de plume ‘Cato’, produced their weekly Cato’s Letters from 1720 to 1723. They were impelled to undertake this task by the notorious financial scandal, the South Sea Bubble. Their adoption of the name Cato, be it noted, was itself a classical allusion, a reference to the second-century bc Roman censor, famous for his attacks on immorality and extravagance. Trenchard was an established Commonwealthman journalist when he invited the young Scots lawyer Thomas Gordon to join him in his polemical writings. Our third author was a remarkable man – distinguished statesman and the most eminent writer on politics after Locke and before Paine and Burke. This was Henry St John, from 1713, Viscount Bolingbroke. He provided sterling ministerial service during the War of the Spanish Succession, became entangled in bitter party disputes relating to the Jacobite claim to the throne and against the blatant corruption of Walpole’s administration. Turning to writing, he produced two major works, A Dissertation on Parties (1733–4) and The Idea of a Patriot King (1738), and was the leading light in publishing the opposition periodical, The Craftsman, launched in 1726 and reaching a readership of 69

Citizenship in Britain perhaps 50,000, an extraordinary figure (see Burtt, 1992, p. 88 n. 3). The reason for selecting Cato and Bolingbroke, apart from their sharp focus on our subject, is that they represent variant treatments of the theme. Burtt explains: Making a persuasive case for a politics of public virtue compatible with the political and cultural norms of eighteenth-century England was not an easy task. Some of those engaged in Augustan politics abandoned the effort altogether in favour of a politics of privately oriented civic virtue (Cato and the Court Whigs), while those who sought to preserve a place for more traditional understandings of public virtue (SRMs and Bolingbroke) found their newly constructed arguments rejected or turned against them. (Burtt, 1992, p. 155)

As Bolingbroke mainly follows the conventional classical republican argument, it will be helpful to outline his ideas first. We must start with the very basis of his conception of civic virtue, that is, his interpretation of the republican tradition – interpretation, because, in order to justify his political campaign, namely, an unremitting onslaught on Walpole’s government, he needed to adapt the classical ideal somewhat to render it relevant to his own age. He cloaked his leadership in this party warfare with the scholarly objectivity of lessons to be drawn from Roman history, notably the need for citizenly vigilance against the abuse of power and periodic decline into tyranny. His panacea for preventing Walpole and what we would today call his ‘cronies’ from dragging the country further into the abyss of political immorality was a strenuous defence of the balanced constitution and the independence of Parliament. This programme was broadly republican in the sense that all good citizens should recognise it as their prime civic duty to support this policy. Because failure to prosecute this agenda would hasten the onset of tyranny by default, by rallying to Bolingbroke’s call the citizen would be upholding the nation’s liberty, another classical theme. That precious liberty was being threatened by corruption, ergo, the best means of defending it was by attacking the corruption rife in the government apparatus. Bolingbroke goes even further in connecting corruption to the threat to liberty by arguing that there was a detectable decline in civic virtue in Hanoverian England, and that this was a direct result of Walpole’s deliberate policy of encouraging avarice in order to enfeeble opposition to his regime. In The Idea of a Patriot King he pessimistically asks: Will the minds of men, which this ministry has narrowed to personal regards alone . . . be so easily or so soon enlarged? Will their sentiments, which are debased


Fighting corruption and France from the love of liberty . . . to a rapacious eagerness after wealth that may sate their avarice . . . be so easily or so soon elevated? (Quoted, Burtt, 1992, p. 98)

But it was mainly through the pages of The Craftsman that Bolingbroke, with brilliant and vivacious rhetoric, sought to bring the nation’s citizens to a realisation that they had a public duty to release themselves from the Court party’s bondage. And, naturally, he used this organ as a means of educating the citizenry in the equation, civic virtue equals positive defence of the constitution against corruption. Although reiterating this simple message, he did have one other strand to his civic thinking, that is, his ideas on patriotism, which he expounded in the essays, A Letter on the Spirit of Patriotism (1736) and The Idea of a Patriot King, already mentioned. His thesis, despite his despondency concerning the country’s civic degeneracy, is that a gleam of hope might become visible through a revivification of patriotism. However, he defines patriotism in a special way. It is a frame of mind wrought by rational thinking, comprehending one’s duty to act in a civically virtuous manner. Consequently, this form of virtue can be expected only of persons of quality – the prince and aristocrats. Even so, in spite of this extremely narrow definition, the thrust of the patriot’s duty is still the eradication of corruption. If Bolingbroke had good reason to despair that England was so wanting in civic virtue in the republican, traditional sense, might there not be a method of reconstructing this desirable quality in a manner even more innovative than his interpretation? This had already been undertaken before Bolingbroke’s publications by the drafting of the concept of a privately oriented civic virtue in Cato’s Letters. In order to pursue the comparison we shall arrange our pr´ecis of Cato’s argument by shadowing the topics outlined above in our treatment of Bolingbroke. First, then, Cato’s republicanism. ‘He’ (and hereafter the inverted commas will be discarded) referred to the tradition less explicitly than the Viscount. Indeed, it can be thought that Cato’s central proposition has no true classical foundation because of republicanism’s emphasis on overt civic altruism. For he announced this proposition thus: ‘The Whole People, by consulting their own Interest, consult the Publick, and act for the Publick by acting for themselves’ (quoted, Burtt, 1992, p. 81); of which, more below. However, the very thrust of Burtt’s thesis is that ‘Cato’s Letters shows that the case for the political palatability of the self-interested citizen originates within republican discourse itself and that it was seen as enhancing, not replacing, the practice of civic virtue’ (Burtt, 1992, p. 155). Indeed, the links in Cato’s argument are the same as Bolingbroke was to use; not all that surprising, because the ideas were commonly debated. 71

Citizenship in Britain Cato’s chain of reasoning runs as follows: liberty is the quintessential public good; in England at this time the most perilous threat to this agreeable condition was corruption; the only hope of vanquishing this threat was the cultivation of civic virtue. The differences are in the detail. Cato believes that reliance on the structure of constitutional balance, as Bolingbroke was to advocate, is insufficient: Parliament’s answerability to the people as a whole must be bolstered and the people must believe that their happiness is dependent upon their civically virtuous behaviour. Thus we arrive at the very heart of Cato’s credo, encapsulated in the sentence quoted above. He is realistic. The pure republican expectation that the citizen will act unselfishly for the public or national good was unreasonable in the political atmosphere prevailing in the 1720s. Yet, instead of concluding from this socio-psychological judgement that civic virtue was an impossible ideal, Cato argues that the ordinary citizen’s egoistical concentration on the protection of his freedom and property will lead him to recognise how these are endangered by corrupt politicians and act to oust them from their public positions. The country as a whole will benefit. What Cato was cleverly producing was a useful fusion of self-centred psychology and republican political objectives. In the felicitous, even if anachronistic, verb used by Burtt, ‘civic virtue is privatized’ (Burtt, 1992, p. 76). Cato’s picture of the good citizen, therefore, is coloured not by the individual’s motive, which is private, but by his vigilant observation and consequent action in unmasking the corrupt politician, a behaviour which is public. And the more acutely felt the individual’s suffering is by loss of wealth and happiness through the scurrilous speculations and bribery of corrupt (the continual use of this word cannot be avoided!) politicians, so will his political revenge be especially determined; the more determined, the greater the civic virtue. Similarly, a patriot is an individual for whom ‘to serve his country is his private Pleasure’ (quoted, Burtt, 1992, p. 74); not a stoically borne duty, as portrayed in mainstream classical thought. Cato and Bolingbroke were writing in the first half of the eighteenth century. Did their complaints persist in England into later decades? The young Sheffield radical Henry Redhead Yorke declared in 1794: From the privileged orders where birth supplies the lack of ability, virtue, knowledge and expertise the executive officers of the nation are selected . . . They preclude the industrious citizen from all honourable enterprise and patriotic exertion . . . Intrigue and corruption are the only trades of the aristocracy. (Quoted, Kramnick, 1990, pp. 194–5)


Fighting corruption and France Virtue versus corruption were still battling in the arena of political thinking. But notice the change of explanation. Pocock extends the concern even further: ‘ “Old Corruption” continued to be the target of radical reformers until perhaps the days of the Chartists’ (Pocock, 2003, p. 547). His use of the common mock-familiar term ‘Old Corruption’ underlines the chronic nature of the condition. Slightly different nuances evolved in Scotland after the humanist Renaissance writings of the likes of Buchanan (see Chapter 1), partly because of the differences between that country and England in culture, scholarship and economy, partly because of the intellectual vigour of the Scottish Enlightenment, and partly because of the need to define its relationship with England. However, the classical mode of civic thought certainly did persist. In the words of David Allan, ‘it is clear that no traditional humanist virtue was held in higher esteem in eighteenth-century Scotland than what was still widely called “public spirit” ’ (Allan, 1993, p. 199). Yet, one school of classical thought, namely Stoicism, seems to have caught the attention of the Scottish more than the English mind. Despite the ambivalence of that philosophy regarding civic activism, it was judged by Adam Smith in his Theory of Moral Sentiments as ‘the best school of heroes and patriots’ (quoted, Allan, 1993, p. 212). What particularly characterised Scottish Enlightenment thinking on civic virtue was the perceived role of the scholar in promoting this beneficial quality. (Compare Arthur Ferguson’s concept of the ‘articulate citizen’ in Renaissance England in Chapter 1.) One may cite two illustrations of this conviction. The Aberdonian George Turnbull made the point quite unambiguously in his influential A Treatise on Ancient Painting, published in 1740; and twelve years later, the historian John Campbell, in A Full and Particular Description of the Highlands of Scotland, asserted that, ‘it is the Duty of every Person to contribute what he can for the Service of his Country’, the scholar’s contribution being to supply the authorities with ‘the necessary Information on every Subject he is acquainted with’ (quoted, Allan, 1993, p. 199). Nevertheless, some Scottish intellectuals were soon to become more interested in modern political economy than classical politics. Adam Smith famously propounded his theory of the ‘invisible hand’. This envisages the signal advantage of the self-interested pursuit of commercially-generated wealth as also improving public wealth and the general good. Active human virtue is replaced by passive market mechanism. This may be interpreted as taking to its logical conclusion and through the new insights of political economy the proposition that private virtue equals public virtue, already famously put forward in 1714 by Bernard Mandeville in his attack on what 73

Citizenship in Britain he considered the hypocrisy of paraded civic virtue in his poem, The Fable of the Bees. Two writers during our period concerned themselves with aspects of civic virtue and citizenship in ways of particular interest to us. These were Andrew Fletcher and Adam Ferguson. Their specially relevant books are Fletcher’s Discourse Concerning Militias (1697) and Discourse of Government (1698) and Ferguson’s An Essay on Civil Society (1767). Allan writes of ‘the powerful civic element built into Scottish historical discourse after Buchanan’ (Allan, 1993, p. 40). Fletcher epitomised this trend, commending the civic virtue of the Spartan and Roman citizens as a model. He advocated what we would now term devolution from an increasingly centralising British state, thus offering more opportunities for civic participation, including membership of a well-organised militia. Small size, he argued, was essential for the cultivation of public spiritedness. Ferguson, too, ‘that most Machiavellian of Scottish thinkers’ (Davie, 1981, p. 27), was apprehensive about the effects of the Union. He put his faith in the electoral hustings and militia drill-hall for sustaining a civic morale that was being sapped by rampant specialisation in the modern large state (see e.g. Pocock, 2003, p. 499). What worried Ferguson most was the pressing need for Britain to protect itself against Spain and France. Indeed, some decades later, from the mideighteenth century, France, England’s enduring opponent, was becoming conscious of its nationhood, a self-awareness that accelerated with ideological fervour during the Revolutionary and Napoleonic quarter-century. Did not Britain need to match its rival with an equivalent boosting of the civic patriotism of its citizenry through the addition of the cultural and ethnic ingredients of a felt national identity?

Nationhood ‘Citizenship’ and ‘nationality’ are now assumed to be synonyms for civic status; and ‘patriotism’ and ‘nationalism’ (in the gentler, non-ideological sense of a feeling of pride in one’s nationhood) are also often used as alternative terms for the same feeling of commitment to one’s country. In truth, these are unfortunate semantic confusions. Apart from any other problems, in eighteenth-century Britain, the term ‘patriot’ varied in its accepted overtones (see e.g. Dinwiddy, 1988, pp. 54–8; Cunningham, 1989, pp. 57–70). From the continuation of the seventeenthcentury meaning of one who treasured English traditional liberties, in the period surveyed here there was added the idea that the patriot defended the welfare of the many against the corruption (that problem again) of the few; 74

Fighting corruption and France accordingly, by the later decades of the century, some advocates of parliamentary reform (see the third section of this chapter) were self-proclaimed patriots. The famous jibe of the radical-hating Dr Johnson that ‘Patriotism is the last refuge of the scoundrel’ can thus be construed. As the demand for reform grew, boosted by the exemplar of the legislative activities of the French National Assembly from 1789, so clubs and societies were formed to promote the political cause. They thought themselves in their civic activity to be patriotic. The consequent mood of political consciousness is exemplified by this sentence in a letter sent in 1797 from the Leeds area to the most famous of these clubs, the London Corresponding Society: ‘The villages in this neighbourhood are very populous and the majority of the inhabitants are known to be patriots who are chiefly convinced of the necessity of a union to gain their rights’ (quoted, Dinwiddy, 1988, p. 57). However, by then Britain was engaged in desperate conflict with France, so that the meaning of patriotism as love of country and desire to defend it was restored and existed parallel to, indeed was overshadowing, the radical, reformist sense. Though both variants relate to citizenship, of course. However, the love-of-country style of patriotism rode on the intensification of a feeling of nationhood, the topic of this section. England developed a national identity and consciousness arguably in advance of any other European country. Shakespeare, notably in Richard II and Henry V, is clear evidence of their early existence. What concerns us here is the expansion of both the English and British understandings of nationhood. Alternatively, to put the process less Anglocentrically, the amplification of English, Scottish, Welsh and even Irish patriotisms with a consciousness of an embracing British nationhood. It can be argued, though this is controversial, that this development occurred crucially during the timespan of this chapter; moreover, in the process it also came to relate to citizenship. The key work in this field is Linda Colley’s Britons: Forging the Nation 1707–1837, upon which we shall rely heavily in this section, despite some criticisms that have been levelled at her thesis, some of which we shall accommodate to adapt our story. To define when a people thinks of itself as a ‘nation’ (whatever that might mean) is a tricky problem – for a nationalist campaigner, a statesman or a scholar. So, historians have suggested, optionally, that a British nationhood has existed since the sixteenth, seventeenth, eighteenth or nineteenth centuries. Or, come to that, never; because the component parts of the United Kingdom, even Great Britain (i.e. without Ireland), not to mention the sundry English provincial identities, have consistently retained their distinct and independent loyalties (for a very succinct summary, see Conway, 2000, pp. 353–4). However, this academic warfare may be pacified by an 75

Citizenship in Britain acceptance that the process of becoming ‘a nation’ is an exceedingly gradual and confused (not to say, confusing) business. In the case of Britain, different components of the kingdom, different provinces, different social classes and different circumstances vied for many generations to consolidate, and undermine, a sense of Britishness. The position adopted here is to adhere basically to Colley’s, that the eighteenth century was a pivotal period in the process of consolidation. To connect with the first section of this chapter, we must record that, with the dwindling of the campaign for the resuscitation of civic virtue by the mid-century, the idea of and the very word ‘citizen’ shrank from political discourse. Nevertheless, it was revived a little later, propelled into British vocabulary again by its obvious relevance to the demands for parliamentary reform and its infiltration into the country from its usage in the American and French Revolutions. In the meantime, an awareness of an overarching British nationhood was flowering, nurtured to varying degrees by the conjoining of England and Scotland in political union, a strengthening adherence to the Protestant mode of the Christian religion, and the persistent fear of and antagonism towards England’s age-old enemy, France. To explain this third factor, it must be remembered that, during the century after Britain concluded its wars with Louis XIV, it fought five more with the France of Louis XV, Louis XVI, the French Revolution and Napoleon. No wonder that ‘Britishness’ came increasingly to be defined as the antonym of ‘Frenchness’. If citizenship in the modern world involves an appreciation of belonging to one’s country, and if, because one’s country is a nation-state, that appreciation requires an understanding of national identity, then these conditions existed and were expressed musically in the 1740s. For, from that decade we can date the emergence of ‘Rule, Britannia!’ and ‘God Save the King’. British citizens to this day sing the first of these raucously, on occasions of theatricality, the second, reverently, as a National Anthem on occasions of ceremony. ‘Rule, Britannia!’ expounds, with religious nationalism, that Britain ‘arose’ from ‘the azure main’ ‘at heaven’s command’, with the angelic injunction: ‘rule the waves’. And as the verses follow, the loyally ecstatic singers, if they proceed that far, assert that Britain alone will safeguard itself against encroaching tyranny, and its ‘cities shall with commerce shine’. Note the current emphasis on trading; this song was first performed in 1740 when maritime trade was burgeoning. Moreover, the national character of the score was discerned in the next century by Wagner, who said that the first eight notes expressed the whole character of the British nation. Vulgarly self-assertive? ‘God Save the King’ has complicated origins. But eventually both words and tune in their modern versions appeared in print in 1744, bursting into popularity in 1745, the year of the second Jacobite uprising. 76

Fighting corruption and France Hence the appeal to God in the second verse to ‘scatter’ the king’s enemies, ‘confound their politicks’ and ‘frustrate their knavish tricks’. The Jacobite threats of 1715 and, more especially, of 1745, when ‘Bonnie Prince Charlie’, the Stuart Young Pretender to the throne, marched with his followers from Scotland as far as Derby, shocked the British government and people into the need for a more cohesive nation. Would the country again be riven by civil war? Would a Stuart monarch encourage Roman Catholicism? Would the Anglo-Scottish union hold? Truth be told, both the English and the Scots had been extremely ambivalent about the wisdom of the Act of Union. What the ’45 rebellion did was to convince both of the importance of working and living together as Britons. Colley has made a significant observation about the nature of this amalgamation. She writes that the ‘Scots were not just passively assimilated . . . They brought their own ideas and prejudices to bear on the business of being British’ (Colley, 1992, p. 131). And within a generation many Scots boasted their loyalty to the British Empire by voicing scathing criticism of the contrasting disloyalty, as they saw it, of the American colonies. However, Bernard Crick believes that Colley overstates her case. ‘There were some attempts to create a sense of British national identity,’ he writes, ‘ . . . but only in a narrow and specific context . . . It does not describe a general culture in the way in which “France” and “French” go together . . . The Scots in the eighteenth century did not come to think of themselves as “Britons” . . . [Most] were loyal to the state, but had no doubt whatever that they were Scottish and proud of and strongly protective towards uniquely Scottish institutions’ (Crick, 2001b, pp. 8, 9). Even so, the majority of the Scottish population did share with the majority of the population of England and Wales a Protestant religious faith. Colley argues that, in the eighteenth century, ‘Protestantism was able to become a unifying and distinguishing bond as never before . . . Protestantism determined how most Britons viewed their politics’ (Colley, 1992, p. 18). Unfortunately, however, this component of the national, civic identity had unpleasant, extremist forms of expression. One was that Britain was the new Israel, the new Jerusalem, Britons were God’s elect, the most favoured of all the favoured Protestant nations. The other unpleasant trait was virulent anti-Catholicism. Catholics were indeed not full citizens in the political sense until 1829, when the Emancipation Act allowed Catholics to become MPs and hold all but a tiny handful of public offices. Until then, the majority Catholic population in Ireland were particularly discriminated against and could therefore not be rated as ‘proper’ Britons by Colley’s definition. Even more, anti-Catholic hatred burst forth in riots, notably in Lowland Scotland in 1778 and the Gordon Riots in London in 1780. 77

Citizenship in Britain Protestantism was also related to the anti-Popery and Francophobic sentiments of the chameleon patriotism of the age. It is of interest, for example, that the fashion for clubs, which, as we have noted, suddenly emerged at this time, included one named the Laudable Association of Anti-Gallicans. As Colley explains, ‘Four times a year, its members commissioned a clergyman to preach a sermon on the need for civic exertion against the iniquities of France’ (Colley, 1992, p. 89). If the ’45 threat of a reversion to Stuart rule focused minds on the need for a more tightly bound British nation, how much greater was the psychologically centripetal force of a threat of foreign invasion? This possibility seemed very real from 1778 to 1782. By 1779 the American fortunes in the War of Independence gave a fair indication that Washington’s armies might well be successful. Then, in that year, France declared war on Britain in support of the American states, followed the next year by Spain and the United Provinces. The British government became fearful of a possible landing or landings of hostile forces and accordingly set up numerous military camps along the coast from East Anglia to Devon. In the words of Stephen Conway, ‘This fear was perhaps the underlying spur to the development of a sense of Britishness in the American war’ (Conway, 2000, p. 196). Moreover, Britain withstood the strain of conflict against the massive ‘confederacy of the four powers’. By 1782 Britons were expressing pride in this achievement. For instance a customs officer wrote, The Spirit of the British Lion is at last roused, and notwithstanding Great Britain has had to contend with the House of Bourbon, America and Holland not one of these powers dare fairly meet her either on the Ocean or in the Field. (Quoted, Conway, 2000, p. 202)

Admittedly, the former American colonists were no longer Britons. As a consequence, Conway states, ‘national identity had to be refigured’, and he argues that ‘the experience of the war made [Britishness] enter deeper into the consciousness of the peoples of the British Isles’ (Conway, 2000, pp. 354, 355). However, the really crucial period for the cementing of a British selfawareness of and commitment to a patriotic, national citizenship occurred also in conflict with France – from 1793 to 1815, during the bitterly fought wars against the Revolutionary and Napoleonic regimes. That British nationhood was defined at this time by Francophobia is well illustrated, literally, by artists, particularly cartoonists. John Bull, anti-Scot c. 1700, was resurrected as beef-eating anti-French at the end of the eighteenth century. Thomas Rowlandson produced an engraving in 1793, as 78

Fighting corruption and France the two countries were launching into war. In order to compare British and French forms of liberty he contrasted an elegant, just Britannia with her equivalent, a murderous French hag. The accompanying words are two lists juxtaposing the distinct components of the concept: religion – atheism; morality – perjury; loyalty – rebellion; obedience to the laws – treason, anarchy, murder; independance (sic) – equality; personal security – madness, cruelty; justice – injustice; inheritance, protection of property – treachery, ingratitude; industry – idleness; national prosperity – famine, national & private ruin; happiness – misery (Dinwiddy, 1988, p. 62, jacket). Yet Rowlandson could not have foreseen how radically the war was going to transform the nature of warfare itself and, as a consequence, the political and national consciousness of the British people. Warfare became total. Men were required for the army and navy, obviously. But women were also encouraged to play an active role on what was to be termed ‘the home front’ in the twentieth century – raising money, participating in patriotic festivals and providing ‘comforts’ (material, in the main) for the men of the armed services. It was also remarkable that a defence force to protect the country in the event of invasion was organised. After French incursions on to the Welsh and Irish coasts, this danger was taken very seriously: a Defence of the Realm Act was passed in 1798, requiring a census of every able-bodied man and his weapons and transport vehicles. The exercise was repeated in 1803 when Napoleon’s plan to invade became evident. The established militia system was renovated and expanded by the creation of the Volunteer Corps. One aspect of the recruitment of volunteers of particular relevance for us is that up to 1802 they were required to take an oath of loyalty to the king and the Protestant religion. Many men were mobilised and many more indicated their willingness to serve in the event of a French attack; though, true, many also shirked their civic duty. A few variations in the depth of citizenly conscientiousness in this regard may be indicated. Prior to the 1798 Act, just over 2 per cent of Englishmen had volunteered, whereas the figures for Scotland and Wales were nearly double that proportion. Also, more Englishmen than their Celtic cousins indicated a refusal to defend anywhere but their immediate locality. The detailed figures for 1804 show startling variations. For instance, the total percentage of men aged 17–55 already in uniform and prepared to volunteer differed wildly from county to county: for example, Argyll 91 per cent, Cumberland 9 per cent (though the differences no doubt are caused at least partly by reasons other than lack of civic virtue). Nevertheless, taking the country as a whole, by 1815, it is estimated that, all told, some 850,000 men, out of a total population of 13 million, were under arms: a formidable example of the classical view that military service is a crucial 79

Citizenship in Britain ingredient of citizenship (for the figures, see Colley, 1992, pp. 287, 293, 378–80). Even so, this condition of heightened national awareness and the marshalling of the country’s human resources had a certain ambivalence. Coleridge, writing in 1800 in his capacity as a profound political theorist, rather than poet, explained: Is the nation in danger? Every man is called into play; every man feels his interest as a citizen predominating over his individual interests; the high and the low, and the middle classes become all alike politicians; the majority carry the day; and Jacobinism is the natural consequence. (Quoted, Colley, 1992, p. 312; Coleridge’s emphasis)

So, citizenship is equated with national cohesion, of capital benefit in a time of peril. But this very condition must make us question the depth of national feeling, if that feeling was dependent on the unusual conditions of the long and, at its climax, intense warfare with France. Brockliss and Eastwood alert us to this need for perspective: pace Colley, it is difficult to see how a sense of Britishness fashioned merely by overseas conflict could be sustained in the century-long peace with the western powers which followed Napoleon’s fall . . . Indeed, it seems more plausible to assume that at the end of the Napoleonic wars, the only Britons for whom Britishness was a primary and permanent identity comprised the small proportion of the educated and well-to-do who operated in an all-British context. Socially, this was a group confined to the aristocracy and the upper reaches of the gentry. (Brockliss and Eastwood, 1997, p. 3)

From c. 1700 to c. 1850, thus taking us beyond the basic chronological confines of this chapter, an aware British nationhood not reliant on xenophobia did gradually come into existence. The domestic constituent influences included: the constitutional unions of 1707 (Scotland) and 1801 (Ireland); a broadening religious tolerance of a piebald collection of Christian Churches; the mingling of people and peoples by internal migrations due especially to the processes of industrialisation; and the growing usage of the dominant English culture and language. Thus did a consciousness of being British in addition to being English, Scots, Irish or Welsh gradually seep down from the upper to the lower classes. However, two later factors must be taken into account, both of which can be illustrated from the political convictions of, the admittedly 80

Fighting corruption and France England-centric, Benjamin Disraeli. One was his belief in the importance of the Empire, identifying its maintenance as a major plank of Conservative Party policy in 1871 and arranging for the conferring of the title of Empress of India on Queen Victoria in 1876. By the end of the nineteenth century, as we shall see in Chapter 5, Britishness was accepted as being indissolubly associated with the British Empire. His other concern was the parlous condition of the working class. When he published his novel Sybil in 1845 he subtitled it, Or: The Two Nations, by which he meant the rich and the poor. If class divisions were so wide, how could one speak of a nation? Many a working-class person who was politically conscious, from the late eighteenth century to the late nineteenth century, wanted voting and trade-union rights. Campaigners for these improvements were demanding the political and social rights of citizenship; but they wanted them not so much because they thought of themselves as Britons, rather, as members of the working class. This brings us back to the late eighteenth century from which we have wandered. The cohering force of patriotic anti-French sentiment was being undermined by the radical demand for reform. Those campaigners were dubbed ‘English Jacobins’, tarred with the brush of the hated extremist French republican creed. Moreover, as British citizens joined reformist clubs, were thrown together in the armed forces, suffered from steep price and tax rises, and exchanged opinions about what so many were coming to interpret as an outdated parliamentary system, so civic loyalty to the political status quo became strained. What, we must therefore ask, was the relationship between citizenship and radicalism?

The development of radicalism If members of the British nation in the eighteenth century formed a nation of citizens, this status was conceived as a people who were the possessors of what made them quintessentially British: liberty. What were the component freedoms of this precious liberty, which Britons proudly sneered no other nation enjoyed? In addition to freedom from foreign control, there were the civil and political freedoms, as listed by E. P. Thompson: Freedom from absolutism (the constitutional monarchy), freedom from arbitrary arrest, trial by jury, equality before the law, the freedom of the home from arbitrary entrance and search, some liberty of thought, of speech, and of conscience, the vicarious participation in liberty (or in its semblance) afforded by the right of parliamentary opposition and by elections and election tumults (although the


Citizenship in Britain people had no vote they had the right to parade, huzza and jeer on the hustings). (Thompson, 1991, p. 86)

Yet the whole temper of the age was antipathetic to the exercise of much positive freedom for the mass of the people. Indeed, J. C. D. Clark has produced a revisionist thesis emphasising ‘the similarities between England before 1832 and other European social systems of the ancien regime’ (Clark, 1985, p. 6). We can take the obvious parallel with France. The French ancien r´egime was attacked by the Revolution. But if the equivalent English revolution occurred in the two phases of the Civil War and the Glorious or Bloodless Revolution, as has often been suggested, how could England’s ancien regime, as Clark maintains, have spanned the years from 1660 or 1688 to 1832? There are two answers to this. One is the commonly observed feature of Britain’s patriarchal society in the eighteenth century; the other is Clark’s own interpretation of the crucial changes that took place from 1828 to 1832. In theory, common practice and acceptance, the country was dominated by the landed aristocracy and gentry at the pinnacle of a hierarchically ordered society. Clark refers to this closely argued conviction as ‘the aristocratic ideal’ and asserts, ‘Its vitality and power in the eighteenth century is of immense importance’ (Clark, 1985, p. 95). Dickinson deserves to be quoted also, especially because of his view from the bottom: The landed estate was the sole centre of political authority that most men encountered and the manorial courts still exercised jurisdiction over most of the countryside. In such a world, men of substance . . . were determined that the poor, who were economically dependent upon them, should accept the harsh realities of life and learn to submit to those in authority . . . [These included] father, master, employer or lord. (Dickinson, 1977, p. 21)

Against these conditions the status of citizenship was but weakly enjoyed, despite Thompson’s comment quoted above. Patriarchy and hierarchy are antipathetic to citizenship. Because of this frailty of the civic state in contrast to the believed rights of freedom, frustration simmered to the point of radical demands by the later decades of the century. However, the British ancien regime was less unjust and brutal than the French, so Clark’s bracketing Britain with continental countries exaggerates the similarities; and accordingly the British reaction to the system was much more moderated. It was also in the short run unsuccessful. Clark’s case is that the religious and political reforms of 1828–32 eventually achieved the breakthrough that fatally undermined the ancien regime. To summarise, 1828–32, not 1688–9, 82

Fighting corruption and France was the true bloodless revolution. We shall examine these measures in Chapter 4. Our immediate concern is to understand how the defects of the system of parliamentary representation contributed so materially to the sense of frustration; for restricted franchise meant restricted political citizenship and it was naturally doubted that an unreformed House of Commons would dismantle the ancien regime. We can helpfully start with a few figures relating to the British parliamentary system prior to the 1832 Reform Act. Number of English MPs – 489; number of Scottish MPs – 45. Number of shire MPs – two per county, irrespective of size, for example Yorkshire one MP per 690,000 people, Rutland, one MP per 9,500 people. Numbers of borough MPs and populations – Manchester, nil, 77,000; Old Sarum (an unpopulated site of ruins in Wiltshire), two, nil. On 9 February 1793 the Society of the Friends of the People reported that ‘257 members, being a majority of the Commons of England, are elected by 11,075 voters; or in other words by little more than the 170th part of the people to be represented’ (quoted, Dawson and Wall, 1968, p. 5). The mark of a full citizen in a representative polity is the right to vote for a politician to guard and forward the citizen’s interests on his (and later her) behalf. These few illustrative statistics therefore demonstrate the chaotic state of political citizenship in Britain at this time. (Though not as parlous as sometimes suggested: in 1715, for example, 23.4 per cent of adult males had the vote; see e.g. Dickinson, 1995, p. 32.) By the early nineteenth century it was even worse than it had been in the seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries because of the increase in population and its asymmetric distribution due to the Industrial Revolution. Not surprisingly, objections to this obsolete condition rose in a crescendo of complaints, recommendations and demands during the two generations to c. 1830. This activity is germane to the study of citizenship in a double sense. First, the writers, organisers and demonstrators were behaving as citizens by virtue of displaying their political consciousness and vigorously registering their political demands; and, second, these demands were for reforms in order to render the citizenly status of British people more just and effective. Since direct participation in the governmental process is possible in the modern nation-state for only a small minority of citizens, the rest must perforce be involved indirectly, via representatives. This arrangement raised two questions in eighteenth-century Britain. One, the major and obvious issue, by no means confined to that era, was who should have the right to elect the representatives. Our main purpose in the following pages (and into Chapters 4 and 5) is to trace the story of this problem. However, before embarking on that narrative, we must say a few words about the other 83

Citizenship in Britain question. This was: should the MP be a delegate, merely transmitting the instructions as mandated by his constituency, the constituents thus retaining a considerable power as citizens; or was he an independently thinking representative using his own judgement once arrived at Westminster? It is this issue we shall investigate before pursuing our main story. In the middle of the eighteenth century the Country opposition argued for and organised the drawing up of ‘instructions’ by constituencies to their MPs as a means of sustaining pressure on the government. For example, 45 constituencies sent instructions in 1742 on several issues including Walpole’s corruption, and in 1756 36 sent instructions to press the government on the early conduct of the Seven Years War, a political campaign that contributed to the downfall of the Duke of Newcastle and his eventual replacement by William Pitt (the Elder) as prime minister. The reverse point-of-view was more common throughout the century, an opinion presented by those commentators and politicians believing that even the small number of citizens who comprised the country’s electorate were too ignorant to be trusted with that degree of control over their representatives. The most famous expression of this view – though not as insultingly phrased as some – is to be found in Burke’s speech to the electors of Bristol in 1774, prompted by the support for instructions by the other main candidate. Burke explained that their representative’s unbiased opinion, his mature judgment, his enlightened conscience, he ought not to sacrifice to you . . . authoritative instructions, mandates issued, which the member is bound blindly to and implicitly to obey, to vote, and to argue for, though contrary to the clearest conviction of his judgment and conscience, – these are things utterly unknown to the laws of this land, and which arise from a fundamental mistake of the whole order and tenor of our Constitution. (B. W. Hill, 1975, pp. 157–8)

This kind of interpretation of constitutional convention no doubt had contributed to Rousseau’s decision to make the tart comment twelve years prior to Burke’s speech that, The English people . . . is free only during the election of Members of Parliament; as soon as the Members are elected, the people is enslaved; it is nothing. In the brief moments of its freedom, the English people makes such a use of that freedom that it deserves to lose it. (Rousseau, 1968, bk III, ch. 15)

That distinguished eighteenth-century theorist of citizenship could not recognise the English as real citizens at all. But, then, as Jeremy Bentham 84

Fighting corruption and France mocked, Rousseau’s concept of direct citizen participation would work only in San Marino, the minute enclave state in Italy. The demand for parliamentary reform and the radicalisation of the movement from the 1760s and especially 1770s onwards need to be understood in the context of this lively interest in Britain about fundamental political ideas after the Glorious Revolution. The rights of man, sovereignty of the people, social contract, rule of law, the doctrines of resistance and obedience were all asserted and their implications interpreted in different ways. And all had implications for the nature of citizenship, even though the term was only rarely to be found in the literature until the 1790s. If all men are equally endowed with natural rights, they have a claim on the state to defend and preserve them without discrimination, the most important right being liberty. If sovereignty ultimately resides in the people, it is their prerogative to reclaim and exercise it whenever circumstances warrant such an action – if the government is deemed to have broken the contract. This is the implication of the social contract theory as expounded by Locke, whose ideas were called upon in the late eighteenth century as a deeply respected authority. In order to secure the stability of the state – for protection against both tyranny and anarchy – all, howsoever mighty or humble, must be subject to the rule of law. At this juncture in our analysis it is necessary to recognise two problems. One is the connected matter of the relationship in this period between social rights and civil rights, the nature of civil rights in practice and the prime importance of property rights. We have already seen (pp. 61–2) that it is possible to interpret Locke’s concept of the right to property as defending the privileged. So, if (or when) protest by the masses threatened the wealth of the middle and upper classes, should the civil rights of the former to express their discontent or the social rights of the latter to defend their property prevail? Or can it even be argued that the civil rights of the lower orders were in reality spurious? If the condition of the country was that of an ancien regime, as in Clark’s thesis, which we have already outlined above, then the property rights of the privileged would inevitably have prevailed. Writing about this issue in the setting of the eighteenth to early nineteenth century, Keith Faulks has written that civil rights then would be better termed market rights, as this term more clearly reflects the fact that these rights worked in the interests of a small economic elite . . . [for] the development of a capitalist economy . . . while other civil rights, such as the right to free speech, assembly and protest, were suppressed by the state in the interest of capitalist accumulation. (Faulks, 1998, p. 42)

He cites anti-trade-union legislation as a compelling example. 85

Citizenship in Britain Yet protest and debate did go on; therefore the second of our two problems was how to balance the right of resistance against injustice and the duty of obedience to the established government. This was a delicate issue and one of great moment during the second half of the eighteenth century. During these years the radicals energetically voiced their case. The basis of their argument was directly pertinent to the concept of citizenship, revealed in these sentences of Dickinson: The radicals claimed that their liberties must include a positive role in the political life of the community. A man’s liberty could not be guaranteed unless he had a say in the political decisions which would affect him and his family. (Dickinson, 1977, p. 198)

This viewpoint was trenchantly argued, for example, in a publication entitled Declarations of those Rights of the Community of Great Britain, Without Which they Cannot be Free. Its author was Major John Cartwright, one of the leading, if somewhat eccentric, lights in the movement for parliamentary reform. One must not, however, exaggerate the strength of opinion in the politically articulate people for completely universal manhood suffrage. Even before the period of radical demands there was discontent among the Country interest about the electoral system: the objections were that its defects encouraged their bogey, corruption. Various proposals were canvassed, including more frequent elections, the eradication of sundry electoral abuses and even voting by secret ballot. The Triennial Act of 1694 could have met the first of these objectives, but its new arrangement was reversed by the Septennial Act of 1715. The fundamental tactic of the reformers was to undermine the grip on the constituencies of the Court party by strengthening the political influence of the independent propertied class. The Country party therefore supported constituents’ instructions to MPs in order to thwart the possibility of the representatives falling under the spell of corrupt practices once elected. It succeeded in 1711 in raising the property qualifications for candidates to £600 p.a. in real estate value for county constituencies and £300 p.a. for boroughs to ensure that less affluent and therefore more easily bribable persons were ineligible to stand. The measure clearly related to the belief, reported in the first section of this chapter, that it was in this propertied class that civic virtue was most usually to be found. In addition, there were even proposals for the redistribution of seats away from ‘pocket’ and ‘rotten’ boroughs to unenfranchised towns of newly created commercial and industrial worth. 86

Fighting corruption and France The most thorough analysis of this range of suggestions was contained in the pamphlet The Freeholder’s Plea against Stock-jobbing Elections of Parliament Men, published in 1701 and almost certainly written by Daniel Defoe (see Dickinson, 1977, p. 117). The issue was taken up periodically down to the struggle for the First Reform Bill. One of the eighteenth-century protagonists was Bolingbroke through the columns of The Craftsman. Indeed, the arguments of the Country opposition coloured radical thinking later in the century, including the civic republican belief that a citizen militia was essential because a true citizen must be skilled in the bearing of arms and be endowed with the civic consciousness to use them in defence of his country. On the other hand, the radicals of the later decades of the eighteenth century refocused the justification of demands for reform from elite civic virtue to democratic political justice. The radical movement in the period we are here surveying can be tidily defined as covering the years 1762 to 1815. In 1762 John Wilkes published the first issue of his weekly journal, the North Briton; in 1815 the wars with France ended and the peacetime struggle leading to the First Reform Act started (see Chapter 4). Our narrative of the flow of events will not be distorted if we divide this period into two timespans, namely, 1762–89 and 1789–1815, the caesura occurring with the effective start of the French Revolution. We begin with the colourful and charismatic personality John Wilkes – rake, pornographer, wit, publisher, local (London) worthy and politician, and whose name will appear on several occasions below. He used the North Briton to launch vitriolic attacks on George III and his ministers. On the publication of No. 45 in 1763, he was arrested and incarcerated in the Tower of London. He challenged the legality of the arrest warrant, brilliantly publicised his case and was deemed not guilty by the, radically minded, judge, Lord Camden. The politically alert populace of London, deeply disaffected to the point of riotous disorder, were overjoyed. ‘Wilkes and Liberty!’ became the popular cry. He had stood up for the freedom of the individual citizen against the abuse of arbitrary justice. Wilkes’s next challenge was on the constitutional issue of the civic rights of the electorate versus Parliament. After his release from prison in 1763, the government retaliated. He was outlawed, he fled to France, then returned in 1768 to stand for election as an MP. He was duly elected for one of the Middlesex seats; he was imprisoned; there was a series of by-elections, each of which he won amid scenes of frenzied excitement. The crowds were drawn from a broad cross-section of society, indicating the spread of a citizenly political consciousness. For example, it is estimated that 10 per cent were women, another 10 per cent, shoemakers, 7 per cent, weavers, and another 7 per cent, servants. Each time Parliament insisted that Wilkes’s opponent, though gaining only a 87

Citizenship in Britain small minority of the votes, was effectively elected. By what right did Parliament override the persistently expressed will of the citizens of the county of Middlesex? Wilkes was eventually able to take a seat in the House of Commons in 1774, in which year he was also elected Lord Mayor of London. However, by then, he and his supporters had transformed the political scene. The corrupt parliamentary system and its potential threat to the proud English tradition of individual liberty were now much more widely understood, and petitions, public meetings and political societies devoted to the cause of parliamentary reform were consolidated as powerful expressions of citizenship in action. Pressure was exerted on the government by petitions addressed to the king. In 1769–70 the Lord Mayor of London stirred the city and the rest of the country to protest because of the Wilkes election affair. The following excerpts from the London petition of March 1770 illustrate the tone of discontent, on this occasion complaining at the electors’ previous petition having been ignored: We beg leave, therefore, again to represent to your majesty, that the House of Commons have struck at the most valuable liberties and franchises of all the electors of Great Britain . . . by assuming to themselves a right of chusing [sic], instead of receiving a member when chosen . . . We have the strongest reasons to apprehend, that the usurpation begun by the House of Commons upon the right of electing, may be extended to the right of petitioning; and under the pretence of restraining the abuse of this right, it is meant . . . to intimidate us from the exercise of the right itself. (Maccoby, 1966, p. 24)

This ‘humble address, remonstrance and petition’ was sent by the electors of Westminster, acting in their capacity as enfranchised citizens of that constituency. But what of the unenfranshised masses? In what sense were they acting as citizens in support of Wilkes? Their behaviour varied. They paraded and advertised their support in peaceful demonstrations. The number ‘45’ (referring to the famous issue of the North Briton) was adopted as an easy ‘logo’, to use today’s jargon. Thus, the American, Benjamin Franklin, noted in 1769, I went last week to Winchester and observed that for fifteen miles out of town there was not a door or window shutter next the road unmarked [with ‘45’]; and this continued here and there quite to Winchester, which is sixty-four miles. (Quoted, Postgate, 1956, p. 125)


Fighting corruption and France On other occasions, the crowd became disorderly, threatening and riotous, scarcely the mood of responsible citizenry. This distinction is, of course, crucial to keep in mind, especially when popular disturbances in 1779–80 seemed to drag Britain to the brink of revolution. However, this rough distinction between citizenly demonstration and riotous mob must be put in perspective. In the first place, popular demonstrations or riots were virtually the only means of expressing grievances available to the bulk of the populace and were, in any case, proof of the vaunted British freedom. Second, the great authority on the working class in this age, E. P. Thompson, has asserted: It is possible to detect in almost every eighteenth-century crowd action some legitimizing notion. By the notion of legitimation I mean that the men and women in the crowd were informed by the belief that they were defending traditional rights or customs; and, in general, that they were supported by the wider consensus of the community. (Quoted, Dickinson, 1995, p. 136)

He has also identified a different distinction, which throws light on eighteenth-century working-class citizenship, namely, ‘that of more or less spontaneous popular direct action; and that of deliberate use of the crowd as an instrument of pressure, by persons “above” or apart from the crowd’ (Thompson, 1991, p. 67). The more educated and thoughtful of the population, disturbed by the political condition of the time, began to found associations to discuss the problems and draw up representations for their alleviation; a clear indication of the civic consciousness abroad at this time. The first of these, again prompted by the 1769 Wilkes controversy, was the Society of Supporters of the Bill of Rights, ‘to maintain and defend the legal, constitutional liberty of the subject’ (Maccoby, 1966, pp. 22–3). By 1780 two other energetic bodies had been formed. These were: the Yorkshire Association and the Society for Constitutional Information. The leadership of the former was provided by the Rev. Christopher Wyvill. Furthermore, many similar groups were created in the rest of the country in what became the Association Movement. The latter was led by Major Cartwright, whose radical activity persisted into the post-Napoleonic War period and who also spread his ideas through writing. He was one of a number of effective propagators of the radical message – ‘articulate citizens’ to use the term introduced in Chapter 1. Others, much more distinguished, included Richard Price, Joseph Priestley and Thomas Paine, whom we shall meet below. Cartwright’s Legislative Rights of the Commonalty Vindicated: or Take Your Choice! was published in 1776, quickly followed by a second edition the 89

Citizenship in Britain next year. This book is of interest to us for two reasons. First, it advocated far-reaching ‘parliamentary reformation’, a precursor of the six points of the nineteenth-century People’s Charter (see pp. 108–9), notably ‘Annual parliaments with an equal representation of the commons’ (Maccoby, 1966, p. 32; Cartwright’s emphasis). He proved his case by the following syllogism: All [men] are by nature free; all are by nature equal: freedom implies choice; equality excludes degrees of freedom. All the Commons, therefore, have an equal right to vote in the election of those who are to be the guardians of their lives and liberties. (Quoted, Dickinson, 1995, p. 182)

The other reason is his contemporary reflection of the insistence of the American colonists that there should be no taxation without representation. The case, originating c. 1760, found expression in the mother country also among people sympathetic to the colonists’ cause. For example, in 1766 that same Lord Camden who had given judgment in Wilkes’s favour spoke in the House of Lords to this effect: ‘My position is this – I repeat it – I will maintain it to my last hour, – taxation and representation are inseparable’ (quoted, Beloff, 1949, p. 121). And, surely, what was right for the thirteen colonies must be right for Britain. Cartwright took the thesis to the logical conclusion – which few of its advocates dared – namely, that every man, whether possessed of what is vulgarly called property or not, ought to have a vote in sending to parliament those men who are to act as his representatives . . . who are to be the guardians of public freedom; in which, the poor, surely, as well as the rich have an interest. (Quoted, Dickinson, 1995, p. 182)

Some politicians, too, recognised the desirability, even necessity, of parliamentary reform. By 1770, the Earl of Chatham was advocating a redistribution of seats, a cause taken up in 1783 and 1785 by his son, the Younger Pitt. In addition, radical far-reaching Bills were laid before Parliament by Wilkes in 1776 and the Duke of Richmond in 1780. Wilkes’s premise for defining the electorate was that every ‘free agent’ in the kingdom should be represented in Parliament. Richmond’s proposal, like Cartwright’s, contained exactly the same six points that were to be listed in the Chartists’ demands two generations later. Needless to say, not even the self-evidently just and extremely modest proposals of the Pitts, let alone the extreme measures advocated by the radicals, were given anything like a sympathetic hearing in either Chamber. 90

Fighting corruption and France Following the failure of the Younger Pitt’s second measure, the campaign for parliamentary reform briefly withered. However, the Protestant Dissenters persevered. They naturally resented the civil and political disabilities from which they suffered as consequences of the Test and Corporation Acts (see p. 64). The politically vociferous among them, dubbed the Radical Dissenters, came to associate themselves with the radicalism of the 1770s and 1780s, and in 1787 succeeded in having their case for equable treatment discussed in Parliament. Their most politically literate (in both senses of the term) leaders were Dr Richard Price, the Welsh preacher, and Dr Joseph Priestley, the Birmingham chemist, both men of exceptional intellectual stature. Their relevant publications include Priestley’s Essays on the Principles of Government, and on the Nature of Political, Civil, and Religious Liberty (1768) and Price’s Observations on the Nature of Civil Liberty, the Principles of Government, and the Justice and Policy of the War with America (1776), the latter, a veritable ‘best seller’. We may notice, as an aside, how 1776 constantly crops up as a date when various features of British citizenship are illuminated. In that year, in addition to Cartwright’s and Price’s works, Adam Smith published his Wealth of Nations, moving thinking away from civic virtue (see p. 73), and Jeremy Bentham produced his Fragment on Government, expounding his Utilitarian principle of the greatest happiness of the greatest number. Also, as we have seen, Wilkes introduced his Bill for parliamentary reform in that year and the American colonists issued their Declaration of Independence, which could be interpreted as confirmation of the incompetence and injustice of the British government and Parliament. However, the American Revolution had a lesser impact on British thinking on citizenship than the French Revolution. At this point, indeed, we must progress to our next chronological section, 1789–1815. No other time in modern history and no other place in the modern world has been so firmly identified with the concept and practice of citizenship as France during the core years of the Revolution, 1789–94, though in fact the word ‘citoyen’ and the idea of citizenship were being used in the modern, national sense well before the eruption of revolution. Let us take an example from the pre-revolutionary disturbances of the aristocratic revolt, namely, the words of the intendant (regional administrator) of Alsace: ‘Over thirty years we have seen patriotic ideas sow themselves invisibly in the head. Every citizen today desires to be called to support the general good’ (quoted, Schama, 1989, p. 498). Then, once the legislative work of the Constituent Assembly got under way, the members were faced with questions as to how citizens should be defined in the Constitution both in the sense of being French nationals and being endowed with the suffrage. The title became steadily 91

Citizenship in Britain confirmed by the abolition of nobility in 1790 and of the monarchy in 1792. By 1793 ‘citoyen’ and ‘citoyenne’ had become common forms of address in daily conversation These developments were known throughout Britain and inevitably had a striking influence there on attitudes to citizenship and political reform. Some, like Wordsworth, famously greeted the Revolution as a glorious new dawn; others, like Burke, equally famously dreaded its implications. However, the enthusiasts were discomfited in their support for France when war broke out between the two constant enemies yet again in 1793, and when the Revolution descended to the gruesome policy of Terror in 1793–4, even, eventually, to adapt the words of the great orator Vergniaud, ‘devouring its own children’. The deep and fearful impression made on many people in Britain by the French Revolution is encapsulated in the pejorative term ‘English Jacobins’. None the less, political clubs campaigning for reform continued as a popular means by thoughtful citizens for trying to achieve their ends – until, that is, the government clamped down. By the 1790s the two most important in England were the still-functioning Society for Constitutional Information and the new London Corresponding Society, created by Thomas Hardy and the Rev. Horne Tooke in 1792. The latter was a scrupulously run association charging one penny a week subscription to meet stationery, printing and postage costs. In passing resolutions listing its principles and resolutions, the society adopted a telling phrase, namely, ‘That it is no less the right than the duty of every Citizen, to keep a watchful eye on the government of his country’ (quoted, Clarke, 1994, p. 125). Also in 1792 reforming organisations started in Scotland and sent representatives to Conventions in Edinburgh. Most were entitled ‘Friends of the People’, thus using the ubiquitous proud title. Membership of these societies throughout the country appealed not just to the obvious professional classes, but many of the working class also. Literacy was improving and newspapers, pamphlets and even books were purchased in increasing quantities to inform the swelling numbers of politically literate citizens. The expansion of political writing could obviously not have been sustained without a reasonable proportion of the population being literate. J. H. Plumb provided telling basic figures: ‘In 1753 stamp duty was paid on 7,411,757 newspapers; in 1792 on 15,005,760 (Plumb, 1950, p. 119n.). Indeed, in the 1790s a veritable pamphlet war was waged between the radicals and the government, the latter through the agency of the Association for Preserving Liberty and Property against Republicans and Levellers (notice the seventeenth-century reference). In the words of Olivia Smith, ‘The Association seems to have believed it wiser to combat reform with ignorance, and . . . with class hatred and 92

Fighting corruption and France insecurity, than with a consciously held conservative position’ (Smith, 1984, p. 73). Mass meetings were again held, a form of activity under a cloud since the horrendous anarchy of the Gordon Riots in London in 1780. Gatherings in Sheffield in favour of parliamentary reform provide evidence of working-class participation. A petition had been rejected by the House of Commons in 1793 because it was couched in ‘unparliamentary language’. That rankled. Annoyed, the Sheffield Constitutional Society published an Address to the British Nation, explaining the futility of petitioning: ‘for if grievances, abuses, complaints and truth are to be discarded from that House, because not dressed in a gentlemanly language, how are we, plain mechanics, ever to obtain redress?’ (quoted, Goodwin, 1979, p. 327). In fact, between 1793 and 1818, even politely and elegantly phrased petitions were rejected on grounds of ‘highly indecent and disrespectful language’ (see Smith, 1984, p. 301), a device for avoiding the politically undesirable demands. In 1795 the London Corresponding Society arranged two mass outdoor meetings in the city. At the first, votes of thanks were carried to Citizens (sic) Stanhope and Sheridan, the peer and the dramatist MP, being distinguished for their staunch defence of the radical cause in Parliament. By then, a number of radicals paraded the title of ‘citizen’ in imitation of the French habit (the Terror having been brought to an end in the summer of 1794), the Earl of Stanhope particularly glorying in it. The second London mass meeting was attended by a vast throng estimated at 100,000 in number, an occasion splendidly organised and conducted in a most orderly manner. The government, however, was becoming nervous. It reacted by draconian attacks on the citizen’s civil rights. In 1792 the Home Office started using spies to infiltrate the radical movement; in 1795 two repressive pieces of legislation were passed, the Seditious Meetings Act and the Treasonable Practices Act; in 1799 and 1800 the Combination Acts stifled embryonic trade unionism; and from 1794 to1801 Habeas Corpus was suspended and constantly re-suspended. Barbarous sentences were sometimes meted out to essentially peaceable men for apparent transgression of the 1795 laws. The most brutal were handed down in Scotland – to the ‘Scottish martyrs’, Thomas Muir, founder of the first Society of the Friends of the People in Edinburgh, and the Rev. Thomas Palmer, Unitarian minister of Dundee. Both were found guilty on minor or specious charges and transported to Botany Bay, the Australian penal colony, to the horror of many people in several countries. When the poet Robert Burns heard the news he was prompted to compose his great patriotic poem, ‘Scots, Wha Hae’, including the call: 93

Citizenship in Britain Liberty’s in every blow! Let us do or die! It took some time for the radical movement to revive. When the revival did come it was centred on Westminster, not surprising because its citizens, benefiting from a democratic franchise, had been politically alert even before 1789. In 1806, the renowned journalist William Cobbett published his Letters to the Electors of Westminster and was instrumental in securing the election of Sir Francis Burdett as MP. In 1809 Burdett was involved in popular demonstrations and introduced a motion in the House of Commons for parliamentary reform. Both that initiative and renewed petitions came to naught. This is our chronological survey of the period 1789–1815. Attention must now be given to two significant topics that deserve their own treatment. One is the role of women as citizens; the other is the work of the distinguished political activist and writer, Thomas Paine. The contribution of women in forcing the French royal family to move residence from Versailles to Paris in October 1789 and the hideous spectacle of the tricoteuses clicking their knitting-needles against the swish and thud of the guillotine-blade during the Terror are famous dramatic exemplifications of the political consciousness of at least the female population of the French capital during the Revolution. But already, in the utterly different context of the ancien r´egime royal court, French women had taken full advantage of the opportunities for political intrigue. The atmosphere and expectations were different in Britain, where the behaviour of women engaging in politics and power was condemned as unbecoming and an unnatural aping of male roles – like the despised French. In Britain the woman’s place was in the home, as the popular Enquiry into the Duties of the Female Sex, in 1796, insisted. Nevertheless, during the war, patriotism was expected and indeed was displayed by British women. For example, they were prominent in raising money to support the local militias and for charitable donations to wounded servicemen. In the words of Linda Colley, ‘Consciously or not, these female patriots were staking out a civic role for themselves’ (Colley, 1992, p. 261; see also p. 79 above). The dilemma of women sustaining their femininity and domestic responsibilities while yet developing a civic consciousness exercised the mind of Britain’s first major thinker on the issue of women’s rights. This was Mary Wollstonecraft, the partner of the radical writer William Godwin, and briefly his wife, dying in 1797, after giving birth to their daughter, later famous as Mary Shelley. Mary Wollstonecraft, in social contact with the famous radical friends of Godwin, including Paine, was absorbed by the 94

Fighting corruption and France dramatic events through which she lived. Just as Paine responded vigorously in print to Burke’s Reflections on the Revolution in France, as we shall see below, so did Wollstonecraft, with the publication in 1790 of her Vindication of the Rights of Men. However, more pertinent for us here was her justly renowned Vindication of the Rights of Woman (subtitled, with Strictures on Moral and Political Subjects), published two years later. So, to trace the main features of her thesis. Her premise is: ‘That women at present are by ignorance rendered foolish or vicious is, I think, not to be disputed’ (Wollstonecraft, 1975, p. 317). Moreover, because of their lack of civil and political rights they have little interest in communal matters, interesting themselves in trivia instead. Her solution is that they should be educated so that they understand their duties and acquire a reasoned patriotism. But to ensure that women are encouraged to live worthy lives, they must be given a proper civil status, not, for instance, if married, be subject to their husbands. ‘Would men but generously snap our chains,’ she asserts, ‘. . . they would find us . . . better citizens.’ ‘Let woman share the rights, and she will emulate the virtues of man’ (Wollstonecraft, 1975, pp. 263, 319). Yet here is the rub: while a man as citizen may be ‘employed in any of the departments of civil life, his wife, also an active citizen, should be equally content to manage her family, educate her children, and assist her neighbours’ (Wollstonecraft, 1975, pp. 258–9). Nevertheless, the woman’s is not, as this comparison might seem to imply, an inferior role – for two reasons. One is that the feminine maternal style of a mother’s education of her sons is essential if they are to grow to manhood as virtuous citizens. The other is the close association of the male community worthiness and the female domestic worthiness; for ‘public virtue is only an aggregate of the private’ (Wollstonecraft, 1975, p. 316). Political citizenship may thus appear absent from Wollstonecraft’s analysis and advocacy – what she is mainly arguing for are the rights of civil citizenship. This observation is basically true; even so, she does have a few words to say on this aspect. Here are the key sentences. I may excite laughter, by dropping a hint, which I mean to pursue, some future time, for I really think that women ought to have representatives, instead of being arbitrarily governed without having any direct share allowed them in the deliberations of government. But, as the whole system of representation is now, in this country, only a convenient handle for despotism, they need not complain, for they are as well represented as a numerous class of hard-working mechanics. (Wollstonecraft, 1975, p. 260)

Sadly, she did not survive to write this intended companion volume. 95

Citizenship in Britain Thomas Paine would not have quarrelled with that second sentence of Wollstonecraft’s. His life, political and literary achievements were extraordinary. He made a capital contribution to the American Revolution through the rallying cry of his pamphlet Common Sense in 1776, and by participation as an active citizen in those events. In 1792, together with five other British radicals, he was made a citizen of France; not only that, but was elected representative for Calais in the new Convention – despite his lack of command of the French language at that time! And his productivity as an author included, in addition to Common Sense, the major works, The Rights of Man (1791–2) and The Age of Reason (1794). His political views and recommendations were rather too extreme for many readers of his publications, and despite the huge popularity of Common Sense at the time, when he returned to the USA a quarter-of-a-century after the Declaration of Independence, he received little recognition and died, embittered in 1809. We are naturally concerned here with his views on Britain and mainly their publication in the two-part Rights of Man. In his anxiety to broadcast his message, Paine arranged for cheap editions to be produced for sale mainly in the radical clubs and societies. Abridged editions were also made available. Accurate computation of the total numbers distributed is consequently impossible. A figure of 150,000 of the full-price edition of Part II (containing the more popular material; Part I deals with France) in two years is a reasonable estimate. A fascinating insight into its influence is the mutual benefit that accrued for both the book and the Society for Constitutional Information. When Part I was published, the society had declined to near extinction. The minuscule membership adopted the book as the source of a successful revivifying new agenda, publicising both the book and the fact that the author was a member. Moreover, citizenship was a key concept in the work. Thus, Paine wrote: The romantic and barbarous distinction of men into Kings and subjects, though it may suit the condition of courtiers, cannot that of citizens . . . Every citizen is a member of the Sovereignty, and, as such, can acknowledge no personal subjection; and his obedience can be only to the laws. (Paine, 1969, p. 165)

In fact, three themes run through Paine’s political thinking related to our topic, which we may identify as rights, republicanism and welfare. Following Locke’s theory of natural rights, Paine took it a radical stage further. According to Locke (see p. 62), the sovereign people actively exercise their rights only in times of crisis (e.g., and as Locke had in mind, in 1688). Paine, on the other hand, argued, in harmony with the mood in Britain a century later, that the people – citizens – should defend their 96

Fighting corruption and France rights by a constant vigilant guard against potential infringement by the government. The best way of firming up this defensive posture was to effect a real, though still peaceful, revolution, unlike the pseudo-revolution of 1688–9. Attempting to tinker with the current political system by parliamentary reform was useless. Calling upon his knowledge of the processes adopted by the American and French revolutionaries, he declared that, ‘The right to reform is in the nation in its original character, and the constitutional method would be by a general convention elected for the purpose’ (Paine, 1969, p. 95). A new constitution (or a constitution, since Paine, correctly, denied Britain had one) should be democratic, enfranchising all men over twenty-one years of age, and republican. He held a Manichean view of modes of government: ‘Government by election and representation’ (republic) and ‘Government by hereditary succession’ (monarchy and aristocracy), the former based on Reason, the latter, on Ignorance (Paine, 1969, p. 162). Clearly, citizenship can exist only in the first of these alternatives. Paine’s third citizenship theme is more advanced than the other two and was the main reason for the popularity of the second volume among the artisan class. With a combination of a sensitive conscience about the plight of the poor and a remarkable command and management of statistics, he produces a scheme for a thorough welfare state. As he insists, his provisions would not be in the nature of charity, but of entitlement. In other words, he had envisaged what we now call social citizenship. By a complete overhaul of the prodigal and unjust taxation system, he calculated that about six million pounds a year could be made available for alleviating the condition of the poor. This would be allocated in numerous ways (for details, see Paine, 1969, pp. 260–70). Four pounds a year would be allowed for every child under fourteen years of age, with the rider that the parents should send them to school, ‘the ministers of every parish . . . to certify . . . that this duty is performed’ (Paine, 1969, p. 263). Thus would the interrelated scourges of poverty and ignorance be tackled simultaneously (cp. Beveridge, p. 000 below). In addition, ten shillings should be allotted per year to each child of those families who, though not so desperately poor as to be eligible for the £4 payments, would not otherwise be able to afford the expense of schooling. Poor young couples would also be given once-and-for-all payments of twenty shillings on marriage and a maternity allowance of twenty shillings on the birth of a baby. At the other end of life, there would be old-age pensions for men at the rate of six pounds a year on reaching the age of fifty and ten pounds at sixty. For, at fifty a man ‘begins to earn less’ and at sixty, ‘It is painful to see old age working itself to death, in what are called civilized countries, for daily bread’ (Paine, 1969, p. 264). 97

Citizenship in Britain Thus far in this book we have focused in the main on the central issue of the political aspect of citizenship, though with some treatment of civil citizenship in Chapter 2. With Paine’s programme of welfare rights we touch upon the third core element. It is convenient to pause here in order to look at this social feature in the long historical perspective. For it is possible to argue that the rights of social citizenship evolved haltingly in England in three major phases and one minor. The first phase was the growth of poor law arrangements in Tudor times, culminating in the Acts of 1597 and 1601, which welded the hitherto ad hoc provisions into a national system of poor relief. The second, minor, phase (minor because it lasted such a short time) was the adaptation of the Elizabethan pattern by the Speenhamland system in 1795, in the face of widespread distress. The doyen of British scholars in the field of citizenship studies, T. H. Marshall, made this assessment: ‘The Speenhamland system offered, in effect, a guaranteed minimum wage and family allowances, combined with the right to work or maintenance. That, even by modern standards, is a substantial body of social rights’ (Marshall and Bottomore, 1992, p. 14). The third phase consisted of the Old Age Pensions and National Insurance legislation of the Liberal government in 1909 and 1911 (see p. 184), and the fourth phase comprised the post-1945 legislation based upon the 1942 Beveridge Report (see pp. 185–90). However, the rights of social citizenship in the nineteenth century were defaced by the 1834 Poor Law Amendment Act, which established workhouses, so hated that they were condemned as ‘Bastilles’, half a century after the popular assault on that notorious prison in Paris.


Chapter 4

Two generations of progress

Nineteenth-century reforms By the end of the eighteenth century there was little to show for the efforts of the writers on civic virtue or the radical movement. ‘Who now reads Bolingbroke? Who ever read him through? Ask the booksellers of London,’ wrote Burke in his Reflections on the Revolution in France in 1790 (Burke, 1982, p. 186). And as to the reformist radicals, for all their literary, organisational and vocal activity, they had not achieved very much when that movement subsided after the striking events of the mid-1790s. Nevertheless, both parliamentary and extra-parliamentary demand for reform were regenerated after the Napoleonic Wars and eventually bore fruit in some legislative activity in the years 1824–32. (We use 1824 for the start of the reforms rather than Clark’s 1828 (see p. 82) in order to include the tentative changes in trade union law.) These successes overcame the earlier inertia and thus started a legislative habit of reform, so there is much to report for the period covered by this chapter. However, we must first sketch in the background of the post-war age, including its inheritance from the late eighteenth century. It might seem that the prospect of widening the franchise to the extent of universal manhood suffrage would have been buoyed up by the assertions of the American and French revolutionaries and their English supporters, notably Paine, of the principle of the rights of man, to which was added ‘and of the citizen’ in the French Declaration of Rights. In practice, this assertive feature of political thinking in the revolutionary age was as much turned against the case for parliamentary reform as benefiting it. The very notion of natural rights was attacked by the two most formidable British political theorists of the age, namely, Edmund Burke and Jeremy Bentham, on both empirical and philosophical grounds.


Citizenship in Britain Burke was famously appalled by the French Revolution even before the cruelty of the Terror. And he believed that the fundamental error of the revolutionaries was to pin their faith on abstract doctrines and to use these to construct a new society and polity afresh. ‘Government is not made in virtue of natural rights,’ he wrote, ‘. . . their abstract perfection is their practical defect’ (Burke, 1982, p. 151). Progress in society and government can be properly achieved only by organic growth, not mechanical contrivance. By expounding this conviction he established a fundamental feature of British Conservative political doctrine. He did not oppose the principle of rights, only their manner of application, which he believed should correctly relate to the traditions and character of the particular society in which they could be enjoyed. Holding to this belief, he also sensed that citizenship was best practised in the company of those we know. Thus he declared: ‘To be attached to the subdivision, to love the little platoon we belong to in society, is the first principle (the germ as it were) of public affections’ (Burke, 1982, p. 135). Bentham’s aversion to natural rights, like Burke’s, was confirmed by the events of the French Revolution. ‘When I hear of natural rights,’ he wrote, ‘I always see in the background a cluster of daggers and pikes introduced into the National Assembly . . . for the avowed purpose of exterminating the king’s friends’ (quoted, Robertson, 1999, p. 11). More famously, and the result of his deep thinking on the subject, he declared: ‘Natural rights is simple nonsense; natural and imprescriptible rights, rhetorical nonsense – nonsense upon stilts’ (quoted, Stewart, 1986, p. 14). An appeal for parliamentary reform to enhance citizenly rights by using the principle of the rights of man was not very fruitful, therefore; though we must return to Bentham’s ideas later. Meanwhile, we need to examine another argument against parliamentary reform. This was the belief that Parliament should be constituted not on the basis of the suffrage of individual citizens but on the two principles that MPs were British not just constituency MPs and that the existing system did efficiently represent all interests. Burke expounded the first of these principles in an oft-quoted speech to his constituents: ‘Parliament is a deliberative assembly of one nation, with one interest, that of the whole . . . You chose a member, indeed; but when you chose him, he is not member of Bristol, but he is a member of Parliament’ (B. W. Hill, 1975, p. 158). The other, widely held, related point was that the population of Britain comprised a number of socio-economic interests – land, commerce, industry, the professions – and that the existing system ensured that there were MPs from each of these. Therefore, it mattered little if the inhabitants of a particular town were denied the suffrage on account of it not being a parliamentary borough, because they had virtual representation through MPs elected by 100

Two generations of progress other towns with similar interests. Political rights belong to socio-economic groups, not individual citizens. Basing their case on what they believed were these sound constitutional foundations, the conservative opponents of reform constructed the following case. The representation of interests was a fair system and had worked efficiently for centuries. The high calibre of many MPs elected in this manner over the ages was proof of its excellence. Furthermore, the calibre of the MPs was evidence of the calibre of the electorate. Open the suffrage to the mass of the people – ignorant, uncultivated and troublesome – and there would be no telling what dire results would ensue. Were not the ordinary people en masse likely to be, in the Latin term, a mobile vulgus, an excitable crowd – in abbreviation, a ‘mob’? There were, nevertheless, three main arguments to counter the conservative case. One was that the principle of the representation of interests had become in fact seriously flawed. As the Birmingham Political Union explained in 1830: ‘the interest of Industry and of Trade have scarcely any representatives at all!’ (quoted, Dawson and Wall, 1968, p. 11). The second argument was that the established arrangements for electing representatives was not of benefit to the people as a whole. Bentham argued that this was so by using his test of Utility: does the institution produce the greatest happiness of the greatest number? He came to believe, instead, that ‘the end pursued by the ruling few was the greatest happiness of the ruling few’ (quoted, Macfarlane, 1970, p. 232), and that their interest was contrary to the happiness of the greatest number. It therefore followed that the philosophy of Utilitarianism required parliamentary reform so that the governing few could be effectively called to account. The outbreak of the French Revolution in 1789 convinced him of the validity of his own argument and in that year he wrote Parliamentary Reform, a scheme which included a proposal to extend the franchise to literate men. The third argument was that of democracy. This derived and was a logical conclusion drawn from the revolutionary mood of the late eighteenth century. This was encapsulated in the American Declaration of Independence – ‘all men are created equal’; governments derive ‘their just powers from the consent of the governed’ – and from the principles of popular sovereignty and citizenship enshrined in the French 1791 Constitution. Against this background we are now ready to pursue our story from 1815. The international peace that ensued on the final defeat of Napoleon was rapidly followed by severe internal distress and violent protest in Britain. Unemployment, exacerbated by the demobilisation of men from the armed forces, and increases in indirect taxation induced urban and rural workers alike to indulge in desperate actions. The period 1815–19 101

Citizenship in Britain was, in Thompson’s judgement, ‘the heroic age of popular Radicalism’ (Thompson, 1991, p. 660). Unlike the radicalism of the late eighteenth century, this was a mass movement, its participants acquainted with the principle of the rights of man. Petitions flooded in. In the industrial north, Luddism – the smashing of labour-saving machinery, which had started in 1811 – erupted again, and Lancashire was the centre of particularly well-supported demonstrations. The most famous was the meeting held on 16 August 1819 in St Peter’s Field, Manchester. This was a peaceful assemblage of thousands of local, mainly cotton, workers gathered to hear an address by the renowned speaker Henry ‘Orator’ Hunt. The magistrates panicked, called in the hussars and yeomanry, who, utterly unsuited to such policing, left the field and its environs strewn with eleven dead and more than 400 wounded. Just over four years after the Battle of Waterloo, the bloodshed of St Peter’s Field was in bitter analogy called ‘Peterloo’. And just as in the 1790s, the government responded with repressive legislation: the suspension of Habeas Corpus and the Six ‘Gag’ Acts. But resentment at government heavy-handedness broadened support for political reform. Nor was this the end of civil disorder in the period prior to the First Reform Act of 1832. For example, in 1830–2 the rural ‘Captain Swing’ riots burst forth and frustration at opposition in Parliament to the Reform Bill in the same years led to passionate protest. What, then, is the connection between this picture of social unease and citizenship? The protests, both violent and pacific, were motivated by poverty – low wages, hunger, unemployment. On the other hand, there was among a number of organisers and participants a keen political awareness concerning appropriate methods and objectives. Peaceful demonstration, reforming associations and trade unions were seen as means for the people to act as citizens (though the word might not have been on their lips) to achieve their ends; and, although those ends were primarily economic improvement and thus a level of social citizenship, parliamentary reform was also accepted as a necessary precursor: a reactivation of the radicalism of the 1760s and 1790s. The connection between economic complaint and political remedy is clearly expressed in the following quotations from Manchester newspapers. Six days before the Peterloo Massacre a letter containing the following opinion was published: As to the present distress, you and those of your kidney say that it’s all owing to bad markets, want of trade with foreigners and such like . . . The root of the evil in my judgement, lies deeper by a long way . . . The Constitution’s become rotten to the core . . . and what’s the remedy, then? Why reform – a radical complete Constitutional Reform. (Quoted, Briggs, 1959, p. 210)


Two generations of progress In the second extract, published seven years later, the writer argued that the extension of the suffrage would secure ‘the labourer the fruits of his own labour . . . and every British subject a full participation in all the privileges of British citizens’ (quoted, Briggs, 1959, p. 209). Thus the links connecting the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. To cover the century from the Peterloo Massacre to the Fourth Reform Act of 1918 in any detail is impractical in the space available in this section. We shall therefore proceed as follows. It is possible to identify demands for reform and the reforms themselves relating to citizenship as falling into five categories. These are: the development of trade unions; the admission of Catholics and Jews to Parliament; the extension of the male franchise; changes in local government; and the campaigns for women’s emancipation. The religious reform can be briefly explained; local government and women’s emancipation require sections of their own (the third section of this chapter and the first section of Chapter 5 respectively). The issue of parliamentary reform will be treated by a brief survey of the effects of the four Reform Acts, 1832–1918; some detail about the Chartist movement; and a look at the debate on the question in 1865–7, the highlighting of which is justified by the range of factors involved and the success in undermining the conservative case against working-class franchise. Trade unionism will be covered by an inspection of the milestones in its development and an explanation of its significance for citizenship. It will be convenient to launch into this topic now. The history of trade unionism in the nineteenth century (not to mention the eight restrictive Acts passed by the Thatcherite governments of 1979– 97) is a story of a remarkable degree of fluctuation in the unions’ legal rights, involving workers, monied interests, governments and the judiciary. The 1799 and 1800 Combination Acts were passed largely to tidy up established legislation and to expedite proceedings of employers against employees. They were part of the tightening of the law during the tense years of war (see p. 93). However, with the return of peace and the keen demand for reform, repeal of the Combination Acts became part of the radical and working-class agendas. This was effected in 1824. The results were a rapid expansion in the number of trade unions, a rise in the number of strikes and demands for more far-reaching rights. Shocked by this unexpected turn of events and fearful of the possible destabilising effects of the high price of food in 1825, Parliament passed a less liberal Act in that year, strictly limiting the right to strike. Even so, the growth of trade unions and their membership continued. Then, in 1833 Dorset farm labourers formed a trade union – the Friendly Society of Agricultural Labourers. The landed interest became alarmed and 103

Citizenship in Britain exerted pressure on the Home Secretary, Lord Melbourne, to ensure that the members of the union be treated harshly. None of the four Acts just listed provided for anything more than a three months’ prison sentence for infringement of these trade-union laws. Six of the members of the Society from the village of Tolpuddle were arrested and tried in 1834. They were sentenced to seven years’ transportation. Melbourne had arranged to use an Act of 1797, devised at the time of the naval mutinies of that year, forbidding the taking of oaths. The excuse was that the Tolpuddle Martyrs, for thus they were popularly named, had undergone an initiation ceremony. The country was appalled at the sentence. Nevertheless, the trade-union movement burgeoned, until another shock in 1867. In that year a legal ruling declared that, because one of their purposes was to take action ‘in restraint of trade’, trade unions were in fact illegal bodies. In due course, in 1871, a Trade Union Act was passed which reversed this judgement. But, just as in 1824–5, so in 1871; after a first Act gave, a second Act took away. The second Act in 1871 – the Criminal Law Amendment Act – effectively criminalised picketing and made strikes hazardous in law. Even so, strikes multiplied. A clutch of Acts in 1875–6 removed the 1871 legal barriers to union action, allowing ‘peaceful picketing’, though narrowly defined. For thirty years, from 1871 to 1901, the assumption was held that a trade union could not be sued for damages arising from a dispute between a union and an employer. In a dispute in the latter year between the Amalgamated Society of Railway Servants and the Taff Vale Railway Company, this reading of the law was rendered nugatory; that the right of picketing was rendered questionable by the judgements of the courts. Yet another reverse. This was remedied by the Trades Disputes Act of 1906. Then, in 1909 the decision of the House of Lords in the Osborne Judgement prevented unions from using funds for political purposes. This, in turn, was remedied by the Trade Union Act of 1913. By this extraordinary oscillation of legislation and legal judgements during the long nineteenth century, trade unions managed to secure a variety of rights. But in what sense were these rights of citizenship? This is a question that has been subject to some debate (see e.g. Barbalet, 1988, pp. 23–7; Marshall and Bottomore, 1992, pp. 26, 40, 41). The threads run along these lines. The basic rights of citizenship for centuries were civil and political. Only relatively recently have social rights been added (see Chapter 6). However, citizenship involves living a civilised life; this is impossible without a reasonable standard of living; such a standard is therefore a right of citizenship. Trade unions have struggled to secure this right. The English sociologist T. H. Marshall argued that in the nineteenth century two movements were afoot: the use of political rights via Parliament to extend 104

Two generations of progress the franchise and trade unions’ use of the civil right of combined action to achieve social rights, though in this latter context he used a different term: ‘Trade unionism has, therefore, created a secondary system of industrial citizenship parallel with and supplementary to the system of political citizenship’ (Marshall and Bottomore, 1992, p. 26). These rights we can understand as embryonic social rights, which were delivered in the twentieth century when their validity was generally accepted. But trade unionism was a working-class movement for the provision of working-class benefits, whereas citizenship is ideally an egalitarian concept devoid of class distinctions. Is it therefore not a contradiction to subsume ‘industrial rights’ under citizenship rights? Not necessarily, because the trade-union demands have been made in order to raise the working-class standard of living – to render them more equal citizens. In the nineteenth-century chronology of trade-union legislation two important points remain to be made. The first relates to the Combination Act of 1875. In a collection of lectures published in 1905, the distinguished constitutional lawyer A. V. Dicey wrote of this measure that it is, on the face of it, a compromise between the desire of collectivists to promote combined bargaining and the conviction of individualists that every man ought, as long as he does not distinctly invade the rights of his neighbours, to enjoy complete contractual freedom. (Quoted, Fay, 1947, p. 274)

There are two distinctions here. One is between the citizen’s ability to enjoy rights as an individual and a trade unionist’s ability to benefit from collective action. But the collective will of the union might not accord with all individuals’ wishes, might indeed infringe the rights of some as citizens. The second distinction is that citizens should have rights as entitlements, whereas trade unionists bargain. Are the two positions in each of these apparent polarisations compatible? The other additional point to make is the pivotal significance of the 1906 Act. In the words of the Australian sociologist J. M. Barbalet, Industrial citizenship in Britain can be dated from the 1906 legislation, which declared that a trade-union could not be sued ‘in respect of any tortious act alleged to have been committed by or on behalf of a trade- union’. (Barbalet, 1988, pp. 26–7)

Accordingly, by this reading, it took a century of hesitant legislation to create the foundations upon which trade-union initiated social citizenship could be built. 105

Citizenship in Britain To turn now to the second of our five categories of reform relating to citizenship, namely, the issue of restrictions of civic rights on religious grounds. From the Reformation onwards a jumble of laws piled up, relaxed to a certain extent under Cromwell, then consolidated after the Restoration, with the purpose of confirming the privileged, or perhaps we should rather say, civic position of the Anglican Church. Non-members were depressed into civil and political conditions of second-class citizens. During the tolerant eighteenth century some relief was accorded by tinkering legislation and judicial blind eyes. Protestant Dissenters and Roman Catholics suffered from this discrimination until the 1820s, Jews for rather longer. In 1828 the Test and Corporation Acts were swept away, finally freeing Non-Conformists of their civil disabilities. Sir Francis Burdett quickly took the opportunity of introducing a Bill to emancipate the Roman Catholics, who had suffered more severe restrictions. Injustice to the Irish was the prime concern. As an integral element of the Irish Act of Union of 1800 the separate Irish Parliament was abolished and the Irish electorate voted for their own members to sit at Westminster. The many Irishmen who were Roman Catholic were politically severely disadvantaged, for Catholics were not eligible to be MPs. Pitt had planned that the Act of Union would be followed by the removal of this serious anomaly, but the implementation of such a just measure was blocked by the conscience of King George III. In 1828 the conscience of his son, George IV, bolstered by the views of the Prime Minister, the Duke of Wellington, nearly had the same effect. But, when the Catholic Daniel O’Connell stood as a candidate in a by-election in County Clare and won by a clear majority, the likelihood of serious Irish disaffection if he was barred from the House of Commons forced king and government to concede (see p. 222). (The controversy of Wilkes and the Middlesex voters (see pp. 87–8) is a fascinating parallel example of the rights and strength of the electorate as citizens.) Different varieties of Christians could be stomached; not until thirty years later, however, in 1858, were Jews given comparable rights to sit in Parliament, though it is instructive to note that Gladstone, the great reformer, but staunch Anglican, opposed the measure. Jews had been severely discriminated against in the Middle Ages, even expelled from England by Edward I in 1290. It had been a long journey to full legal citizenship. The central question relating to political citizenship is the right to vote, the last of our categories of reform to be dealt with in this section. It was widely assumed in the nineteenth century that this could be properly accorded only to men and not even to all men. Anna Clark has summarised this view: 106

Two generations of progress From the era of the French Revolution to the First World War, working men were consistently told that they had not yet attained the full masculine status of citizen, the requirements for which shifted from propertyholding, to marrying and leading a household, to defending the empire with violence. In response, working men retorted that they, too, were men and demanded their own political manhood. (Clark, 1996, p. 230)

The steady incorporation of an increasing number of men into the status of political citizenship is revealed by the effects of the four Reform Acts of 1832, 1867, 1884 and 1918. The following percentages (some estimated) indicate the resulting rise in the size of the electorate: 1833 – 20 per cent; 1869 – 33 per cent; 1885 – 60 per cent; 1918 – nearly 100 per cent (nearly, because of required residence qualification). A few comments about each. The 1832 Bill passed after a critical tussle between the Whig government and the Tory opposition in the House of Lords, raising the question of the justification of the unelected upper chamber shaping the mode of election to the Commons. The crisis triggered widespread demonstrations, though the effect of this pressure on the outcome is a matter of scholarly debate (see e.g. Turner, 2000, pp. 253–5). Two details about this reform. First, a separate Representation of the People (Scotland) Act made different provisions – of extraordinary and unworkable complexity! – for the Scottish electorate. The second detail is that, in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, a few women, by virtue of the strange franchise arrangements, had been able to exercise the right to vote (see pp. 134–5); from 1832 this right was lost because the new electoral law specified ‘male persons’. The background to the passage of the 1867 Bill is exceedingly complex and will be outlined separately below (see pp. 110–11). Its passage, like its predecessor, was also attended by some popular demonstrations, though both Conservatives and Liberals were committed to the principle of reform, despite serious debates on the details. However, the urban franchise was more generous than the rural. This was rectified in 1884 by the enfranchisement of more ‘rustic voters’. The truly radical reform was that of 1918, which gave the vote to all men aged twenty-one and all women aged thirty. The contributions of all classes of men and of women to the war effort rendered arguments against adult suffrage untenable. Furthermore, it very substantially reduced the incidence of plural voting, whereby an elector could cast more than one ballot in different capacities, giving that person a weightier form of citizenship. Over half a million citizens had fallen into this category before 1918, about one in sixteen of the electorate. The issue of the suffrage was persistent through the nineteenth century; so much is obvious. However, the above outline of the changes effected by 107

Citizenship in Britain the Reform Acts shows only a fraction of the pertinence of the question for the history of citizenship. The contexts also need to be understood. To illustrate this point we shall spend a little time examining aspects of the Chartist movement and the Second Reform Act because they provide particular illumination on our subject. Chartism – so called because the movement’s agenda was listed in a six-point charter – involved widespread demonstrations and the drafting of petitions against a background of poverty in the late 1830s and 1840s, much in the radical tradition. What follows is an identification of a few elements of the movement most apposite to citizenship. In June 1837 six members of the London Working Men’s Association and six Radical MPs met at a coffee house at Charing Cross and signed a draft Parliamentary Bill listing six points that had emerged in the late eighteenth century (see p. 90) as the considered needs for parliamentary reform: manhood suffrage, secret ballot, abolition of property qualification for MPs, payment of MPs, equal constituencies and annual parliaments. The document, approved a year later, was given the name of the People’s Charter, a reflection on the continued (distorted) belief that Magna Carta had established popular rights (see p. 38). The basic objective of the movement was political reform to achieve a democratic polity, a desire stimulated among the working class by what it complained was the betrayal of the 1832 Reform Act, which left it unenfranchised. One of its most vigorous and colourful leaders, Feargus O’Connor, wrote in his widely read paper the Northern Star, From one principle alone, we feel convinced, may be deduced every rational and true proposition relating to a democratic government – and that principle is: ‘The people are the source of all power’.

He concluded this editorial by asserting the essential need to give ‘every Briton his rights as a human being, and his privileges as a freeman’ (quoted, Mather, 1980, pp. 48, 50). In other words, civil and political citizenship. Nevertheless, it was no coincidence that the years of economic decline and rise in the price of bread – 1837–42 and 1847–8 – were the years of heightened Chartist activity. O’Connor recognised the connection between economic distress and political consciousness: he declared that poverty was ‘the parent of Chartism’ (quoted, Jones, 1975, p. 118). More memorable was the statement by the Methodist minister J. R. Stephens, distinguished as the first Chartist to be imprisoned. At a great meeting at Kersal Moor near Manchester in 1838 he gave this message, 108

Two generations of progress This question of Universal Suffrage was a knife and fork question after all; this question was a bread and cheese question . . . and if any man ask him what he meant by Universal Suffrage, he would answer, that every working man in the land had a right to [clothes, shelter, food, moderate work] and as much wages for that work as would keep him in plenty, and afford him the enjoyment of all the blessings of life which a reasonable man could desire. (Reported in the Northern Star, Royle, 1996, p. 97)

Not a bad definition of social citizenship. And so, the six points were not ends in themselves. Consequently, if Chartism had succeeded (its petition to Parliament was rejected), Britons would have become citizens in a very full sense. But were they not to some degree already behaving as citizens by being Chartists? In the minds of some of the leaders, notably William Lovett and Bronterre O’Brien, Chartism was deliberately started as an elite movement. They were civically conscious, wanting to spread such consciousness widely in due course, but meanwhile nervous that their cause would suffer should ‘the veteran drunkard’ and ‘the profligate railer at abuses’ enter their ranks (see Jones, 1975, p. 191). Indeed, when the leaders wished to recruit more members to their movement once it began to flourish, they met widespread ignorance and apathy, crucially in London, where mass support could have helped to exert effective pressure on the government. So, what did Chartism achieve? Although five of its six points (not annual parliaments) were in due course conceded, in no case were these concessions due to the movement. One device the Chartists attempted was to persuade those with the vote to place their names on the electoral register so as to be effective political citizens. Yet even at the end of the century it is reckoned that less than two-thirds of all eligible voters bothered to register. It would appear that, for all their meetings, local clubs and publications, the Chartists failed to imbue much of the population with a sense of citizenship. Even so, Edward Royle draws a more positive conclusion. He writes that, ‘Chartism mobilised the considerable mental, spiritual and emotional capacities of the working men and women of early industrial Britain, enabling them to assert (if not successfully) their right to be regarded as citizens in their own country’ (Royle, 1996, p. 95). There were links to future events, too. For example, in 1858, some years after the lingering death of Chartism, O’Connor was instrumental in creating the Political Reform Union, the activities of which contributed to the eventual expansion of the suffrage in the Second Reform Act. Former Chartists were indeed to be found among demonstrators for parliamentary reform in 1866–7. 109

Citizenship in Britain The Reform Act of 1867 came about because of heated debates on the issue of the suffrage both inside Parliament and out and an extraordinary coincidence of events in the mid-1860s. From 1851 several abortive Bills had been placed before the House. In the debate on one, introduced in 1864, Gladstone, then Chancellor of the Exchequer, commented, ‘I venture to say that every man who is not presumably incapacitated by some consideration of personal unfitness or of political danger, is morally entitled to come within the pale of the constitution’ (quoted, Morley, 1903a, p. 126; emphasis in original). His friend, John Morley, later reported the reaction in these words: ‘ “There is not a statesman in England of the very first rank,” said one newspaper, “who has dared to say as much.” ’ (Morley, 1903a, p. 127). The Liberal Party seemed only to be waiting for the death of the arch-opponent of reform to die – the aged but vigorous Prime Minister, Lord Palmerston. Meanwhile, outside Parliament, indeed, outside Britain, events were happening that helped to accelerate the progress towards a new Reform Act. In the same year as Gladstone uttered his newsworthy statement, the Reform Union, which we have already noticed, was established, and the following year, a Reform League, both designed to press for an extension of the franchise. Also in 1864, Garibaldi visited England. The great hero of the Italian Risorgimento was greeted with a rapturous welcome by the populace, who saw him as the great liberator of the peninsula from autocratic rule. Who would liberate Britain from aristocratic rule? The analogy was popularly made. The Irish, however, felt much more unjustly oppressed than the English members of the United Kingdom. And by the mid-1860s the nationalist Fenian Brotherhood was gaining strength and threatening terrorist violence (see p. 222). One of the reasons for their strength was the financial support they received from Irish-Americans and the recruitment of former Irish-American soldiers once the Civil War ended in 1865. Conditions in North America even had a complicating effect on the problem of understanding who was ‘British’ because some US citizens also retained the status of British subject after their migration. To tidy up such anomalies the UK Parliament passed a Naturalisation Act in 1870. Furthermore, the Civil War, like the Risorgimento, provided an analogy in favour of reform: the democratic North had won against the slave-owning South. In 1865, too, a rebellion broke out in the British colony of Jamaica – black workers against the planter oligarchy. It was brutally suppressed by the Governor. Both Fenianism and the insurrection in Jamaica raised the crucial political issue of how to deal with bitter discontent: by main force or conciliatory reform. Catherine Hall has even argued that this broad, complex backcloth should be viewed as part of the debate on the widening of the franchise because it coloured considerations about who should be reckoned as Britons 110

Two generations of progress and of what standing. Referring to what she calls a ‘frame of hierarchical difference’, she writes: The Reform Act of 1867, I suggest, looked at alongside the new Canadian settlement [the British North America Act] of the same year and the Jamaica Act of the preceding year can be read as formally differentiating black Jamaicans from white British, white Canadians and Australians . . . from brown Indians . . . At one moment Anglo-Saxons and Celts were discursively constructed as belonging to Britain . . . At the very same moment there were discordant constructions of Celt as barbaric and inferior, locked in pagan Catholicism . . . and linked intimately with Fenianism. (Hall et al., 2000, p. 182; see also Chapter 7 below)

In less perilously threatening mood than the Fenians, the English working class was restive. The mid-1860s was a time of economic crisis, including high unemployment. Demonstrations took place, most vociferously in London. Policing had to be strengthened. The crowds demanded parliamentary reform, even shouting ‘Gladstone and Liberty!’ as, a century before, their ancestors had so linked the name of Wilkes. For, in March 1866, after the death of Palmerston, Gladstone, as Leader of the House of Commons, introduced a Reform Bill. The most vocal MP against enfranchising the working class, whom he called ‘the great unwashed’ and ‘impulsive, unreflecting and violent people’, was Robert Lowe. Yet it became evident as debates in the Commons proceeded that there was considerable support for radical reform. In the course of these controversies the Liberal government was replaced by a Conservative, led by Lord Derby in the Lords and Disraeli in the Commons. The Act which finally emerged accorded the vote more widely than either they or the Liberal leaders had intended. (We may note, in parenthesis, that the number of enfranchised Irishmen was increased, both those resident in England and Wales and those in Ireland itself, the latter as a result of a separate Irish Act in 1868.) Consequently, they had mixed feelings about the product of their work. Derby described it as ‘a leap in the dark’. Nevertheless, further extensions of the suffrage could not in due course now be blocked – even to women, for John Stuart Mill raised that matter in the debate. Yet throughout the middle decades of the nineteenth century and over a wide spectrum – from the radical Chartist William Lovett to the reforming Liberal John Stuart Mill to the reactionary Whig Robert Lowe – there persisted an uneasiness at the prospect of an unlettered and uncultured working class wielding the vote. These three figures approached the problem in different ways. Lovett did not wish to deny the lower classes the franchise because of their ignorance, but wanted to provide them with schooling to 111

Citizenship in Britain ensure their full use of the right. Lowe reacted to the 1867 Act by declaring that ‘I believe it will be absolutely necessary that you should prevail upon our future masters to learn their letters’: the electorate must rapidly be made literate. The Forster Education Act of 1870 was devised to provide universal elementary education, though whether this was a direct response to the passage of the Reform Act is a controversial question (see Heater, 2004, pp. 90–1). Mill, as we shall now see, placed his faith in civic education through increased participation in practical public affairs.

John Stuart Mill and participation James Mill, close friend of Jeremy Bentham and fellow Utilitarian philosopher, was a stern, hard-working man, who believed it virtually unforgivable to waste time. He also believed that mental capacity could be extended if children were taught thoroughly from an early age. Accordingly, he wasted no time in personally educating his first-born, John Stuart, starting with Greek and Arithmetic when the boy was three years old, and encouraging him in broad general reading. The result was the production of an erudite philosopher, excessively serious-minded to the point of nervous breakdown at the age of twenty, and who constantly worried through his understanding and reinterpretations of the issues he studied. John Stuart Mill wrote voluminously on a number of subjects, though we confine ourselves to his thinking on politics. His ideas on citizenship are to be found primarily in his Considerations on Representative Government, published in 1861, and The Subjection of Women, written in that year, though not published until 1869. This latter work was in effect co-authored by his wife, Harriet (formerly Mrs Taylor), who had been his devoted intellectual companion until her sad early death in 1858. Mill’s emotional problems derived partly from the constrictions of his upbringing. But his mature intellectual struggles also played a part. He gradually realised that there were faults in the work of Bentham and his father, whose ideas had moulded his own. Also he had a tussle with the problems that arose from his attempts to reconcile mutually uncomfortable ideas basic to his independent thinking. Mill shared Bentham’s dislike of the notion of natural rights: he believed that a stress on rights would undermine a commitment to duty. It was rather Utilitarianism, the central tenet of Benthamism, that worried Mill and he marginally adapted the whole theory in his book Utilitarianism. His problem, as related to the matter of citizenship, was as follows. The pursuit of happiness could be interpreted as encouraging a trivial, self-centred life. This would be a style of living at variance to one designed to shape ‘nobility 112

Two generations of progress of character’, or, as we may call it, ‘civic virtue’. In truth, Bentham himself understood this. Mill’s solution, expressed notably in his System of Logic, was to distinguish between lower and higher pleasures, the latter producing happiness from noble behaviour. Thus, an ideal nobleness of will and conduct . . . itself should be, to the individual, a paramount end, simply because the existence of this ideal nobleness of character, or a near approach to it, in any abundance, would go further than all things else towards making human life happy. (Quoted, Macfarlane, 1970, p. 26)

Thus are private happiness and public virtue brought into accommodation. A second apparent antithesis brought to resolution by Mill was presented by the dichotomy between the need to foster individuality and liberty on the one hand and the need to enhance society and community on the other. In the history of citizenship these distinctive styles are called, respectively, liberal and republican (or communitarian). However, Richard Dagger has argued that a number of political theorists have interwoven the two, describing Mill as a good exemplar of this ‘republican liberalism’ (Dagger, 1997, p. 83; see also p. 63 above). Mill was concerned to promote the individual’s liberty to behave as freely as possible untrammelled by state interference or social pressures; for liberty is the pathway to progress and the Utilitarian goal of happiness. Yet, the state, society, the community all require cohesion – a common sense of purpose, not eccentric individuality. Mill’s solution contained two main features. One was to argue that the person’s individuality and happiness can best flourish by participation in public affairs. This proposition is central to his understanding of citizenship and we shall need to return to it. The second feature is the desirability of society to encourage this attitude of mind. Thus in his Utilitarianism he suggests, first, that laws and social arrangements should place the happiness, or . . . the interest, of every individual, as nearly as possible in harmony with the interest of the whole; and secondly, that education and opinion, which have so vast a power over human character, should so use that power as to establish in the mind of every individual an indissoluble association between his own happiness and the good of the whole. (Mill, 1972b, p. 16)

But was this not more manipulation than liberty? Moreover, there is another query concerning the value and consistency of Mill’s arguments. It is, that there is an elitist assumption in the back of his mind when promoting liberty. And this assumption collides with his stand on the key indicator of citizenship, namely, the suffrage, because his ideal 113

Citizenship in Britain was its universal enjoyment, by both men and women. His elitism originates from both ends of the social spectrum, offering positive and negative arguments. Society benefits from the activities of those with ‘individual spontaneity’ and ‘originality’ and suffers from the ‘collective mediocrity’ of the masses (Mill, 1972a, p. 265): translate into Victorian England as middle-class intellectuals and working-class labourers respectively, the former contributing to a lively, interesting society, the latter, stuck in the slough of static custom. Intellectuals are good citizens; labourers, bad. But there are many more labourers than intellectuals. How, then, to arrange the suffrage without blatant discrimination? The conundrum is complicated because Mill is convinced that all civilised human beings have the best chance of living fulfilled lives by being active citizens. He emerges from this dilemma by distinguishing between the short and the long term. The mental anguish he and Harriet experienced over the problem c. 1840 he explained in his Autobiography: We were now much less democrats than I had been, because so long as education continues to be so wretchedly imperfect, we dreaded the ignorance and especially the selfishness and brutality of the mass: but our ideal of ultimate improvement went far beyond Democracy and would class us decidedly under the general designation of Socialists. (Mill, 1924, pp. 195–6)

And so, we have arrived at the point where we can examine Mill’s specific considerations on citizenship Mill was of the opinion that citizenship is mutually advantageous to state and individual. Thus he wrote that, ‘representative institutions are of little value, and may be a mere instrument of tyranny or intrigue, when the generality of electors’ fail to use their suffrage with due responsibility (Mill, 1972a, p. 179). And a government is defective ‘if it does not sufficiently develop by exercise the active capacities and social feelings of the individual citizens’ (Mill, 1972a, p. 242). These capacities he defined, following Bentham, as moral, intellectual and active (see e.g. Mill, 1972a, p. 193). Without citizens equipped with sufficient moral sensitivity, intellectual power and ability to act in a civic mode, he asserts, despotism supervenes (see Mill, 1972a, p. 243). The question follows: what qualities does a citizen need to put these capacities into effect? Mill lists them as: ‘industry, integrity, justice, and prudence’ (Mill, 1972a, p. 187). He felt very strongly in general terms about the social and civic responsibility of individuals, but struggled to harmonise differing interpretations. Do individuals have a personal responsibility always to behave virtuously or are they powerless to do so if society’s institutions counteract the will to virtue? We have already cited 114

Two generations of progress his view that the political good inherent in representative institutions is dependent on the electorate. And he can neither admire nor approve of people who ‘have no ambition . . . to promote the good of their country or of their neighbourhood’ (Mill, 1972a, p. 214). On the other hand, such people cannot really be blamed: ‘The deep-rooted selfishness which forms the general character of the existing state of society, is so deeply rooted, only because the whole course of existing institutions tends to foster it’ (Mill, 1924, p. 197). Nor does his strain of classical virtue sit comfortably with his Utilitarianism. By this philosophy the aim of virtuous behaviour is the multiplication of happiness, yet, as he writes in Utilitarianism, only ‘one in a thousand . . . has it in his power to do this on an extended scale’ (Mill, 1972b, p. 17). What he is in effect working upon is an adhesion of the community spirit and widespread participation of the republican tradition on the one hand and the individual freedom of the liberal on the other. But if selfishness is deeply rooted, two questions arise: what kind of people can be expected to behave in a citizenly manner; and, since their number must be small because of that perceived selfishness, how can their number be increased? In his heart, as we have already noted, Mill was an elitist. His ideal citizen would be a ‘mirror image’ of his own identity, that is, ‘male, middle class and intellectual’ (Faulks, 1998, p. 34), who must be protected from the tyrannous social pressures of the masses. He could have said, with the Roman poet Horace, ‘Odi profanum vulgus et arceo’ (I hate the unhallowed throng and shun it). Yet, there is a problem here, because, There is no difficulty in showing that the ideally best form of government is that in which the sovereignty . . . is vested in the entire aggregate of the community; every citizen not only having a voice in the exercise of that ultimate sovereignty, but being, at least occasionally, called on to take an actual part in the government, by the personal discharge of some public function, local or general. (Mill, 1972a, p. 207)

From Horace to Aristotle! Mill’s hesitation about according full citizenship to the masses given their condition in Victorian England was based on his conception of liberty. This benefit could be enjoyed only by being able to make effective life choices, a difficult task, of which only intellectuals are truly capable. The rest of the population must be brought up to standard by education, an experience to be understood in the broadest sense. Basic education, he insisted, is a prerequisite for exercising the suffrage: ‘universal teaching must precede universal enfranchisement’ (Mill, 1972a, p. 280). He advocated tests in the 115

Citizenship in Britain three Rs for all applying to be placed on the electoral register. So far, so simple; but Mill is very conscious that citizenship needs to be grounded in more than these elementary preconditions. To achieve the extra skills and attitudes, he advocates both debates and the heuristic method, learning by doing. He explains his view in famous passages in Representative Government. Here are some of the key sentences: It is by political discussion that the manual labourer, whose employment is routine, and whose way of life brings him in contact with no variety of impressions, circumstances or ideas . . . learns to feel for and with his fellow-citizens, and becomes consciously a member of a great community. (Mill, 1972a, p. 278–9)

But the narrowness and dullness of a man’s life can best be improved by ‘Giving him something to do in public . . . If circumstances allow the amount of public duty assigned him to be considerable, it makes him an educated man’ (Mill, 1972a, p. 216). He continues: Still more salutary is the moral part of the instruction afforded by the participation of the private citizen, if even rarely, in public functions. He is called upon, while so engaged, to weigh interests not his own . . . He is made to feel himself one of the public . . . Where this school of public spirit does not exist, scarcely any sense is entertained that private persons, in no eminent social situation, owe any duties to society. (Mill, 1972a, p. 217)

He later explains that ‘hardly any language is strong enough to express the strength of my conviction’ in this ‘public education of the citizens’ (Mill, 1972a, p. 347). He also makes it clear – and we shall return to this point later – that local affairs provide the most obvious milieu for the educative participation of citizens of modest social standing. The raising of the populace by education to a level of intelligence and morality to warrant enfranchisement was important for Mill because he believed that representative government is the best form of polity and that its support by the populace is crucial to the achievement of its potential excellence (see above, quotation from 1972a, p. 207). Furthermore, there is an unassailable moral case for enfranchising all classes of society. It is an injustice to deny any man a voice in government, as he explains: If he is compelled to pay, if he may be compelled to fight, if he is required implicitly to obey, he should be legally entitled to be told what for; to have his consent asked, and his opinion counted at its worth, though not at more than its worth . . . No arrangement of the suffrage, therefore, can be permanently satisfactory in which


Two generations of progress any person or class is peremptorily excluded; in which the electoral privilege is not open to all persons of full age who desire to obtain it. (Mill, 1972a, pp. 279–80)

Has Mill, then, in this passage overcome his fear of democracy, of the malign political potential of the culturally mediocre masses? Not quite. Note that little word ‘worth’. The suffrage should be so designed, he decided, as to promote the benefits of democracy while warding off its inconveniences. The techniques he advocated to achieve this desirable compromise were Proportional Representation (or ‘Personal Representation’, as he called it) and plural voting, the latter pejoratively termed at the time ‘fancy franchises’ (see Mill, 1924, p. 263). The labouring class should not be allotted the number of votes proportionate to its ratio of the country’s population. For, ‘it is not useful, but hurtful, that the constitution of the country should declare ignorance to be entitled to as much power as knowledge’ (Mill, 1972a, p. 288). He believed that, by manipulating the electoral system, the labouring classes, though remaining effectively secondclass citizens because of their less weighty voting power than the elite, would nevertheless attain a public voice (for details, see Mill, 1972a, ch. VII). The fundamental problem that Mill wrestled with can be succinctly stated as the principle of participation versus the principle of competence. Citizens should be allowed to participate in representative government, yet they should be competent so to do. If competence is lacking, should that participation be restricted? Now this dilemma was not confined to Victorian Britain. Twentieth-century theorists of democracy, particularly in the United States, debated the matter, notably Robert Dahl, John Rawls and Joseph Schumpeter, the last-named, the doyen of the modern theorists of elitist democracy. Here is not the place to deal with their work. What is noteworthy for us is the recognition this work brings of the modern relevance of Mill’s thought. In the words of an American authority: Mill not only anticipates many of the recent criticisms of democratic theory but, more importantly, creates a theoretical structure that comprehends those criticisms as well as crucial values that the critics overlook. Those who contemplate the present and future condition of representative democracy would therefore be unwise to disregard the teachings of Representative Government. (Thompson, 1976, p. 201)

To return to Mill’s own times: the parliamentary suffrage was a pertinent topic of debate within and outside Parliament during the years between the First and Second Reform Acts, as recorded above. However, Mill’s interest spread beyond the basic issue of enfranchising more men to partake in 117

Citizenship in Britain parliamentary elections. His concern for the civil and political rights of women, an understanding of the state as a nation, and the opportunities, as we have already seen, for civic engagement at local level were also never far from his mind. In none of these spheres, it is true, any more than on the matter of parliamentary suffrage, was he alone in wanting clearer thought and more just and effective action. His views on these dimensions of citizenship are none the less of considerable import. Mary Wollstonecraft’s compelling call for the improvement of women’s condition (see pp. 94–5) had no immediate effect in practical terms. During Mill’s lifetime the female half of the population could scarcely be considered citizens. Not only were they denied the vote, they were even denied ownership of their own property when they married. The anomaly of this sexual discrimination came sharply into view when a female became Head of State in 1837 – Queen Victoria. The battle for women’s rights throughout the nineteenth century and beyond will be more conveniently narrated in our next chapter. But we extract Mill’s role from that context for treatment here. Mill became very sensitive to the issue when quite a young man (see Mill, 1924, pp. 87–8). However, it was his association with and later marriage to Harriet Taylor and the influence of her daughter Helen that converted his convictions into action. He wrote that, ‘until I knew her [Harriet], the opinion was in my mind, little more than an abstract principle’. Moreover, his comprehension of ‘the vast practical bearings of women’s disabilities which found expression in the book on the “Subjection of Women” was acquired mainly through her teaching’ (Mill, 1924, p. 207n.). And the writing of that book, three years after his wife’s untimely death and its eventual publication in 1869 was due to the encouragement and advice of his stepdaughter. As one would expect, Mill marshalled arguments to present a thorough case for expunging discrimination against women. He also injected an emotional charge: he would not be deterred from pursuing his campaign. A sentence in The Subjection of Women is indicative of this mood. He wrote that, ‘the principle which regulates the existing social relations between the two sexes – the legal subordination of one sex to the other – is wrong in itself, and now one of the chief hindrances to human improvement’ (Mill, 1983, p. 1). It is useful to explain Mill’s work in this field in three parts: his argument for the emancipation of women from their legal disabilities (i.e. civil citizenship); his argument for according them the vote (i.e. political citizenship); and his practical political activity in pursuit of female enfranchisement. An exposition of the first of these themes is most succinctly achieved by retailing the main points covered in The Subjection of Women. Mill argues 118

Two generations of progress that the source of current discrimination lies not in women’s innate mental inferiority, but in their physical inferiority to men, which led to their subordination aeons ago and the denial of educational and social opportunities because of that ingrained subjection. So it has come to pass that men’s rule over women is accepted voluntarily; women make no complaint and are consenting parties to it . . . [A woman] is taught that she has no business with things out of her sphere . . . She neither knows nor cares which is the right side of politics. (Mill, 1983, pp. 24, 71)

Yet the very fact that history records the reigns of successful queens is evidence of women’s competence in politics. Furthermore, the influence of women in modern times has been beneficent in two ways – their aversion to war and their commitment to philanthropy. Mill believes, however, that women have little chance of organising their own escape from their thrall: A woman who joins in any movement which her husband disapproves, makes herself a martyr, without even being able to be an apostle, for the husband can legally put a stop to her apostleship. Women cannot be expected to devote themselves to the emancipation of women, until men in considerable number are prepared to join them in the undertaking. (Mill, 1983, p. 145)

On the other hand, Mill does detect a change of mood c. 1860, when he was writing Subjection and Representative Government. If greater social equality was under way, then political equality was not inconceivable (see Mill, 1972a, p. 290). He takes the argument for enfranchisement beyond basic justice, in fact, by asserting what today may be called positive discrimination. In presenting this case he makes three points. One is that, ‘If there be any difference, women require [good government] more than men, since, being physically weaker, they are more dependent on law and society for protection’ (Mill, 1972a, p. 290). The second point is that women need the suffrage not that they may govern but that they may be protected from misgovernment. The third point is that enfranchisement is crucial for woman’s self-regard and positive thinking. Thus: Give the woman a vote and she comes under the operation of the political point of honour. She learns to look on politics as a thing on which she is allowed to have an opinion, and in which if one has an opinion it ought to be acted upon. (Mill, 1972a, p. 292)


Citizenship in Britain It was in the mid-1860s that Mill found the opportunity to campaign for women’s suffrage. He was an MP and parliamentary reform, as we have seen, was a strongly supported item on the legislative agenda. When he stood for election in 1865 he made it clear that he was convinced that women should have the same voting rights as men. ‘It was the first time, doubtless,’ he claimed, ‘that such a doctrine had ever been mentioned to English electors’ (Mill, 1924, p. 240), revealing his assessment of the significance of his vocal commitment. But he was by no means alone in holding this opinion. A petition to Parliament was compiled and Mill was the obvious MP to present it in 1866. The following year he failed to secure the incorporation of female suffrage into Disraeli’s Bill, though only by 194 votes to 73. A movement was now under way. To move now to Mill’s ideas on nationhood in relation to citizenship. Chapter XVI of Representative Government is entitled, ‘Of Nationality, as Connected with Representative Government’. There we may find this famous passage: Among a people without fellow-feeling, especially if they read and speak different languages, the united public opinion, necessary to the working of representative government, cannot exist. The influences which form opinions and decide political acts are different in different sections of the country . . . The same books, newspapers, pamphlets, speeches, do not reach them. (Mill, 1972a, p. 361)

A pragmatic approach to citizenship, which, in our own age of international demographic mobility and multiethnic states, has renewed relevance. Mill also allocates a separate chapter of Representative Government to local government: Chapter XV, ‘Of Local Representative Bodies’. At the local as well as at the state level, he stresses his twin themes of the educative function of participation and the need to ensure the quality of administration through the involvement of elite citizens. Engagement in local affairs, he argues, is more efficacious as a means to civic education for the bulk of the populace than the rare and intermittent activity of national elections. In a forceful passage he explains that, in the case of local bodies, besides the function of electing, many citizens in turn have the chance of being elected, and many, either by selection or rotation, fill one or other of the numerous local executive offices. In these positions they have to act for public interests, as well as to think and to speak, and the thinking cannot be done by proxy. (Mill, 1972a, p. 348)


Two generations of progress Yet he is, characteristically, worried. As we shall discover in the next section, the current local administrative arrangements were fragmented, and, as a consequence, many bodies were responsible for only tedious tasks. The better quality of town inhabitants, Mill suggests, are scarcely likely to be attracted to service on the Paving Board or the Drainage Commission! The unfortunate result was the poor calibre of men performing these lowly civic duties and none better were available to raise the general standard by example. The duties were therefore inefficiently performed. The splendid potential of local government to enhance the quality of citizenship in Britain could not be realised without an institutional restructuring at the local level (see e.g. Mill, 1972a, pp. 351–2). Following the passionate advocate of decentralisation, the polymath Joshua Toulmin Smith, Mill argued for an effective system of ‘representative sub-Parliaments’. Although Mill was dismissive of the possible benefits of village local government because of the ‘Paving Board problem’, he would doubtless have rejoiced in the reorganisation and at least partial revitalisation of the whole range of local government at city, town, county and civil parish levels that had been effected by the end of the nineteenth century.

Local government Civic participation and pride in the individual’s immediate locality are the twin themes of this section. They will be illustrated in the main by English parochial administration and the shaping of Victorian cities, as being topics of especial interest for us, though other aspects will not be ignored. However, these features of nineteenth-century local citizenship must be placed in context. So, a chronological survey of reforms in these strata of the English constitutional system from 1834 to 1894 (and a few words about Scotland) will provide a necessary background. The significance of this two-generation span for the history of citizenship has been admirably identified by the authority on this period, Bryan Keith-Lucas, in the following words: When Lord Melbourne took office in 1834 very few elected local authorities were to be found in the whole of England; when Mr Gladstone resigned in 1894 every town and village which was more than a mere hamlet had its governing council, elected by the people themselves. (Keith-Lucas, 1952, p. 1)

The two selected topics and this period supply particularly clear examples of the development of modern British local citizenship. The pertinent legislation falls into three phases, each related to the reforming impulses whose epicentres were the three Reform Acts of 1832, 1867 and 1884. The start


Citizenship in Britain of the administrative changes can be dated as 1834–5, with the passage of the Poor Law Amendment Act and the Municipal Corporations Act. Before these changes local government had been shaped by Elizabethan legislation, added to and interpreted over the generations in such disorderly ways that, by the early nineteenth century, the chaos in the system – if it can be thus called – beggars belief. Even so, it is possible to essay two generalisations. One is that there were four categories of local authority. These were the county Quarter Sessions, the parish vestries, Ad hoc Bodies and the municipal corporations (see Keith-Lucas, 1977, pp. 7–12). The second generalisation is that this confused medley did provide sundry opportunities for citizenship to develop. The Quarter Sessions were administered by the elite citizenry of justices. Parishes (both urban and rural) were run by bodies of parishioners called vestries; some were ‘open’, that is, composed of all rate-payers, while others were ‘select’, that is, composed of representatives elected by the rate-payers. Not only did rate-payers have these governing or voting functions, they had active duties, filling various offices such as constable, overseer of the poor, surveyors of the highways. The importance of these arrangements for citizenship has been aptly summarised thus: the system ‘reposed on the ancient and fundamental basis of compulsory and gratuitous service, and formed a useful means of training even the humblest classes in the work of government’ (Keir, 1969, p. 315). It is instructive to compare this positive assessment by a distinguished constitutional historian with the decidedly more bleak view of John Stuart Mill we have just recorded. The Ad hoc Bodies, which Mill was mainly unhappy about, did provide some opportunities for experimentation because their statutory origins lay in a specific local or private Act. This was how, for example, the hundreds of Drainage Boards, despised by Mill, were created. But what is especially fascinating for us is that some of these Acts made provision in their localities for features of citizenship that were well in advance of national legislation. For example, the 1773 Southampton Poor Act required elections to be held by secret ballot (a century before that device was used in parliamentary elections) and the Devon Poor Act of 1769 offered a wide range of social insurance welfare, including a free health service (oneand-three-quarter centuries before the National Health Service). However, as to the pre-reform municipal corporations, perhaps the less said about these, often corrupt, oligarchies, the better. And so to our three reforming phases. The key measures after 1832, already mentioned, reformed the administration of the poor law and of certain towns. Both required elections to be held – for the Board of Guardians of the Poor Law Unions and for the Municipal Corporations. However, in both cases the franchises were so 122

Two generations of progress arranged as to ensure that people of substance controlled proceedings. The elected Guardians were chosen by rate-paying parishioners on a sliding scale, the richest having six votes! This device originated in the Sturges-Bourne Act of 1818; and, as more boards and similar authorities were created during the century, this form of discriminatory franchise was thus extended, it being abolished only in 1894. For the new municipal councils the right to vote was restricted to householders resident for three years and who paid the poor rate. Not until the 1850s, when the municipal rating system was amended, did the electorate expand to include the less affluent, and in 1869 qualified unmarried women were granted the municipal vote as burgesses, thanks to an amendment to the Municipal Franchise Bill initiated by Dr Pankhurst, husband of the future suffragette, Emmeline (see pp. 140, 142–3). However, the crucial feature in these two systems, as also in the continuing development of special bodies, is that the administration was put into the hands of elected groups. So widely accepted did the elective principle become in the new wave of reforms subsequent to the Second Reform Act, indeed, that constitutional historians tended to use the word ‘democracy’ for this period, despite the widespread use of privileged plural voting. The major reorganisation post1867 was the Forster Education Act of 1870. This created the system of Board Schools where no satisfactory institutions for teaching children already existed. These schools were supervised by elected School Boards, which were in fact quite democratic. Rate-payers were the electors and no constraints were placed on eligibility of candidates to stand for election. Even women could be electors and members of the Boards. Writing in 1901, the Austrian author of the classic work on English local government, Dr Josef Redlich, declared, ‘it is difficult to see how the constitution of this new education body could have been made more democratic by the framers of the Act of 1870’ (Redlich, 1903a, pp. 186–7). But the School Board was yet another local authority: the numbers of these authorities were still increasing confusedly, and with their numbers, an attendant increasing complexity of local taxes. During Gladstone’s reforming ministry of 1868–74, the Liberal’s financial expert and future Chancellor of the Exchequer, G. J. Goschen, devised schemes for the simplification of the parish and taxation systems. However, the time was apparently not ripe. Parish reform had to wait, to be written as a coda to the third wave of local-government reform of the 1880s. Town and county governmental systems were tidied up by the Municipal Corporations Act of 1882 and the local Government Act of 1888. The first of these measures, urged notably by Joseph Chamberlain (whose name will recur in this chapter and the next), gave the suffrage to all rate-payers, and 123

Citizenship in Britain was significant in two other particulars in its attitude to citizenship. One is that it expressly enfranchised women: ‘For all purposes connected with and having reference to the right to vote at municipal elections words in this Act importing the masculine gender include women’ (quoted, Redlich, 1903a, p. 247). The other significant element was the stress on civic duty: anybody elected to a corporate office would be fined if he failed to take up the office – £50 for alderman or councillor, £100 for mayor. But county and parish reform still had to be tackled. Goschen’s idea of reforming and reinvigorating the parishes was being pursued and demands for drafting parallel reforms to the Municipal Corporations Act were voiced. Yet the mood of the country remained ambiguous. On the one hand, little popular enthusiasm underpinned the politicians’ eagerness for change. Mostly, to quote Keith-Lucas’s well-chosen phrase, ‘apathy was undisturbed’ (KeithLucas, 1977, p. 19). And we shall see below (p. 127) that the reinvention of the parish in 1894 probably did little to change this stolid mood. On the other hand, middle-class radicals were keen to inject greater democracy into local government. Two examples may be cited. One is a statement issued in 1882, that, policy and justice alike demand that the local government of counties and rural divisions should be based on representative principles, so that the people of such districts as well as those in towns may have constitutional control over the expenditure of the funds to which they contribute, and over the laws and regulations to which they are subject. (Quoted, Redlich, 1903a, p. 209)

This appeared in a resolution of the Liberal Party’s membership body, the National Liberal Federation. The other example is taken from a work published three years later and entitled The Radical Programme: The great work of the Parliament to be elected after the organic change of the constituencies in 1885 will be crowning of the edifice of local government in some parts of the United Kingdom, and the foundation as well as the completion in others. Then and not until then shall we be able to say that the rights of citizenship exist, and are exercised, equally in all parts of Great Britain and Ireland. (Quoted, Redlich, 1903a, p. 190)

In due course, in 1888, came the Act setting up County Councils. Nevertheless, truth to tell, the reform scarcely produced democratic shires. In the words of Keith-Lucas, ‘The results were remarkable. About half the new councillors were magistrates; many of the others were their brothers and cousins’ (Keith-Lucas, 1977, p. 23). 124

Two generations of progress The reform of Scottish local government, while maintaining its own national character, progressed in parallel with the English (see e.g. Pryde, 1960, pp. 14–18). The government of the burghs had developed on a more homogeneous pattern than the English towns and their reform slightly preceded the Municipal Corporations Act south of the border, being enacted in three statutes in 1833. Other changes were effected intermittently down to the Town Councils (Scotland) Act of 1900. This legislation included the following features. The franchise mirrored the parliamentary franchise through the successive Reform Acts; the responsibilities of the miscellaneous local bodies were steadily absorbed into the burgh system; and a uniform style of constitutions was imposed – of elected provost, baillies and councillors. At the parochial level the ecclesiastical parishes in the early nineteenth century administered both poor relief and the schools. Changes were effected in 1845, necessitated by a weakening of the Church of Scotland: new boards were created to take over these two functions. An Education Act along the lines of the Forster Act of 1870 in England (see p. 112) came in 1872. And civil Parish Councils like those in England were established in the same year, 1894. County Councils were formed a year after the English, in 1889. Against this chronological background we are now prepared to examine the condition and reform of the English parish system at the end of the nineteenth century – the first of our chosen two main themes. In their masterly work on the parish and the county, Sidney and Beatrice Webb wrote a chapter startlingly entitled ‘The Strangling of the Parish’, concluding it with a brief section headed, ‘The Death of the Parish’ (Webb, 1963, pp. 146–72). Despite the potential for the parish vestries to develop as representative bodies handling multifarious affairs, by c. 1830 many were experiencing difficulties. Then, with the creation of the Poor Law Unions and Boards, they lost that major function and the accompanying poor rate income; furthermore, at the same time the refusal of the Nonconformists to pay Church rates deprived the parishes of that source of funds also. The Webbs’ judgement was that, as a result of these two developments, ‘the parish, as a unit of local government in England outside the Metropolitan area, came virtually to an end’ (Webb, 1963, p. 172). Utter disarray supervened in the rural parts of the country, where there was no equivalent of municipal corporations to provide some structure. Not only was efficiency lost, so also was the potential, even actual, contribution of the vestry to the exercise of citizenship. Two vital elements of citizenship are participation and a sense of identity. Now it is true that the multiplication of local bodies increased the possibilities for involvement. To give a few examples, listed by the Liberal MP William Rathbone in 1885: Burial Boards, Highway Boards, Lighting Inspectors, Overseers of the Poor were 125

Citizenship in Britain all elected by occupiers using one to six votes depending upon wealth and all rate-payers were eligible to serve (see Redlich, 1903a, pp. 194–5 n. 2). But although, in the unlikely event of voting for or being a lighting inspector would lead you to think of a collection of lamp-posts as in some way yours, this is, it must be conceded, an exceedingly frail form of civic identity. Membership of a human community, living in a defined geographical area is essential. The old parishes afforded this feeling. To restore this feature and the best participative habits of the old parishes, which admittedly varied greatly, and to fit them neatly into the new pattern of local government were the ambitions of the reformers of the late nineteenth century. Economic, geographical and historical considerations motivated them. The economic motive was the desire to witness England peopled by a landowning peasantry. The slogan was ‘three acres and a cow’, coined by Jesse Collings and appended to Joseph Chamberlain’s ‘Unauthorised Programme’. The geography of the parishes was one of the causes of disorderliness – ‘the chaos of areas’. There were three kinds of parish – ecclesiastical, civil and poor law – often not coinciding. This tangled web had to be unwoven. The historical motive was more interesting. The Victorian period was the age of obsession with the medieval, visually noticeable in the neo-Gothic architecture and the paintings of the Pre-Raphaelites and epitomised and popularised by the novels of Walter Scott (though written in pre-Victorian years). The Romantic notion that the liberties of Anglo-Saxon times, the spirit of local self-government in the folkmoot (see p. 5) and the civic practices of scot and lot were characteristics of a long-lost golden age led easily to the belief that the revival of a reformed parish could recapture those benefits. The most passionate advocate of resurrecting Saxon self-government through parishes was the versatile Joshua Toulmin-Smith, though he was blind to the severe shortcomings of mere parochialism. One personal, quite unimportant thought, if the reader will allow. I live in the Sussex village of Rottingdean. When the new Parish Council was elected in 1894, one of the most energetic members was Georgiana Burne-Jones, the wife of the distinguished Pre-Raphaelite painter, Sir Edward. In 1893 the government introduced a Parish Councils Bill, which eventually emerged the following year as the Local Government Act. This set up Urban and District Councils to take over responsibilities from the myriad local boards. It also replaced the moribund parish vestries with Parish Councils and Parish Meetings. The larger parishes – strictly of at least 300 inhabitants, though interpreted with some elasticity – were to be administered by Councils elected by all rate-payers; the smaller, by Meetings of all rate-payers: representative and direct democracy respectively. (Compare the old vestries (see p. 122).) However, it must be noted that the 126

Two generations of progress constitution of the larger parish was in fact two-tiered because it also had a Parish Meeting though with limited power. A detail of some interest concerning the democratic intentions of the framers of the Bill: Parish Meetings should not start before 6.00 p.m. in order to allow ‘labourers’ to attend (see Redlich, 1903b, p. 178). The Liberal Party produced a Parish Councillors Handbook as a guide. It referred to the great powers the Act devolved to the parishes, and ‘For the rule of the few it will substitute the responsibility and co-operation of the many’ (quoted, Keith-Lucas, 1977, p. 25). Gladstone had, since 1891, pinned great hopes on the beneficial effects of reformed parishes. He asserted that they would ‘carry home to the mind of the peasants and the agricultural labourers the principles and the obligations, and to secure fully to them the benefits of local government’ (quoted, Redlich, 1903a, p. 210). In the event, these sentiments proved too optimistic. The powers of the parishes were constrained by what is now termed ‘rate-capping’ to three pence. Nor was there much local enthusiasm for enjoying the new rights. To cite the village of Rottingdean again: this had a Council of ten members, lethargically elected and supported. Two published statements are revealing. In 1896 Lady Burne-Jones addressed an open letter to all the electors in the parish, in which she complained: One thing has disappointed me, and it is that so few people came to the Parish Meetings when they were held, and that so few said anything when they were there. Those are your opportunities to speak about anything that concerns the Village, and to ask questions and give your opinion about a thing before it is done.

The following year some members of the Council distributed a poster. It declared, ‘We would like to see a Council chosen that would be more representative of the great body of Electors, the working of the great body of Electors, the working men and women of the Parish’ (quoted, Heater, 1993, pp. 65, 58). So much for parochial citizenship! And so much for the likes of Messrs Gladstone and Collings who had laboured so hard to generate and push through this legislation. For it encountered unremitting opposition, especially in the House of Lords. This partisan hostility forced substantial changes to the government’s Bill and provided the subject of Gladstone’s last speech in the House of Commons. Bitterly regretting the need to bow to the Lords’ will rather than lose the Bill entirely, he said: We are compelled to accompany that acceptance with the sorrowful declaration that the differences . . . between the House of Lords and the House of Commons,


Citizenship in Britain appear to have reached a development in the present year such as to create a state of things of which we are compelled to say that, in our judgement, it cannot continue. (Quoted, Morley, 1903b, p. 512)

The unelected Lords had severely damaged a Bill accepted by the lower House, whose members had been elected by the nation’s citizens and had thus determined the conditions under which inhabitants of parishes could exercise their parochial citizenship. The constitutional implications were clear to the MPs on that day. As the prime minister sat down, they responded to his words with the heartiest of acclamations. As a ‘tin tabernacle’ is to Salisbury Cathedral, so a tiny village meeting hall is to Leeds Town Hall. The grandiose municipal buildings erected in the most flourishing Victorian cities are monuments to that incomparable age of civic wealth, leadership and, above all, pride. The main features of this phenomenon, illustrated in particular by Birmingham, will now be outlined to explain its role in the development of citizenship. It can be confidently argued that sound citizenship is dependent on an active civil society. This certainly existed as a firm foundation for the building of a municipal citizenship in the mid-nineteenth century, particularly due to the initiative of the thriving middle class. ‘Nothing more vividly marks our civilization,’ declared the Bradford Observer, ‘than the multiplication of separate societies and agencies, religious, charitable, political, economic, educational, professional, friendly, recreative, and what not’ (quoted, Hunt, 2004, p. 118). And that newspaper was but one of many founded to enlighten the citizens, female as well as male, of these growing cities. However, local government had to be improved and had to attract able and honest men if a true urban citizenship was to blossom. With Glasgow and Birmingham in the lead, this started to happen from the late 1860s, influenced to an extent by increased political consciousness occasioned by the background to and the effects of the Second Reform Act. To take the example of Birmingham: the civically conscious and influential Nonconformist minister R. W. Dale noted: ‘It now became the ambition of young men, and men of high social position to represent a ward and to become aldermen and mayors’ (quoted, Hunt, 2004, p. 248). This was the emergence of new municipal elite citizens. They were, as the current phrase had it, ‘fit and proper persons’ to represent the local electors on the Council. Men of station, respectability, substance, intelligence (see e.g. Hennock, 1973, pp. 1, 308). As we shall see, the most energetic force in Birmingham at this time was Joseph Chamberlain. The historian Tristram Hunt has assessed that his ‘greatest achievement was to position


Two generations of progress the elected Council as the motor and repository of civic pride’ (Hunt, 2004, p. 265). ‘Civic pride’ is the term that resonates through studies of mid-Victorian cities; after, that is, the descriptions of the appallingly inhumane, filthy and insanitary conditions prior to reforms. Yet each city expressed and sustained its pride in slightly different modes, although the architectural motif and inter-city rivalry were common. Asa Briggs has, indeed, warned that, ‘It is quite misleading to suggest, as G. M. Trevelyan has done, that “civic pride and civic rivalry among the industrial towns of the north was almost entirely materialistic and not aesthetic” ’ (Briggs, 1963, p. 43). In fact, Florence and the Haussmann renovations in Paris (leaving aside his policing objectives!) were often held up as exemplars. On the other hand, civic pride was by no means merely a matter of nouveau riche boastfulness made tangible in stone and marble. Civic pride percolated through the classes. When the foundation stone of Glasgow’s Municipal Building was ceremonially laid in 1883, some 60,000 crowded into the modestly sized George Square, and when, five years later, the Queen formally opened the building, over six times that number filed through in proud admiration. On the first of these occasions, the Lord Provost asked, ‘Could there . . . be found a surer index of this people’s devotion to its municipal institutions?’ (quoted, Hunt, 2004, p. 267). Fifty years before the Queen opened the Glasgow building a young London-born man named George Dawson enrolled as an undergraduate at that city’s university. In 1844 he became the pastor at the imposing Mount Zion Chapel in Birmingham. A sympathetic and charismatic preacher and orator, he came to exert a marked influence on Birmingham’s civic life. When Robert Martineau, mayor in 1846, first heard Dawson, he declared to a friend, ‘Oh! Will, this is the preaching I have longed for all my life!’ (quoted, Hennock, 1973, p. 64). Dawson is important to us for his idea of ‘the municipal gospel’ (the term used by Hennock and Hunt, Briggs refers to the doctrine as ‘the civic gospel’). This should not be confused with pride. Though both were features of urban citizenship, pride was characterised by display, the gospel, by duty. Three brief passages from speeches Dawson made in the 1860s give clear indications of his train of thought: A town is a solemn organism through which should flow, and in which should be shaped all the highest, loftiest and truest ends of man’s moral nature. This then was the new corporation, the new Church . . . a Church in which there was no bond, nor text, nor articles – a large Church, one of the greatest institutions yet established.


Citizenship in Britain A great town exists to discharge towards the people of that town the duties that a great nation exists to discharge towards the people of a nation. (Quoted, Hennock, 1973, pp. 75, 75–6, 75)

The key word here is ‘organism’. Dawson envisaged the municipality as a close-knit community drawn together by an altruistic ideal. But the message was an explicitly religious commitment, though also explicitly not sectarian: the good news was all-embracing. Yet it was, too, a political message. Dawson knew the great nationalist leaders of the age – the Hungarian Kossuth and the Italian Mazzini – and admired their idealistic dreams for their nations, Mazzini’s with a deep religious tinge. For Dawson, the city should be the free nation writ small, each, like the mystical concept of a nation, with its own spirit. Municipal citizens should be shaped by and live up to this ideal. There is in addition, though admittedly not overtly stated, an ingredient of the civil religion requirement of the proponents of the civic republican style of citizenship. Rousseau, for example, believed that a civil religion was an essential component of civic virtue; and he was thinking in the small-scale context of a city-state. George Dawson was the prime theorist and expositor of the municipal doctrine; it was left to Joseph Chamberlain to attempt its implementation in Birmingham – in his own manner. Chamberlain was born in London, but at the age of eighteen moved to Birmingham to work in the family industrial firm. Not until he was thirty did he hear Dawson speak. He was immediately captivated. The cleric was revealing that Birmingham, Chamberlain’s adopted city, could be transformed. The industrialist threw himself into local government and reform, eventually becoming mayor from 1873 to 1876. In 1890 an article appeared in the American periodical Harper’s Monthly Magazine entitled ‘The Best-Governed City in the World’. This was Birmingham. The accolade would have been out of the question without the combination of Dawson’s religiously driven imaginative municipal utopia and Chamberlain’s almost obsessive determination to push through the reforms in practice. What, therefore, of Chamberlain’s own credo and its relation to urban citizenship? It was a coherent mixture of ideals and practicality fused by his remarkable political skills, funds of energy, determination to pursue his convictions to a successful conclusion, a faith in the elite citizens of Birmingham to follow his lead and the right of ordinary citizens to enjoy a justly ordered civic life. Despite his later interests in national and imperial politics, Chamberlain’s work in Birmingham was founded on a genuine belief that local affairs were of far greater importance than most people in


Two generations of progress the mid-nineteenth century were willing to credit. During his mayoralty he explained: Long before I had any idea of being a member of the Corporation, much less filling my present position, I always protested against any depreciation of municipal work and those who performed it . . . I have always thought that those who professed to think themselves above such work were infinitely beneath it. (Quoted, Hennock, 1973, p. 97)

At the same time he similarly revealed his constitutional ambitions for enhancing citizenship at the local level: I am inclined to increase the duties and responsibilities of the local authority, in whom I have myself so great a confidence, and I will do everything in my power to constitute these local authorities real local Parliaments, supreme in their special jurisdiction. (Quoted, Hennock, 1973, p. 120)

And most forceful of all, throwing his mayoral weight behind the principle of local citizenship, he declared: ‘I have an abiding faith in municipal institutions, an abiding sense of the value and importance of local self-government . . . Our corporations represent the authority of the people. Through them you obtain the full and direct expression of the popular will’ (quoted, Hunt, 2004, p. 262). Moreover, he went on to compare his ideal with the liberties and public spirit of the continental cities in the Middle Ages. Chamberlain implemented this principle of the cardinal importance of local government in several ways. Of direct concern to the inhabitants of towns like Birmingham were the local services, particularly the supplies of gas and clean water. These, he asserted, ‘should be controlled by the representatives of the people, and not left in the hands of private speculators’ (quoted, Briggs, 1963, p. 227). This promotion of the welfare and happiness of the citizens of Birmingham (shades of Utilitarian thought) was not merely necessary; it was urgent. Chamberlain was himself impatient. He called upon a convenient kind of democratic argument to underline his insistence on haste. Briggs has explained: He believed that the new electorate wanted things to be done, and not merely to have its representatives argue interminably about every issue in local policy . . . And those who believed in a new gospel of civic progress could not afford to miss their opportunities of putting their ideas into practice. (Briggs, 1952, p. 171)


Citizenship in Britain Furthermore, Chamberlain had the strength of personality to enforce the democratic will. But was he really honest in equating his personal heart-felt programme with the will of the citizens of Birmingham? ‘Ample opportunity was given to everyone,’ he affirmed, ‘for discussion and even the humblest ward member was able to make his opinions known’ (quoted, Briggs, 1952, p. 170). And the Rev. Crosskey, friend of Dawson and minister at the chapel attended by Chamberlain, declared: ‘I cannot call to mind any other town outside Birmingham in which Democracy has been interpreted as the life of the people as an organized whole’ (quoted, Briggs, 1952, p. 172). The word ‘organized’ must not be passed over. Leading lights formed a caucus to assist discussions in the electoral wards. For Chamberlain was acutely conscious that, following the 1867 Reform Act, the potential political power of the working class could not be ignored. Nevertheless, if Chamberlain’s Birmingham democracy was in some regards a guided democracy, its benefits depended on the altruistic service of the elite citizens, a cadre of individuals in the Chamberlain mould. In a speech given at a dinner in his honour in 1876, he claimed that, ‘If a man has leisure, and wants occupation, his taste must be difficult indeed if he cannot find some congenial employment in connection with the multifarious duties of the Town Council of Birmingham’ (quoted, Hennock, 1973, p. 144). Moreover, by example and persuasion he mobilised such a dutiful citizenry, as The Times recognised many years later when it argued that, ‘Perhaps no such capable and enterprising men have ever met together on an English public body as gathered round Mr. Chamberlain on the Birmingham Council’ (quoted, Hunt, 2004, p. 248). Birmingham was rather exceptional and the quality of civic thinking and activity in its hey-day sadly declined in the twentieth century. Even so, what can the evidence of Dawson’s and Chamberlain’s work tell us about the possibilities of citizenship in a municipal context? It was often argued that the vigorous social activities of the great Victorian cities enhanced their inhabitants’ intelligence and so contributed to the development of their political judgement, thus making them more fully citizens than the inhabitants of market towns and villages. Yet there was, one can suggest, something patronising about the philanthropy of the wealthy citizens of Leeds, Manchester and Liverpool, for example, and something forced about Birmingham’s municipal gospel. The full civic republican ideal that enthused an Aristotle and a Machiavelli was barely glimpsed, but, then, the comparison is unfair because Victorian cities were not states. On the other hand, its relevance and potential were not totally ignored. At the turn of the century we can find two glowing examples. The author of a book portraying Glasgow in 1901 wrote that the city 132

Two generations of progress now renders services to the citizens which they cannot render to themselves or to each other, and exacts from them the performance of certain duties whose sanction is in the interests of its community. And the general result seems, without exaggeration, to be that the modern City is reverting in importance to the position of the City-state in classical antiquity. (Quoted, Hunt, 2004, p. 269)

Also two years earlier, The Municipal Reformer and Local Government News presented this extraordinarily optimistic picture to its readers: ‘Municipal reformers . . . dream of a glorious life of citizenship that is to come . . . Men will learn to bear each other’s burdens, to care for and protect each other in ways yet unknown and citizenship will be a perennial joy’ (quoted, Hunt, 2004, p. 280). In truth, the realistic theorists of republican citizenship had never been so starry-eyed. We are here in the land of the hypothetical utopias – lands that do not exist. These sentences, written a little over a hundred years ago, strike a melancholy contrast to Britain’s inner-city communities of the early twenty-first century, too often characterised by the need for the distribution of Anti-Social Behaviour Orders rather than perennially joyous citizenly behaviour.


Chapter 5

Two issues of status

Women’s citizenship Citizenship was a status designed by men for men. In ancient Athens men voted, men served in the Assembly, on juries and in the army. And so it occurred, when the classical concept of citizenship was revived in the Renaissance and Enlightenment eras, that this male tradition was accepted. Moreover, as we have seen in earlier chapters, central to the civic concept was the quality of virtue, with its overtones of masculinity, a word derived from the Latin ‘vir’, man. Britain was a male-dominated society for other, deeper reasons. Christianity was prejudiced against women, towns were effectively controlled by the guilds confined to male membership and property was almost exclusively in the possession of men. It should not surprise us, then, that women became citizens in the full sense of the term only very recently. The main purpose of this section is to examine the struggle for the right to vote in parliamentary elections. However, although this story is crucial to our theme, some other topics and periods are included to sketch in essential additions to the complete historical picture. The mid-seventeenth century is an informative time. Prior to 1644 there was no definitive legal impediment to women voting and even, by virtue of ‘owning’ a borough, returning MPs because of the property-owning basis of the franchise, rare as this was in practice. In the early seventeenth century the right of women freeholders to vote had in fact been tested in the courts. However, if law allowed women to be enfranchised, propriety, it was thought, could not really condone the practice. This was a distinction officially and blatantly made by the High Sheriff of Suffolk on the occasion of the elections in 1640 for what became the Long Parliament. In the voting for MPs for the borough of Eye some widows, owning freehold land and accordingly eligible, cast their votes. These were recorded, but the High Sheriff discounted them, ‘conceiving it a matter very unworthy of any


Two issues of status gentleman, and most dishonourable in such an election, to make use of their [women’s] voices, although they might in law have been allowed’ (quoted, Fraser, 1985, pp. 258–9). Then, four years later, Sir Edward Coke, the most eminent parliamentarian and jurist of the age, asserted that three categories of people were ineligible for the vote: men under twenty-one years of age, men without freehold, and women whether freeholders or not. Furthermore, for all the radical thinking of the Levellers and the concept of the consent of the governed by later Whig theorists, no one considered the exclusion of women from political rights to be an anomaly. The accepted assumption was expounded with verbal splendour by James Tyrrell in his Patriarcha non Monarcha of 1681: There never was any government where all the promiscuous rabble of women and children had votes, as not being capable of it, yet it does not for all that prove that all legal and civil government does not owe its original to the consent of the people, since the fathers of families, or freemen at their own dispose, were really and indeed are all people that are needed to have votes. (Quoted, Laslett, 1983, pp. 221–2)

Yet the upheaval of the Civil War witnessed many examples of women’s civic consciousness, including the petitioning of Parliament, notably The Humble Petition of divers well-affected Women in 1649. They demanded the release of imprisoned Leveller leaders, reduction of taxes and less dictatorial government. In 1653 a petition was delivered to the Barebone’s Parliament, which, it was claimed, was signed by over six thousand women. Individual women also contributed to the flood of Puritan and political literature. Mary Cary was especially zealous. For example, also in 1653, writing under her married name of Rande, she addressed to the Barebone’s Parliament Twelve Proposals to the Supreme Governours of the Three Nations (see C. Hill, 1975, p. 322). Citizenship is not, of course, synonymous with suffrage or literary articulacy. Some other aspects do therefore need to detain us before we come to analyse the suffragette movement. Of particular note is the very active involvement of women in parish affairs in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries by attendance at vestry meetings and membership of parochial bodies. We have recorded in Chapter 4 how ramshackle the parochial administrative arrangements were. There had been no clear rule as to whether women householders and rate-payers were on a par with men, until 1739 when, in the case of Olive v. Ingram, the rights of women to vote at vestries was confirmed. The ruling also allowed women to be elected as sextons – because they could do no harm in that role: it was ‘an office that did not


Citizenship in Britain concern the public, or the care and inspection of the morals of the parishioners’! (quoted, Vernon, 1993, p. 17). Although it was an exceedingly thin end, the wedge of women’s political rights had been inserted to crack open Coke’s judgement. A century later the radically inclined Whig MP John Cam Hobhouse introduced the Vestries Act of 1831, which enshrined the 1739 judgement in constitutional law. Though, only the following year, the Reform Act gave the parliamentary vote specifically to male persons (see p. 107). However, in the area of local government women participated in numerous ways (see also pp. 123, 124, 128). Following the Municipal Franchise Act of 1869 single women owners of property were able to vote in town elections. Then, from 1870 women with property could vote for the School Boards set up by the Forster Act, from 1875, for Poor Law Boards, from 1888 for the newly created County Councils, and from 1894 for the Parish and District Councils that were then established. But voting for was distinct from membership of. The assumed right of women to be elected as County Councillors was disputed until confirmed as late as 1907, even though their right to sit on the above-listed local bodies was more readily accepted. The most remarkable increase in women’s participation in local affairs was the rise in the numbers of female members of Poor Law Boards – from eight in 1880 to 2,039 in 1920 (see Pugh, 2000, p. 74). Nevertheless, many women campaigners, such as Octavia Hill, to take a renowned example, were convinced that reforms in the fields of civil and social rights were of greater moment than political enfranchisement. In fact, by hesitant and piecemeal legislation the woman’s lot was steadily improved in Victorian times. The rights of women to own property, opportunities for education and the opening-up of careers were the three salient areas of equalisation of women’s status. Traditionally, the legal device of ‘coverture’ had deprived the woman of her civil existence on marriage: identity and property were transferred to, were ‘covered’ by, her husband. Critical reforms in the late nineteenth century did steadily undermine this condition of a married woman being a non-person. These were the Married Women’s Property Acts of 1870, 1874, 1882 and 1893, which dealt with a range of rights. Women were allowed to keep their own earnings, buy, own and sell property, and handle their own legal affairs. By the middle of the century movements were afoot to improve education for girls and young women at school and higher education levels. Some distinguished men, for example, Charles Kingsley and John Ruskin, and energetic women teachers, notably Frances Beale and Dorothea Buss, were engaged in this campaign. In 1864 the government appointed a Schools Inquiry Commission, whose remit included girls’ schools. Its report, 136

Two issues of status published four years later, painted a depressing picture of middle-class female education, as the following sentences and phrases indicate: The general deficiency in girls’ education is stated with the utmost confidence, and with entire agreement . . . by many witnesses of authority . . . Slovenliness and showy superficiality; inattention to rudiments . . . [Parents believe that] girls are less capable of mental cultivation, and less in need of it than boys. (Quoted, Barnard, 1947, pp. 189–90)

Improvements were clearly under way by the 1870s at both school and university levels. With better education, opportunities opened up for women to enter some professions. For example, by 1895 there were 264 women doctors in Britain, though the law and the higher grades of the civil service remained closed until the Sex Disqualification Removal Act of 1919, a measure which also afforded women the civil rights of sitting as jurors and serving as magistrates. The key sentence ran: ‘No person shall be disqualified by sex or marriage from the exercise of any public function or from being appointed to any civil or judicial office or post’ (quoted, Marwick, 1970, p. 110). And yet, by the turn of the century much remained to be undertaken to metamorphose women into fully equal citizens with men. They were still denied the vote in national elections; also, widespread and deep prejudice prevented them from completely enjoying the rights they were allowed, circumstances which prevailed for many decades after enfranchisement. Indeed, it was prejudice, voiced in a multitude of ways, that delayed the conferring of the suffrage for so long. Martin Pugh makes the very shrewd point that the 1867 and 1884 Reform Acts highlighted ‘sex as the outstanding disqualification’. Prior to these extensions of the franchise it could be and was argued that persons had to be ‘fit’ to have the vote. But, Now women suffragists could certainly argue that many women who managed a property or business and contributed in rates and taxes fulfilled the test of ‘fitness’ . . . [whereas] the new electors were, on grounds of literacy, education, wealth or knowledge manifestly less ‘fit’ than some women. (Pugh, 1980, pp. 8, 7)

We may cluster the anti-suffragists’ case into four main arguments: the nature of the female sex, the male qualities required for citizenship, the objections to thus broadening the electorate and the specific arguments against enfranchising certain categories of women. One of the most extreme expressions of hostility to enfranchising women, and one that caused some commotion, was published as a letter in The 137

Citizenship in Britain Times in 1912 and reprinted by its author in his book The Unexpurgated Case Against Woman Suffrage the following year. The writer was the eminent, albeit eccentric, medical practitioner, Sir Almroth Wright. The core sentences are these: For man the physiological psychology of woman is full of difficulties . . . . . . no doctor can ever lose sight of the fact that the mind of woman is always threatened with danger from the reverberations of her physiological emergencies. It is with such thoughts that the doctor lets his eyes rest upon the militant suffragist. He cannot shut them to the fact that there is mixed up with the woman’s movement much mental disorder; and he cannot conceal from himself the physiological emergencies which lie behind. (Quoted, Read, 1973, pp. 286–7)

Other commentators worried, though using less intemperate language, that if women came to shape policy, this would be a highly undesirable product of female suffrage, emotion rather than reason motivating decisions. And, in any case, to put the point considerately as other opponents did, women should be shielded from the rough business of politics. Giving them the vote would, in Gladstone’s carefully chosen words, ‘trespass upon their delicacy, their purity, their refinement, the elevation of their whole nature’ (quoted, Pugh, 1980, p. 8). This very delicacy of nature – and of physique too – it was further stated, unfitted women for the key, traditional military role of the citizen – the second argument. This argument had two facets. One was that the suffrage was justified in part by the fact that men could be called upon to risk their lives for their country; women would not be asked to make that sacrifice. The other was the argument from Empire. Britain’s world-wide commitments required a masculine and military turn of mind. Lord Curzon, a most ardent anti-suffragist and Viceroy of India, 1898–1905, told Glasgow audiences in 1912 that if women were given the vote, India would be lost to the Empire. In the same year and same city, Lady Glasgow, wife of a former Governor of New Zealand and a former President of the Glasgow Branch of the National Anti-Suffrage League, wrote that women voters ‘might force the reduction of our army [and] our navy on the plea of progressing social reform because . . . women are unable to take large views’. Thus adding, for good measure, a hit at women’s natural incapacity for responsible political activity (quoted, Pugh, 2000, p. 98). Notice, in passing, a by no means unique example of the anti-suffragist position held by a woman. In civilian terms also, the Victorian equivalent of the Roman pater familias, of the reigning authority of the male head of the household, was believed by many to be the proper status for holding the privileges of citizenship. 138

Two issues of status The third collection of arguments was based on the insistence that neither women nor the electoral system would benefit from female suffrage. Both elements were perhaps in Gladstone’s mind when he asserted in 1872 that ‘there has never within my knowledge been a case in which the franchise has been extended to a large body of persons generally indifferent about receiving it’ (quoted, Pugh, 2000, pp. 38–9). The bulk of women in the late nineteenth century were indeed satisfied with the gradual flow of civil and social reforms, provided by a House of Commons elected by their fathers, brothers and husbands, through whose suffrage the women had virtual representation (that concept again (see pp. 20, 100–1)). And if women would not be particularly advantaged, the parliamentary system, it was feared, would be positively unsettled by the influx of so many electors with their own agendas. The fourth argument also raised doubts about enfranchising, in effect, any women apart from widows. In the eyes of the anti-suffragists women could not be enfranchised if they were married or if they remained single. If a woman married, she came under the protection of her husband, who was deemed to use his vote in both their interests: citizenship was a sexual contract. If she remained unmarried, so the argument went, she must either be unnatural or an immoral social failure such as a barmaid or a ‘kept woman’ or a prostitute; and Heaven help Britain if such persons were given the vote! Meanwhile, however, both women and politicians who favoured the introduction of female suffrage were engaged in promoting the cause. The Second Reform Bill – without Mill’s proposed female enfranchisement – was passed in August 1867. Virtually simultaneously the London Society for Women’s Suffrage came into being under the inspiration of Millicent Fawcett, the Manchester Women’s Suffrage Committee was started by Lydia Becker and, later that year, the first Scottish Women’s Society was organised by Flora Stevenson and Priscilla Bright, whose brother Jacob championed the suffragist cause in the House of Commons. Other regional groups were founded in Bristol and Birmingham. Each group pursued its own style of campaigning. For example, the London Society, inevitably, concentrated on keeping the issue alive in Parliament. In Scotland, the ‘guid cause’ was pursued by various means, especially by annual petitions to Parliament, two million signatures being collected between 1867 and 1876. Furthermore, a number of members of the Scottish aristocracy lent their public support, notably Ishbell, Countess of Aberdeen and Lady Frances Balfour, daughter of the Duke of Argyll, but whose husband, the leading Conservative politician A. J. Balfour, on the other hand, vacillated on the subject. Though, notice the order of Lady Frances’s concern: ‘education, medicine and suffrage’ (quoted, King, 1978, p. 11). In 1897 regional societies amalgamated with the 139

Citizenship in Britain London Society to form the National Union of Women’s Suffrage Societies (NUWSS). During the last decades of the nineteenth century the leading lights in the movement were, initially, Lydia Becker, then Millicent Fawcett. Pugh has provided these thumbnail character sketches. Lydia Becker: ‘an indefatigable, intellectually tough but slightly academic advocate of the vote. Her grasp of parliamentary procedure, mastery of detail, and persistence in dealing with politicians made Becker formidable.’ Millicent Fawcett: ‘enjoyed close familiarity with Westminster . . . Calm, measured, and very well-informed, Fawcett’s forte was the systematic rebuttal of ill-supported Anti-Suffragist arguments. However, she lacked the inspirational qualities of a real leader’ (Pugh, 2000, pp. 13–14). The number of societies affiliated to the NUWSS rose from the original 15 to 496 in 1914. Following the characters of their leaders the NUWSS adopted gentle tactics and a modest demand. They requested equality with the male franchise, which would have meant in practice according the vote only to single women with the required property qualification. By c. 1900 support for the suffragist movement was moribund in the north of England. Partly to revive it there and partly to respond to a revived interest, an alternative body was founded in 1903, the Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU). In due course this came to adopt more militant tactics, but never approached the national size in number of branches and membership of the NUWSS. These limitations were partly due to the desire of the founder mother-and-daughters Pankhurst team to keep control. The young Emmeline Goulden met her future husband, Dr Pankhurst, when he was campaigning for women’s suffrage in Manchester. Mrs Pankhurst was a woman passionately interested in public affairs, convinced that she was destined to achieve reforms and equipped with an autocratic and charismatic personality. These character traits, however, produced contradictory reactions, the former generating accusations of megalomania and dictatorship, the latter, to admiration and unstinting loyalty. In creating the WPSU (which, in fact, soon moved its headquarters to London, for obvious reasons of political leverage), Emmeline Pankhurst had the keen support of her daughters Christabel and Sylvia. Within Parliament and the political parties the issue of women’s enfranchisement was kept alive. Between 1870 and 1884 thirteen Bills were introduced in the House of Commons. The Conservative leaders, consecutively Disraeli, Salisbury and Balfour, expressed their support, though tepidly. The Liberal leaders, Gladstone and, later, Asquith, were hostile. Both parties, nevertheless, were very happy to use large numbers of voteless women to provide invaluable support in the running of their administrative systems, the Conservative Primrose League and the Women’s Liberal Federation (WLF). 140

Two issues of status By 1906, nevertheless, many Liberal politicians had swung in favour of some form of women’s suffrage. That year was of significance. The election of 12 January gave the Liberals an immense majority and during the campaign the WPSU had become prominent. Indeed, two days before the election the Daily Mail coined the word ‘suffragettes’ to distinguish their more vigorous behaviour compared with the more placid demeanour that had come to be expected of the suffragists. But if they hoped that the combination of Liberal sympathy and parliamentary power and their own activity would bear fruit in legislation, the suffragettes were disappointed. Their frustration bred mounting militancy. The aggressive acts of some suffragettes might appear out of character when one realises that suffragism was in essence a middle-class ladies’ movement. In contrast, working-class women, whose conditions might have induced a tendency to aggressive protesting behaviour, were naturally much more concerned to organise themselves for social and economic, not political, reform. Indomitable women of the likes of Emma Paterson and Mary Macarthur helped them to develop a women’s trade-union movement. In 1889 the Women’s Trade Union League emerged as a campaigning body and in 1906 a proper trade-union system was formed, the National Federation of Women Workers. However, even without such organisations women factory workers were becoming aware of the need actively to protest against their plight. The appalling conditions under which the ‘match-girls’ worked in the Bryant and May factory in east London provoked them to send a deputation to Parliament and even come out on strike. On the other hand, the WSPU formed a liaison with the new Independent Labour Party (ILP), with Keir Hardie in particular; and Annie Kenny, an Oldham cotton-mill worker, forged a redoubtable friendship with Christabel Pankhurst. Dramatic public demonstration was started by this pair in Manchester in October 1905 at a Liberal rally in the Free Trade Hall. Sir Edward Grey addressed the meeting. It was accepted practice that women remained silent on such occasions. However, at the end of Sir Edward’s speech Annie Kenny stood up and asked the question, ‘Will the Liberal government give the vote to women?’ She was ignored and forced to sit down. She and Christabel then displayed a banner bearing the slogan, ‘Votes for women’. Jeering uproar. The Chief Constable of Manchester intervened, but to no effect. ‘You’re a coward,’ Miss Kenny shouted at Sir Edward. ‘If I leave this hall I shall hold a meeting outside’ (quoted, Raeburn, 1973, p. 8). Then the two young women were forcibly dragged from the hall by plain-clothes policemen. While being restrained, Miss Pankhurst pretended to spit at a policeman. Both women were arrested, Pankhurst being sentenced to a week in prison and Kenny, three days. The incident, and 141

Citizenship in Britain especially the imprisonments, caused a national flurry of excited interest. A new era in the struggle for women’s rights had begun. The tactics of the suffragettes were to use theatrical and forceful actions in order to bring attention to themselves, to summon up sympathetic support and to intimidate the government into conceding the suffrage. They certainly succeeded in the first objective. Rallies were staged in Hyde Park. In 1908 some suffragettes chained themselves to the railings in Downing Street and in the same year Mrs Pankhurst was arrested. She used the opportunity of her trial to voice the suffragettes’ complaints: We have tried every way. We have presented larger petitions than were ever presented before for any other reform, we have succeeded in holding greater public meetings than men have ever had for any reform. We have faced hostile mobs at street corners . . . we have been misrepresented, we have been ridiculed . . . I come here not as an ordinary law-breaker . . . This is the only way we have to get that power which every citizen should have of deciding how the taxes she contributes should be made. (Quoted, Read, 1973, p. 290)

The virulence of the suffragettes’ activities fluctuated: 1909–10 the violence escalated, followed by a kind of truce, then a second wave of violence, 1912– 14. The more frustrated the suffragettes felt at the failure of the government to concede their demands, the more extreme the tactics they adopted – from cutting telephone wires to setting fire to empty houses, from slashing paintings in art galleries to throwing small bombs. Let us take some examples from Scotland. (Welsh suffragettes were less inclined to militancy than their English and Scots sisters; in Ireland, the struggle for Home Rule overshadowed other political issues.) In 1913 envelopes containing bottles of acid were dropped into Glasgow pillar-boxes, thus destroying the letters posted in them. Many acts of arson occurred; to give just two examples: the mansion house of Farrington Hall, Dundee, and Leuchers railway station were burnt to the ground. One purpose was to induce insurance companies to exert pressure on the government. The most horrific event, in England, was the death of the zealous Emily Wilding Davison. As an act of martyrdom, she flung herself at the king’s horse at the Epsom racecourse in 1913. She died soon afterwards and the horse had to be put down. The government, of course, could not remain passive. Notoriously, it introduced the Prisoners’ Temporary Discharge Act in 1913. This was a desperate measure to combat the tactic of imprisoned suffragettes’ hungerstriking, another ploy adopted by some. The government was fearful of creating martyrs if any of these women died. The prison authorities tried force-feeding, the brutality of which was a scandal. The new Act provided 142

Two issues of status for hunger-strikers to be released, then, when they had recovered, to be re-arrested. Forty-two prisoners, including Mrs Pankhurst, were treated in this manner. Not surprisingly, the technique was dubbed the Cat and Mouse Act. To change the metaphor, it was a government punishment stick; its pacifying carrot would, of course, have been a Suffrage Bill. This proved difficult because of party splits and popular hostility. In 1910 an all-party Conciliation Committee was set up to draft a Bill. In fact, before the outbreak of the First World War two Bills were introduced, but were lost by becoming entangled in inter-party and intra-party manoeuvrings on other issues as well as the substantive problem of defining women’s suffrage. Naturally, the outbreak of war changed matters, and we shall pick up the post-1914 story later. The point to notice here is that the suffragist/suffragette campaigns had been pursued for nearly half a century, that is, from 1867 to 1914 and had failed. The likes of the Pankhursts have been looked upon as heroines, without whom the eventual enfranchisement of women would not have happened. On the other hand, were not their militant tactics, rather, counter-productive? One telling piece of evidence is the reaction to the Emily Davison escapade. As crowds shouted, ‘The King’s ’orse’, it became evident where public sympathy lay. Pugh offers this judgement: In their overwrought condition in 1912–14 the Pankhursts may have convinced themselves that they were being denied the goal only by an obstinate Government holding out hopelessly against public opinion. Yet this was a complete delusion. The evidence suggests strongly that politicians, voters, the general public and active suffragists turned against the WPSU. Lukewarm suffragist Ministers like Churchill and Birrell became antagonistic; and backbenchers turned out to oppose women’s bills in growing numbers. (Pugh, 1980, p. 23)

With the outbreak of hostilities in 1914 between the United Kingdom and the Central Powers, hostilities between the suffragettes and the government were suspended, in effect, concluded. Yet, as a by-product of the war the franchise was rendered much more democratic, to the benefit of both disadvantaged men and, albeit in two stages, women. By their rallying to the country’s cause, these two disenfranchised groups proved beyond any rational doubt that they were citizens and consequently could not be denied the political status of that title. During the course of the war the number of women in employment increased by well over one million, with a particular acceleration after the introduction of men’s conscription in 1915. Agriculture, manufacturing and transport needed replacements for male workers converted into 143

Citizenship in Britain soldiers, and the considerable expansion of administration generated an eager demand for female clerical staff. Nevertheless, the gratitude of the nation for this indispensable assistance must not be exaggerated. Would women threaten the return to their jobs of the demobilised servicemen on the conclusion of the war? There was even a hint in the minds of politicians that the real citizenly duty of women was to produce more babies. Yet, in the event, perhaps the most important effect of their employment during the Great War on the working woman’s striving for equality was the boost to their self-confidence. In 1917 the New Statesman already recognised this: They appear more alert, more critical of the conditions under which they work, more ready to make a stand against injustice than their pre-war selves or their prototypes. They have a keener appetite for experience and pleasure and a tendency quite new to their class to protest against wrongs even before they become ‘intolerable’. (Quoted, Marwick, 1970, pp. 107–8)

Citizenship requires, among so many other traits, an awareness of one’s rights and a self-confidence to pursue them. Holding an election during conditions of total war was quite impracticable. However, in recognition of the need for further changes, in 1916 the Prime Minister, Asquith, appointed a Speaker’s Commission of thirty-two MPs and peers to make recommendations for a post-war Reform Bill. These emerged as the 1918 Reform Act, one clause of which dealt with women’s suffrage. It gave the vote to most women over thirty years of age (though a few, such as daughters living with their parents, were still excluded). The continuing distinction between men and women was considered by many suffragists to be an insult, especially when the Act also gave the vote to young men of nineteen (two years below the age of franchise) who had seen active service during the war. Even so, the sexual distinction was, in the circumstances, a sensible compromise all round. There was still deep resentment in the male population against women being treated with equality, and the enfranchisement of all women would have given them an electoral majority. As it was, the Act enfranchised 8.4 million women, 40 per cent of the electorate. The Bill had, of course, to pass through the legislative process, and any equitable measure could have come up against such opposition from the Conservative Party as to block its passage. The fact that ‘immature’ women were excluded conciliated the majority of that party. The various suffrage societies, notably the NUWSS, recognised that a partial reform was better than none, that the lowering of the age to twenty-one could not be much further delayed and that campaigning for equality could 144

Two issues of status continue. Indeed, the NUWSS renamed itself for this purpose: it became the National Union of Societies for Equal Citizenship. There was, as it happened, little excitement or sense of urgency. Women did not vote en bloc, few women became MPs, so the exercise of the franchise in practice neither frightened the men nor seemed to benefit the women greatly. The historian A. J. P. Taylor stated that the Equal Franchise Act, when it was passed in 1928, was ‘promoted by the government for no particular reason’ (Taylor, 1975, p. 332). True, only a few years before he originally wrote those words, he commented that, ‘We should have been a better country today if we had stuck to men voters’ (quoted, Pugh, 2000, p. 33). So, perhaps scarcely a disinterested historical judgement concerning the origins of the 1928 Act! In the event, it was the Prime Minister, Baldwin, in 1924 and the Home Secretary, Joynson-Hicks in 1925, who publicly committed the government to further reform. The Bill easily passed. It added over five million more women to the electoral register with the effect of making women a majority of the electorate in the 1929 general election – 52.7 per cent. There was consequently coined the pejoratively termed ‘flapper vote’. ‘Flappers’ were young women, mainly of middle- and upper-class standing, who flaunted their unconventional dress and excitable behaviour; or to put it another way, for the first time women were demonstrating their femininity in a decisive manner. Not only had women acquired the right to vote, they had also acquired the right to be MPs, and, consequently, government ministers. The first woman to take her seat in the House of Commons was Nancy Astor, in 1919, though she virtually inherited her seat from her husband when he was translated to the House of Lords. Unfortunately, she was more a socialite ‘character’ than a committed politician. The first woman cabinet minister and Privy Councillor was Margaret Bondfield, who was Minister of Labour from 1929 to 1931. She had been involved in the suffragist movement and, more conspicuously, in women’s trade unionism. The first (and only, to date) woman Prime Minister was Margaret Thatcher (1979–90), very much a political creature, although by her abrasive personality – she was described as ‘the best man in her cabinet’ – she was seen by some women as a traitor to feminism. In the meantime, the proportion of women entering the House of Commons crept up but slowly and hesitantly. Yet there was little serious concern at this feeble rate of progress until the publication of Women in the House by Elizabeth Vallance in 1979 publicised the problem. The Labour Party took the matter to heart, so that it had 101 women MPs after the 1997 election. The total in the House, after the 2005 election was 125, the largest number ever, though less than a fifth of the members. As a result of the first 145

Citizenship in Britain elections for the devolved Scottish Parliament and Welsh Assembly in 1999, however, women were far better represented: Scotland, 48 out of 129 MSPs; and 24 out of 60 AMs. The continuing small numbers in the Westminster House of Commons have often been explained by the perception that it is still a ‘man’s club’. The ambience has been masculine and the unsocial hours of Commons’ sittings originated for the convenience of male MPs. Women were also discriminated against in the constituency process of selecting candidates (before the Labour Party change of policy). Furthermore, childcare and family commitments have deterred many women from entering a profession so difficult to combine with these domestic responsibilities. Some measures were taken at the start of the twenty-first century to encourage more women to enter Parliament, notably the Sex Discrimination (Election Candidates) Act, which permitted parties to exercise positive discrimination in favour of women, and the reorganisation of the House of Commons timetable, designed to avoid the notorious late-night sittings. There have been other reasons too for women’s minimal commitment to and impact on national conventional politics as a form of citizenly activity. First, once endowed with the suffrage, their interests in and concerns about political topics and their party allegiances differed only marginally from men’s. Second, women, more than men, have been engaged in pressuregroup and behind-the-scenes work, what has been called ‘invisible’ political activity (see Coxall and Robins, 1989, p. 456). Third, having gained the vote, women became more worried that they continued to be second-class citizens in social and economic terms. And fourth, some accepted that conventional politics is male dominated, but that this condition is irrelevant if women could pursue their lives and ambitions in independently feminine ways. In any case, women have been prominent in social and political causes outside the structures of formal politics, activities which rarely catch the attention of the news media. These activities have covered a very wide range of topics. Leaving aside (until Chapter 6) women’s contributions during the Second World War (inevitably less ‘newsworthy’ than the exploits of fighting men), we may offer as a short motley list in the twentieth century, the Women’s Royal Voluntary Society (WRVS), Women’s Institutes (WIs), the ‘Mothers of Peace’ movement in the Northern Ireland ‘Troubles’ and the Child Poverty Action Group (CPAG). Though the women’s camp organised in persevering protest against US nuclear weapons at Greenham Common and sundry support of the English miners’ bitter strike in 1984–5 were scarcely invisible. During the quarter-century c. 1945–70 women’s roles in society and lifestyles gradually altered. More married women became qualified at higher education and professional levels and women became freer in their sexual 146

Two issues of status activities, for example. As a result, they became increasingly conscious of their relatively degraded status and chafed at the constraints that still limited their chances of equality with men despite the opening-up of more apparent opportunities. Consequently, what has been called ‘second wave’ feminism emerged in the late 1960s, expressed in both organisational and literary forms. In the words of one of the leading theorists of feminism, ‘The first whisperings of the Women’s Liberation Movement in England were late in 1967; by 1968 it was a named and organized movement’ (Mitchell, 1971, p. 43). Feminism was born in the highly charged political atmosphere of the 1960s in the USA, earlier than in Britain, and exerted a forceful influence across the Atlantic. For example, Kate Millett’s first-rate Sexual Politics was published in Britain in 1971 and remained in print; just in the twenty years 1979–99 it was reprinted eleven times. In 1970 the Women’s Liberation Workshop, held in Oxford, got the English movement fully under way, and in the same year there was published the highly influential book, The Female Eunuch, by the academic Germaine Greer. A combination of female anger, undeniable justice of their cause and politicians’ consciences led to ‘the principle of equality [being] embodied in a range of legislation . . . passed during the 1970s, which marked the most significant advance for women’s rights since the 1920s’ (Carter, 1988, p. 50). Three main strands have been identified to categorise the feminists’ approach to their task. These are: liberal or reformist, socialist/Marxist and radical. The liberal style has essentially existed as a continuation of the Wollstonecraft–Mill–suffragist tactic of working for reform within the established social and political systems. Indeed, the work of the Fawcett Society, named after the suffragist leader, preceded the emergence of the socialist and radical styles of the 1970s. The liberal feminists have operated in low-key ways to achieve greater equality through their workplaces and Parliament. The legislation for greater equality from c. 1970 has been a reflection of their tactics and goals (see below). The women engaged in this campaign have been neither revolutionary nor ideological, and so have not produced any major expository literature. Anna Coote and Tess Gill did recognise that the early reforms of the late 1960s/early 1970s were ‘only token concessions. Women are still treated as man’s inferiors and dependants. They are still exploited and oppressed’ (Coote and Gill, 1974, p. 17); but their literary response was not propagandist or theoretical, just useful help: Women’s Rights: A Practical Guide. Those who interpreted woman’s condition from a Marxist-socialist stance were, of course, highly ideological in their writings. Capitalism, bourgeois society, struggle and revolution – the conceptual building-blocks of Marxist 147

Citizenship in Britain theory – feature in this mode of feminist thinking. The basic thesis is that the overthrow of the bourgeoisie and their replacement by a classless society will bring about the liberation of the working class from exploitation and oppression but will not in itself free women from their comparable suppressed condition. A second, sexual revolution will be needed. Furthermore, women face the basic complication of the nature of the bourgeois, patriarchal family, which, Engels argued in his pamphlet, The Origin of the Family, Private Property and the State, keeps women in domestic subjection. A revolution in familial relationships is therefore essential for true liberation. The main English text published in the second-wave era was Juliet Mitchell’s Women’s Estate. Two key passages from this work indicate her thinking on the central topics of employment and family: women . . . are in the labour-intensive areas. Wages are bound to be kept low . . . Women are, then, probably the most exploited sector of the work-force. But this exploitation as part of the working class is made invisible by their identification with the other aspect of their condition – their oppression as wives within the family . . . Here they are more analogous to peasants under feudalism. However inegalitarian her situation at work (and it is invariably so) it is within the development of her feminine psyche and her ideological and socio-economic role as mother and housekeeper that woman finds the oppression that is hers alone. (Mitchell, 1971, pp. 179, 14)

Liberation will be as much a psychological as an economic, social and political revolution. Sheila Rowbottom, another feminist writing in the Marxist vein, makes similar points and stresses the uniqueness of woman’s condition in comparison with others who are oppressed. In her 1973 book, Woman’s Consciousness, Man’s World, she writes: Women are not the same as other oppressed groups. Unlike the working-class, who have no need for the capitalist under socialism, the liberation of women does not mean that men will be eliminated. Sex and class are not the same. Similarly people from oppressed races have a memory of a cultural alternative somewhere in the past. Women have only myths made by men. (Humm, 1992, p. 96)

The core of modern feminist thinking, however, was produced by the radical tendency, to which we now turn. These women operated for their cause in two dimensions, writing and demonstrating, in both of which they set out to shock. In literary format (she did not participate publicly in the movement) Germaine Greer in the work already mentioned established the tone: ‘Hopefully,’ she wrote, ‘this book is subversive. Hopefully, it will 148

Two issues of status draw fire from all the articulate sections of the community’ (Greer, 1970, p. 21). And the device she advocated as ‘the simplest way’ for the women liberationists to achieve their ends ‘is to outrage the pundits and the experts by sheer impudence of speech and gesture’ (Greer, 1970, p. 328). The liberation of women by engaging in shock tactics of real as well as symbolic kinds would ideally cause a revolution. In this respect the radical tendency was similar to the Marxist. Women in capitalist societies like Britain are intolerably oppressed – they are slaves, the only true proletariat; they must therefore withdraw their private and public labour. With half the population on strike at home and in the workplace, the patriarchal-capitalist system would soon collapse. The scholarly analyses underpinning their arguments were built upon multidisciplinary studies: these polymaths claimed the evidence of, for instance, Anthropology, Sociology, History, Literature to support their case. One of the fundamental insights the feminists broadcast was the following distinction: ‘ “Sex” is a word that refers to the biological differences between male and female . . . “Gender” however is a matter of culture: it refers to the social classification into “masculine” and “feminine” (Oakley, 1985, p. 16). Ann Oakley, who highlighted these terminological differences in 1972, was in effect perforce borrowing the grammatical term ‘gender’ because no sociological term existed to describe the phenomenon she was examining. Women have feminine roles very often not because of their biological nature and function but because these ways of life have been determined historically by male-dominated social arrangements. Their ‘biological endowments’ have been turned ‘into scripts for social roles’ (Oakley, 1985, p. 6). Women will be liberated, in our terminology will be full citizens, only when that confusion has been universally understood and rectified. The woman’s role has inextricably been associated with the private domain of the family, not the public domain of society and politics. Therefore, argued the women liberationists – radicals like the Marxists – the family system is a serious bar to freedom and equality that must be broken. Greer described the patriarchal family as ‘a necessary substructure of the authoritarian state’ (Greer, 1970, p. 329). Women suffer more than constraints on their freedom in the family; they suffer wife-beating. Male domination can indeed be vicious, so that women live in fear of assault in various forms including rape. The need for radical reforms, in attitudes and mentality as well as by legislation, is consequently urgent. In parallel with the Women’s Liberation Movement, Parliament took tentative action. In 1970 came the Equal Pay Act and in 1975 the Sex Discrimination Act. This latter set up the Equal Opportunities Commission, the first sex equality agency in Europe. The Equal Pay Act, however, 149

Citizenship in Britain had many loopholes (see e.g. Carter, 1988, pp. 58–9). Also the provisions of the 1975 Act have not been completely implemented because of the resistance from employers and the difficulties of proving that discrimination on the basis of sex has taken place. Consequently the effectiveness of these reforms have been limited compared with the hopes of the Labour government ministers who promoted them. On the other hand, when the new century started, women’s positions in society and their legal rights had been improved beyond all recognition compared with their conditions when Queen Victoria died in 1901, exactly one hundred years before. Yet, to put the matter bluntly, as with the suffragists/suffragettes, one may question how much the second wave contributed to these improvements. The doctrinal divisions we have outlined prevented a united, concerted programme from being defined. And, in so far as a movement existed across these divisions the basic organisation and membership were weak, consisting of small groups of mainly middle-class women. Furthermore, some of the more eye-catching antics of the radical activists provoked ridicule more than sympathy, even though, admittedly, the actions were less drastic than the suffragettes’: acts of arson, for instance, were committed publicly not against real estate property but against the women liberationists’ own property in the form of their supportive underwear – symbols of the dominant male’s expectations of woman’s bodily shape. It is true that some legislation was produced. But, again, as with the suffragist era, it can be argued that this parliamentary action was not necessarily a response to the ‘Women’s Lib’ movement, and also that the reforms were composed of merely rather feeble concessions to women’s needs. What, then, were the judgements on the movement as seen from the end of the twentieth century? Take these comments by women writers in liberal publications in 1998 (the New Statesman and the Guardian respectively): ‘Feminism is no longer necessary because it has become a victim of its own success’; ‘reiteration of feminist fundamentals is boring . . . a list of residual unfairnesses lacks compelling ethical urgency’ (quoted, Grant, 2000, pp. 209, 211). Nevertheless, one analyst of the topic gave a rather different, and incisive, summary of the issue two years later: The concept of ‘feminism’ is derided but not dead. It is derided because of the excesses of some elements of the post-war ‘second wave’ feminist movement itself, the hostile media stereotyping of the concept and the New Right conservative backlash against it. It is not dead because, although the principle of equality for women is increasingly accepted, the reality has not yet been achieved. (Grant, 2000, p. 215)


Two issues of status For instance, at the time of writing, on average, women are paid 25 per cent less than men and women hold only 28 per cent of senior civil service posts. Perhaps even more shockingly symbolic of persistent prejudice was the revelation in 2004 that female MPs were bullied, patronised and abused by some male MPs. Britain was the mother of parliaments, yet, apparently, cannot prevent her elite citizens from behaving like obnoxious adolescent boys. The second wave feminist movement was born and grew in England some years before ‘citizenship’ became, to use the colloquial term, a ‘buzz word’. The word and any clear idea of its meaning scarcely feature in the literature of the time. The vital question therefore arises: how can citizenship be interpreted in ways adapted to feminist needs? This extra task was undertaken in a substantial literature, some from British pens, along with the general efflorescence of scholarly writing on citizenship in the 1990s. Because it is difficult to identify a specifically or characteristically British contribution to feminist theorising about citizenship, we shall confine ourselves to a very succinct indication of the issues that have been raised, but as illustrated by British writers. Among the copious contributions to these debates by British female academics may be mentioned Ruth Lister’s Citizenship: Feminist Perspectives (1997) as a most helpful survey of the field and offering what was, at the time, original insights. The basic feminist problem with citizenship is, briefly, as follows. The concept, status and practice were devised by men. Women have therefore inevitably found it difficult to become citizens in the fullest sense. Thus they have three optional strategies for improving their civic condition. One is to insist on being treated exactly as men, to be absolutely equal in all aspects of citizenship. The second is the inverse of this attitude, namely, to argue that women’s aptitude for and primacy in the private sphere should be recognised as the feminine citizenly equivalent of men’s role in the public. This position is often referred to as maternalism. Third, some feminist writers have reasoned that what is really needed is a fundamental rethinking of citizenship in order to construct a new synthesis that is, to use the jargon, gender neutral. Progress in producing an acceptable solution has been hindered in the opinion of Judith Squires by ‘a clear bifurcation within recent feminist citizenship literature between those who are working with a concept of “social citizenship” and those working with a concept of “political citizenship” ’; and because ‘neither literature offers an explicit theory of the state’ (Squires, 2000, p. 36). On the other hand, novel reinterpretations of political citizenship have been worked upon. As early as 1991 Anne Phillips stated, in her consideration of citizens’ responsibilities, that, ‘In the debased version favoured in official circles [responsibilities refer] to activities in the 151

Citizenship in Britain social rather than the political realm . . . I consider citizenship most useful and meaningful when it is considered as a primarily political term’ (Phillips, 1991, p. 77). She accordingly investigated the implications of this preference for feminist purposes. What has been particularly interesting in this focusing on political citizenship has been the reinterpretation of the two basic styles of citizenship theory and the effect of this intellectual process. To cite Squires again: ‘The significant point about the reconsideration of liberalism and civic republicanism . . . is that the debate between these theorists is one that has moved away from the earlier maternalist agenda’ (Squires, 2000, p. 42). Women must find a variety of ways congenial to themselves to be political citizens.

Empire and Commonwealth citizenship Feminist thinking has not by any means been the only area in modern history where difficulties have been experienced in achieving a satisfactory civic identity. In the year of the founding of the National Union of Women’s Suffrage Societies, 1897, Victoria, Queen and Empress, celebrated her Diamond Jubilee. It was indeed an imperial occasion and therefore highlighted the question that had been exercising many people’s minds for some time of the nature of British civic identity in the imperial context. In this context we need to construe the two senses of civic identity, psychological and legal respectively, as the British people (and members of the constituent countries of the Empire) coming to feel that they were citizens of this union of global span, and the politicians and civil servants seeking to define that idea as a status in a practicable legal manner. The former meaning has been notable for the confusion of its interpretation and sense of commitment; the latter, by the confusion of its legislative objectives and outcomes. This section of the chapter is therefore effectively organised in two parts as we examine each of these meanings of Empire and Commonwealth citizenship. That at least some British people considered themselves to be citizens in this geographically expanded sense there can be no doubt. For example, Lord Milner, admittedly an especially staunch supporter of the imperial idea and ideal, stated quite categorically in 1925, ‘I feel myself a citizen of the Empire. I feel that Canada is my country, New Zealand is my country, South Africa is my country, just as much as Surrey or Yorkshire’ (quoted, Gaus, 1929, p. 75). The trouble for historians has been how to pin down this sentiment with any precision. In addition, their objectivity in this field has been questioned. For example, John MacKenzie makes this accusation: ‘While few [historians] have denied the existence of popular imperialism in the late nineteenth century, strenuous efforts have been made to discount its 152

Two issues of status significance’ (MacKenzie, 1986, p. 1). The subject is in fact too complicated to warrant simplistic interpretations; it raises a number of questions. When did a loyal commitment to Empire emerge and for how long did it last? Was it confined to a particular class or classes in society? What were the motives for encouraging the sentiment? By what means was an awareness of and attachment to the Empire conveyed? The traditional view of the chronology of imperial enthusiasm held that there was little sympathy for, indeed there was a positive antipathy towards, the Empire until the 1870s and that popular enthusiasm for the Empire then swelled for more than a generation. This pattern has been challenged. Our task therefore is to tackle the series of questions we have just raised. First, the problem of a date from which a popular consciousness of and pride in the Empire emanated. Much can be said in favour of the conventional date of c. 1870 and the roles of Disraeli and Queen Victoria for popularising the Empire. In his famous Crystal Palace speech in 1872, in which he set forth the three objectives of the Tory Party, Disraeli included the upholding of the Empire in contrast to the previous protracted policy of working for its dismantling, of which he accused the Liberals (even though in 1852 he had described the colonies as ‘millstones round our necks’). In 1876 he promoted (in both meanings of the word) Queen Victoria as Empress of India and conspicuous head, almost personification, of the Empire. It has usually been explained that all this was part of Disraeli’s romantic nature. On the other hand, a case can be made for arguing that the hard, unsentimental politician in him devised this policy. Worried at the terms of the 1867 Reform Act emerging in more radical extent than he had intended, he sought to divert the newly enfranchised artisan class from dangerous thoughts of domestic reform to patriotic pride in foreign adventures on behalf of the Empire (see e.g. MacKenzie, 1986, p. 2; 1984, p. 7). (The 1867 Act again seen by historians as pivotal in nineteenth-century history (see Chapter 4).) Yet Disraeli was not stimulating a public opinion entirely apathetic about the Empire. For example, in 1857 Sir Edmund Head, Governor-General of Canada, wrote to Sir George Cornewell Lewis, an influential political writer hostile to maintaining the Empire and, at that time, Chancellor of the Exchequer: ‘the people of England feel a deep attachment to their Empire, and that not even a barren rock, over which the flag of England had once waved, would be abandoned by them without a cogent sufficient reason’ (quoted, Hyam and Martin, 1975, p. 93). Discussion about the start, decay and end of a consciousness of imperial citizenship should really be conducted with an understanding that the sentiment varied in intensity over the generations. An obvious comment, perhaps. However, to give a few examples. The exciting highlights of Queen 153

Citizenship in Britain Victoria’s Jubilee celebrations, which indeed aroused jubilation, especially the Diamond, contrast with the lack of stridency in the, admittedly proud, acceptance of the Empire as part of the British citizen’s way of life in the twentieth-century inter-war years. Writing in the late 1920s, the American political scientist John Gaus could say of ‘the citizen of Great Britain’, ‘At his great pageants, coronations, jubilees, fairs, processions, he delights in representation of the varied places under the British flag’ (Gaus, 1929, p. 88). By the 1950s, nevertheless, the sense of membership of the Commonwealth, despite Queen Elizabeth II’s coronation and her personal commitment, was in terminal decline. But what had the previous generations of Britons who considered themselves to be citizens of the Empire thought they were citizens of? What was this Empire in the minds and imaginations of the proud possessors of this status? The articulate elite citizens of the Empire broadcast the judgement that this loose composition of territories was the product of a special genius – the genius of the British, or often expressed as the English, race. Milner declared that his imperial patriotism was aroused by ‘the speech, the tradition, the spiritual heritage, the principles, the aspirations of the British race’ (quoted, Gaus, 1929, p. 75). The Prime Minister, the Marquess of Salisbury, in a speech to colonial prime ministers, present in Britain for the Diamond Jubilee, asserted: Our Empire will rest on the great growth of sympathy, common thought, and feeling between those who are in the main the children of a common race, and who have a common history to look back upon and a common future to look forward to. It is the triumph of a moral idea. (Bennett, 1962, p. 322)

The ‘common race’ was, of course, the white Anglo-Saxon ‘race’. (Even the Celtic peoples of the British Isles were often forgotten in these discourses, in spite of the major role of the Scots in the development of the Empire.) The Empire was thought to consist in essence therefore of Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the ‘English’ South Africans. The Boers were a nuisance; Africans were to be pityingly helped to accept Christianity and to recognise the excellence of a civilisation they should strive, probably unsuccessfully for the most part, to emulate; the Indians provided the exotic uniforms and a modicum of civilisation that set them apart from the Africans. The most committed of British politicians at the end of the nineteenth century was Joseph Chamberlain, who was keen to take up his appointment as Colonial Secretary in 1895. Soon after, he declared, ‘I believe that the British race is the greatest of governing races that the world has ever seen’ (Bennett, 1962, p. 315). He also genuinely believed that the British had an imperial 154

Two issues of status mission and that the use of force was justified in order to civilise benighted peoples. Take up the White Man’s Burden – Send forth the best ye breed – Go bind your sons to exile To serve your captive’s need. Thus the presentation of this attitude of mind by Rudyard Kipling, frequently dubbed ‘the poet laureate of the Empire’. And although he wrote these lines to justify the American imperial slaughter of Filipinos, they were repeated as a kind of slogan of the British Empire. The mentality of arrogance and the policy of brutality – ‘Whatever happens we have got/ the Gatling gun, and they have not’ – offended the consciences of few. Chamberlain dismissed any objections with the homely metaphor: ‘You cannot have omelettes without breaking eggs’ (Bennett, 1962, p. 319). For the idea of Empire was an amalgam, a key consituent of which was the role of the armed forces. The feeling of Empire citizenship thus expressed itself as a militaristic mentality and as excited pride in the army’s exploits in the late nineteenth century on the North-West frontier and in Africa. If Britain’s need to boast of national power in an age of trumpeting nationalism could no longer be satisfied in Europe, the Empire offered a most convenient alternative. John MacKenzie has identified the elements in this composite vision of Empire as: the worship of military heroes, reverence for royalty, national complacency and conceit, a belief in cultural and racial superiority related to the current ideology of Social Darwinism and the conviction that Empire gave the nation a moral purpose (e.g. MacKenzie, 1984, pp. 2, 11; 1986, p. 9). So, when Britons thought of themselves as citizens of the Empire – a consciousness we can roughly date from 1870 to 1950 – this would have been the pattern that formed in their minds, though without any clear analysis by most, of course. What these generations were unlikely to be aware of is that the British character had already formulated some of these attitudes decades before a sense of citizenship of the Empire was conceived. For instance, in 1839 the Colonial Gazette commented: ‘There seems to be something in the term “Colonial dependence” peculiarly gratifying to national vanity’ (quoted, Hyam and Martin, 1975, p. 93); and Gladstone in the 1840s and 1850s was wont to stress Britain’s moral responsibility in her expansion, a responsibility placed on her shoulders by ‘Providence’ (see e.g. Hyam and Martin, 1975, p. 91; Bennett, 1962, p. 155). It is fairly clear that by c. 1900 pro-consuls like Milner, ministers like Chamberlain and army officers like Baden-Powell considered themselves 155

Citizenship in Britain to be citizens of the Empire. But these were men of deep colonial commitment and high social rank. For citizenship of the Empire to have been a significant form of civic self-identity, the concept must have filtered down to the generality of the population. Was that so? The consciousness of Empire among what was later termed the Establishment and the middle class is easy to indicate by reference to the ethos of the public schools and the economic interests of these portions of British society. A distinguished American economist, Leland Jenks, wrote illuminatingly in 1926 that, ‘the stakes of the middle classes grew in investments made under the protection of British rule. They aided in the formation of a state of mind which was ready to think of foreign policy in terms of Empire rather than England’ (quoted, Gaus, 1929, p. 78). Yet no one should deny the enthusiastic patriotic response of the working class to dramatic events like the death of General Gordon in the Sudan and the raising of the siege of Mafeking in the Boer War. The lower classes were not focused with a single mind on their own domestic social and economic conditions. For example, the left-wing Labour Leader sadly regretted in 1898 that the working class was more interested in celebrating the British army’s victory at the Battle of Omdurman than supporting the Welsh miners’ coal strike (see, MacKenzie, 1984, p. 7). The most useful interpretation is that middle-class sense of Empire citizenship percolated down to the lower classes by the end of the nineteenth century. To a certain extent the spread of this mood was officially encouraged. To give one telling example. As we shall explain below, an Empire Day was designated to concentrate the nation’s thoughts on the subject. On that day in 1927, the Prime Minister, Baldwin, made a statement in which he explained, To build up new nations overseas, for each of them with ourselves to make her own peculiar contribution to the whole and to make that whole a great force for righteousness for the world, that is not only the task of statesmen, but it is the task, if it is to be successful, which can only be accomplished by the conscious enthusiasm and participation of our people of all ranks and classes. (Quoted, Gaus, 1929, pp. 92–3)

In truth, by the late nineteenth century the country had become so saturated with propaganda about the Empire it must have been extraordinarily difficult for anyone not to think of him- or herself as a citizen of that geopolitical phenomenon. Writing about his own memories as a child in the 1930s, the historian John Julius Norwich has written that the Empire ‘was all around us, celebrated on our biscuit tins, chronicled on our cigarette cards, part of the fabric of our lives. We were all imperialists then’ (quoted, 156

Two issues of status MacKenzie, 1984, p. 24). But this was a tiny timespan and a tiny selection of the multifarious vehicles by which the imperial message was conveyed for about three-quarters of a century. Leaving aside occasional events such as the Jubilees, we may cluster these influences into four categories: entertainment, advertisements, the mass media and institutions. So varied were the uses of these methods for propagating the idea and fact of Empire that it is possible here to indicate only a small sample. By far the most effective, because popular, form of entertainment through which Britons absorbed the understanding that they were citizens of the Empire, in the sense of identity, was music. Songs with imperial themes were performed via musical evenings in the home, community brass bands playing the melodies and, above all, the music halls. Words were added by the Eton schoolmaster A. C. Benson to part of Elgar’s Pomp and Circumstance No.1 to make the rousing song ‘Land of Hope and Glory’ (in fact, rhythmically simplified from the composer’s use of the trio as a Coronation Ode), which includes the lines ‘Thine Empire shall be strong’ and ‘Wider still and wider shall thy bounds be set’. It was made known through the music hall during the First World War by the famous artiste Marie Lloyd. One may add that the title of these marches by Elgar portrayed the theatrical ceremonial of imperial events. When the music-hall form of entertainment declined, the cinema took its place. Imperial countries, notably India, were used as backcloths to the narratives of the films, a famous example being, The Bengal Lancers. From art to commerce. Numerous companies used imperial allusions to advertise their products. Not everyone had a taste for music hall or cinema, and not everyone could afford the price of a ticket. However, no one could avoid seeing advertisements on packets and tins in shop-windows and on enamel plates fixed to brick walls. MacKenzie lists the especially pervasive: The most aggressive and innovative advertisers of the day were companies dependent on the imperial nexus, in tea, chocolate, soaps, tobacco, meat extracts, shipping, and later rubber. They set out not only to illustrate a romantic view of imperial origins, a pride in national possession of what Joseph Chamberlain called ‘imperial estates’, but also to identify themselves with royal and military events, and to score from the contemporary cult of personality. (MacKenzie, 1984, p. 16)

We are, anachronistically, using the term ‘mass media’ for our third category in a broader sense than its normal meaning; yet it seems an appropriate term for the many methods that were developed to make the populace aware of their membership of and be interested in the Empire. Newspapers carried both news and advertisements, and when cinematography evolved, news of 157

Citizenship in Britain imperial events was projected on to the screens. However, the revolution in mass printing, including the use of colour, together with improved literacy had a particular impact in two forms. One was cheap books and magazines, the other was cards. Both popular literature for adults and juvenile literature carried the theme of Empire and sold at extraordinarily low prices in the late nineteenth century. Stories of travel, exploration, adventure, lives in imperial lands and biographies of the famous heroes sold abundantly. Even more pervasive and calling upon far less effort to absorb the message were picture postcards and cigarette-cards. Many series of these depicted imperial and military topics. Cigarette-cards were small rectangles slotted into the packets and were a device copied from tobacco companies by purveyors of tea. Vast numbers of both postcards and cigarette-cards were produced and circulated in a veritable collecting mania. Our fourth category we have labelled ‘institutions’, by which we mean in particular the Churches, schools and youth movements. In the late nineteenth century Churches took on a militaristic tone, reflected in the popular hymn, ‘Onward, Christian soldiers’, the organisation of drilling youth movements such as the Boys’ Brigade, and the creation of the Salvation Army. This last was founded, not by coincidence, in the year of ‘jingoism’, derived from the ultra-nationalistic music-hall song composed at the time of the warlike mood of 1878 (occasioned by the Russo-Turkish war). Schools too were becoming militarised, a trend started by the public schools’ officer cadet corps. Consciousness of the Empire was instilled into the pupils of state schools by the ubiquitous wall-maps with the member countries of the Empire always coloured red (a cartographical device dating back, in fact, to 1831), and, during the generation from 1904, by the celebration of Empire Day, instituted in that year. London County Council, for example, issued a statement to teachers in the metropolitan area that the day should awaken ‘in the minds of the children attending the schools a true sense of the responsibilities attaching to their inheritance as children of the Empire, and the close family tie which exists among all British subjects’ (quoted, Gaus, 1929, p. 178 n. 10). For many of these children, in any case, this message would have been but an annual reinforcement of their consciousness of their imperial status, which they learned continually throughout their young lives by membership of the uniformed youth movements. Of all these groups, the Boy Scouts and Girl Guides exemplify most clearly the mass induction of youth into the mystique of Empire. It has been estimated that during the first eighty years of the twentieth century about 13 million young people in Britain had belonged to these movements. Their founder was Robert BadenPowell, the heroic defender of Mafeking in the Boer War. He laid out the principles of the Boy Scouts in Scouting for Boys: A Handbook for Instruction 158

Two issues of status in Good Citizenship, first published in 1908, and collaborated with his sister Agnes in compiling a companion volume, The Handbook for Girl Guides or How Girls can help build the Empire, which followed in 1912. The citizenly and imperial functions of the movements are indeed the theme of an essay by Allen Warren, which he entitles ‘Citizens of the Empire’ (1986). The citizenship was classless, Scouting and Guiding attracting all ranks from the royal family to the offspring of artisans; the imperialism was multiracial, as the movements spread geographically from the metropolitan country. The patriotic and imperial motifs reached their apogee in the 1920s, when, Through a shared British inheritance and a common Scouting and Guiding philosophy the two movements saw themselves as helping the individual nations of the Commonwealth to achieve a domestic multi-racial coherence and as aiding the development of the Commonwealth as a unique experiment in international cooperation. (Warren, 1986, p. 251)

Thereafter, the imperial motif faded, accelerated by the process of the Dominions’ developing national identity and independence. Equality, brotherhood and patriotism none the less remained, particularly in Britain, brought into sharper focus by the crisis of the Second World War, when Scouts contributed to the national war effort by such activities as collecting salvage. Furthermore, a separate division of War Service Scouts was formed to fit boys of fifteen and over ‘to do any job of National Service that may come along’ (quoted, Morgan, 1943, p. 112), a mode of youth citizenship flexibly adapted to the unusual and dangerous needs of the time. Beyond the creation of an imperial civic identity as a sentiment, two ways have been considered to provide the understanding and feeling with a buttress of legal-constitutional status. One has been the erection of constitutional machinery to allow participation in a federal political structure; the other has been the drafting of legislation to define who are to be rated as citizens of the Commonwealth and what that status entails. It must be stressed immediately that programmes of imperial federalism did not always include any plans for citizenly participation. For example, the Imperial Federation League, which existed from 1884 to 1893, was created out of a sense of panic that the Empire was in danger of disintegrating and needed strengthening by commercial and military/naval collaboration – scarcely a federal scheme in the true sense of the word, in any case. Ideas for constitutional structures were notoriously vague at this time (see e.g. Brassey, 1895). However, if we start our account much earlier, there is plenty of evidence of enthusiasm over the ages for federal representative institutions (see e.g. Hyam and Martin, 1975, pp. 122–8). 159

Citizenship in Britain As early as the Cromwellian Commonwealth period Colonel Modyford suggested that Barbados should elect two Members of Parliament. A century later, it was the straining of relations between the mother country and the thirteen North American colonies from the Seven Years War onwards that concentrated minds on the prospective advantages of federalism in the sense of colonial representation at Westminster: ‘no taxation without representation’. Despite support for the idea of imperial federalism from such distinguished thinkers as Benjamin Franklin and Adam Smith, however, no serious backing was forthcoming either side of the Atlantic. The question was revived in the 1820s and especially with the debate on the First Reform Bill. The radical peer, the Duke of Richmond commended the principle of colonial representation in the House of Commons, and the radical MP Joseph Hume specifically recommended nineteen MPs for the member countries of the Empire. In the 1840s and 1850s the alternative ideas for colonial representatives in the Westminster Parliament or an overarching imperial representative assembly were being canvassed not just in Britain, but in Canada, Australia and New Zealand too. In Britain even Russell and Disraeli toyed with the idea of colonial MPs in the House of Commons. Clearly, if any of these initiatives had come to fruition, British citizenship in the sense of possession of the franchise would have been extended in a broad imperial sense. However, in 1870, an authoritative statement was made, pouring cold water on the idea. This was an article by Herman Merivale, civil service head of the Colonial Office, who asserted that no scheme ‘has ever been more thoroughly ventilated’, though with the result of highlighting ‘the insoluble nature of the difficulties’ (quoted, Hyam and Martin, 1975, p. 129). In fact, in so far as federalists of this era had a concept of citizenship of the Empire it was in the psychological, as already discussed, not the legal/constitutional sense. Lord Carnarvon, who served as Colonial Secretary (therefore Merivale’s political master) and in fact became a member of the Imperial Federation League, expressed the thought: I wish, indeed, it were possible that an Englishman and a Colonist, when they went to their respective countries, should feel that they were members of the same great Empire . . . and that in all other respects the Englishman should feel himself a citizen in Canada, and the Canadian should feel himself no stranger in England. (Quoted, Bennett, 1962, p. 251)

This was the credo, a sentiment closely repeated decades later in the words of Lord Milner, as we have already observed. 160

Two issues of status For the federalist idea was not totally discarded after its heyday in the 1880s, when The Times declared that ‘Imperial Federalism is universally recognised as a thing desirable in itself, and not impossible of realisation at some future day’ (quoted, Brassey, 1895, p. 13). For instance, Joseph Chamberlain, when Colonial Secretary, was keenly optimistic. The prospect of an imperial parliament or colonial representatives in the Westminster Parliament was even alive, though weak, as late as the 1930s and 1940s (see Hyam and Martin, 1975, p. 135). Nevertheless, throughout its nearly two centuries’ history, the ideal was never put into practice – paradoxically, prevented by that very principle of citizenship that should have been its ultimate objective. A representative federal constitution would have required either a defined franchise common to all the component parts of the Empire (the UK, the colonies which became Dominions, India, and the miscellaneous small and less developed lands) or complicated separate franchises. Such a constitution would have required also an allocation of seats and drawing of constituencies on defined principles. Even if blueprints were designed, at no time would universal agreement have been politically possible. But although imperial citizenship proved not to be practicable in the sense of constitutional enfranchisement, by the twentieth century defining Commonwealth citizenship in the sense of the availability of civic rights in all the separate constituent lands became an urgent issue. Yet this, too, was no easy task. By the start of the twentieth century the status of the inhabitants of the Commonwealth – the word that was replacing ‘Empire’ during the First World War – was confused. Four former colonial lands – Australia, Canada, New Zealand and South Africa – were self-governing Dominions with their own parliamentary systems; their citizens (though not all their inhabitants, conspicuously not in South Africa) therefore enjoyed civic rights in advance of, say, the population of Gambia. There was also a sizeable jumble of Dominion laws and imperial conventions. Definitions of citizenship and nationality varied throughout the members of the Empire/Commonwealth. There was nevertheless a vague feeling that all member-countries were one community with a common imperial ‘nationality’, made flesh, as it were, in the concept that all the people were subjects of the British Crown. One way and another, these conditions all added up to a muddle, and an increasing number of political figures became concerned to sort it out, not least because the fear, traceable back to the late nineteenth century, that the Dominions might sever the imperial link altogether. Little was accomplished until after the Second World War. And yet, there are some interesting prior snippets to record. To start in 1914. In that 161

Citizenship in Britain year were passed the British Nationality and Status of Aliens Act and the Imperial Act, making tentative starts, the latter confirming that everyone born in the Empire was a British subject. In 1921, Leo Amery (who was later to hold the office of Colonial and Dominions Secretary) wrote to the South African statesman and Empire enthusiast Jan Smuts as follows: These independent political units are composed equally of British subjects and have thus a common and interchangeable citizenship . . . Nothing could be more typical of this community of citizenship than the fact that you, while a South African Minister, were actually for a time also a member of the British War Cabinet. (Quoted, Hall, 1971, pp. 376–7)

‘Common and interchangeable’ and ‘community of citizenship’ sound very firm statements, implying a legal foundation. In fact, Amery was writing about nothing more than a generally accepted tradition. Keith Hancock epitomised this tradition: he was an Australian who eventually settled in England and became a distinguished academic authority on the Commonwealth. Moreover, sixteen years after Amery’s letter, he revealed the true, informal nature of Commonwealth citizenship at this time. He wrote, ‘There is no doubt . . . that the duty of maintaining the largest possible measure of effective common or mutual citizenship is one of the principal nonfundamental conventions of the Commonwealth’ (Hancock and Latham, 1937, p. 584). A non-fundamental convention, not a legal status. In 1931 an attempt was made to codify the law under which the Commonwealth operated. This was the Statute of Westminster. Even with its Preamble of accepted conventions, it is a brief document. During the drafting meetings some delegates strove to incorporate a legal definition of Commonwealth citizenship. Irish intransigence reduced the text to such woolliness that the Home Office legal adviser considered the opportunity to settle the question had been irretrievably lost. After the Second World War the British government was forced into legislative action by changes in the Canadian citizenship laws. In the words of the American scholar W. D. McIntyre, the Canadian government ‘ended the common code of citizenship of all “British subjects” . . . The common nationality stemmed now from Canadian citizenship, not from being a British subject’ (McIntyre, 1977, p. 352). The casual assumption of the universal bond of subjecthood to the Crown was undermined. The result was the thorough, not to say, complicated, British Nationality Act of 1948 (see Jones, 1956, pp. 125–89, 223–47). In terminology, ‘the expression “British subject” and the expression “Commonwealth citizen” shall have the same meaning’ (1(2)); moreover, the marginal summary to 1(1) reads: ‘British 162

Two issues of status nationality by virtue of citizenship’. In essence, the Act divided the citizens of the Commonwealth into two categories, namely, the citizens of the nine independent member-states (i.e. Dominions, though that term was soon to fall into disuse) and the inhabitants of those territories that were still colonies. For the latter, broadly speaking, the Act provided for the status of citizenship of the United Kingdom and Colonies, to be held by persons born in any of these countries, or were offspring of a father born in any of these countries or by registration. By virtue of this enactment it was assumed that all British citizens therein defined had the right of immigration into the United Kingdom and the right of abode there. However, as the number of coloured immigrants increased in the 1950s, racial antagonism intensified in England. Consequently, the Commonwealth Immigration Act was passed in 1962 requiring any applicant with a British passport not issued in the United Kingdom to hold a work permit in addition. The process of further sub-dividing the status of Commonwealth citizenship was under way. The plight of the ethnically Asian communities in Kenya because of the policy of Africanisation and the brutal policies of Idi Amin in Uganda accelerated the flow of immigrants from those sources, mainly Kenya, in 1967–8, and accentuated fears of even more. These people had citizenship rights of entry even under the terms of the 1962 Act. But public hostility (exacerbated by a speech in which the MP Enoch Powell foretold bloodshed flowing from communal conflict (see p. 235) induced the British government to push through a new Commonwealth Immigrants Act in 1968. This measure restricted entry to those born in the UK or whose parents or grandparents were born in the UK; and further to stem the numbers, a strict voucher system was installed. Three years later, methods of restricting coloured Commonwealth immigrants were again extended by the Immigration Act of 1971. The automatic right of abode was then available only to people it defined as ‘patrials’. The authoritative report by PEP (Political and Economic Planning) on racial disadvantage in Britain explained this new word: The definition of this term is complex, but essentially it means people who, as well as being Commonwealth citizens, or citizens of the United Kingdom and colonies, have some substantial connection with the UK; for example, they were born in the UK, or acquired UK citizenship by naturalization or registration, or one of their parents . . . acquired UK citizenship in one of these ways. (Smith, 1977, pp. 25–6)

Both the 1968 and 1971 Acts were self-evidently racial in aim because it was virtually impossible for anyone but a white person to qualify under their 163

Citizenship in Britain provisions. They caused much unease on this account. For example, two Dominion citizens reacted in this way in a letter to The Times: As New Zealanders, we object to the total concept of patrialism, and would prefer to see all Commonwealth citizens regarded as aliens, rather than divided according to race . . . Many New Zealanders do not want to be associated with a concept which can only damage the basic objectives of the Commonwealth. (Quoted, McIntyre, 1977, p. 468)

Next to be enacted was the British Nationality Act of 1981 (which came into effect in 1983). So convoluted is it that one legal authority has judged that it ‘has created new injustices and anomalies, many of its provisions are so obscurely drafted that they are unfit to be in the statute book’ (quoted, Commission on Citizenship, 1990, p. 76). The Act divided people of the Commonwealth into four categories, namely British citizens, citizens of British dependent territories, British overseas citizens, and British protected persons and British subjects. The three new categories require explanation. British dependent territories are the remaining colonies, mainly islands. A citizen of such a territory is a person who was born, registered or naturalised in the territory or the wife of a citizen. British overseas citizens are mainly those of Indian or Chinese descent living in East Africa. Anyone who is a British subject but without citizenship status falls into the third category. None of these three categories contains the automatic right of entry into the United Kingdom. However, anyone obtaining permission to enter could, by the provisions of the Act, be entitled to register for British citizenship after five years’ residence. In addition, all these categories carry the status of Commonwealth citizenship and the entitlement in the UK to vote, stand in parliamentary or local elections, serve on a jury, become a magistrate or join the armed forces. (For further details, see e.g. Wilson, 1983, pp. 1–8.) A test of the stringency of the three subordinate categories came in 1989–90 when arrangements were made for the transfer of Hong Kong (a British dependent territory) to China. Three-and-a-half million inhabitants held British passports; only 50,000 were allowed the special right of residence in the United Kingdom. Indeed, fear of a substantial future influx from Hong Kong was one of the main reasons for the 1981 Act. We should append two postscripts. One is to place the 1981 Act in historical and comparative contexts. Nationality/citizenship has traditionally been defined in international law by the operation of the ius sanguinis or ius soli, by right of blood or place of birth. Interpreted as allegiance to the Crown, both were recognised in English common law and confirmed by the eminent eighteenth-century jurist Blackstone. The 1981 Act undermined 164

Two issues of status the principle of ius soli. The second postscript is in the form of the 2002 British Overseas Territories Act. This granted full UK citizenship to the 200,000 inhabitants of the fourteen British Overseas Territories (i.e. the dependent territories of the 1981 Act referred to above). Let us end this chapter with two observations about the quirkiness of British citizenship. First, we must recognise that for centuries the term was used by writers and radicals, but was not uttered in any legal or constitutional context. Only when British control over its Empire began to falter and fears of a flow of immigrants in the reverse direction from the emigration which had built the Empire, were ministers and civil servants impelled to concoct definitions. And even then, a clear understanding of its nature has been extremely difficult to construe with any legal precision. Our second observation is that, still, with the introduction of the Byzantine 1981 Act, the policy of adding complications to the law of citizenship and the connections between citizenship, immigration and discrimination did not come to an end. However, because the questions broadened beyond the matter of Commonwealth citizenship by the end of the twentieth century, we shall need to resume our discussion of the topic in Chapter 7.


Chapter 6

Focus on social citizenship

The British Idealists Legislative activity by Liberal governments in the early years of the twentieth century is indicative of an adaptation of that party’s doctrine. Just as the major diversion of policy by the Labour Party at the end of that century necessitated the neologism ‘New Labour’, so, in the period we are now studying, it was felt helpful (and honest?) to use the term ‘New Liberalism’. New Liberalism meant an acceptance of the need for more state intervention to ameliorate the social conditions of squalor and poverty that the laissez-faire philosophy of classical Liberalism left relatively untended. The adjustment was not an entirely smooth transition. By the end of the century Liberals of the old school muttered darkly about the assault on individual freedom and creeping socialism, opposing a new generation of politicians and writers who enthusiastically embraced the reforming agenda and argued with conviction for its implementation – for instance, R. B. Haldane, J. A. Hobson, L. T. Hobhouse, Herbert Samuel and Winston Churchill (born, in that chronological order, between 1856 and 1874). However, this younger cohort had energy, was in tune with the times and, especially significant for us, in presenting their case, they spoke and wrote the language of citizenship. Indeed, some were at pains to distinguish their credo from that of the newly created Labour Party by stressing that they were concerned for all citizens, while the Labour Party represented just the interests of the working class. They pictured a mutual relationship of citizenly and state responsibilities. The citizen has the duty, and should accept the duty, of contributing to the smooth and just operation of society; the state has the duty of providing the minimal conditions for individuals to exercise their civic functions. This basic principle of state intervention to improve the quality of the individual’s life, both socially and civically, had the advantage of being underpinned by the theoretical work of distinguished political philosophers


Focus on social citizenship (see e.g. Vincent and Plant, 1984, pp. 76–82). From as early as the 1860s such a cadre of scholars, who are generally known as the British Idealists, were indeed already thinking along these lines and the politicians and writers we have named above, and many others, were influenced by them. Our concern in this section therefore is to indicate briefly the thrust of the British Idealists’ thought, to examine how their concept of citizenship slotted into this, and to show their importance and influence. Although other scholars, including Bernard Bosanquet, F. H. Bradley, Edward Caird and Henry Jones, contributed significantly to the shaping of this school of thought, T. H. Green was the leading figure and may be cited alongside J. S. Mill and T. H. Marshall as salient British contributors to the modern theory of citizenship. Indeed, in the words of Bosanquet, ‘No other recent writer . . . has the classical strength and sanity of Professor Green, who was never more thorough and more at home than when dealing with those questions affecting citizenship in and for which, it may be said, he lived’ (Green, 1941, pp. v–vi). (Bosanquet studied under Green and was later Professor of Moral Philosophy at St Andrews University.) Green became Tutor in Philosophy at Balliol College, Oxford, in 1860, and some of his pupils carried on his work. In addition to his pedagogical influence and commitment to our subject, Green offers us both a succinct definition of the Idealist understanding of the meaning of citizenship and a personal model of active, practical citizenship. His definition runs as follows: We who were reformers . . . said, and we were much derided for saying so, that only citizenship makes the moral man; that only citizenship gives that self respect which is the true basis of respect for others, and without which there is no lasting social order or real morality. (Quoted, Vincent and Plant, 1984, p. 1)

Notice the essentially moral nature of citizenship in Green’s thinking, unsurprising in the thought of a man who became Whyte’s Professor of Moral Philosophy. His activity as a citizen in the practical sense embraced his four main interests, namely, temperance, education, local government and the policies of the Liberal Party. He famously deplored the degradation of ‘an untaught and underfed denizen of a London yard with gin shops on the right hand and the left’ (quoted, Barker, 1947, p. 29). In pursuit of his commitment to temperance he even opened a ‘coffee tavern’ in the centre of Oxford to lure the sociably thirsty away from the demon alcohol. In education, he served on Royal Commissions, was a member of the Oxford School Board and was instrumental in setting up a boys’ school in the city. He was also an assiduous member of the Oxford City Council; what is more, he chose to


Citizenship in Britain stand for democratic election, not to acquire his seat as a University member. For his political party he often spoke at public meetings. And all this in a sadly all too brief life: born in 1836, he died in 1882. His major works of philosophy, Prolegomena to Ethics and Lectures on the Principles of Political Obligation, were in fact published posthumously. Two crucial influences shaped the thinking of the British Idealist philosophers. One was the thorough study of Plato, Aristotle, Kant and Hegel in the Oxford curriculum. The other was the New Liberal thinking about state intervention. These influences led to the related recognition that two tasks had urgently to be undertaken: how to reap the benefits of the Idealist, community teachings of Plato and Hegel without undermining the individualist teachings of Aristotle and Kant; and how to adapt this absolutely basic question of the primacy of the community/state or of the individual to the nineteenth-century British context of Liberalism in the rapidly changing social conditions. The resolution of these problems involved complex and abstruse metaphysical and ethical arguments, disagreements in detail among the members of the group and debates among subsequent scholars about the intellectual validity of the work and its connections with changing political programmes. However, because our study relates specifically to citizenship, only the barest outline of the whole Idealist philosophy context is required here. We shall draw this summary from Green’s interpretation because he is so central to our interests, though his political imagery, it must be recognised, is tinged with his deep Christian faith. His understanding of the Ideal, the state and citizenship as a consequence of this belief has been summarised by Ernest Barker: It must be remembered that behind his conception of the State lies the idea of an eternal self-consciousness, which communicates to human consciousness the idea of the social good, and to whose perfection, in turn, human consciousness is ever seeking to attain, and, in the higher forms of human society, has already partially attained. In the light of such an idea citizenship becomes Christian citizenship, and the State a civitas Dei. (Barker, 1947, p. 23)

In order to compose this theory of politics Green needed to construct new interpretations of three key, interconnected concepts, namely, rights, the common good and freedom. Green rejects the very idea of natural rights: rights are provided by, are not antecedent to, society. Man therefore enjoys rights by virtue of membership of a society, but they are enjoyed only in a moral society. Rights are mutual; rights are valuable for the promotion of morality; and rights are constrained 168

Focus on social citizenship by these relationships. On the other hand, precisely because of their ethical nature, they are essential. He explains: There ought to be rights, because the moral personality, – the capacity on the part of the individual for making a common good his own, – ought to be developed; and it is developed through rights; i.e. through the recognition by members of a society of powers in each other contributory to a common good, and the regulation of these powers by that recognition. (Green, 1941, 26)

However – Green insists on this and the argument is part of his objection to the notion of natural rights – rights, properly understood in this social context, necessarily change. Societies are different, societies vary over time, the common good is neither universal nor static. But what does Green mean by ‘the common good’? Here we find undertones of both Aristotelian civic virtue and the Platonic ideal state. Peter Nicholson is a vital guide. He explains: We must be aware explicitly that Green breaks with the usage of ‘common good’ as merely synonymous with ‘public interest’ and instead invests it with all the special meaning derived from the long tradition of the supreme good as a social life of virtue and of the State as a moral institution devoted to that good. (Nicholson, 1990, pp. 63–4)

As a moral institution, the state, in Green’s view, has a positive function to enhance what he terms ‘real freedom’, which he distinguishes from formal freedom (i.e. negative freedom from restraint against actions) and legal freedom. His notion of real freedom is central to his contribution to the doctrines of New Liberalism and social democracy. Real freedom is a condition which allows a citizen to act as he wishes and with others to achieve a good quality of life. Nevertheless, there are so many hindrances to this achievement that public assistance is needed – not to create the common good life, but to furnish the conditions which will allow the free citizen to contribute to forging it, that is, to remove the obstacles. To take an example from Green’s great interest in education, he wrote: With a view to securing such freedom among its members it is as certainly within the province of the state to prevent children from growing up in that kind of ignorance which practically excludes them from a free choice of career in life, as it is within its province to require the sort of building and drainage necessary for public health. (Quoted, Barker, 1978, p. 14)


Citizenship in Britain Citizenship was intrinsic to the Idealist philosophy, and at the risk of some repetition, we shall now attempt some analysis of the components of the concept as the Idealists interpreted it. Despite scholarly reservations, particularly in the past, about the quality of their thinking, there can be little doubt about the current relevance of the Idealists’ conviction that citizenship is a crucial human status, quality and commitment and it must surely be agreed that they were, as a school, unique in the history of British political philosophy in their concentrated effort to prove its absolute indispensability in the modern state. The Idealists, echoing Aristotle, insisted that citizenship was what quintessentially made the human person a moral being. As J. H. Muirhead cryptically expressed it, ‘To deny one’s citizenship is to deny one’s humanity’ (quoted, Vincent and Plant, 1984, p. 80). This was a big claim to make in nineteenth-century Britain and placed a strain upon the Idealists’ task of filling in the detail of the meaning of citizenship and how the individual could achieve this civic quality. To turn Muirhead’s statement into the negative: a person who does not measure up to the Idealists’ notional standards for a citizen was not, in the proper sense, a human being. This raises the question of their understanding of the nature of social equality. For Green, equality meant, primarily, attitudes and behaviour, it did not mean classlessness. Equality meant considering and contributing to the common good because ‘the essential thing is that [a man] applies no other standard in judging of the well-being of others than in judging of his own’ (quoted, Nicholson, 1990, p. 75). It did not mean redistributing wealth from the rich to the poor – though as we shall see later, critically for the achievement of citizenship, the poor needed help – because equality in a material sense, as the Idealists knew, has never been and never can be achieved. Citizenship, consequently, is about the individual’s character, of living a cultivated, considerate human life. ‘Character’ was a key word, particularly in Bosanquet’s civic vocabulary. It was taken to mean the moral qualities of self-reliance and responsibility grounded in the rational and intellectual capacities. A person endowed with such character would be a good citizen because social and economic conditions had allowed him to transcend the narrow, basic concerns of material existence. In the slogan of William Wallace, who succeeded Green in his chair, ‘civilisation is citizenship’ (quoted, Vincent and Plant, 1984, p. 81). For Green especially, as we have already seen, there must also be something of the spiritual in this character – ‘living for the brethren’, as he put it (quoted, Vincent and Plant, 1984, p. 14). Indeed, it was inconceivable in Green’s mind that, in a good state, politics and religion could be divorced. Moreover, because the Christian ethic is not thought to be restricted in its application, the practice of good 170

Focus on social citizenship citizenship is not confined to the citizen–state relationship. At the local level, Bosanquet in theory and Arnold Toynbee in practice believed in the vital role of the neighbourhood, where civic and religious virtue could be melded in benevolent service to others. This credo is somewhat reminiscent of George Dawson’s (see p. 129). At the other end of the geographical scale, the ideas of a universally valid human, especially Christian, sense of moral responsibility tended in the direction of a religious foundation for a world citizenship. We shall return to the local and global dimensions of the Idealists’ conception of citizenship later. None the less, citizenship at the state level is the origin and kernel of the status both historically and juridically. Inevitably, the Idealists gave considerable attention to this relationship. They argued for the inextricable links: man has a capacity to enjoy rights; by exercising rights he becomes a citizen; by being a citizen he becomes properly free in the sense of involvement in the common good; yet rights and freedom cannot be enjoyed without the enabling function of the state. Yet the institutional responsibility of the state to assist the individual to become a citizen must not be so thoroughly exercised as to undermine the citizen’s self responsibility, which it is also the state’s duty to cultivate, because that quality is of the very nature of being a citizen. State intervention on behalf of the citizen, in short, must be nicely measured. Following these generalisations, let us cite some passages on the topic from Green and a younger Idealist, the Scotsman Henry Jones. First, then, Green’s answer to the question he posed in his Principles of Political Obligation, ‘Has the citizen rights against the state?’ Following a discussion on the nature of rights, he explains that, by virtue of a citizen’s membership of a state, the state subsumes all his other, lower-level rights, for example, of the family. Consequently, the citizen can have no rights against the state, ‘the state being for its members the society of societies, the society in which all their claims upon each other are mutually adjusted’ (Green, 1941, 141). This suggests that the citizen has no right to disobey the laws of the state: the citizen cannot claim to defend his rights against violation by the state because those rights exist only because they derive from the state; though disobedience may be justified for the purpose of benefiting the state as acknowledged by the conscience of the whole community (see Green, 1941, 142, 143). But Green cannot condone any unlawful citizenly activity against the status quo established by the state, as he revealed in this passage: As a general rule, no doubt, even bad laws, laws representing the interest of classes or individuals as opposed to those of the community, should be obeyed. There can be no right to disobey them, even while their repeal is urged on the ground that


Citizenship in Britain they violate rights, because the public interest, on which all rights are founded, is more concerned in the general obedience to law than in the exercise of those powers by individuals or classes which the objectionable laws unfairly uphold. (Green, 1941, 144)

(Green was notoriously casual in some of his terminology. If he had said ‘common good’ instead of public interest here, he would have strengthened the connection of the passage with his coherent philosophy, no doubt what he intended.) Towards the end of his life, Jones, who held the chairs of Moral Philosophy at St Andrews, then Glasgow Universities, wrote Principles of Citizenship. Indeed, so keen was he on our topic that he believed it should have been made a university subject and was instrumental in establishing the Stevenson Lectureship in Citizenship at Glasgow. In this book he insisted that the relationship between state and citizen is – to use the modern biological metaphor – tightly symbiotic. He asserts: [A citizen’s] life and that of his country are one. Neither he nor it can live for itself alone. He finds his living personality in the State, and the State finds its personality in him. The State provides the opportunities, the citizen uses the opportunities. To provide the former is the duty of the State and the right of the citizen; to provide the latter, the use, is the duty of the citizen and the right of the State. (Clarke, 1994, p. 167)

The political pattern demanded the stylistic device of balanced sentences. Notice the citizen’s duty to use his opportunities. A citizen must act in a social and civic manner, which means acting responsibly, conscious of the nature of his actions and having some knowledge and understanding of his field of action. John McCunn, Professor of Philosophy at Liverpool University, put the matter pithily: ‘Never can it enough be realised, in democracies especially, that men become citizens in truth and in substance, only when they use their rights’ (Clarke, 1994, p. 162). He even went so far as to assert that only by ‘strenuous civic life’ can a man be really free (Clarke, 1994, p. 163). Something much more than casting a vote is obviously required. Regular service to one’s fellow-citizens, particularly the less fortunate, was especially commended by the Idealists. It was essential that citizens fulfil this obligation not only for the sake of the deprived but for the state as well, for reasons we shall explain below. Engagement in social improvement at the local level was clearly easier than at the national. Moreover, the Idealists believed in the special civic purpose of a close community of fellowship, 172

Focus on social citizenship that the neighbourhood is an ‘ethical institution’. Bosanquet was particularly keen on this notion, and men we may call ‘practical Idealists’ put it to work, the most distinguished of whom were Canon Barnett in Oxford and Arnold Toynbee in London. The main targets for charitable neighbourly service were poverty and its associated moral weaknesses. As Green observed, ‘a degraded population perpetuates and increases itself’ (quoted, Vincent and Plant, 1984, p. 59). Also, two of his fellow-Idealists, Jones and Muirhead, wrote of Edward Caird (who taught Jones at Balliol) that his ‘sympathy . . . was strong with the poor, and with everyone held down and deprived of healthy citizenship’ (quoted, Vincent and Plant, 1984, p. 138). In stressing the need to tackle poverty – both by citizenly and state action – the Idealists reflected their intellectual debt to Hegel. His concern was for the integrity of the state, which is dependent on the citizenly bonds of civil society, which, in turn, tend to be loosened by penury because the poor lack such civil and social rights as access to justice and education. But for some of the British Idealists pauperism was a state of mind as much as an economic condition. Therefore, social reform was necessary not just to raise the standard of living of the impoverished, but also to give them the moral desire and self-confidence to be citizens. Bosanquet was exercised by the issue and not only wrote about it but undertook civic activity himself to effect improvements. Also of cardinal importance, particularly in Green’s view, was a sound education, albeit at an elementary level. Little wonder, for it is clear from our outline so far that this form of New Liberalism required more of citizens than the Whig Robert Lowe’s demand that they should learn their letters (see p. 112). We have already recorded the Idealists’ insistence that the responsibility of the state is not simply to provide rights but to give the citizen opportunities for their use. Recognition of such opportunities and the skills to put them into effect are usually absent from the consciousness of the uneducated. It follows from the Idealists’ description of citizenship that even the semi-educated, let alone the deeply ignorant, could not be considered citizens. R. B. (Lord) Haldane, Idealist thinker, prolific author and distinguished statesman, grew to believe that Britain was becoming gradually more democratic, and that, consequently, the broadening public opinion, for the sake of that democracy, should be thoroughly educated. The state, he argued, should provide education in order to free people ‘from the depressing effect of circumstances for which they were not responsible’ (quoted, Vincent and Plant, 1984, pp. 154–5): a negative freedom from controls as a precondition of the real, positive freedom embedded in the Idealist philosophy. 173

Citizenship in Britain For most of the time when the British Idealists wrote about citizenship they were thinking of that status and feeling for men in a nation-state. But what of women, and what of any idea of transnational citizenship? Initially, they gave little thought to women as citizens. However, Green wavered between Hegelian positive hostility – drawing the analogy that as servant is to master, so woman is to man – and acceptance of equality between the sexes (see Nicholson, 1990, p. 252 n. 33). By the turn of the century, Jones and Bosanquet became convinced of the justice of the women’s cause, which was then being broadcast so much more vocally than in Green’s lifetime (see e.g. Nicholson, 1990, p. 302 n. 56). When it came to any consideration of transnational citizenship the British Idealists were faced with the difficulty of the Hegelian element in their philosophy, for had not the German thinker insisted on the virtually mystical primacy of the state in man’s social and political existence? None the less, we can detect in the arguments of some of the British thinkers a more flexible acceptance that a cosmopolitan frame of mind is justified. Bradley spoke of a possible United States of Europe; Haldane coined the term, ‘a Higher Nationality’; Green characteristically pointed to the unity of Christendom; and Bosanquet adapted his favourite concept of the General Will to a possible global setting. Green’s use of the ecumenical example of Christianity is illustrated in a key passage in the Prolegomena to Ethics, where he refers to speaking of a human family, of a fraternity of all men, of the common fatherhood of God, or we suppose a universal Christian citizenship, as wide as the Humanity for which Christ died, and in thought we transfer to this under certain analogical adaptations those claims of one citizen upon another which have actually been enforced in societies united under a simple sovereignty. (Quoted, Mabbott, 1948, pp. 85–6)

Not substantive world citizenship, then, but ‘analogical’; not a world state, but a world morality. Bosanquet went rather further in theory, even though he was doubtful about the practicability or desirability of its application. He arrived at his notion of a kind of world citizenship by extrapolating his version of the General Will, the exercise of which by citizens legitimised actions by the state. The General Will involves ‘an actual community’ sharing ‘an identical mind and feeling’. The geographical scope is irrelevant: ‘Here then we have the universal condition of legitimate outward authority. City-state, Nation-state, Commonwealth, Federalism, World-state, it makes no difference’ (Bosanquet, 1917, p. 271), By implication, the British Idealists’ concept of the common good and a moral, active citizenship 174

Focus on social citizenship devoted to its pursuit could be replicated at the global level, if institutions were constructed through which that world citizenship could be brought to life. Finally, how should we assess the achievements of these philosophers in the history of the theory and practice of citizenship? Green painted a doleful picture of the acceptance of both world and state citizenship in Britain when he delivered his lectures on political obligation in 1879. He declared: We are little influenced by the idea of the brotherhood of men, of mankind as forming one society with a common good, of which the conception may determine the action of its members . . . And though [the right to a free life] can only be grounded on the capacity . . . for freely fulfilling some function in the social organism, we do very little to give reality to the capacity to enable it to realise itself . . . [and] we leave it to be pretty much a matter of chance whether or no [a man] shall be qualified to fulfil any social function, to contribute anything to the common good. (Green, 1941, 155)

Whether or not the Idealists managed to effect any improvements has been a matter of some contention. The following comments by two British academics suggest a limited impact. The arguments of the philosophical idealists, particularly those of Green, were at first restricted in their impact. Where they influenced, they presented new ways of understanding politics and the state, rather than reasons for acting politically in one way or another . . . there is some distance from philosophical reflection to parliamentary politics. (Barker, 1978, p. 15) I first began to study the political philosophy of the British Idealists more than a quarter of a century ago. From textbooks and commentaries I had gained the impression that the Idealists’ ideas were usually wrong-headed and better forgotten. (Nicholson, 1990, p. 1)

However, by the early 1980s much more positive views were being expressed. For instance, Martin Pugh stated that, ‘by the 1900s it was those who thought along Green’s lines who were to come to typify active political liberals’, and Kenneth Dyson asserted that, ‘During the period from about 1880 to about 1910 philosophical Idealism enjoyed considerable success within technical philosophy . . . and had an influence upon [some] political leaders . . . social reformers . . . and public servants’ (quoted, Vincent and Plant, 1984, p. 3). Moreover, the thorough work of Andrew Vincent and Raymond Plant and of Peter Nicholson has confirmed the importance and influence of the British Idealists in the fields of both political theory and practice. 175

Citizenship in Britain Of capital importance for us is the contribution of this school of thinkers to the evolution of the concept and rights of social citizenship. The story of this linkage is best started on Christmas Day 1884. It was then that a small group, dedicated to the principle that members of the elite citizenry should raise the lower orders to the full citizenly level, took temporary residence in a newly constructed building adjoining St Jude’s Church in Whitechapel in east London. The inspiring founder of this enterprise was Arnold Toynbee, economic historian, committed worker for social welfare and former pupil, disciple and friend of Green. The building was, is, named Toynbee Hall. It became the most famous of the institutions called ‘settlements’ – was, indeed, often called ‘the mother of settlements’. A settlement was, in Toynbee’s own words, ‘a colony of members of the upper classes, forming in a poor neighbourhood’ (quoted, Vincent and Plant, 1984, p. 133). The purpose of the settlements was primarily to educate the disadvantaged of the neighbourhood. The residents helped in whatever ways they felt inclined to effect social improvement, though civic education of the local inhabitants was the core aim. What is especially relevant in a historical framework is that so many of those who worked at Toynbee Hall became central figures in the two phases of the creation of the Welfare State, the pre-First World War Liberal reforms and the post-Second World War Labour reforms (see below). William Beveridge and Clement Attlee provide the most distinguished links from Toynbee Hall via the Liberal legislation to the post-war Welfare State and thus the realisation and consolidation in practice of the concept of social citizenship and its adherent rights. Nor must it be forgotten that Asquith, Prime Minister when the Liberal reforms were enacted, was a pupil of Green’s at Balliol. And Attlee, Prime Minister when the Labour Welfare State was erected, was convinced of Green’s influence: he wrote in 1920 that, ‘The young men of the University, such as Toynbee, learnt their social philosophy from him’ (quoted, Vincent and Plant, 1984, p. 138). Ten years earlier, Bosanquet had written about welfare provision: ‘We start from the idea of democratic citizenship’ (quoted, Vincent and Plant, 1984, p. 125). The Welfare State was a fine conclusion. Its encapsulation of social citizenship, two generations or more from Green’s heyday, emerged out of the expectations aroused by the Second World War and the planning engaged in during its course.

Wartime civic spirit ‘These were the times when the English, and particularly the Londoners, who had the place of honour, were seen at their best. Grim and gay, dogged and serviceable, with the confidence of an unconquered people in their 176

Focus on social citizenship bones’ (Churchill, 1951, p. 293). Thus Winston Churchill on the aerial bombardment of Britain, called ‘the Blitz’ in 1940–1. Three comments arise from this brief quotation. One is that, both during the war and subsequently, the staunch unity and courage of the British people at this time of maximum peril has been exaggerated and glamorised to such an extent that one historian has been able to write a well-received book entitled The Myth of the Blitz (Calder, 1991); the word ‘myth’, as he explains, is carefully chosen. Second, and nevertheless, there can be no denying the fortitude of the bulk of the civilian population at this time, when the distinction between servicemen and those on the ‘Home Front’ was barely perceptible, depending on the chance of location, in terms of the citizenly virtue they displayed. And third, it should be noticed that valiant commitment to standing by their state, though the classic mark of citizenship in the republican tradition, was not the only expression of citizenship in this age. The shock of attack also triggered a surprising local rallying to service. Focus on the London Blitz must not lead to a forgetfulness of other cities that suffered, notably Coventry. Two and a half years after the terrible slaughter in and devastation of that city the local newspaper commented: Few people would deny that there has been lacking in Coventry in the past the sense of civic responsibility and the desire to serve . . . it has taken great misfortune to show us that a new age will require a new spirit, and that bricks and mortar alone will not make a new city. (Quoted, Rose, 2003, p. 20)

As evidence of the new spirit a Guild of Citizens was founded. The mood and needs of the time did indeed induce an increase in the use of the terms ‘citizen’ and ‘citizenship’. However, as Sonya Rose has helpfully explained, the words carried with them a wide range of different meanings depending on the contexts and especially when preceded by the significant adjective ‘good’. She provides a brief list of the most common: ‘the nature of wartime service and issues of equity . . . arguments about the need for youth groups, debates about reconstruction, and even admonitions about sexual propriety’ (Rose, 2003, p. 14). We shall undertake our, necessarily summary, analysis under five headings, namely, sources of information and channels of morale-boosting, participation in the war effort, national equality and unity, uncitizenly behaviour, and expectations of a welfare state. This last topic will lead us into the creation of the modern Welfare State in the immediate post-war years. An ignoramus, however well-meaning, cannot be a fully effective citizen. Politicians, civil servants, publishers and those involved in the mass 177

Citizenship in Britain media rapidly came to realise that both civilians and members of the armed forces needed to be informed about the events of the war, be enabled to understand its purposes and have their morale sustained in that educative process, particularly when the news was depressing. The most popular newspaper, the tabloid Daily Mirror, reaching a circulation of about three million, devised a novel way of countering demoralisation. It ran a famous strip-cartoon, ‘Jane’, and, so it has been said, the seriousness of setbacks in the war correlated with the number of clothes of which the eponymous heroine became divested. But did the Mirror also raise political understanding? A. J. P. Taylor has offered this judgement: ‘it was . . . a serious organ of democratic opinion . . . The Daily Mirror gave an indication as never before what ordinary people in the most ordinary sense were thinking’ (Taylor, 1975, p. 666). An alternative view is that its appeal derived from its coverage of trivia, especially illicit sex and crime (uncitizenly behaviour!), and that, ‘The predominant treatment the Mirror gave to stories was an unabashed sensationalism’ (Bromley, 1999, p. 105). There is no doubt, nevertheless, that the Mirror came to support the principle of post-war reform, assisting in the very considerable rise in interest in the concept of social citizenship. For example, it explained in simple form with the aid of graphics the main features of the Beveridge Report (and see Bromley, 1999, pp. 111, 113). Not, of course, that the brash Daily Mirror was by any means the only print medium educating the British civilian public and service personnel. More measured and thorough products of the newspaper presses, notably, the popular and influential weekly magazine, Picture Post, appealed to more thoughtful readers. In book format there were the Penguin Specials, a remarkable venture covering current affairs topics, launched by Allen Lane in 1937, price 6d initially, rising to 9d by the end of the war. In addition to providing information and discussion on an extraordinarily wide range of topics, some volumes directly handled the subject of citizenship. To give two examples. Young Citizen was published in 1943 and based upon some survey material. It dealt with the neglect of social provisions for adolescents and made recommendations that would enable them to become better citizens. It contains the following sentences on the effect of the war, typical of the writing on the subject then: Where we least expected it we found the true mettle of manhood and womanhood. Good citizenship and heroism sprang up overnight. There are still selfishness and greed, but they slink into the shadow away from the idealism which has been made real. (Morgan, 1943, p. 168)


Focus on social citizenship Outselling most of the scores of other titles – 139,000 copies – was Christianity and Social Order, written by William Temple, the socially conscious Archbishop of Canterbury. There he listed a six-fold objective, which was, in effect, social citizenship placed in a Christian context. But the enjoyment of these rights must be balanced by a civic virtue: ‘the first necessity for progress is more and better Christians taking a full responsibility as citizens for the political, social and economic system under which they and their fellows live’ (Temple, 1942, pp. 73–4; see also Kent, 1998). It is quite likely, however, that the tasks of infusing a sense of national, classless unity, sustaining morale, consolidating an acceptance of responsibility and transmission of basic news information were more effectively undertaken for the majority of the population by the film and broadcasting media than the printed word. Cinemas showed three kinds of films pertinent to their civic role: documentaries, newsreels and feature films with a patriotic message. Their influence may be indicated by the attendance figures, rising to an estimated 30 million a week by 1945. In a way all three categories had a propaganda purpose. Newsreels were introduced as ‘bringing the news to the free peoples of the world’ and were read with a splendidly uplifting articulation and tone of voice. Documentary films were made about every aspect of the war and life. One that was particularly well received was Fires Were Started, about the Auxiliary Fire Service (AFS) during the London Blitz (see Chapman, 1999, pp. 52–5). Perhaps the most famous feature film projecting a civic message, and still occasionally to be seen on television, was Millions Like Us (note the significance of the title). The story concerns the conscription of women for factory work and the moulding of a socially disparate group into a team proudly accepting their lot (see Chapman, 1999, pp. 55–8). The wireless was even more important as a channel for information, boosting morale and encouraging a feeling of patriotism, national unity and good citizenship. Well has its contribution been called ‘From John Bull to John Citizen’ (Nicholas, 1998). After all, BBC broadcasts were listened to at home, and most homes had a wireless (approximately nine million licences were bought each year). Clustering round the set to listen to the nine o’clock news and Churchill’s speeches was a quintessentially wartime habit. Also, many members of the armed services at home and overseas received the broadcasts. The BBC has always been justly regarded as being, as far as humanly possible, an unbiased medium, by and large independent of government pressure and propaganda. It was trusted for this trait by its audience. The famous author and journalist George


Citizenship in Britain Orwell, who worked for the BBC during the war, wrote in his inimitable style in 1941: I believe that the BBC, in spite of the stupidity of its foreign propaganda and the unbearable voices of its announcers, is very truthful. It is generally regarded here as more reliable than the press. The movies seem almost unaffected by the war, i.e. in technique and subject-matter. They go on and on with the same treacly rubbish. (Orwell, 1970, p. 139)

The BBC supplied information and understanding by its news bulletins and discussion and advice programmes. Distinguished scholars, commentators such as Orwell, J. B. Priestley and the panellists in the popular Brains Trust, educated their audiences. Morale was boosted by light entertainment variety programmes, the most popular being ITMA (It’s That Man Again), featuring Tommy Handley, a Liverpuddlian comedian with a voice better suited perhaps to Orwell’s taste. We should also record two aspects of the BBC’s policy for focusing the attention of the members of its audiences precisely on their roles as citizens. Both reflect the adaptation of its programming from the beginning to the end of the war. One was the shaping of some programmes, notably Mostly for Women, devised ‘to make women more aware of themselves as citizens’ (quoted, Nicholas, 1998, p. 46). The other was a general, though more controversial, strategy, already reaching into other media and educational processes, to concentrate citizens’ attention on ‘post-war reconstruction’. As one authority has explained, ‘With a season of experimental new discussion series, from the end of 1943 the BBC recast itself as the discussion forum for active citizenship’ (Nicholas, 1998, p. 49). It was perhaps not a coincidence that the Beveridge Report had been published in December 1942 (see p. 000). Two official bodies created to provide civic education and maintain morale are worthy of particular mention. One was the Ministry of Information (MOI), originally set up in the First World War and revived in 1939; the other was the Army Bureau of Current Affairs (ABCA), which emerged in 1941. They have both attracted adverse comments. Here are the main charges against each. ‘There were many criticisms of particular departments during the “phoney war” period . . . The Ministry of Information was the prime target of all . . . the ministry at once distinguished itself by its amateurism and muddle’ (Addison, 1977, p. 64). When, inevitably, ABCA subalterns alerted their units to the social citizenship implications of the Beveridge Report (see pp. 185–90) and its ambition for a much better


Focus on social citizenship post- than pre-war life, Lord Croft, the Under-Secretary of State for War, became worried. He wrote: If every officer is teaching his men on these lines week after week, what we may well ask are we going to do when the Army through its official machinery has built up a divine discontent which no power on earth can appease? (Quoted, MacKenzie, 1992, p. 160)

Then, after the Labour landside victory in the 1945 election, both current politicians and subsequent historians suggested that ABCA bias played a significant role in bringing about that result. Yet, less hostile assessments of these two organisations are certainly possible. The MOI, partly learning from its early mistakes and partly by changes of leadership, improved its activities. It discarded its upper-class amateurism and more efficiently connected with the bulk of the populace while still pursuing its basic brief. This was to mobilise the Home Front as a wardirected force, convince the civilian war-workers of their absolute need and raise and maintain morale, however demoralising the news might be. The Ministry spawned a Home Intelligence Division in order to keep its finger on the pulse of public opinion. It published pamphlets, had posters designed and ubiquitously displayed, sent speakers to local groups, liaised with the BBC and engaged with the film industry. Not only did the MOI have the positive function of distributing information and ideas but ensured by a nudging mild censorship that the educational and entertainment media were shaping an informed, patriotic and stoical citizenry. As the work of the MOI spread, it also encompassed a certain monitoring of the political education of soldiers as well as civilians. Talks and discussions about the war took place in army units in a haphazard manner in the early months of the war. In the words of Major-General Lloyd, Director-General of Army Education immediately after the war, ‘Pressure for them came spontaneously from the field and from higher command’ (Lloyd, 1950, p. 18). ABCA was formed to regularise the teaching of soldiers to be citizens and the Army Education Corps (AEC, later, Royal (RAEC)) was reinvigorated to provide professionally devised and delivered sessions (see MacKenzie, 1992, pp. 118–54). Films and publications were soon forthcoming, most famously the British Way and Purpose booklets, later collected as a single volume, ‘one of the best text-books on citizenship yet produced in this country’, in the judgement of General Lloyd (Lloyd, 1950, p. 19). The ideal of the ABCA programme was the allocation of three hours of compulsory education for every soldier per week, one hour of which would be allotted to current affairs


Citizenship in Britain and another hour to citizenship. Obviously, in combat zones any release for periods of education was impracticable. The objective, however, is a clear illustration of the consciousness of the importance of citizenship during these years of utmost crisis. The prime purpose of the MOI and ABCA was to increase political, economic and social awareness and understanding. There was, in addition, a desire to encourage the whole population to participate in maximising the efficiency of the country’s war effort. By voluntary activity and through conscription a remarkable proportion of the population came to behave as active citizens. Much essential work was undertaken on a part-time basis, for example, WVS (Women’s Voluntary Service), Home Guard, ARP (Air Raid Precautions). Even women were liable to conscription – into the armed services or factory or agricultural work, for example. It has been estimated that, by 1944, two-ninths of the labour force were in the armed forces and three-ninths in war production. Mobilisation meant mobility – people being moved from their geographical and social environments – and consequently an unprecedented intermingling. Regional and class differences were gradually eroded; national unity and social equality gradually became desirable and even practicable objectives. In the words of two authorities, ‘Here was a grossly inegalitarian and socially divided capitalist society prepared to suspend domestic conflicts to defend common beliefs in freedom, equality and democracy’ (Morgan and Evans, 1993, p. 18). Churchill famously used his rhetorical skills to broadcast the freedom and democracy parts of the message. The anti-capitalist and equality parts were at the time and have been since in historical interpretations rather more problematical. The problems are twofold. One concerns the question as to how universal in fact was the pattern of staunch British civic virtue, of a citizenry equally united in selfless support of the war effort. The other relates to the expectation of a better social and economic life for the ordinary people once the war was over. Millions did work honestly, unstintingly and courageously. However, a balanced picture must also incorporate the evidence of an increase in the number of murders, an escalation of minor crime, the ability of the rich to maintain their accustomed luxurious standard of living, the disgruntlement occasioned by being drafted into uncongenial work, and even apathy concerning the conduct of the war (see e.g. Calder, 1991; Calder, 1992, pp. 240–2). The recent revisionist work of historians, blotting the copybook description of the virtuous British wartime citizen, has been well summarised by Paul Addison. Using present colloquialisms, he calls this version ‘a more streetwise account.’ ‘Once full of neighbourly Cockneys defying the 182

Focus on social citizenship Blitz,’ he explains, ‘the home front has been repopulated with factious politicians, incompetent managers, malingering workers, unfaithful husbands and wives, racists, looters, black marketers and other prototypes of Essex Man’ (quoted, Rose, 2003, p. 290). These negative features of wartime life did not, of course, go unnoticed during those years of crisis. The blatantly rich, the shirkers, the unpunished crooks were resented, as was the system that allowed the inequities and iniquities to persist. George Orwell exposed the vices in his famous essay ‘The Lion and the Unicorn’ in 1940 (see e.g. Orwell, 1970, pp. 107–9). Also, he argued that marked progress in social reform and victory over Nazi Germany were intertwined: ‘The war and the revolution are inseparable. We cannot establish anything that a western nation would regard as Socialism without defeating Hitler; on the other hand we cannot defeat Hitler while we remain economically and socially in the nineteenth century’ (Orwell, 1970, p. 113). To express that thesis in our own terms, the civic republican concept of citizenship as responsible participation, including military service, could not be kept distinct from the liberal citizenship concept of social rights. A government body keeping abreast of public opinion reported in January 1941 about lower-middle and working-class attitudes, revealing how important were expectations for what was often referred to as ‘post-war reconstruction’ or a ‘new order’: They are looking forward confidently to a post-war levelling of class-distinction and a redistribution of wealth . . . They anticipate a post-war Government which is either ‘national’ (with a strong socialist complexion) or labour, with either Mr Churchill or Mr Bevin as Prime Minister. (Quoted, Addison, 1977, p. 162)

Ernest Bevin had been a prominent trade-union leader, was Minister of Labour and National Service, 1940–5, and had just stated his conviction that social security should be the first object of domestic policy after the war (see Addison, 1977, p. 168). Post-war reconstruction is a motif that runs with great strength throughout the war, and indeed immediate post-war years. Its vigour was sustained by the various information media, including the MOI and ABCA. To take one example – from the BBC autumn 1941 series Making Plans, an expressive title: ‘Nothing could more truly fortify the morale of the average citizen than the conviction that good health, good schools and good homes are elements in that New Order for which we fight’ (quoted, Nicholas, 1998, p. 47). Within the corridors of government the same ideas were being thought out as early as 1941 despite the Conservative and conservative suspicions. 183

Citizenship in Britain

Beveridge and the Welfare State The key person in laying the foundations of this new order was the academic and social reformer William Beveridge. We must, therefore, pause here to provide a brief biographical sketch of this creator of Britain’s modern social citizenship. Born in 1879 and educated at Oxford, he was of an age to be influenced by the Idealist philosophy (see pp. 166–76). He was impressed by Edward Caird, who interested him in the problem of unemployment. He became a don and grew to be a strong-willed, not to say a decidedly conceited, man. When Winston Churchill was made President of the Board of Trade in 1908, having by then become a leading proponent of New Liberalism, he recruited the young Beveridge to work on the setting-up of the novel labour exchanges. Thus did Beveridge become involved in the foundations of the Welfare State with the Liberal reforms of 1906–14. Writing of that vintage of social reformers, Vincent and Plant have commented that, ‘Their civic idealism and enthusiasm surrounded the National Insurance Act, the Trade Boards Act and other reforms, which were virtually entirely constructed and piloted by men like . . . Beveridge’ (Vincent and Plant, 1984, p. 147). Throughout his life Beveridge’s abiding interest was the problem of unemployment. For example, he was Director of Labour Exchanges from 1909 to 1916 and during those years wrote the highly regarded Unemployment: A Problem of Industry (1912). Later works pursue the same theme, for instance, Causes and Cure of Unemployment (1931). Therefore, when the government decided to plan for post-war social reform, Beveridge was an obvious candidate to be considered for spearheading the initial planning. Thus it came about, and ‘Beveridge’ became a household name. Already, as we have seen, public opinion was determined that post-war Britain should be a better society than hitherto. Moreover, the government was very well aware of its responsibility to avoid the failures of the post-First World War years, when the slogan ‘homes fit for heroes’ became a bleak joke. However, the trade unions were ambivalent. Bevin, a key trade-union leader, believed a welfare state would weaken their negotiating powers, asserting after the recommendations of the Beveridge Report were known that man ‘could not live by Beveridge alone’ (quoted, Birch, 1974, p. 52). Also, he could not stand Beveridge’s conceit. But he was in a powerful political position, being Minister of Labour and National Service in the War Cabinet. What the trade unions really did want was a universally available and efficient health service, beyond the provisions of Lloyd George’s National Health Insurance Act of 1911. However, the General Council of the TUC realised that this had to be planned in the framework of general


Focus on social citizenship social reform. In February 1941 they sent to the Minister of Health a deputation, which emphasised the ‘necessity for the linking up of all the social service schemes into an adequate and properly co-ordinated scheme’ (quoted, Marwick, 1970, p. 291). In June, Arthur Greenwood, Minister of Reconstruction, announced the appointment of an Inter-Departmental Committee of civil servants under the chairmanship of Sir William Beveridge. Its Report, Social Insurance and Allied Services, was completed on 20 November 1942 and was published on 1 December. We may present the Beveridge Report as a classic British text on citizenship in its social guise. Nevertheless, if readers approach the work expecting a style comparable, in modern idiom, with, say, Hobbes’s De Cive, they will be brought up with a start. Beveridge’s work is a densely printed and argued publication of 299 pages, 126 of which are devoted to appendices, and even the text contains statistical and financial tables to support the Committee’s case. This is a blueprint for a government legislative programme, not a work of political philosophy, even though it is built upon firm ethical principles. The style of the Report is that of a document written by an economic historian with a social conscience. The reader here will be spared the mass of technical economic detail. Our obvious starting-point is the Committee’s terms of reference: ‘to undertake, with special reference to the inter-relation of the schemes, a survey of the existing national schemes of social insurance and allied services, including workmen’s compensation and to make recommendations’ (Parliamentary Papers, Cmnd 6404, 1942, p. 5). It continues: The Report is constructed on three guiding principles: The first principle is that any proposals for the future, while they should use to the full the experience gathered in the past, should not be restricted by consideration of sectional interests established in the obtaining of that experience . . . A revolutionary moment in the world’s history is a time for revolutions, not patching. The second principle is that organisation of social insurance should be treated as one part only of a comprehensive policy of social progress . . . The third principle is that social security must be achieved by co-operation between the State and the individual . . . The State in organising security should not stifle incentive, opportunity, responsibility.

In defining his second principle Beveridge also listed his famous ‘five giants on the road to reconstruction’, namely, Want, Disease, Ignorance, Squalor and Idleness, that needed to be attacked (Beveridge’s own bellicose verb) (pp. 6–7). The report was revolutionary, in two ways. One was the point made in the second principle, that future arrangements should be designed 185

Citizenship in Britain as a comprehensive policy. The second revolutionary feature – the tenor of the whole document – was to make the planned scheme an integral part of citizenship by declaring the proposals to be rights and to ensure they would be available throughout the population, not to ‘sectional interests’. For example, outlining the scheme, the Report states that, ‘The plan covers all citizens’ (p. 9), and ‘Medical treatment covering all requirements will be provided for all citizens’ (p. 11): unquestioned citizens’ rights, not means-tested stigma. Maternity benefit and funeral expenses were specifically allowed for so that the Report was said to cover social security ‘from the cradle to the grave’. In addition to understanding what the Report does tackle we must be clear what it does not. Of his five giants, two were totally outside Beveridge’s terms of reference and one partially. Want and Idleness were his main personal enemies. Ignorance was being tackled simultaneously by R. A. Butler, President of the Board of Education (see pp. 190–2). Squalor was in everyone’s mind for restarting slum-clearance and extra house-building as a post-war priority, and to that end a Ministry of Town and Country Planning was created in 1943. The Report makes a passing reference (14 out of 461 paragraphs) to Disease in the proposal to set up a National Health Service. However, as is made clear, Beveridge was not straying too far from his terms of reference because the treatment of ill-health and injury is an important, if subsidiary, contribution to fighting the giant Idleness. This highlights the interconnectedness of the five fronts in the war against the giants, because the main cause of idleness is unemployment. In fact, Beveridge admits that his strategy is dependent on three assumptions for the successful implementation of the social security programme, which was the purpose of the Report. These are children’s allowances (as an efficient method of reducing poverty), a comprehensive health and rehabilitation service, and maintenance of employment (Parliamentary Papers, Cmnd 6404, 1942, pp. 153–65). The reader of the Report is reminded succinctly of its heart towards the end: ‘The aim of the Plan for Social Security is to abolish want by ensuring that every citizen willing to serve according to his powers has at all times an income sufficient to meet his responsibilities’ (p. 165). The giant Want is the prime target. And, notice, he can be overcome only if the citizen collaborates – is ‘willing to serve’, ‘meet his responsibilities’, not just passively enjoys rights. The Report contains a versatile arsenal for overcoming this scourge, weapons that would be deployed in a three-pronged assault because the armoury would be financed by National Insurance contributions paid by the individual, the employer and the state. Thus, modern British social citizenship, as envisaged by Beveridge, has been founded on a tripartite 186

Focus on social citizenship contract, whereby all citizens are eligible to benefit from accruing rights. The normal pattern for a man was to be healthy, be working in his mature years and his family to be supported by his income and family allowances, but for him to be financially sustained when ill, injured or unemployed and in retirement. There were proposed, in effect, four basic kinds of financial support. One was the children’s allowance. Second was sick pay, industrial injury payments and disability pension. The third was unemployment pay. And fourth were the retirement, widow’s and old-age pensions. The second and third categories Beveridge defined as ‘provision against interruption or loss of earning power’ (p. 7). Using the combination of these schemes (and with subsidiary voluntary arrangements), the objective was declared with laconic boldness: ‘the aim of the Plan for Social Security is to make want under any circumstances unnecessary’ (p. 9). What could be more sensible and consonant with the hopes and needs of the time? The effect of the publication of the Plan was in fact multi-fold. It sparked acrimonious controversy, stimulated unprecedented popular interest and marked a turning-point in British history. When the Report was published and publicised it met not just with popular interest but with excited approval. Despite its formidable content it became an instant bestseller and within a year 256,000 copies of the full version had been bought and 369,000 copies of an abridged edition. Also many thousands were sold overseas, to the USA and in numerous translations. A few examples drawn from very different contexts will illustrate the public’s enthusiasm. As we shall see below the House of Commons did not debate the Report until two and a half months after its publication. By then the somewhat ineffectual Arthur Greenwood was about to leave office. However, he was able to move that the Commons welcome the Report, declaring that, No document within living memory has made such a powerful impression, or stirred such hopes . . . The people . . . have made up their minds to see the plan in its broad outline carried into effect, and nothing will shift them. The plan for social security has struck their imagination. (Quoted, Gregg, 1967, p. 23)

A month later the Ministry of Information summarised the attitudes of Clydeside workers. The following sentences report the atmosphere vividly. Interest in the Beveridge Plan on its publication was really tremendous. For a week or two the war news tended to take a back seat and one report says: ‘There has been possibly more widespread discussion on this than on any single event since the outbreak of the war.’ (Quoted, Birch, 1974, p. 113)


Citizenship in Britain Sir William, no doubt to his great delight, had become ‘the People’s William’. But there were rumbles of discontent. The following quotations are from very different sources. The Director of the Confederation of British Employers asserted, ‘we did not start this war with Germany in order to improve our social services . . . [but] to preserve our freedom and to keep the Gestapo outside our houses’ (quoted, Addison, 1977, p. 214). And the Secretary of the Joint Committee of Approved Societies and National Union of Friendly Societies stated, ‘The author of this report is an economist turned spendthrift . . . He would push compulsorily . . . the whole nation back into the days of a glorified Poor Law system, destroying in the process every vestige of self-reliance and self-help’ (quoted, Marwick, 1970, p. 311). Colourful language; less intemperate words came from politicians among whom, none the less, there were many reservations. Before moving on to these debates, however, we need to give an indication of the ways in which the nation was informed of the Beveridge Plan. Only two weeks after its publication an opinion poll discovered that 95 per cent of those interviewed knew something about it. Yet the government, nervous of unsettling controversy and the arousal of unrealisable expectations, attempted to limit publicity. Brenden Bracken, Minister of Information, was especially worried that the Report would cause ‘an immense amount of ballyhoo about the importance of implementing the recommendations without delay’ (quoted, Addison, 1977, p. 216) and instructed that Beveridge be refused any official channels for promoting his Plan. Meanwhile, W. E. Williams, Director of ABCA, approached Beveridge to write a special summary pamphlet for distribution throughout the Home Forces. This happened, but without the sanction of the Secretary of State for War. Personally disapproving of Beveridge’s Plan and sensitive to the political disagreements about it, he ordered the withdrawal of all copies of this pamphlet, Current Affairs 33 (see MacKenzie, 1992, pp. 133–5). Beveridge was the last man to succumb to denial of publicity. Despite opposition within the BBC, he yet had sufficient connections to arrange to talk on air the day after his Report was published. The broadcast attracted a very large audience – over eleven million. He took many other opportunities, before and after publication, to advertise his message, through the cinema and the press and by public appearances. And, in the event, the MOI did undertake a considerable publicity campaign. The reactions of the newspapers on the appearance of the Report were to give it full coverage and, generally, to laud it to the skies. We have already recorded the Daily Mirror’s summary. The response has been summed up by Paul Addison: ‘The national press, with the exception of the Daily Telegraph, behaved as though 188

Focus on social citizenship it fell only short of the millenium [sic]’ (Addison, 1977, p. 217). The Times, then the magisterial British newspaper, described the Report as ‘a momentous document’ (quoted, Gregg, 1967, p. 20). The authoritative Economist described the Report as ‘one of the most remarkable State documents ever drafted’ (quoted, Marwick, 1970, p. 310). How, then, did the Telegraph reveal itself out of step? Public opinion was clearly moving to the Left, but the Telegraph insisted on still marching by the Right marker. On the 17 November 1942 it described the as yet unfinished, let alone published, Beveridge Report as taking the country ‘half-way to Moscow’ (quoted, Addison, 1977, p. 217). The issue of socialism, however defined and especially the distorted Soviet version, was an extremely touchy matter. But for this utter caricature of Beveridge’s Report, Beveridge had only himself to blame. It was a malignant misrepresentation of an interview he gave, against government guidelines, for which he was soundly chastised! This brings us to the reactions of politicians, including the government, to the Report. On 17 November 1942 the firmly Conservative Sir Kingsley Wood, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, wrote a lengthy memorandum to the Prime Minister listing powerful objections to the Report. Churchill recorded his views in a note circulated to the Cabinet on 12 January 1943. He worried about the cost of the ambitious programme of post-war reconstruction, calling attention to the dangers of unwarranted optimism: ‘It is because I do not wish to deceive the people by false hopes and airy visions of Utopia and Eldorado that I have refrained so far from making promises about the future’ (Churchill, 1954, App. F). The War Cabinet discussed the matter two days later and, appreciating the hotly controversial nature of the Report, later set up a high-powered Reconstruction Priorities Committee, an indication that the question was now being given serious consideration. Ahead of the debate on the Report in Parliament, Churchill gathered information about attitudes and, on 14 February, circulated another memorandum to the Cabinet. This, while warning of problems and the need for proper procedures, nevertheless struck an unequivocally positive note at the beginning: ‘This approach to social security, bringing the magic of averages nearer to the rescue of millions, constitutes an essential part of any post-war scheme of national betterment’ (Churchill, 1954, App. F). The temper of the parliamentary debate from 16 to 18 February confirmed Churchill’s wisdom in playing a cautious hand. His 14 February note was adamant: wartime planning, but post-war legislation. That was the message delivered to the House of Commons by Sir John Anderson on behalf of the government. However, those MPs strongly committed to the Beveridge Plan interpreted this compromise as a fudge. Led by James 189

Citizenship in Britain Griffiths, a former Welsh miner, who put down an Amendment, they wanted ‘Beveridge now’. When the House divided, 338 voted for the government and 121, including all but two Labour backbenchers, voted for the Amendment. In fact, both major parties were riven. The Labour backbenchers, by voting against the government, were voting against their leaders who were part of the government; and the new Tory Reform Committee distanced themselves from their more hard-line colleagues by tabling an, unsuccessful, Amendment for the immediate establishment of a ministry of Social Security. Yet, for all the fears that the Beveridge Report would be allowed to moulder on Whitehall shelves, there was plenty of planning activity forthcoming. Churchill made a wireless broadcast on 21 March explaining his proposed Four Year Plan for social reform. Then, in November, he reinvigorated the reconstruction planning process by appointing the energetic and efficient Lord Woolton as Minister of Reconstruction, though he had the advantage of inheriting his predecessor’s work, which appeared between February and September 1944 as four key White Papers: A National Health Service, Employment Policy, Social Insurance, Part I and Social Insurance, Part II. They were truly key documents because they unlocked the door opening on to the road to an effective British social citizenship, however pitted with detailed objections that road was to become. We must add also the highly important Education Bill that was introduced in December 1943. ‘Welfare State’ is a term originating in Germany, used in English in the 1930s and popularised in print by Archbishop Temple in his book Citizen and Churchmen, published in 1941. Its construction in the post-war years can be connected to the Beveridge Report by retaining its ogreish metaphor. Thus we can say that, by the main weapon of legislation, Ignorance was seriously wounded by the 1944 Butler Education Act; Want, by the Family Allowance Act of 1945 and the crucial National Insurance Act of 1946; Disease, by the National Health Service Act of 1946; Squalor, by, for example, the Housing Act of 1949; and Idleness, by the policy-defining White Paper, Employment Policy of 1944, which shaped post-war programmes. Education can (should?) be related to citizenship in three ways. One is the teaching of the subject-matter, hitherto often called Civics. Second is the need for citizens, especially in a complex modern democratic society, to be generally educated to a certain level in order to perform their citizenly functions adequately (for the nineteenth-century debate on this, see Chapter 4). Third, education has come to be accepted as one of the cluster of social rights adhering to the status of citizenship (see e.g. Marshall and Bottomore, 1992, pp. 5, 37). What concerns us here is the Butler Act. 190

Focus on social citizenship And let it be said immediately that it virtually ignored the first of these features. There is a brief reference commending the inclusion of education for citizenship in the proposed County Colleges for post-school education; they were never established in fact. But there was a jealously guarded tradition then that schools’ curricula should be independent of government interference, and there was also some nervousness about political education in schools (see Heater, 2004, pp. 94–7). The second consideration (despite the shocking evidence of illiteracy among army conscripts) had basically been catered for by the provision of elementary education from 1870. Leaving aside the very many other issues tackled in this lengthy document, the relevance of the Act for us therefore relates to the issue of education as a social right. The central problem facing the drafters of the Bill was how to balance at secondary level the ideal of equality of provision and the difference of aptitude and ability among the pupils in practice. In 1924 the academic R. H. Tawney, who had been influenced by T. H. Green, published a book entitled Secondary Education for All. That title became a widely used slogan especially within the Labour Party, and, in Butler’s words, ‘the main theme of the Act of 1944’ (Butler, 1973, p. 126). The civic purpose of the Act was stated at the beginning: it shall be the duty of the local education authority for everyone . . . to contribute towards the spiritual, moral, mental and physical development of the community by securing that efficient education . . . shall be available to meet the needs of the population of the area. (Quoted, Barnard, 1947, pp. 347–8)

Equality of opportunity was afforded by the abolition of the current common distinction between elementary schools for the majority of children from five to fourteen and secondary schools for the selected minority transferred to them at the age of ten/eleven. The Act accepted the widely held fact that stigma attached to the elementary schools, which catered mainly for the poor (see Butler, 1973, p. 124), and that there should be an age division for all at eleven – primary schools for the younger and secondary schools for the older. Nevertheless, by the secondary stage, as the Act recognised, pupils would differ not just in age, but also in abilities and aptitudes. Hence the new system should be constructed to cater for these three ‘As’. This meant organising the new secondary education for all by creating schools ‘of diversified types but of equal standing’ (quoted, Butler, 1973, p. 119). The device proposed to achieve this arrangement was to provide Grammar, Technical and Modern schools, very roughly, academic, practical and general/commercial. In addition, this core system for five to 191

Citizenship in Britain fifteen-year-olds (the leaving age was to be extended) had for reasons of social equity, in Butler’s strongly held view, to be tailed and topped. He later explained: Equality of opportunity would remain something of an empty phrase if children entered the period of compulsory schooling from conditions of family deprivation, or left it to pursue what Churchill called blind-alley occupations. Accordingly, the Act made provision, on the one hand, for a major expansion of maintained and grant-aided nursery schools, and, on the other hand, for compulsory part-time education up to the age of 18. (Butler, 1973, p. 125)

The Act was widely praised, even across party divisions, for its wisdom, justice and practicality. It was an educational landmark. It did not, however, rise to satisfy the hopes and expectations entertained when it came into force. In the short term, new schools had to be built (apart from the new needs, 5,000 had been destroyed or damaged during the war) and extra teachers had to be trained. Butler indeed understood that such substantial changes would need time to come to fruition – he suggested a generation. Yet, even during that time lapse, mainly through lack of funds, the nurseryschool provision was only sparsely made available; only a tiny number of Technical schools were established; and, most seriously, the secondary Modern schools were as stigmatised as their elementary school predecessors. The fundamental failure was that the carefully devised tripartite secondary system was not given a fair chance. However, there can be no doubt that post-war governments were sincerely committed to funding the Beveridge Plan for social security. He calculated that by 1965 £688 million would be expended on Social Insurance, National Assistance and Children’s Allowances (Parliamentary Papers, Cmnd 6404, 1942, table XII, p. 104). The official sum for 1966–7 was £2,642 million, nearly half of which was accounted for by retirement pensions, compared with one-fifth in Beveridge’s figures (see, Lowe, 1993, table 6.1, p. 124). On the other hand, the comparison between the two total figures does not take account of inflation, which, for example, led to a 30 per cent rise in prices during the decade 1954–64. That a major financial commitment by an incoming post-war government was going to be essential was made clear by Beveridge’s depiction of the pre-war condition of the disadvantaged. While unemployment benefit had been at a reasonable level, ‘sickness and disablement benefit, old age pensions and widows’ compensation were far below [a reasonable level], while workman’s compensation was below subsistence level for anyone who had family responsibilities’ (Parliamentary Papers, Cmnd 6404, 1942, p. 7). 192

Focus on social citizenship The task of preparing the massive amount of legislation for reconstruction fell mainly to the Labour government, led by Clement Attlee, which won a landslide victory in the 1945 election following a campaign based upon their five-year plan manifesto, Let Us Face the Future; though, true, the Education and Family Allowances Acts had already been passed under the wartime Coalition government. The biggest undertaking was the drafting and implementation of the National Insurance Act, which, as the Labour MP John Parker reported, ‘goes a great deal further than the Beveridge Report in a large number of ways’ (Parker, 1947, p. 86). Attlee appointed as Minister of National Insurance James Griffiths, who, as we have noted above (see pp. 189–90), contributed significantly to the debate on the Beveridge Report. It was he who was responsible for the National Insurance and National Insurance (Industrial Injuries) Bills, which passed into law in 1946 with considerable approbation. Kenneth Morgan explains the atmosphere: ‘Griffiths found himself acclaimed as a major social reformer, with benevolent support from Churchill himself, recalling his own powerful welfare initiatives in Edwardian years’ (Morgan, 1990, p. 37). A further safetynet to save indigent people from dire want was provided by the National Assistance Act, which made provision for the payment of supplementary benefits. The huge scale of the administrative work that the Ministry of National Insurance needed to undertake was indicated by The Times: Each insured person has his own ledger-sheet on which his whole insurance life history can be recorded; and there are similar records for the family allowance scheme. The 25,000,000 sheets of the insurance ledger are located in 100 rooms, each of which is occupied by a staff of twenty. (Quoted, Cootes, 1966, p. 103)

The social thinking behind this legislation was that of Beveridge, that is, by ensuring that all should be shielded from poverty, be eligible for financial benefits relevant to their needs and be required to pay national insurance contributions, the whole population of the country was treated as equal citizens, receiving their payments, not as charity but as social entitlements by virtue of that status. However, citizenship is an attitude of mind as well as a legal status. People who receive the benefits of social citizenship must understand and feel that these payments are their rightful dues, the receipt of which bears with it no dishonour. This mode of thought, however, took some time to percolate. The old Poor Law, with its workhouse associations, had burrowed deep into working-class consciousness so that relief from poverty meant being shamed, whatever the words and administrative system. Even as late as 1957 a lawyer-politician could write in a book entitled Social Welfare and the Citizen: 193

Citizenship in Britain Social welfare still carries the stigma of Poor Law relief, and many are reluctant to claim benefits which they look upon as charity. In this they are encouraged by the ignorant prejudice against welfare legislation on the part of the many who, happily for themselves, are not in need of it. This difficulty is a psychological one. (Archer, 1957, p. 11)

The very concept and implications of what we now call the social rights of citizenship had not caught on. If the installation of a universal social welfare system faced administrative and psychological difficulties, the creation of a universally available health service faced professional and political difficulties: a tussle primarily between the Minister of Health and Housing, Aneurin Bevan, and the medical profession. The arguments related to administrative structures and the locations of authority, which are not our concern, but, it must be said, administrative design was not Bevan’s forte. He simply – though of course the undertaking was anything but simple – wanted to expunge the giants of Disease and Squalor which lurked in his capacious portfolio. He was determined to create a national health service quickly, for all citizens and covering all aspects of health care – general practice, hospitals, psychiatric, ophthalmic and dental treatment. And he was convinced that this could only be achieved by state control. One twist to this doctrinal position was that Bevan had to undermine one aspect of citizenship, that is the voluntary activities that supported some hospitals in particular. ‘I have always felt a shudder of repulsion when I see nurses and sisters who ought to be at their work . . . going about the streets collecting money for the hospitals’ (quoted, Finlayson, 1994, p. 272). Bevan overcame the intransigence of the medical profession – the most serious and extended opposition to the founding of the modern Welfare State in Britain – by a combination of an appeal to Parliament’s legislative sovereignty and, especially, conciliation. For all the detailed weaknesses of the National Health Service (NHS), Bevan’s was a remarkable achievement. One of the weaknesses was cost. Patients flocked in their millions for dental treatment, spectacles and pills, largely because of a backlog of untreated conditions. Costs, by far the greatest proportion of funding derived from taxation, soared. In the first two years the NHS exceeded its budget by about 40 per cent (see Lowe, 1993, pp. 175, 176). Concern rumbled on in Cabinet meetings until 1951 when Hugh Gaitskell, Chancellor of the Exchequer, included some payment for dental and ophthalmic care in his Budget. Bevan exploded with rage. The very principle of his NHS that all health care should be free was being betrayed. He felt betrayed. He resigned. 194

Focus on social citizenship Nevertheless, he already had another achievement to his, partial, credit, that is, hundreds of thousands of repaired and new houses. In 1945 Beveridge wrote, ‘The provision of good housing for all people of Britain is the most urgent and the most important of all our domestic problems’ (Foreword in Madge, 1945, p. 5). As Minister of Housing, Bevan was faced with halfa-dozen major problems. To take just two examples. He obviously had to resume the pre-war programme for the clearance of the slums; and repairing and replacing bomb-damaged housing presented an enormous task for the building trade, estimated as the equivalent in effort to constructing 600,000 houses (see Madge, 1945, p. 20). It was, of course, the council housing building programme that was so important for working-class people and it was they for whom Bevan had most sympathy. He therefore insisted, despite the cost, that these rented dwellings should be of high quality. He ensured this priority by requiring building for private purchase to be undertaken on licence. Both for this policy and for the inefficiency of its administration Bevan was severely criticised. The effects of disorganisation were exacerbated by the illegal diversion of materials to what would now be called the ‘black economy’ among builders. Urged to take action against them, the Minister sadly replied: ‘They are myriad. How can I get at them if I cannot find them? I should want an army of policemen. That is why I say that in these difficulties what we want from the British people is self-discipline and self-restraint’ (quoted, Jenkins, 1964, p. 265). The shortage of these qualities is an index of the decline of civic virtue after the end of the war. If the housing programme of the late 1940s was only partly successful, did that cast a shadow on Beveridge’s belief that this was the area of post-war reconstruction that was the area of cardinal importance? One reason for this judgement was that new houses would provide healthier homes. Another was that the building of houses in the required numbers would provide employment for a significant number of men. Building good quality new housing would therefore also attack the giants Disease and Idleness. Beveridge did indeed publish a report on his specialist topic of employment during the war. This was Full Employment in a Free Society (1944). The word ‘free’ is of great importance. The reason is that both at the time and in the immediate post-war years politicians, economists and social reformers disagreed on the appropriate policy for government to adopt in the face of unemployment. This is not the place to explain the different economic arguments, rather to say that the political arguments centred on the desirability of government intervention to ward off unemployment. Which was to be preferred – freedom from want or freedom from government controls; social citizenship or civil citizenship? Beveridge argued for a modicum of 195

Citizenship in Britain government manipulation whilst maintaining the essence of the citizen’s freedom from interference. Preceding his report by a few months there appeared the famous Road to Serfdom by Friedrich Hayek, who was later to be awarded the Nobel Prize for Economics. Planning inexorably leads to loss of freedom, he argued, and is to be avoided even to avoid unemployment (see Hayek, 1944, pp. 79–80, 154). The government, whose White Paper Employment Policy, produced in May 1944 to spike Beveridge’s guns, formally announced: ‘The Government accept as one of their primary aims and responsibilities the maintenance of a high and stable level of employment after the war’ (quoted, Addison, 1977, p. 246). In a way they had to: they had accepted the Beveridge Report, one assumption of which, as we have seen, was precisely that. Because of this commitment one historian has called the White Paper ‘the most revolutionary document of the whole war period’ (Marwick, 1970, p. 316). But how were those aims and responsibilities to be honoured and social and civil rights to be balanced in practice? The post-war governments had no ideal formulae. Economic growth in the immediate post-war era kept unemployment low, not rising above 400,000 until 1957. This achievement was not to be sustained. As we shall discover in Chapter 7, the application of neo-liberal policies from the late 1970s altered the scene. In 1979–81 Britain’s unemployment figure rose to 13.3 per cent of the work force, the highest in western Europe. By then the Welfare State was being questioned. However, at the period we have been surveying here, ‘the changed attitudes to welfare initiated in the 1940s’ were consolidated, and by the late 1950s, ‘Economically, welfare expenditure had come of age’ (Lowe, 1993, p. 120). By that time also the principle of welfare as a social right of citizenship had been consolidated in sociological theory by the influential work of T. H. Marshall.

Marshall’s three strands In February 1949, T. H. Marshall, Martin White Professor of Sociology at the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE), delivered two lectures at Cambridge University in honour of Alfred Marshall (no relation), who had been a distinguished Professor of Economics at that university. Tom Marshall took as his starting-point a paper Alfred Marshall read at the Cambridge Reform Club in 1873, entitled ‘The Future of the Working Class’. In his lectures, Marshall built from this foundation an interpretation of citizenship as it evolved in Britain. The following year he published an adapted text as an essay under the title Citizenship and Social Class. For a book such as the present work on the history of citizenship in 196

Focus on social citizenship Britain Marshall’s essay has a double significance. First, his thesis was that the status and rights of citizenship had developed in three historical phases. He started his academic career, at Cambridge, as a historian, so a historical treatment of his subject came natural to him. Second, the essay became a seminal work, a milestone (to change the metaphor), in the history of the study of citizenship. These two reasons for the essay’s importance are in fact connected. Marshall posited three kinds of citizens’ rights, namely, civil, political and social, which were attained in that chronological order. And although there have been many criticisms of and adaptations to his presentation over the past half-century, the idea of a triform citizenship has been widely adopted as a useful analytical concept. We shall examine Marshall’s work in two main parts, that is, a r´esum´e of his argument in Citizenship and Social Class and a discussion of its strengths and weaknesses. Before embarking on these tasks, however, two background observations will be helpful. One is that, when he started teaching Sociology at LSE, as he later wrote, he came ‘very naturally, almost totally under the influence of Hobhouse, as interpreted by Ginsberg’ (quoted, Pinker, 1981, p. 3). This gives us a link with the Idealist thinkers, who feature at the beginning of this chapter, because Hobhouse, also a Professor of Sociology at LSE, was a prominent New Liberal, influenced in turn by the Idealists. For example, in his short book, Liberalism, he directly refers to Green’s concept of the common good and cites Green, Jones and McCunn in his bibliography (see Hobhouse, 1911, pp. 128, 252). Also Vincent and Plant place Marshall in the Idealist tradition (see Vincent and Plant, 1984, pp. 81–2). The second observation is that, despite the historical structure of Citizenship and Social Class, he was also writing as a sociologist, conscious of the relevance of the essay to his core academic employment. In the words of Robert Pinker, In one respect Marshall’s work on citizenship stands in its own right as a contribution to sociological knowledge; in another respect it can be seen as a prologue to his engagement in social policy studies and, from this point onwards, as a continuing influence. (Pinker, 1981, p. 1)

Thus, whereas, from Aristotle to Green, the subject of citizenship had been the province of political philosophers, it was from Marshall’s time being colonised by sociologists. And so, to the body of the essay. In sermon mode, T. H. Marshall selects a passage from Alfred Marshall’s paper as his text from which to develop his address: 197

Citizenship in Britain ‘The question,’ he said, ‘is not whether all men will ultimately be equal – that they certainly will not – but whether progress may not go on steadily, if slowly, till, by occupation at least, every man is a gentleman. I hold that it may, and that it will . . . [The working class] are steadily accepting the private and public duties of a citizen . . . They are becoming gentlemen.’ (Marshall and Bottomore, 1992, pp. 4–5)

But since T. H. Marshall’s interest in class is its relationship with citizenship, he needs to argue the links that connect ‘gentleman’ and ‘citizen’. He does this by replacing ‘gentleman’ with ‘civilised’, by asserting that a civilised life entails enjoying a share in the social heritage, that this condition should be enjoyed by all, that this would mean that all are full members of society, which is another way of saying that all are citizens. The implication of this reasoning, Marshall goes on to say, is that citizenship is a recognition of a basic human equality which is not incompatible with the inequalities of the social class system. However, T. H. Marshall’s true insight, born of the great changes that had taken place after Alfred Marshall’s paper, is that since c. 1700 the drive to more social equality and the increase in the span and depth of rights require a re-examination of the nature of citizenship in contrast to Alfred Marshall’s picture. The bulk of Citizenship and Social Class is accordingly devoted to a historical account, as the author interprets it, of the development of citizenship, with a heavy stress on the evolution of social rights and thus the relationship between citizenship and class. He perceives citizenship as consisting of three elements, that this composition is made clear from the evidence of history and that each – namely, civil, political and social – contains related rights. He defines these thus. Civil: ‘the rights necessary for individual freedom – liberty of the person, freedom of speech, thought and faith, the right to own property and to conclude valid contracts, and the right to justice’. The last, and its application by the courts, is crucial. Political: ‘the right to participate in the exercise of power, as a member of a body invested with political authority or as an elector of the members of such a body’. Social: ‘the whole range from the right to a modicum of welfare and security to the right to share to the full in the social heritage and to live the life of a civilised being according to the standards prevailing in the society’ (p. 8). Surveying the long historical scenes from the Middle Ages (he is essentially referring to English history), Marshall draws an evolutionary sketch, which, because most analysts of his essay have been sociologists, not historians, has sometimes not been highlighted. He explains that all three strands of rights did exist in early times, though not in citizenly fashion except in 198

Focus on social citizenship the towns. They were dispensed in amalgamated ways in local contexts. Then, from the twelfth to the twentieth centuries, the three strands gradually became differentiated by the separation of their providing institutions, yet in parallel with this development, the local providing institutions (with the exception of the Poor Law system) were replaced by national ones. The three elements progressed at their own speeds, ‘and it is only in the present century, in fact I might say only within the last few months, that the three runners have come abreast of one another’ (p. 9). Furthermore, these differences in pace were a result of the institutional separation. Consequently, he asserts that, ‘without doing too much violence to historical accuracy’, it is possible to say that the formative periods for each of the sets of rights were: civil – eighteenth century, political – nineteenth century, social – twentieth century; though ‘the periods must, of course, be treated with reasonable elasticity, and there is some overlap, especially between the last two’ (p. 10). Notice the caveats. In fact, the need for chronological elasticity is made immediately evident by Marshall’s explanation that the process of conceding civil rights extends from the Habeas Corpus Amendment Act (1679) to the Catholic Emancipation Act (1829). Many of the freedoms of the individual recognised in this period, he also reminds us, were due to the firming up of the rule of law by decisions handed down by the courts. Marshall includes under the heading of civil rights the right to work, which also became recognised through judicial decisions undermining entrenched restrictions, notably by the Elizabethan Statute of Artificers (1563). He cites the judgement of the famous Lord Mansfield in 1756 that the Elizabethan Statute was contrary to Common Law. By the beginning of the nineteenth century, Marshall assesses, restrictions on work had disappeared. He explains that the development of civil rights grew naturally from the general concept of freedom. In the Middle Ages, a peasant could acquire the status of a free man by fleeing to a town; urban freedom and citizenship became synonymous; consequently, ‘When freedom became universal, citizenship grew from a local into a national institution’ (p. 12). Marshall then makes the crucial proposition that the virtual completion of civil rights in the early nineteenth century justifies our speaking generally about the existence of citizenship in England. As to political rights, the creeping extension of the franchise from 1832 to 1884 fails to impress Marshall as expansions of citizenship because the franchise was defined in the three nineteenth-century Reform Acts by economic criteria, not by the criterion of rights of the citizen. The vital shift to personal status was delayed until the 1918 Act, which introduced universal manhood suffrage. 199

Citizenship in Britain Reminding the reader of the chronological overlap of political and social rights, Marshall arranges to deal with the latter in two parts – as a tentative prologue prior to the twentieth century, postponing his full treatment of the twentieth century, which is his central interest. In medieval and especially Elizabethan times attempts were made to plan the economy and welfare, the Poor Law experiencing the greatest longevity, other regulations collapsing before the advance of civil rights. He provides a particularly illuminating observation at this juncture: But at the very end of the eighteenth century there occurred a final struggle between the old and the new, between the planned (or patterned) society and the competitive economy. And in this battle citizenship was divided against itself; social rights sided with the old and civil with the new. (p. 14)

Following the work of Karl Polanyi, Marshall suggests that the adaptation of the Poor Law by the Speenhamland system indicated an assumption that there should be individual social rights. We need to interpolate an explanation here. Introduced by the Berkshire magistrates in 1795, a year of dire rural poverty caused by a combination of war and atrocious weather, this widely adopted system allowed parish payments to the impoverished on scales related to the price of bread and the size of the man’s family. Despite bitter criticisms, both at the time and since, Marshall offers praise. He sees it as a device for a guaranteed minimum income of combined wage and family and maintenance allowances, bases for social citizenship rights. For that tiny span of time the Poor Law was ‘the aggressive champion of the social rights of citizenship’ (p. 15). This very concept was decisively rejected by the Poor Law Amendment Act of 1834. Indeed, from that date until 1918 paupers lost their civil liberty and any claims to political rights, suffering the indignity of the workhouse. Nineteenth-century factory and education legislation improved social conditions, but, as Marshall points out, these changes were not considered to be related to citizenship. And yet, he insists that education is an inextricable part of citizenship, an essential preparatory stage. More than that, the universal provision of education (from 1870) meant that the state had ‘the requirements and nature of citizenship definitely in mind’ (p. 16). By the end of the century indeed education and citizenship had become related in two crucial ways. The state needed an educated citizenry for the efficient operation of the democratic political system; and citizens had a duty to become educated to operate the economic system efficiently. Marshall then turns his attention to his key topic, namely, the relationship between citizenship and social class. It would seem that they are bound 200

Focus on social citizenship to be in conflict because the one is predicated on the principle of equality, the other, on inequality. Furthermore, the period, from the late seventeenth century, when citizenship was developing in England was also the age of the rise of capitalism, also operating on the principle of inequality, thus exacerbating the dissonance between the two systems of status. Indeed, famously, even notoriously, Marshall asserts that, ‘in the twentieth century, citizenship and the capitalist class system have been at war’ (p. 18; though he later admits that the phrase might be too strong (p. 40)). However, this is a recent phenomenon, because the development of civil rights positively assisted a competitive market economy by giving the individual freedom to compete. Even so, class prejudice and upper- and middle-class power have, over the ages, in practice weakened both the civil and political rights of the lower classes. Poverty has restricted access to law and wealth spoke loudly in elections in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries especially. Marshall traces the gradual improvements in both law and attitudes that occurred particularly in the nineteenth century. These included the growth of trade unionism, which, he declares, ‘created a secondary system of industrial citizenship parallel with and supplementary to the system of political citizenship’ (p. 26). The existence of poverty, which concerned the Idealists (see section at the beginning of this chapter), and evidence of utter destitution, revealed, for example, in the sociologist Charles Booth’s Life and Labour of the People in London, led at the end of the nineteenth century to a determination to tackle gross inequality. Marshall believed that this change of attitude marked the beginning of an acceptance that a reasonable approximation to social equality ought to be attempted, and for social equality to be aligned with civil and political equality as the characteristics of citizenship. This movement in attitude gradually produced legislation, so that the pattern of inequality altered, and this process was helped by the developing concept of citizenship. Marshall delivered his lectures under the exciting influence of the creation of the modern British Welfare State – five years after the Butler Education Act and three years after the establishment of the National Health Service. The contrast between the quality of citizenship as a consequence of this social legislation and what had obtained in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries struck him forcibly, as shown in this passage from a later work: [In the eighteenth century] the rights to property and personal freedom were seen as the basis of the individual’s power to assert and protect himself against his fellow-men and the state – the power in the last resort, to isolate himself by


Citizenship in Britain converting his home into his castle. The modern rights to education and health are, on the contrary, not merely recognised as being social in origin, but are part of the mechanism by which the individual is absorbed into society (not isolated from it) and simultaneously draws upon and contributes to its collective welfare. (Marshall, 1981, p. 91)

Considerable praise has been heaped upon Citizenship and Social Class, both for its insights and its influence. The eminent sociologist Ralf Dahrendorf has gone so far as to describe it as ‘one of the gems of social analysis’ (Bulmer and Rees, 1996, p. 35), and the book containing his essay is subtitled The Contemporary Relevance of T. H. Marshall. The perceived significance of Marshall’s essay has been summarised thus: that, during the period from the Second World War to the 1960s, Marshall almost single-handedly revived the notion of citizenship, and disseminated a particular view of it so successfully that it came to be seen (at least in England) as the only possible account . . . T. H. Marshall’s original formulation of the concept of citizenship nearly half a century ago remains of continuing significance. It was at once modest and powerful, relevant to the society of his day but with wide theoretical and social philosophical resonance. (Bulmer and Rees, 1996, pp. 3, 269)

Yet, simultaneously, in the 1990s, the essay was also being systematically denigrated by numerous scholars. A most helpful and succinct analysis of these attacks is provided by Keith Faulks (1998, pp. 41–52; see also Heater, 1999, pp. 19–23), upon which the following survey is mainly based. The first argument in the case for the prosecution is that Marshall is too simplistic and optimistic in his treatment of rights. He is too ready to assume that his three sets of rights can co-exist harmoniously and that, by the twentieth century, could be universally enjoyed. In particular, he misconstrued the nature of civil rights, underestimated the obstacles to the delivery of social rights and failed to see the inherent tension between these two forms of rights. Faulks argues that the root cause of the weaknesses in Marshall’s thesis is his failure to appreciate the strength of capitalism throughout the timespan he covers. (See the strength of the landed interest above, pp. 3, 82.) This is a surprising accusation in the light of Marshall’s eye-catching assertion that in the twentieth century citizenship and capitalism have been at war. However, as Faulks shows, the civil rights conceded and developed from the eighteenth century were skewed in the interests of a small economic elite. He therefore suggests that these rights should properly be understood as market rights, designed primarily to ease economic development rather 202

Focus on social citizenship than free expression. In practice, such rights as assembly and protest, argues Faulks, ‘were suppressed by the state in the interests of capitalist accumulation’ (Faulks, 1998, p. 42). We may add another criticism of Marshall’s tripartite pattern. It is this. Civil, political and social rights are not, as he implied, on a par: civil and political rights are held against the state; social rights are provided by the state. The second kind of problem arising from Marshall’s essay relates to his idea of social class in relation to citizenship and the role of the state in this relationship, the basic themes of his lectures. Pursuing his indictment that Marshall skates over the strength of capitalist influence, Faulks condemns him for assuming a neutral stance by the state in a capitalist society such as Britain has been for so long. He asserts that ‘Marshall assumes that the state supports a rounded concept of citizenship . . . [He] does not explore the possibility that the state may work in the interests of a class or group of elites’ (Faulks, 1998, p. 43). This sort of na¨ıvety, it has been stressed, leads to a kind of optimistic Whiggism (the present writer’s phrase) whereby he pictures a steady accumulation and consolidation of group (especially trade union) and individual entitlements. He does not envisage any reversal of this trend or unequal enjoyment of social rights determined by social class. Yet such regression and partiality were evident at the end of the twentieth century. Faulks is unforgiving, declaring that Marshall’s discussion of social class is ‘superficial and divorced from social reality’ (Faulks, 1988, p. 44). Class divisions are deeply ingrained in England and the educational and welfare reforms have failed to create an egalitarian citizenship as Marshall envisaged. Nor, third, did he give sufficient heed to the other divisions in English society, which have inhibited the evolution of an equal citizenship from reaching its fulfilment. Women and members of ethnic minorities remain disadvantaged compared with white males (as we show in Chapters 5 and 7 respectively). Marshall was blinkered to a white male focus. Particularly notorious is his failure to explain that his periodisation of the achievement of rights does not match the acquisition of those rights by the female half of the population: civil rights in the eighteenth century and political rights in the nineteenth? A fourth charge is the flimsiness of Marshall’s explanation of his description of the onward march of citizenship by three stages. Why was capitalism willing to accept the cost of social rights? What was the role of the state in achieving this conciliation? What are the limitations of social rights as they have been conceded? How effective is citizenship in restricting social divisions in a capitalist society like Britain? Faulks blames Marshall for failing to consider such questions, let alone answer them. ‘Marshall’s theory 203

Citizenship in Britain of citizenship,’ he concludes, ‘fails to acknowledge the contingent nature of rights’ (Faulks, 1998, p. 52). Causes and connections are, sadly, missing from the analysis. The present writer has expressed elsewhere an unhappiness about Marshall’s core thesis of sequences: ‘The trouble with Marshall’s phases is twofold: it is too neat for Britain and it is not applicable to some countries at all’ (Heater, 1999, p. 22). What a paradox! Marshall’s Citizenship and Social Class has, since his death in 1981, been lauded as a miniature masterpiece of cardinal importance and powerful influence, and been demolished portion by portion by a scholarly workforce detecting weakness upon weakness in the structure of its argument. Is it at all possible, then, to draw a judgement reconciling these two wings of the academic assessments of this famous essay? Yes, it is possible, if we pursue and accept the following considerations. Most of the many detailed criticisms, of which the above paragraphs are but the thinnest of outlines, can be accepted in their own right. It would be surprising if they could not be, as they have been voiced or derived from distinguished scholars. However, taken as a whole, they are not doing justice to Marshall, on three counts. One is that some critics are writing with the benefit of hindsight, often almost half-a-century after he delivered his lectures. For example, feminism and multiculturalism are foci of intense academic study now; they were not so in Marshall’s day; hence it is unfair to expect him to have given due attention to these facets of citizenship. The second criticism of the critics is their failure to give due consideration to Marshall’s purpose. The essay derives from just two lectures. He was giving an interpretation inevitably in succinct form – the essay version used here stretches to a mere four dozen pages. The lecture or essay format was indeed Marshall’s forte. Even if he had been aware of the points raised by his critics, he could not have developed them. The essay should be read in terms of the purpose for which it was written. But, and third, his text is not as simplistic as some have suggested. He knew there were many ifs, buts and caveats that needed to be taken into account for a deeper study. At the end of the essay, he accepted the existence of an antagonism between the capitalist and egalitarian principles. He expressed his belief, however, that this conflict of principles springs from the very roots of our social order in the present phase of the development of democratic citizenship . . . This phase will not continue indefinitely. It may be that some of the conflicts within our social system are becoming too sharp for the compromise to achieve its purpose much longer. But, if we wish to assist in their resolution, we must try to understand their


Focus on social citizenship deeper nature and to realise the profound and disturbing effects which would be produced by any hasty attempt to reverse the present and recent trends. (p. 49)

There is neither na¨ıvety nor optimism here. There is, rather, a will to hope, a frame of mind also evident in Britain half-a-century later in the blossoming of interest in citizenship as an academic study and as a school subject (for the latter, see pp. 213–15). If Tom Marshall can be aware of this disposition of hopefulness today – in whatever plane that departed sociologists occupy – then he is surely content that he contributed.


Chapter 7

Citizenship as a key concept

Party doctrines and education The creation of the Welfare State, which consolidated social rights as, for all intents and purposes, an indisputable element of British citizenship, was in large measure the achievement of the Labour Party brought to power in 1945. There was some uncertainty about whether the Conservatives would support these reforms, might even dismantle them when they came into office. After all, state intervention in the private, family sphere of life was questionable policy in the minds of many members of that Party, for both doctrinal and fiscal reasons. However, as we have seen in Chapter 6, during the war, while deeply fearful of its huge expense, Churchill accepted the principles of the Beveridge Report; and he showed his commitment to post-war planning by creating the Reconstruction Committee. One of its eventual members was R. A. Butler, who later explained that it discussed and approved White Papers setting out the principles for a national health service and for post-war schemes of pensions, sickness and unemployment benefits, and workmen’s compensation. It worked on the historic document which committed all parties to ‘the maintenance of a high and stable level of employment after the war’. (Butler, 1973, p. 126)

The crucial words are there: ‘committed all parties’. And thus the party policies developed in the post-war era. Butler himself made a material contribution to guiding his party into acceptance of social citizenship by his involvement in the creation of what is termed the ‘New Model’ Conservative Party. We have already described above his 1944 Education Act. In addition, for a decade, 1941–51, he worked on reshaping party policy, an endeavour culminating in 1949 in the key paper The 206

Citizenship as a key concept Right Road for Britain, which included acceptance of the Welfare State. The convergence of the parties on a ‘steady as you go’ set of policies was caricatured by The Economist in 1954 by conflating the names Butler and Gaitskell, the latter, a distinguished member of the Labour Party, serving as Leader of the Opposition from 1955 until his untimely death in 1963. Thus the term ‘Butskellism’ was coined, one that has, admittedly, been heavily criticised for underplaying the very real differences between the parties. Yet that scholarly pendulum perhaps swung too far. Kenneth Morgan, for instance, has stressed that as a financial strategy it did not exist – But as a state of mind, it probably did. It implied a coherent attempt to maintain a social consensus and to try to ‘set the people free’ through greater liberalization, lower taxation, and decontrol, without dismantling the popular welfare and industrial fabric of the Attlee years. (Morgan, 1990, p. 119)

This was social and economic citizenship rights without excessive burdens of state regulation. So matters stood, by and large, until Mrs Thatcher became Prime Minister, in 1979. (Because we are concentrating on political parties here we shall not be surveying the growth of interest among pressure groups and academics in the 1980s and 1990s. For these aspects, see e.g. Smith, 2002, pp.478–82.) Thatcher’s influence was twofold. First, although her autocratic manner would appear dissonant when played against the participation and rights harmonies of citizenship, Bernard Crick has acutely commented, incredibly she spasmodically began to demand that people should exhibit more citizenship. Citizenship was held up as an individual moral virtue. Suddenly the idea of ‘the good citizen’, which hitherto was simply that of being ‘the good subject’ who voted occasionally in public elections, has proved insufficient for a Conservative view of things. (Crick, 2000, pp. 99–100)

One of her crisp epigrams was, ‘When you have finished as a taxpayer, you have not finished as a citizen’ (quoted, Heater, 1991, p. 141; for convenience a number of quotations from these years are cited from this article, though, for editorial reasons, the sources were not given there). Thatcher’s other, more persistent, influence, that of doctrinal neo-liberalism, we shall examine later. To start at the effective beginning of modern British political concentration on citizenship we must home in on the year 1988. Then it was that the distinguished journalist, the late Hugo Young made his famous statement: 207

Citizenship in Britain Something is rotten in the state of Britain, and all the parties know it . . . The buzz-word emerging as the salve for this distress is something called citizenship . . . Somewhere out there there is an immense unsatisfied demand for it to mean something. But it needs to become much more than a word. (Young, 1988)

These sentences, recognising that the day of the idea of citizenship in Britain had come, were published seven months after the Home Secretary, Douglas Hurd, had made a key speech on the subject in the Staffordshire town of Tamworth. The occasion was the bicentenary of the birth of Robert Peel, MP for that constituency, and a distinguished Tory Home Secretary predecessor of Hurd. That current incumbent declared, We have to find, as the Victorians found, techniques and instruments which reach the parts of our society which will always be beyond the scope of statutory schemes. I believe that the inspiring and the enlisting of the active citizen in all walks of life is the key. (Quoted, Heater, 1991, p. 140)

The statement was of paramount importance at the time for four reasons. First, it nailed the Conservative flag securely to the mast of citizenship; other ministers hastened to salute it. Second, the statement was firmly embedded in the principles of Victorian self-help: a bow to the party leader’s interpretation of Samuel Smiles’s 1859 book Self-Help. Third, to self-quote, it ‘provided a Heineken view of voluntary work, designed to reach the parts of our society which will always be beyond state provision’ (Heater, 1991, p. 141). And fourth, it popularised the term ‘active citizen’ but used with a meaning different from the identification of a precise superior social status when the term had been used in the French Revolution two hundred years earlier. We shall expand on all these facets. Before that, however, a third occurrence in 1988 must be mentioned. This was the setting-up of an All-Party Commission on Citizenship by Bernard Weatherill, Speaker of the House of Commons. Its report, entitled Encouraging Citizenship, was published in 1990. This was important more for demonstrating the breadth of interest in and support for citizenship education than for any bold ideas: its recommendations mainly reiterated the Hurdian interpretation of citizenly behaviour as voluntary community work, excellent in itself, but drained of any political consciousness. To continue now with the Conservative Party’s announcement of its commitment to citizenship, initiated by Douglas Hurd. He made several other contributions, including an article in the New Statesman, also in 1988, in which he wrote, ‘Underpinning our social policy are those traditions – the diffusion of power, civil obligation, and voluntary service – which are 208

Citizenship as a key concept central to Conservative philosophy’ (quoted, Heater, 1991, p. 140). So, active citizenship and Conservatism go hand-in-hand, a contrast to the passive form condoned by Labour’s ‘nanny-state’. The case, pursued by government ministers to 1990, ran along these lines. The country is suffering from social problems. It is unrealistic, indeed inadvisable, to expect the state alone to tackle them. Both public and private bodies and funding are working to make improvements. However, in the imagery of the Home Office minister John Patten the active citizen should operate as ‘a third force’. Many more are needed to participate in neighbourhood-watch schemes, charities, fund-raising for environmental regeneration, for example. Then, in 1991 the Conservative Prime Minister John Major (Mrs Thatcher had resigned in 1990) personally introduced his scheme of the Citizens’ Charter, his ‘big idea’ for the new decade. In his Foreword to the White Paper launching the idea he explained, The Citizen’s Charter is about giving more power to the citizen . . . [It] is not a recipe for more state action; it is a testament of our belief in people’s right to be informed and choose for themselves. There is a well-spring of talent, energy, care and commitment in our public services. The aim of the Citizen’s Charter is to release these qualities. (Cm 1599, 1991, p. 2)

The essence of the system was that all public services should provide quality, choice, standard and value. Those organisations that reach the Charter Standard would be awarded the Chartermark, to be displayed and thereby prove to citizens their achievement. But it was a two-way process. ‘Consumers, too, had to be active in maintaining pressure on public services to work more effectively’ (Faulks, 1998, p. 134; see, generally, pp.132–43). Note that tell-tale word ‘consumers’. True, both the Prime Minister’s message and the text of the White Paper refer to giving powers to the citizen, but the thinking and language of the market-place suffused the whole plan. The users of these services were seen and referred to as ‘customers’ or ‘clients’ rather than ‘citizens’. The project grew, sprouting specialist charters (e.g. for railway customers (i.e. passengers), for hospital patients) and local charters. By 1997 there were 42 national charters and over 10,000 local charters. Major’s twin objectives, of easing the harshness of Thatcherism by showing that Conservatives have a compassionate side and to effect a marked improvement in the managerial competence of government, were to a noticeable degree achieved. Even so, public interest was patchy and soon waned. The prospect of effective choice in the use of public services was, in any case, a mirage. Furthermore, for our 209

Citizenship in Britain purposes the use of the word ‘citizen’ was questionable. Faulks identifies just how unsuitable the term is: ‘it implicitly attacked citizenship as a concept that expresses membership of a collective community and redefined it in terms of consumer values, which depoliticised and narrowed the concept’ (Faulks, 1998, p. 141). Yet neither the Liberal Democrats nor the Labour Party could allow the Conservatives to claim monopolies on the idea of citizenship or the production of a charter. When Paddy Ashdown became leader of the Liberal Democrats in 1988 (to be precise, they were called the Social and Liberal Democratic Party at that time), he stated, ‘I believe that our party should now consider development of a new, enhanced concept of the citizen in the modern state. Indeed, I wonder whether this could be the very centrepiece of our new way of thinking’ (quoted, Heater, 1991, p. 142). Hurd had in fact pipped him by four months, though, to be fair to the Party, the concept was already being canvassed by their leading thinkers by 1987. However, as one would expect, the Liberal Democrats put a different stamp on the idea from the Conservatives. Where they wanted more discharge of obligations, the Liberal Democrats wanted more enjoyment of rights. And when they came to publish their charter (all three main parties produced their charters in July 1991) the title and subtitle bore interesting differences from the government’s document. The title was Citizens’ Britain: citizens in the plural, recognised as a community as distinct from the Conservatives’ singular individualism; and the subtitle was Liberal Democrat Policies for a People’s Charter, interesting because Major had wanted ‘People’s Charter’ for his document, but had been dissuaded, perhaps because of its previous, radical nineteenthcentury use. The Liberal Democrat Charter starts with a frontal assault on the other two parties: Labour and Tory ideas are pale imitations of what is required. They have confused Consumerism with Citizenship. They aim to make happier subjects, not true citizens. (Liberal Democrats, 1991, p. 1)

In contrast, the Liberal Democrats promised to tackle three facets of citizenship to improve the quality of that status. Political citizenship would be enhanced by making government more open, representative and accountable; social citizenship, by reducing prejudice and discrimination and ensuring the enjoyment of basic social entitlements; economic citizenship, by improving the standards of service providers. The Charter proceeds to identify ten key requirements to achieve these objectives, some of which 210

Citizenship as a key concept repeat the points in the three-fold analysis, but including such specifics as a Bill of Rights as part of a written constitution, devolution of power to the nations, regions and communities, employee rights to participation and profit-sharing. Was the Liberal Democrats’ barb of pinning Tory and Labour together as both concentrating on individuals as consumers fair on Labour? Not if we examine statements by members of the Labour Party prior to the publication of its Charter. There we find the related themes of socialism, social rights and sociability as the features of citizenship Labour wished to emphasise. Responding to Hurd’s interpretation of active citizenship, Roy Hattersley argued that, ‘we can only fulfil our obligations to our neighbours when society takes collective decisions about individual rights and individual responsibilities. That is a basic principle of democratic socialism.’ Professor Bernard Crick and MP David Blunkett co-authored an article (and pamphlet) in which they pleaded for ‘far more spontaneous sociability and helpfulness to neighbours and strangers – fraternity’. While another academic (and Labour peer), Raymond Plant, argued that democratic citizenship provides ‘a link to Labour’s historical principles’. The urgent need that he identified, however, was for both state and citizenry to recover their faith in and commitment to social welfare, that is, social citizenship (quotations from Heater, 1991, pp. 143–4). How did Labour’s Citizen’s Charter: Labour’s Better Deal for Consumers and Citizens relate to these principles? We can see immediately the repetition of the Conservatives’ singular, individual citizen and the identification of the individual also as a consumer. The document insists that the party has a long tradition of concern for the rights of the consumer and the citizen and had in fact already published a Charter for consumers and a Charter for better council services in 1986 (see Labour Party, 1991, pp. 8–9). There are, in fact, hints that the stress is on the individual as consumer rather than citizen. For example, in the Introduction, we have seven paragraphs on ‘The role of the market’ compared with one on ‘Rights and powers’ (pp. 5–6). Nevertheless, there is an effort to keep the two identities in balance. In the Introduction the reader’s eye is caught by this sentence printed in bold: ‘Our Charter recognises that we are both consumers and citizens, citizens and electors, electors and tax-payers, tax-payers and contributors’ (p. 6). The intrusion of the consumer into charters on citizenship is an indication of the power of neo-liberal thinking that so influenced the Conservative administrations of Thatcher and Major and the New Labour administrations of Blair. The following quotations indicate how critics of this development have interpreted it as having had a distorting and deleterious effect on citizenship: 211

Citizenship in Britain The single most important element of the New Right project of the 1980s and 1990s was a relentless kulturkampf designed to root out the culture of service and citizenship which had become part of the social fabric. (Marquand, 2004, p. 2) Social Rights are now seen as compensation for unemployment and contingent on economic activity – rather than as intrinsic political rights. Citizenship, for Blairism, is fundamentally instrumental: it is about socialisation for work – becoming the ‘good citizen’ is about being the good worker and good consumer. (Lawson and Leighton, 2004, p. 6)

The intellectual and political creation of the New Right mood from the 1970s, notably in the USA, but also catching hold in the UK, embraced reinterpretations and updating of nineteenth-century doctrines in the forms of neo-conservatism and neo-liberalism, espousing, respectively, strong government and traditional moral and social values and giving free rein to market forces and individual initiative unfettered by the state. The doctrines of strong government and release of market forces were both at work in the Thatcherite policies towards trade unions, for example. Mrs Thatcher was determined to weaken them and her governments passed eight Acts restricting their powers (see Roberts, 1999, p. 149). The neo-liberal case has been that their restrictive practices, strikes and pressure for higher wages distort the working of the market. The confrontation became exceptionally acrid with the year-long miners’ strike, 1984–5, during which the Prime Minister uttered her definition of unionism as ‘the enemy within’ and the police acted with determination as the strong arm of the government. Trade unionism was irrevocably weakened, and so too therefore was a component of citizenship if one accepts Marshall’s interpretation of unions as exercising collective civil rights and industrial citizenship (see p. 201). In addition, privatisation of public services and an increasing gap between the rich and poor undermined the ideal of social citizenship. Historically, the Labour Party was closely related to trade unionism and the public provision of welfare services. When Labour came to power in 1997 hopes were raised that the Thatcherite momentum would not merely be stemmed but even reversed. However, the Party that took office was rebranded (notice the commercial verb) as ‘New Labour’. Relations between trade unions and government remained tense, privatisation continued under the label Private Finance Initiative (PFI), the gap between rich and poor widened still further and the streak of authoritarianism introduced by Thatcher continued. True, substantial sums of money were poured into the two main pillars of the Welfare State, hospitals and schools, and so much more consideration was accorded to the underprivileged that the term 212

Citizenship as a key concept ‘humanitarian Thatcherism’ was coined. Even so, the doctrinal distinction between Conservatives and New Labour seemed to many commentators to be blurred. ‘Like their predecessors, Blair and his ministers have internalized the axioms of the capitalist renaissance of our time.’ This quotation is taken from a book entitled, Decline of the Public: the Hollowing-out of Citizenship (Marquand, 2004, p. 118). Or, as two other commentators have pithily written, ‘New Labour and the dominant Blairite strain within it lies trapped in the long shadow cast by neo-liberalism’s hegemony’ (Lawson and Leighton, 2004, p. 1). David Marquand has argued that Thatcher and Blair have been populist leaders: they have known what the people really want, and their policies were shaped pushing aside doubt and irrespective of any damage they might inflict on traditions and institutions. ‘Populist centralism,’ he writes, ‘has no place for the civic ideal of open debate and public engagement. In a populist polity, citizenship is hollowed out. The people are passive, not active – consumers of public policy, not participants in shaping it’ (Marquand, 2004, p. 128). We might express the condition in terms of the new political technique: only the minute proportion of the citizenry who are members of the consulted ‘focus groups’ function as active citizens. Whatever happened to the active citizen in the 1980s sense? In one of his moods, a leading member of Blair’s cabinets, David Blunkett, worked against the grain in his capacity as Secretary of State for Education to cultivate this quality in young people. It is not proposed to describe in any detail here the hesitant attempts to introduce citizenship into English schools in the twentieth century before his initiative (see Heater, 2004, pp. 94–101). Let us just say that, until 1997, we can identify half-a-dozen unsuccessful, heroic, or not so heroic, attempts to prepare the youth of the country to be proper citizens. Basic Civics lessons were encouraged by some Local Education Authorities and private schools and were provided by adult education classes. These courses were often dull, though, as always, a keen and imaginative teacher could make all the difference. One enthusiast, Kathleen Gibberd, not only produced successful textbooks from the 1930s, but wrote her autobiography, entitling it Politics on the Blackboard. Concern about international conflict prompted the establishment of the Education Committee of the League of Nations Union (LNU) after the First World War, metamorphosing into the Council for Education in World Citizenship (CEWC) at the beginning of the Second World War. By the 1930s the term ‘citizenship’ was being used, notably in the name of the Association for Education in Citizenship (AEC). It had a short life; its failure to establish strong roots was caused to a significant degree by the hostility of key civil servants and politicians. As a sop the Ministry of Education produced a 213

Citizenship in Britain pamphlet in 1949 entitled Citizens Growing Up. What it wanted, however, was confined to teaching the ‘simple virtues of humility, service, restraint and respect for personality’ (quoted, Heater, 2004, p. 95). In the 1970s there was what Bernard Crick has called ‘the false dawn’ (Crick, 2002, pp. 488–90). He was a key figure in founding the Politics Association, which, though providing a useful service, did not effect the widespread political enlightenment of the young, hence Crick’s metaphor. In 1988 the major Education Reform Act was passed with the requirement that a National Curriculum be introduced. Citizenship appeared in that scheme, though in exceedingly feeble form. That it appeared at all was due to the fact that the Secretary of State was Kenneth Baker, a politician committed to the cause, but who had to bend before the will of the Prime Minister to exclude Citizenship as a defined subject (see Crick, 2002, p. 488). The real breakthrough came in 1997. When Labour won the election in that year and Blunkett was allocated the post of Secretary of State for Education and Employment, he immediately summoned Crick, his former professor and fellow Labour Party member, to chair a committee for advising how to embed Citizenship firmly into the National Curriculum; and so the Advisory Group on Citizenship under Crick’s chairmanship was set up. One member was Kenneth (now Lord) Baker, ensuring an influential member from the Opposition. This Advisory Group reported in 1998; the title of the report is Education for Citizenship and the Teaching of Democracy in Schools. Another Advisory Group, also chaired by Crick, produced in 2000 a second report entitled Citizenship for 16–19 Year Olds in Education and Training. The first was by far the more important because it led to the Citizenship Order in 1999 requiring that from 2002 all pupils in state secondary schools at Key Stages 3 and 4 (i.e. 14–16 years of age) receive citizenship education in accordance with the outlines published for the guidance of teachers, Citizenship: The National Curriculum for England (DfEE and QCA, 1999). Crick rejoiced in an essay, ‘A Subject at Last!’ (Crick, 2000). Three major questions spring to mind. First, how did it come about that after so much indecisiveness, lack of commitment and outright hostility, which left Britain so lagging behind other liberal democracies, Citizenship did become a statutory subject? Second, in the light of the confusions surrounding the meaning of citizenship in the United Kingdom, how did the Advisory Group provide a definition for English schools? Third, what was the Group’s overall objective in introducing Citizenship into schools? It would be surprising if some members of the government did not vacillate or even harbour hostile opinions about the project; Crick, indeed, hints at this (see Crick, 2000, p. 117; 2002, p. 498). He also suggests a lack of positive thinking at the top: ‘I doubt if the Prime Minister and the Home 214

Citizenship as a key concept Secretary thought, “Ah, it stands to reason that constitutional reform won’t work in the long run without building a base from the schools for active citizenship, so let’s give Blunkett his head” ’, and, further, admits, ‘I have not been privy to the reasons why the government moved so quickly on citizenship’ (Crick, 2000, p. 11). There were, nevertheless, as the Advisory Group discerned, three potent arguments to sway doubters. One was the government’s commitment to constitutional reform for a more genuine democracy (e.g. reform of the House of Lords, Freedom of Information); another was the prevailing apathy and cynicism towards politics and worrying anti-social behaviour; the third was the growing belief that Britons should think of themselves less as passive subjects of the Crown and more as active citizens of the state (see Advisory Group on Citizenship, 1998, 3.1–3.12). However, the committed, forceful and energetic leadership of Blunkett and Crick must not be underestimated. The minister was determined – ‘I knew Blunkett was not a man to be crossed lightly on something he valued deeply’ (Crick, 2002, p. 493). Such is the judgement of the distinguished professor who learned his brief, and guided and drove his Group and drove himself unstintingly in order to achieve what for so long had seemed unachievable. What was this citizenship that was to be taught? The Advisory Group devoted a section of its report (Part I, section 2) to this matter, and came up with three requirements for the preparation of the young for the status: ‘social and moral responsibility, community involvement and political literacy’ (Advisory Group on Citizenship, 1998, 2.10; expanded in 2.11). Members of the Group were nervous about the acceptability of community involvement, outside the school. ‘But,’ as Crick has explained, the Secretary of State sent word to the working party who were drafting the consultative order (civil servants, QCA [Qualifications and Curriculum Authority], teachers, advisers) that actual participation could be mandatory, if we cared to recommend. We did not demure [sic]. (Crick, 2000, p.119)

Thus did Blunkett play a key role in incorporating realistic, practical citizenship in the curriculum. Our third question about the Advisory Group’s deliberations concerns its essential objective. Nothing ventured, nothing gained – it was audacious: We aim at no less than a change in the political culture of this country both nationally and locally: for people to think of themselves as active citizens, willing, able and equipped to have an influence in public life and with the critical capacities to weigh evidence before speaking and acting; to build on and to extend radically to young people the best in existing traditions of community involvement and public service, and to make them individually confident in finding


Citizenship in Britain new forms of involvement and action among themselves. (Advisory Group on Citizenship, 1998, 1.5)

The Order giving statutory force to Citizenship Education applies only to England (though similar work has developed in the other components of the United Kingdom). However, this is only one example of the fragmentation of citizenship in Britain, or its variegation. As Trevor Smith has written, ‘The emergence of a whole series of citizenships, some of which are complementary, while others are – potentially or actually – antipathetic to one another, is a new phenomenon in Britain’ (Smith, 2002, p. 486). The supranational status of citizenship of the European Union (see pp. 228–31) and the devolution of some power to the Greater London Authority, Wales and Scotland are obvious examples of this phenomenon. Scotland, in any case, has always had separate legal and educational systems, and Scots have retained a sense of separate national identity. We come, therefore, to the effect of distinct national identities in Scotland, Wales and Ireland on the history of citizenship in Britain.

Celtic nationhoods Nationhood is closely related to citizenship in two main ways. One is by a shared sense of belonging, of common traditions, culture and pride; the other is by participation in the national institutions and a consciousness of their national distinctiveness. As a rider to the requirement for participation we should add the practical need for command of an official language, as Mill emphasised (see p. 120) and has become an issue in Britain in recent years (see p. 239). Despite English settlements in and Anglicisation of Scotland, Wales and Ireland, the Celtic peoples of those lands retained and revived their feelings of nationhood. They also, in different ways (and only very recently in the case of Wales) developed their own civic and political institutions. The history of Scotland in these regards in the medieval and early modern centuries has been treated in Chapter 1. Accordingly, we shall start this section by focusing mainly on the nationality facet of the Scottish story after the Act of Union of 1707 and tracing it down to the present. There follows a brief account of Welsh nationhood. And the section will end with the politically complex and culturally difficult tale of Irish nationhood. (The Welsh and Irish stories from the Middle Ages are treated in this chapter for the reason explained in Chapter 1.) After the Act of Union the Scottish parliamentary tradition was retained in only a limited sense. That measure merely specified the number of Scots to attend the new British Parliament, that is, sixteen peers and forty-five 216

Citizenship as a key concept commoners. The dying Scottish Parliament had the task of filling in the detail. Since that body had 157 commoners, constituencies clearly had to be merged. As we have seen in Chapter 1 (p. 11) the Act of 1469 had severely restricted the suffrage in the burghs so that in 1707 ‘the town councils (averaging perhaps twenty men, and representing mainly the merchant interest, but including a minority of craftsmen) chose the members or, after 1707, the commissioners who chose the members’ (Pryde, 1960, p. 6). The total burgh electorate has been estimated as a mere 1,200 or so. But among the Scottish parliamentarians there was neither much national hostility to the union of the parliaments before the Act in Edinburgh nor national cohesion among the MPs at Westminster after. Whereas an identifiable and sizeable Irish Party was to be found in the House of Commons in the nineteenth century, there was no corresponding amalgamation among the Scots. The 1832 Reform Act increased the electorate from about 5,000 to about 60,000, but without shifting its social complexion (see Kearney, 1989, p. 169). Irish affairs did alert some Scots to the idea of Home Rule for Scotland in the 1880s (see p. 218), though it met with little enthusiasm. Not until 1974 did the Scottish National Party (SNP), temporarily, secure more seats in the Westminster Parliament than could be counted on the fingers of one hand. Even so, the 1974 results worried the new Labour government, which produced a Scotland Bill two years later, allowing for a directly elected assembly. A referendum was held in 1979. This demonstrated just how weak the interest was in a form of national autonomy by means of devolution. Although the ‘yes’ vote won by a small margin, the turnout was so low that those votes were cast by only 32.9 per cent of the total electorate. The proposal was therefore not immediately pursued. None the less, during the 1980s and 1990s the climate of opinion changed. Notably, in 1988 the Campaign for a Scottish Assembly (CSA) published a pamphlet, A Claim of Right for Scotland, which they had commissioned and which Crick has highly praised: ‘It was an impressive document,’ he writes, ‘well reasoned, historically grounded and written in the powerful rhetoric of the plain style (deserving comparison with some of the great pamphlets and state papers of the American Revolution)’ (Crick, 2001b, p. 41). Their case was based on their interpretation of the spirit of the 1707 Treaty and the right of selfdetermination. One effect of this leadership was the creation the next year of the Scottish Constitutional Convention (SCC), in which the Labour Party and the Liberal Democrats keenly co-operated. When Labour returned to power in 1997 it therefore reiterated its commitment to devolution. The referendum in Scotland in that year revealed a clearly positive reaction. The turnout was 60.1 per cent, of whom 74.3 per cent cast their votes in 217

Citizenship in Britain favour of a Scottish Parliament and 63.5 per cent for that assembly to have tax-varying powers. This demonstrated a much more nationalist frame of mind (in the mild meaning of the term) than eighteen years before, albeit with considerable local differences, the most committed compact region running from North and East Ayrshire to East Lothian and Dundee (see Dearlove and Saunders, 2000, p. 326). In the election for the 129 MSPs in 1999 the turnout was 58 per cent and the SNP won 35 seats. Thus was the Scots’ sense of citizenship as nationhood incarnated in a parliament for the first time in 292 years. However, neither the concept of this nationhood nor the objectives in securing its embodiment in a form of regional citizenship were matters of simple or unified understanding among the Scottish people. First, we should repeat the observation that from the late nineteenth century there was little demand even for Home Rule let alone secession as an independent state. In 1886 the Scottish Home Rule Association (SHRA) was formed with support from the Liberals who favoured the extension of Gladstone’s policy of Irish Home Rule. But in the 1920s the Liberal Party collapsed, so there was no support from London for pressing the SHRA’s case. Meanwhile, ethnic–religious rivalries between Protestants and Catholics could be quite intense and were the focus of political interest more than devolution. Even as late as ‘the 1960s when the SNP showed signs of revival, Catholics showed little enthusiasm for the nationalist programme’ (Kearney, 1989, p. 206). Mention of the SNP reminds us of the basic division of political goals: Home Rule/devolution or national independence, or, in the SNP’s later policy, an independent state within the European Union. When it came to decision-making in the 1990s pragmatic considerations proved persuasive: many believed that life would be more secure if Scotland distanced itself in some measure from an England-dominated United Kingdom. Two main features of this thinking may be discerned. One has been the staunch adherence to the Welfare State. It has been argued that if that method of ensuring social citizenship could have been seen to be inviolate, demand for devolution would have remained weak. That the demand did not stagnate ‘is as much due to Thatcher’s hostility to the welfare state – and therefore to the Scottish majority – as to any passionate wish in Scotland for a Parliament’ (Brown et al., 1996, p. 63). The other feature has been the perceived threat that Scottish identity and culture has been placed increasingly under threat, a threat that could only be countered by shoring up Scottishness by political means. Crick notices the intensity of this nervousness: ‘There is an almost paranoid tone, at times,’ he has written, ‘of claiming that the culture is threatened by an increasing anglicization unless Scotland gets its parliament’ (Crick, 2001b, p. 46). 218

Citizenship as a key concept What, then, is the mode of nationhood that the Scots adhere to? It is a mild pride, a pride that is justifiable. The institutions (e.g. law, education), intellectual achievements (e.g. the Scottish Enlightenment) and literature (e.g. Burns) provide sufficient evidence. For obvious historical reasons there has been the negative, anti-English element – because of the medieval attempt at conquest and incorporation, because of the process of Anglicisation from the Middle Ages onwards, because of the English assumptions of superiority from the brutalities of Culloden and Highland clearances to the political and bureaucratic indifference to Scottish interests and needs – even though there has been no lasting, nationalistic bitterness. The sense of distinct nationhood is firm. For example, a poll taken in 1992 revealed that 64 per cent gave their national identity as either ‘Scottish not British’ or ‘More Scottish than British’ (see Brown et al., 1996, p. 198). Yet it is a tolerant, nonideological, non-ethnic feeling of nationhood, as these quotations confirm: We believe that all who live in Scotland have a valued part to play in our country regardless of their place of birth or ethnic background. (SNP, quoted, Hall, 2004, p. 149) ‘Scottish nationalism is about how people understand and run a smallish community, without exploiting anyone.’ (Quoted, Crick, 2001b, p. 47) All who live and work in Scotland would be eligible for Scottish citizenship. This explains why some English people are Scottish nationalists. (Kellas, 1998, p. 25)

Welsh nationhood has come to express itself with a similar tolerant temper. English monarchs from Edward I achieved greater success in absorbing Wales than Scotland, despite the flowering of Welsh culture and consciousness in Gwynedd under the Princes Llewellyn in the twelfth–thirteenth centuries and the bold national rebellion of Owen Glendower, 1401–6. Henry VIII eventually incorporated the Principality fully into the English political and judicial systems by Acts of Parliament in 1536 and 1543, so that the voters of Wales thenceforth sent twenty-seven MPs to Westminster. Pressure for some form of self-government emerged much later and weaker than in Ireland, though naturally, as in Scotland, the relevance of the Home Rule movement across the Irish Sea and Gladstone’s support for such a change in Ireland were recognised by some politically alert Welsh people. A society, Cymru Fydd (Wales of the Future) was founded in 1886 to campaign for a Welsh Parliament, though it was not until 1925 that the Welsh Nationalist Party, Plaid Cymru, was created. However, it drew little support. The Principality was too small and economically dependent on England for national 219

Citizenship in Britain independence to be practicable. A referendum on the issue of devolution in 1979 rejected the offer by a margin of 4:1, a mere 11.8 per cent of the electorate voting in favour of a Welsh Assembly. What sense of Welsh nationhood that has existed has been cultural rather than political, and that has been strong although concentrated in the rural north and west. Even when a Welsh Assembly did come into being after a referendum in 1997, the turnout was only 50 per cent, of whom the barest of majorities – 50.4 per cent voted ‘yes’. A desire for a Welsh stratum of citizenship has scarcely been sought with any eagerness. Yet there is a consciousness of being different from the English. In a book entitled Citizens it is reported that ‘a major investigation into racism in prisons launched in 2000 by the CRE includes a prison in Wales where English prisoners are complaining about discrimination against them’ (Alibhai-Brown, 2001, p. 51). Neither the Scots nor the Welsh have suffered the difficulties, complications and heart-rending struggles to achieve civic nationhoods in definition, recognition and institutional realisations as the Irish. Indeed, the very use of the plurals in that sentence signals the problems. The first occasion when elected representatives were summoned to assist in the deliberations of the Great Council of Ireland was in 1297, when thirty knights participated. By the late fourteenth century an Irish Parliament, including elected burgesses also, was fully established. However, as part of this development the native Irish were eased out. Irish citizens were the colonists, the ‘English Irish’, who used their power through the Parliament to weaken their motherland’s control over the island; though this trend was reversed by Henry VII. By the reign of Elizabeth I electoral improprieties, on a par with those that were to become notorious in England in the eighteenth century, were the subject of protest. For example, in 1569 the lower house was so packed with Englishmen that one member, Sir Christopher Barnewell, registered his complaints, including the fact that some burgesses did not even know the towns they represented, let alone dwelt there, despite the law requiring residence. As more Protestants settled, especially in the north, the balance of Protestants and Catholics in the electorate became a political issue of considerable import in the seventeenth century. The ‘Protestant Ascendancy’ started and Protestants remained in the ascendant in the Province of Ulster. But by the early eighteenth century the exercise of citizenship through the Dublin Parliament had become ineffective. An Act of 1691 barred Catholics from membership and the suffrage; an Act of 1719 declared that the Westminster Parliament had an absolute right to pass laws affecting Ireland, and by that time, what is more, about two-thirds of the 300 members of the Irish House of Commons were controlled by patrons. We may record at this point too 220

Citizenship as a key concept that in terms of civil rights Habeas Corpus was not available in Ireland until 1781. Mounting frustration through the eighteenth century led to demands for a reformed and nationally independent Parliament. In the mid-1770s the Irish MP Henry Grattan became an effective leader. The government, faced with disaster in America and the growth of the Volunteer Movement in Ireland, gave way. (The Volunteer Movement evolved for self-defence against a possible French invasion, but was a possible threat to English control.) From 1783 to 1801 Ireland again had its own Parliament, often referred to as ‘Grattan’s Parliament’. Reforms ensued, including the raising of the civic status of Catholics by an Act of 1793, which allowed them to sit on juries, hold minor civil offices and junior commissioned ranks in the army and vote in elections; but not, crucially, to take seats in Parliament, so that the vote was of limited value for them. The reforms were indeed inadequate for the Society of United Irishmen, formed at this time. Led by Wolfe Tone, they demanded radical constitutional changes including universal manhood suffrage, explicitly with no religious barriers. Irish political ambitions, in the minds of many, both Protestant and Catholic, were now, however, moving beyond mere reform of Parliament. Citizenship was being defined not just by suffrage but by a sense of nationhood, strongly influenced by the international scene. In the words of Marianne Elliott, The French revolution and the war which followed occasioned the emergence of modern republican nationalism in Ireland and the early stages of its takeover by the catholic and Gaelic traditions . . . For although constitutional nationalism was (and still is) a continuing force, it was [the anti-English form] which emerged as a direct consequence of the end-of-century crisis and which has remained the most emotive force in Irish history. (Elliott, 1988, p. 71)

However, uprisings were pitilessly suppressed by English troops when the challenge came to a climax in 1798. To consolidate the English grip on Ireland an Act of Union came into force in 1801. The Irish Parliament was abolished, parliamentary representation for Ireland being transferred to Westminster. During the legislative process to effect this change Grattan rose from his sickbed to protest at the numerical injustice of the representative arrangements whereby 100 seats were allotted for Ireland in the House of Commons. As part of the United Kingdom, he said, Ireland was more than one-third in population, one-third in territory and less than one-sixth in representation. Furthermore, the franchise was more restricted than in England so that a smaller proportion of the Irish population than the English enjoyed the civic right of voting. Hopes 221

Citizenship in Britain and optimism for a healthy Irish citizenship of civil and political rights and national identity were thus excitedly entertained in the early 1790s, but so sadly extinguished. By the new century not only had the island come under firm and resented English control, but the prospect of Protestants and Catholics coming together in a sense of common Irish nationhood, glimpsed at in that brief moment, was lost. Irish nationhood was henceforth to be Catholic nationhood. The dispiriting change of mood is exemplified by a former Protestant sympathiser of the United Irish movement on witnessing a Catholic procession: ‘I begin to fear these people and think, like the Jews, they will regain their native land’ (quoted, O’Brien, 1974, p. 44). National discontent of the Catholics with their subordinate status had grown to such a pitch by the 1820s that the government became seriously anxious. By 1828 even civil war seemed possible as rural violence escalated. In that year the charismatic leader of the movement demanding Catholic Emancipation, Daniel ‘the Liberator’ O’Connell, challenged the government by standing in the County Clare by-election and roused intense excitement thereby. Funds poured in to support his campaign; in every parish of the county priests adjured their flocks to support the representative of their faith; and O’Connell won the seat with a handsome majority. He spent the next months touring Ireland, rousing, with the enthusiastic and influential backing of the priesthood, huge supporting demonstrations. Against a background of fiery hostility in England, the government conceded: the Catholic Emancipation Act was enacted in 1829. By the incontrovertible expression of their intensely felt civic consciousness, the Catholic population of Ireland had won a precious right of political citizenship. Nevertheless, for the minority who were most politically determined, the abolition of the Dublin Parliament still smarted. Consequently, with O’Connell again in the forefront, a movement to repeal the Act of Union was formed. The aim was Home Rule, that is, that Ireland should have control over its own domestic affairs. Yet even this was insufficient for the nationalists, the most militant of whom, the Fenians, wanted Ireland to be a fully independent republic (see p. 110). To political discontent among the educated was added economic discontent among the peasantry, completely justifiable even without the effects of the horrific potato famine of 1845–50. And so, when the Queen invited Gladstone to form a ministry in 1868, his priority was clear: ‘My mission is to pacify Ireland,’ he declared. His constitutional plan was to concede Home Rule, though it was not until 1886 that he introduced the first Home Rule Bill, a hazardous undertaking because of bitter divisions within his own party let alone opposition from the Conservatives. What is crucial for our purposes is to remember that this Bill, which would have enhanced the citizenly status of Irishmen, was introduced 222

Citizenship as a key concept a matter of only months after the general election held in accordance with the franchise laid down by the Third Reform Act, a measure expanding the Irish electorate from 220,000 to 740,000. The Irish voters exercised their civic right to extraordinary effect. By this time a distinct Irish Party existed in the House of Commons, led by Charles Parnell. In the election some Irish seats were not contested; however, as John Morley, whom Gladstone was to appoint as Irish Secretary, later wrote: Out of eighty-nine contests in Ireland, Mr. Parnell’s men won no fewer than eighty-five . . . A species of purge, moreover, had been performed. All half-hearted nationalists, the doubters and the faithless, were dismissed, and their places taken by men pledged either to obey or else go. (Morley, 1903b, p. 253)

Furthermore, the Liberals won no seats; the returned Conservative (or, to use the Irish term, Tory) MPs were confined to Ulster. This result revealed with great clarity the deep Protestant Conservative/Catholic Nationalist and north/south cleavage; because also where Conservatives did fight seats in the south they were often routed. For instance, in two divisions of County Mayo the Conservatives polled 200 votes against nearly 10,000 for the Nationalists. For those who could interpret these psephological auguries, the partition of the island and the independence of the larger southern portion a generation later would have been no surprise. The failure of successive British Liberal governments’ Home Rule Bills and therefore to solve ‘the Irish question’ led inexorably to the partition by the 1920 Government of Ireland Act. However, dissatisfaction with its arrangements rose to violence, so that, in 1921 a treaty between Great Britain and Ireland created a totally independent Dominion of the Irish Free State, which came into existence a year later. Yet the issues of identity, nationality and citizenship persisted in conditions of considerable confusion both in the Irish Free State (renamed Eire in the 1937 Constitution, and subsequently Anglicised to Irish Republic in 1949) and in the Province of Northern Ireland. The treaty referred to the ‘common citizenship of Ireland and Great Britain’. Clearly this was an anomaly, and when the constitution of the new state was drafted a basic provisional list of those eligible for Irish citizenship appeared and a full legal definition was promised in the future. The status of combined citizenship with Britain and other remnants of Ireland’s quasicolonial status were deeply resented by the republican Fianna F´ail party. Accordingly, when it secured a large number of seats in the D´ail (House of Representatives) in the 1932 election, its leader, De Valera, became prime minister and set about sweeping away the humiliating restrictions on Irish 223

Citizenship in Britain independence. Even so, not until 1937 was a new constitution enacted, although this had been preceded in 1935 by the Irish Nationality and Citizenship Act. This created a distinct Eire nationality, marking out the republican state as formally independent of the United Kingdom, a status unique among the self-governing Dominions of the Commonwealth, of which Eire was still none the less a member. There continued, even then, to be extraordinary legal confusions, not least because the Constitution, approved by a referendum, defined the country in Article 2 as: ‘The national territory of the whole island of Ireland, its islands and the territorial seas’ (contrary to the de jure partition in accordance with the treaty of 1921). In addition, the detailed interpretations of the citizenship and nationality status of individuals in Eire often differed depending on whether the interpretations were made on the east or west of the Irish Sea. Two United Kingdom Acts, the British Nationality Act of 1948 (see pp. 162–3) and the Ireland Act of 1949 clarified the status of Irish citizens vis-`a-vis Britain – in an extraordinarily complicated manner. Mervyn Jones, summarising the import of Section 32(1) of the former and Section 2(1) and 3(1) of the latter, will give the reader an indication: The Republic of Ireland is neither part of Her Majesty’s dominions nor a Commonwealth country, but it is not a foreign country under the law of the United Kingdom, and its citizens, though not as such, Commonwealth citizens, are not aliens. Although special provisions have been enacted with reference to citizens of Eire they are treated, for most purposes under the British Nationality Act, as if they were Commonwealth citizens. (Jones, 1956, p. 126)

A kind of dual citizenship was also made available by Section 2(1) of the 1948 Act: ‘Any citizen of Eire who immediately before the commencement of this Act was also a British subject shall not . . . be deemed to have ceased to be a British subject if at any time he gives notice to the Secretary of State’, showing that he has a close connection with the United Kingdom (Jones, 1956, Appendix 7). The Ireland Act was a necessary response to Dublin’s Republic of Ireland Act, also of 1948, by which that country left the Commonwealth, the status of Irish citizens vis-`a-vis the United Kingdom consequently having to be redefined. This was accomplished by the very simple method of allowing citizens of the Republic of Ireland to vote in United Kingdom elections, a remarkable recognition of the continuing political closeness of the two countries. This position was further confirmed by the Anglo-Irish Agreement of 1985, which, among other arrangements, introduced the reciprocal system whereby UK subjects resident in the Republic of Ireland could vote in Irish elections. 224

Citizenship as a key concept But, time now to backtrack to the partition and to ask what citizenship has meant in Northern Ireland. It is helpful to think of this matter under three headings: identities, institutions and discrimination. Vicious hatred and haunting fear have divided the Province of Ulster and, since partition, the Province of Northern Ireland (not strictly synonymous because County Donegal remained in Ireland). That such profound divisions should have come about is ironic when set in the context of the title of this section, because both the Catholic and the Protestant communities are basically Celtic in origin. From ancient times settlers crossed from Celtic Scotland in sizeable numbers. But the seventeenth-century wave brought to the region people of the Presbyterian faith; it is the mutual religious antagonism between Presbyterians and Catholics that has been beyond conciliation. The following comment about the Rev. Ian Paisley, Moderator of the Free Presbyterian Church and a vociferous and influential political force, is indicative of the intensity of feeling that has arisen: ‘he does believe that the Pope is the Anti-Christ of the Book of Revelation’ (Crick, 2001b, p. 71). The fear of the Protestants has been that they would be a tiny minority in a predominantly Catholic state if they became citizens of Ireland in the event of reunion. As we have seen, Article 2 of the 1937 Constitution posed the threat of unification; though that was eventually rescinded in 1998. The nationalists on both sides of the border have resented the division of their country, a resentment that has expressed itself in violence through the terrorism of the Irish Republican Army (IRA), notably during the thirty-year-long Troubles from 1969. Protestant Loyalist militant groups responded with their own violent tactics. This period of crisis partly exacerbated the divisions, though eventually sickened many of the population of Northern Ireland who suffered so much. The rift has remained, the Protestant Loyalists being Unionists, cleaving to the United Kingdom and loyal to their British citizenship, the convinced Republicans hostile to the connection, even though Irish citizenship embraces the populations of both portions of the island. The people of Northern Ireland have been endowed, though by no means satisfactorily, with three tiers of political citizenship. First is the right to elect MPs to the UK Parliament, initially 12 seats, increased to 17 in 1972, then to 18 in 1997. Second has been the right to elect members to the Province’s own legislature, housed from 1932 in its own specially constructed building at Stormont near Belfast. From 1921 to 1972 this was a bicameral Parliament with 52 elected members of the lower house. Although it was accorded wide powers, albeit superficial because of its subordination to the United Kingdom Parliament at Westminster, the Stormont Parliament worked at a leisurely pace in serving its citizens in the early decades. Its members 225

Citizenship in Britain expended little energy in meetings: for example, in 1933 it met on only forty-three days. Nor were the citizens of Northern Ireland very much excited by being accorded this extra civic right. For instance, in the elections from 1929 to 1969 over one-third of the members of the lower house were returned unopposed. There was, in truth, little to become excited about. The Parliament had weak powers, and politics, as we shall see below, reflected the religious gulf, so that the overall result for any Provincial election was always a foregone conclusion: Protestant voters have been in a safe majority, so Protestant politicians were assured of a safe majority in the Stormont Parliament. (The present proportion of Protestants to Catholics is about 3:2.) Consequently, as the Northern Ireland governmental system developed, the internal policies were shaped by the Protestant monopoly of power: Protestant citizens contentedly accepted the privilege; Catholics were embittered by their condition of second-class citizens. And so matters persisted until 1972, when, because of the serious security and communal problems, the government in London suspended the Stormont Parliament and imposed direct rule, thus depriving the Northern Ireland citizenry of that layer of their political rights. A Northern Ireland scholar commented a few years later, ‘The imposition of direct rule had a traumatic effect on a people grown used to untrammelled one-party government over half a century. The imagery and the substance of power had disappeared overnight’ (Arthur, 1980, p. 114). From that time on constant efforts have been made to find a formula for the restoration of devolved government that would be acceptable to both sides of the politico-religious divide and the British government side of the triangle. In due course, in 1999, a new Northern Ireland Assembly was brought into being accompanied by high hopes, which were, in their turn, only to be dashed into the fragmented pattern of intermittent suspension/direct rule and restoration of devolved power. The most striking exemplification of the effects on citizenship of the sectarian division of the Province is, however, to be gleaned from an examination of the history of local government, the third tier. This ensured that the principle of citizenly equality was distorted in order to ensure civic inequality. We shall draw our illustrative material mainly from the 1960s for a reason that will become clear as we proceed. The setting is laid down by the Local Government (Ireland) Act of 1898, which, by 1966, was operated by seventy-three local authorities in Northern Ireland. Crucial to our understanding of the ways the system was unjustly manipulated is the fact that the franchise for local elections was less democratic than for Stormont or Westminster elections. Businessmen were allowed multiple votes (even, it is recorded, up to forty!) and the franchise was restricted to property-owners. 226

Citizenship as a key concept As a consequence, in 1967, whereas the Stormont register of electors numbered over 933,000, the local government registers listed 694,000. Because the Protestant population tended to be wealthier than the Catholic, the franchise exaggerated the advantage which the Protestants enjoyed from their numerical majority in the first place. Three other devices forced the Catholics into second-class citizen status. One was the gerrymandering of some ward boundaries, another was the preferential treatment of Protestants in the local authority allocation of housing, and the third was the preferential appointment of Protestants to local authority jobs (see e.g. Paor, 1971, pp. 148–50). Discontent rumbled ineffectually until the mood of rebelliousness in so many countries in 1968 and the example of the black civil rights movement in the USA enthused the Catholics to take action. Violent disturbances broke out in Londonderry (Derry to the Catholics) in 1969, grievances over housing being an especially potent cause. Other towns were affected. And the handling of the riots by the Protestant Royal Ulster Constabulary aggravated the situation. The demand was quite simple and quite explicit: civil rights for all. Civil rights groups were formed. Chants were shouted: ‘One man, one vote’, ‘One man, one job’. This was the start of the Troubles, already referred to. British troops were needed to keep order. So, in one way or another, citizenship as it has been known on the mainland has not really been experienced in Northern Ireland. But, then, where neither justice nor trust exist citizenship can secure only shallow roots. However, beyond the issue of the deficiency of civil rights, which can and has been to some degree rectified by legal and institutional measures, lies the psychological problem of divided identities, a much more intractable problem. Individuals are citizens not just because of their status, rights and responsibilities, but because they feel an affinity with their polity and with their fellow-citizens. In Northern Ireland many of the population have not been bound by any common civic feeling. Both separate political and religious identities keep them apart. Catholic political identity has been expressed historically by Sinn F´ein (meaning ‘Ourselves Alone’), founded to struggle for national independence from Britain in 1902 and standing in Northern Ireland since partition for reunification. Protestant political identity has been presented by Unionist parties to preserve the union between Northern Ireland and Great Britain. The two positions would seem to be, and have been acknowledged for long to be, incompatible. Nevertheless, by the end of the twentieth century there were signs of a waning in the intransigent positions adopted by the population at large and some politicians. For example, a poll conducted in 1996 found that only 27 per cent of Catholics wanted to unite with Ireland. The devising of some form of links 227

Citizenship in Britain with both Ireland and Britain was gaining favour in both communities (see e.g. Crick, 2001b, p. 72). A flexible political identity to support a common sense of citizenship was perhaps slowly becoming feasible. There yet remains the entrenched religious mutual antagonism. Many Taigs and Prods are still uncomfortable co-citizens.

The world impinging upon Britain Meanwhile, mainland Britain has become a community increasingly variegated by the immigration and settlement of peoples of differing ethnic, religious and cultural backgrounds so that their accommodation by means of a common citizenship has become a pressing need. During the nineteenth and twentieth centuries throughout the world the terms ‘citizenship’ and ‘nationality’ increasingly overlapped in political meaning and legal definition. That convergence has recently started to reverse, a phenomenon that is clear from the history of the United Kingdom. We have just seen how Celtic feelings of cultural nationhood have internally exerted political effects on the composition and constitution of the state that provides the normal legal status of citizenship. We now need to examine how external developments have impinged on Britain, complicating the nature of its citizenship in both the individual’s sense of identity and in law. It will be helpful to look at four aspects of this trend. These are: membership of the European Union; environmentalism and globalisation; immigration; and terrorism. There were historical precedents for the idea that Britain should be a member of a union of European states and for Britons to be citizens of such a union. We may cite just two particularly interesting examples, neither, admittedly, implemented. In 1814 the French political and social thinker Saint-Simon published a pamphlet in which he argued for the creation of a European Community with a constitution including an elected House of Commons. He believed that a community of this kind could come about only gradually, but that Britain and France with their liberal parliamentary constitutions would take the lead. In June 1940, as the German army was overwhelming France, the British War Cabinet approved a Declaration of Union between the two countries, including the statement that, ‘Every citizen of France will enjoy immediately citizenship of Great Britain; every British subject will become a citizen of France’ (Churchill, 1951, p. 179). This would have involved an admittedly limited kind of dual citizenship. Not until the creation of what we can now see was the embryonic European Union did a multinational European citizenship become feasible. When the UK joined the European Community in 1973 delegates in the 228

Citizenship as a key concept European Parliament were only indirectly elected, being members of their national parliaments chosen by those assemblies. However, the system was changed in 1979 when all nine member-states were divided into constituencies for the direct election of candidates as Members of the European Parliament (MEPs). The poll in that year ‘constituted the first simultaneous multinational popular election’ (Butler and Marquand, 1981, p. 1). Britain was allocated eighty-one MEPs and these were elected by a mere 32 per cent of the electorate who were sufficiently interested to vote, the lowest proportion of all the member-states. To cite the authoritative immediate study, ‘The British campaign had been lack-lustre; the media had shown little interest; and the turnout was barely half the European average’ (Butler and Marquand, 1981, p. 1). Interestingly, the opinion polls a year after Britain’s accession to the Common Market (as it was usually called then) had shown a similar figure, namely 36 per cent, approving the country’s membership. The lesson is that, from the beginning of Britain’s involvement in the European Community, only a third of the population thought of themselves as embryonic European citizens. Despite this lack of a Community commitment – whether from ignorance, apathy or xenophobia – Britons, in the same way as nationals of other member-states, did become, gradually and increasingly, citizens of a kind of this novel political construct. Britons, in their capacity as citizens have therefore been experiencing adaptations to that status by continental influences willy-nilly. Let us take some obvious examples illustrating the civil, political and social/economic rights that derive from a European context. Because, almost uniquely, the United Kingdom is not furnished with a written constitution, it has lacked a modern, incorporated list of rights that can be tested and upheld in the courts. In terms of civil citizenship this was an embarrassing deficiency until 2000. In that year the Human Rights Act came about by incorporating into national law the European Convention on Human Rights, a document ironically originating from post-war British pressure and part of the judicial structure of the Council of Europe. The provenance of the Human Rights Act was therefore, it is true, a body distinct from the European Community/Union; but none the less it was a continental import into the advancing improvement of British civil citizenship. The really significant legal change deriving from the European Union occurred twenty years after the accession of the United Kingdom, that is, in 1993. In that year there came into force the Treaty of European Union (the Maastricht Treaty). This not only strengthened the rights of citizens through the European Parliament by enhancing its powers and establishing a channel for complaints by the appointment of an Ombudsman, but also 229

Citizenship in Britain formally created the status of citizen of the Union. Hence, to the complexity of the levels of citizenship laid down by the 1981 British Nationality Act (see pp. 164–5), there has been added the European layer. Article 8 of the Treaty lists the rights adhering to this new status. These include: the right of residence in any member state and the right to vote and stand as a candidate in the municipal and European Parliament elections in the citizen’s country of residence, irrespective of his or her nationality. The social and economic rights of citizenship by virtue of membership of the European Community had grown considerably before 1993 and were codified in the Social Charter that was then incorporated into the Maastricht Treaty as a Social Chapter. When these arrangements were being discussed, considerable nervousness, not to say anger, arose in Britain. Neal Ascherson has colourfully described the mood. ‘So great was the bellow of disbelieving horror which went up in 1991, when it seemed that Maastricht might introduce a mild form of worker-participation into British boardrooms, that the United Kingdom opted out of the whole “Social Chapter”’ (Ascherson, 2001, p. 62). None the less, when the Labour Party came to power in 1997, the government did sign up to the Social Chapter. But, in any case, the social and employment rights of British citizens have inevitably been affected for a generation by the judgements of the European Court of Justice and the Directives of the European Commission. Or interference from the Eurocrats of Brussels, as those who feel uncomfortable with full British membership of the EU like to term these developments. This disposition of Euroscepticism – of not feeling or wishing to be European citizens in any real sense – was given loud voice in 2004 because of the concurrence of elections to the European Parliament and the prospect of the installation of a European Union Constitution, including a Charter of Fundamental Rights, the text of which was completed in that year. The British government agreed that acceptance of that instrument would be dependent on the approval of the British populace as tested by a referendum. The debate at that time can be described in polarised form as national sovereignty versus socio-economic rights, that is political citizenship versus social citizenship. Just two examples. The Eurosceptic journalist Melanie Phillips, writing in the Eurosceptic Daily Mail, described the draft constitution in the following words: it would ‘dismantle Britain as a functioning nation state’, and it would result in ‘nothing less than the destruction of British self-government’ (Phillips, 2004). The other example is from Denis MacShane, Minister for Europe, in the Europhile Guardian: ‘The EU is the only region in the world in which workers’ rights are embedded as constitutional rights of citizenship.’ He continued by listing the benefits accruing from Britain’s agreement to the Social Chapter, including: ‘four weeks’ 230

Citizenship as a key concept paid holiday, obligatory consultation rights, pension rights for part-time workers . . . and anti-discrimination measures, which mean gay and lesbian workers gained their first rights’ (MacShane, 2004). Much journalistic and academic argument has ensued concerning the reasons for so many Britons feeling that they are not and do not want to be ‘European’. Fear that the EU will become a ‘superstate’ and obliterate member-states’ national political identity, British (mainly English) nationalistic arrogance and persistent hatred of the Germans and French especially, and Britain’s (again, mainly England’s) distinctive insular history are some of the main explanations. And they are, obviously, interconnected. A broader generalisation from these observations can also be drawn. This is, that a large proportion of the British population cannot release themselves from a proud impression of the country’s past, which was set in national and imperial terms, and cannot, or will not, accept that the world is, for good or ill, becoming a planet of some 200 increasingly interdependent states. The concept of national sovereignty and its associated behaviour and expectations belong to the past; cosmopolitanism is the frame of mind of the future. Rejection of European citizenship is merely one element, an obvious one, of a rejection of the idea of transnational, world citizenship. This, it must be hastily added, is an attempted explanation, not a value judgement. The most notable expression of world citizenship in Britain, and indeed other countries, in recent decades has been a conscious acceptance of the need for action by individuals to protect Earth’s ecosystem. So, environmental citizenship is now often added to civil, political and social and economic citizenship in the list of ingredients of which the status, feeling, responsibilities and rights of citizenship are comprised. Organisations have sprung up to engage British citizens in activities which make them effective world citizens in the sense of accepting a responsibility for the planet and performing duties for its protection. Individuals we might call elite world citizens are the small minority whose work for the environmental cause is particularly visible, such as local councillors and MEPs of the Green Party, and organisers and energetic members of bodies such as Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth (FOE). Originating in Britain, FOE, true to its name, has spread its support to dozens of other countries across the continents. Its approach is to think globally and act locally – a simple and effective slogan for anyone wishing to be a world citizen. Indeed, one of FOE’s stated methods is: ‘Citizen action: Helping individuals and communities locally and nationally to take action on behalf of the planet, and to push government, industry and financial institutions to adopt stronger and better policies that protect and improve the environment.’ Considerable numbers of locally founded and run 231

Citizenship in Britain organisations in Britain have, in their own modest ways, adopted this principle. To take as one example an initiative from Worthing, fifteen miles from the present author’s home and traditionally characterised as a sleepy, geriatric Sussex seaside resort. Yet Richard Docwra has recently cited it as an illustration of where ‘active global citizenship’ can be found: Around fifty people are in the group, with a broad range of ages and backgrounds. The group [is] Worthing Green Social . . . In its first year of operation, the WGS has already increased the level of participation in local initiatives and campaign groups.

Docwra adds: ‘WGS is just one of several groups that have formed across the UK and internationally within the loose “green drinks” network’ (Docwra, 2004, pp. 48–9). So that is how commitment to world citizenship is cultivated! Global environmental consciousness and action may be conceived as an example of the process of globalisation, a word that crept into academic discussion as early as the 1960s. This is not the place to consider the huge quantity of literature or the deep divisions of scholarly controversy that burgeoned especially in the 1990s concerning this phenomenon. The basic idea is that communication, security, business, professional activity and culture are all becoming less nationally based and confined. These developments, it can be argued, are having or potentially could increasingly have a number of effects on citizenship. One is that, by living and working in a global environment, people adapt to a frame of mind conducive to cosmopolitanism. For instance, a poll conducted in England in 2002 revealed 13 per cent as having primarily a cosmopolitan identity, that is world or European (see Hetherington, 2002). On the other hand, in so far as individuals are pursuing personal and sectional interests worldwide, they are inhibiting the growth of a global civic ethic. Leaving aside the expansion of organised international crime, this is perhaps most evident in the realms of commerce, industry and finance. This is the old problem, identified by Marshall (see p. 201), of citizenship versus capitalism writ large. But national citizenship, too, can suffer from globalisation because, in so far as it does enhance a sense of cosmopolitan citizenship, it may, by that process, dilute the individual’s loyalty to his or her nation-state. This is one of the arguments in reaction to European integration of the Eurosceptics in Britain. Nevertheless, some aspects of globalisation are, inevitably, affecting the very nature of citizenship inside nation-states. The swelling of the numbers of immigrants and their descendants having traditions, habits and cultures different from the host majority is requiring adaptation to the established concept of national 232

Citizenship as a key concept citizenship. This has become evident in Britain as the country has been and is being transformed into a polyethnic and multicultural society. It has become a hackneyed truism that Britain has for millennia been a nation of immigrants. Britons are mongrels. However, over the past halfcentury the acceptance of immigrants as equal citizens has become especially difficult and complex because three different issues have become intertwined. These are colour, culture and security. Colour is a civic problem because skin pigmentation is an easily recognisable indicator of ‘the other’ that can and has led to discrimination and communal tension. The issue arose from the late 1950s when the scale of migration especially from the Caribbean increased. It is estimated that the coloured (predominantly black) population in 1951 was 74,500 and that from 1955 to 1962 (the date of the restrictive Commonwealth Immigrants Act (see p. 163)) some 400,000 coloured immigrants settled in Britain. Cultural distinctiveness can and has led to the same hazards. Language, religion, clothing and diet, for example, distinguish the minorities from the majority community. Asian and Muslim people became the focus of concern from the late twentieth century, partly for this reason. But partly also because of fears for the nation’s safety and security. The existence of minority groups has endangered or has been thought to endanger civic harmony and peace in three ways: first, the popularly assumed proclivity of black people to commit crime and of Muslims to support fundamentalist terrorism; second, the outbursts of racial harassment and communal riots; and third, excessive numbers of immigrants strain the process of absorption. By the start of the twenty-first century these perils – whether imagined, exaggerated or real – drew urgent attention to one of the central issues of citizenship. This is the proper balance between the right of citizens to enjoy freedom from state interference and the duty of the state to intervene to abridge that freedom so as to ensure its citizens’ safety and security. In Chapter 5 we explained how Britain’s imperial legacy forced governments to introduce a sequence of Acts to define citizenship in legal terms. Here we shall be primarily concerned to discuss the reality of citizenship in terms of feelings of identity, inter-communal relationships and the availability of rights. The timespan covered is from 1958 to 2005. During this period we have considerable evidence, anecdotal and statistical, that members and communities of ethnic minorities have not enjoyed the civil, political and, especially, socio-economic equality with the majority population that the status and rights of citizenship should entail. This distortion has produced – one may use the dangerous word for a historian, inevitably – the fateful decline into alienation, the very antithesis of citizenship in the psychological sense. Discrimination has contributed to deprivation, which has led to 233

Citizenship in Britain frustration, which has led to desperation, which has exploded into rioting, the whole process worsened and accelerated by the cultural anxieties, concerns and prejudices of the majority population. That the race-relations problem can be perceived most usefully as an issue of the unbalanced realities of citizenship in Britain was stressed in the excellent, seminal work entitled, significantly, Colour and Citizenship, based on surveys started in 1963. In this study E. J. B. Rose (with contributions from a number of assistants) expressed the strong belief that ‘the values held in common in our society’ are of fundamental importance, but worried about how ‘to capture the significance of these values in terms of the ordinary citizen and his everyday life’. Rather than using less precise notions, they write, ‘we have preferred to employ a concept which has a concrete reference through its function in binding society together – the concept of citizenship’ (Rose et al., 1969, p. 13). But, they continue, citizenship has a dual meaning, both legal status and daily enjoyment of, especially, socioeconomic standing. Herein, they argue, lay the crux of the race-relations problem. The bulk of the coloured immigrants from the Commonwealth, they explain, originally came to this country equipped with the status ‘citizen of the United Kingdom and Colonies’; the latent rights attached to that citizenship sprang to life, so to speak, at the moment of their entry. The discrepancy between this ideal concept, in law, and reality, in terms of the social situation, caused a reaction to take place . . . In its extreme form, this takes the form of asserting that neither the newcomers nor their descendants can ever become full members of society because of the presence of the visible factor of colour.

Furthermore, in compensation, they came to stress ‘a separate status based on citizenship’ of their countries of origin (Rose et al., 1969, p.14). It is time now to begin our chronological survey. The year 1958 has been chosen as the starting-point because that was the year of the serious Notting Hill and Nottingham riots, startling evidence of racial antagonism between the white and coloured communities. Tension continued and not just between residents of different ethnic backgrounds but between coloured people and the dominantly white police. This latter issue was also highlighted by the Brixton disorders of 1981, which led to the inquiry under Lord Scarman and his subsequent report. He recognised the unstable mix of deprivation and heavy-handed policing. ‘The real problem,’ he explained, ‘is that the people of Brixton don’t think that the Establishment is doing enough for them’ (Scarman, 1982, p. xix). In other words, the powers that be were ignoring the frailty of the black people’s socio-economic and civil 234

Citizenship as a key concept rights. And behind this second-class citizen status lay a racially motivated white hostility to coloured people. The politician Enoch Powell had notoriously forecast in 1968 horrendous conflict if immigration was not stemmed. In a speech in Birmingham he declared that, ‘Like the Roman, I seem to see the River Tiber foaming with much blood.’ Despite riots and because of restrictions on migrant numbers there has been no bloodbath. Even so, the failure or refusal of some British people to accept a common citizenly identity across the ethnic divide has persisted, translated by the turn of the century, because of the sizeable Muslim minority, as a religious divide. Therefore, whereas, as we have seen in previous chapters, cohesive citizenship was rendered difficult from the late sixteenth to the early nineteenth centuries by the religious fissure between the majority Protestants and minority Catholics, so a similar difficulty was now presented by the religious fissure between the majority Christians and minority Muslims. Riots burst out in 2001 in Bradford, Oldham and Burnley, towns with large populations of Asian origin. A report on race relations in Bradford projected a sharply defined picture of civic disharmony: Relations between different cultural communities should be improving, but instead they are deteriorating. There are signs that communities are fragmenting along racial, cultural and faith lines . . . Rather than seeing the emergence of a confident, multicultural district where people are respectful, people’s attitudes are hardening and intolerance is growing. (Quoted, Bentley et al., 2002, p. 20)

More significant even was the reaction of the Community Cohesion Panel under the chairmanship of Ted Cantle, Nottingham’s Chief Executive, who was shocked by what it discovered in the three afflicted towns and four other multi-ethnic communities. Here are some key statements from its report entitled The End of Parallel Lives?: ‘the team was particularly struck by the depth of polarisation in our towns and cities’. ‘It means that communities operate on a series of parallel lives.’ They recommended the fostering of a greater sense of citizenship, based on a few common principles that are shared and observed by all sections of the community. This concept of citizenship would place a high value on a greater measure of contact between the communities and would be based on the various cultures that make Britain such a rich and varied nation. (Quoted, Guardian, 2001)

We might summarise this view by saying that, whereas parallel lines meet at infinity, parallel lives should meet in citizenship. 235

Citizenship in Britain What have governments achieved in their efforts to alleviate these problems, to promote civic cohesion and a better approximation to civic equality? New laws and new institutions came into being. Race Relations Acts in 1965, 1968 and 1976 successively tightened the law against discrimination – despite opposition, it must be said, from many objectors. By what right, they asked, did the state restrict the freedom of some citizens to make a choice between other individuals seeking accommodation or employment? The 1976 Act was particularly stringent, for example, making incitement to racial hatred a criminal offence. In addition, it created the Commission for Racial Equality (CRE). At the local level too Community Relations Councils (CRCs) were set up. Scarman put his finger on the difficulty surrounding this crucial grass-roots need: CRCs are sometimes torn between their role in fostering community relations, which requires them to keep a dialogue going with authority, and the need, equally important in their view, not to lose credibility with the ethnic minority groups. (Scarman, 1982, 6.36)

Furthermore, he expressed irritation at the government’s laggardness, especially since he concluded that, ‘Urgent action is needed if [racial disadvantage] is not to become an endemic, ineradicable disease threatening the very survival of our society’ (Scarman, 1982, 9.1; see also pp. xiv, xv). And as the 2001 riots alluded to above illustrate, the initiatives that were taken achieved only patchy improvements. In such conditions universal citizenship could barely be said to exist. For the first time in the country’s history, as the twentieth century was giving way to the twenty-first, the issue of British citizenship was at last being seriously thought about and acted upon. The reasons for this sudden change of heart are quite varied. The synchronicity of these separate factors – both unforeseen and planned – furnished the needed impetus. We may offer the following classification. External influences: a substantial increase in the numbers of immigrants. Internal influences: academics’, journalists’ and politicians’ sudden interest (see also the first section of this chapter). Islamic extremists: terror attacks, notably on New York and Washington, then, of greatest impact, naturally, on London. Reactions to these influences: popular opinion/news media and government. Just as in the 1960s, when the coloured population of Britain doubled, so in the 1990s to early 2000s a sudden increase in immigration caused serious problems of resentment and absorption. Both had to be tackled if the newcomers were to be, and be accepted as, British citizens in any meaningful sense. Those reaching and applying to stay in Britain fell into several 236

Citizenship as a key concept categories, for example, close family relatives and dependants of people already domiciled in the country, would-be immigrants wanting employment, and refugees or, as they are now termed, asylum-seekers fleeing the terrible violence and dangers of countries in the throes of civil war or in the grip of vicious regimes. In addition, unknown, though substantial numbers for various reasons infiltrated illegally. It must be understood that only a minority of all applicants have been permitted to stay. The figures for those granted rights of settlement rose from 69,790 in 1998 to 115,895 in 2002, years of particular pressure (see ‘Life in the United Kingdom’ Advisory Group, 2003, p. 37). Another external influence was the fear of terrorism. This has had two features. One was the concern and belief that Muslim terrorists from overseas would enter the country and undertake lethal attacks or disaffected indigenous Muslims would pose the same danger. This led to the other feature, namely, an exacerbation of the prejudice and hostility towards all Muslims on the grounds that any might be potential terrorists. Scarcely a mood to encourage civic harmony. We shall need to return to this topic. In parallel with these developments there occurred the impetus to develop education for citizenship in state schools, as we have already explained in the first section of this chapter. But learning about citizenship and how to act as a citizen would be insecure if the individual has no feeling of identity as a British citizen. How, then, to define that identity, especially as Britain had so evidently become a multicultural society? Community leaders, thoughtful journalists and, particularly, academics (who had already been working on the subject of citizenship) started to give serious consideration to this question from the mid-1990s, the pace of that work accelerating at the beginning of the new century. There are, in fact, two questions: what is the best way to deal with multiculturalism and what is Britishness? To understand multiculturalism we need to distinguish between the terms ‘integration’ and ‘assimilation’. We may succinctly distinguish the meanings of these alternative policies that can be adopted in the face of cultural diversity as either the accommodation and tolerance of that diversity (integration) or the elimination of that diversity by the overwhelming strength of the majority culture – a ‘melting-pot’ policy (assimilation). Multiculturalism is the outcome of the first of these options and was the widely accepted policy from the 1960s. More than that, Britain’s cultural diversity was seen by some to be not just tolerated, but positively celebrated for the cultural richness that has ensued. Not surprisingly, reactions against the idea and fact of this increasingly evident heterogeneity were loudly voiced, especially, though not solely, by the far Right, such as the British National Party. Thus, 237

Citizenship in Britain for them, Urdu-speaking Muslims could not be British citizens on a par with English-speaking Christians, for example. At the turn of the century, however, the liberal acceptance of a divided identity, cultural separate from civic, was being questioned not just by the far Right. The mentality of multiculturalism, for all its past value, it was being argued, should be adapted in favour of strengthening the unifying ties of a more coherent citizenship. The writer Yasmin Alibhai-Brown has stated quite firmly that, ‘The citizenship culture is upon us and I would like to argue that with the national landscape reshaping itself so dramatically, old multiculturalism . . . has come to the end of its useful life’ (Alibhai-Brown, 2001, p. 47). The case is that it does not inspire the young, it blocks the imagination needed to cope with changes, including devolution, it prevents coloured people from seeing themselves as participants in creating a new, vibrant citizenship. It is a common, active citizenship that is so sorely needed by all the British people to hold together the national, ethnic and religious diversities that should be cherished and not resented. However, persuading members of the ethnic minorities of the wisdom of this line of thinking has not been easy, as Trevor Phillips found to his cost. Writing as the (black) Head of the Commission for Racial Equality, he regretted the divisive implications of multiculturalism and argued that the United Kingdom should strive for a more homogeneous culture with ‘common values . . . the common currency of the English language, honouring the culture of these islands, like Shakespeare and Dickens’ (quoted, The Observer, 2004). Some black politicians and Muslim leaders reacted, in the words of an Observer journalist, with ‘stinging retorts’. Commenting on the publication of his opinions and the reaction, Phillips wrote a few weeks later that his article ‘unleashed a passionate argument both at home and abroad. I have even, as one friend grumpily complained, ruined a couple of dinner parties where the “Britishness” debate got ugly’ (Guardian, 2004a). Indeed, the debate on ‘What is Britishness?’ had already got under way a decade before those prandial embarrassments. Two other considerations apart from the multiracial complexion of the country’s population stimulated the interest. One was the devolution of power from London to Edinburgh and Cardiff, already outlined above; the other was the conviction that immigrants of whatever origin should become British citizens in a convincing manner. It was the latter issue that produced an official statement. Clarification was very much needed because so much confusion fuddled the public and political minds (see e.g. Crick, 2001b, pp. 1–22). In 2001 David Blunkett moved from Education to the Home Office and persuaded Bernard Crick, who had been chairman of the Advisory Group on Citizenship (see pp. 214–16) to chair another Advisory Group with the purpose of working 238

Citizenship as a key concept out the implications of the outline requirements of the White Paper Secure Borders, Safe Haven, the Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act and the Naturalisation and Immigration Act (all of which appeared in 2002). These documents stated that applicants for British citizenship should have a sufficient knowledge of English, Welsh or Scottish Gaelic and of life in the United Kingdom, and take a citizenship oath and pledge. The task of the group, entitled ‘ “Life in the United Kingdom” Advisory Group’ was essentially to suggest how the three requirements should be put in place. However, en route, the Advisory Group felt it essential to define Britishness, the issue that is our immediate concern. Its definition is summarised in these two sentences in its report entitled The New and the Old: To be British seems to us to mean that we respect the laws, the elected parliamentary and democratic political structures, traditional values of mutual tolerance, respect for equal rights and mutual concern; and that we give our allegiance to the state (as commonly symbolised in the Crown) in return for its protection. To be British is to respect those over-arching specific institutions, values, beliefs and traditions that bind us all, the different nations and cultures together in peace and in a legal order. (‘Life in the United Kingdom’ Advisory Group, 2003, 2.7)

The report also makes two significant commentaries. One is that a hard, prescriptive approach to the matter is unnecessary and undesirable because feelings of identity change over time and because many people are happy with dual identities, for example, British and Scottish or British and Bangladeshi. Consequently, because of these considerations and because of the widely accepted traits of Britishness just quoted, ‘We neither need to define “Britishness” too precisely nor to redefine’ (2.7). The second telling commentary is the insertion of a boxed quotation immediately after section 2.7. It reads: ‘It is also essential to establish a greater sense of citizenship based on common principles that are shared by all sections of the community. This concept of citizenship would also place a higher value on cultural differences.’ This statement is drawn from a report by a ministerial group on public order and community cohesion, chaired by Lord Denham. Notice: the recommendation contradicts those who seek to replace multiculturalism with a more manifest paramount style of citizenship; the two expressions of identity should coexist, both universally accepted and vigorously practised. In making recommendations for a programme of studies, the Advisory Group devised the term ‘language-with-civic-content’ and urged that these courses should be made available to newcomers to the country. The classes should be taught by specialist teachers of ESOL (English for Speakers of 239

Citizenship in Britain Other Languages) and include six civic topics: British national institutions in recent historical context; Britain as a multicultural society; knowing the law; employment; sources of help and information; everyday needs. A handbook to assist these courses, Journey to Citizenship, was published in 2004. A related scheme was the introduction of citizenship ceremonies, which were started in 2004. At the event the person undergoing induction pronounces the pledge: I, (name), swear by Almighty God/do solemnly and sincerely affirm that, on becoming a British citizen, I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth, her heirs and successors according to law. I will give my loyalty to the United Kingdom and respect its rights and freedoms. I will uphold its democratic values. I will observe its laws faithfully and fulfil my duties and obligations as a British citizen.

We may note in passing that a citizen pledge is not new: the 1948 British Nationality Act required people registering or being naturalised as citizens of the United Kingdom and Colonies to take an oath. Whether government enthusiasm, and especially funding, would be forthcoming for the study programmes and whether the citizenship ceremonies would be popular cannot at all be confidently predicted at the time of writing. However, the figures for 2004, the first year of operation of the ceremonies, were 5,600 taking part out of 140,795 granted citizenship. For the government the issues of safety and security were considered to be much more pressing. At the start of the twenty-first century a climate of fear pervaded Britain. Many citizens came to believe that they and/or their property were threatened by criminals and terrorists. Whether the threats were as considerable and imminent as politicians, news media and the public thought or were exaggerated was debatable. But government exists primarily to protect citizens – was this not the very point of the social contract theory? Therefore, the government acted to enhance the protective system. Police were accorded extra powers, conspicuously, by the Serious Organised Crime Act, that might be used against civil demonstrations and suspected terrorists, and the introduction of identity cards was planned. The United Kingdom, alone of European Union states, derogated from Article 5 of the European Convention of Human Rights protecting the individual against imprisonment without trial and forbade British citizens to petition the UN Human Rights Committee for breaches of the UN Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Flagrant removal of basic rights was written into the Anti-Terrorism, Crime 240

Citizenship as a key concept and Security Act of 2001 and the Prevention of Terrorism Act of 2005. The first of these instruments was used by the police service and security agencies to incarcerate foreign people for an indefinite period and without trial if suspected of being a threat to the country’s security. Now, true, this law (unlike the 2005 Act) did not apply to British citizens. None the less, it seemed to some legally alert British citizens to be exceedingly dangerous, with potential for wider application. By 2004 sixteen Muslim men were being detained under the provisions of this Act as ‘suspected international terrorists’. In that year the Law Lords, in a dramatic ruling, declared their detention illegal under the European Convention of Human Rights. One of these senior judges, Lord Hoffmann, made two statements that indicated the relevance of the judgment for British citizens as well as aliens, though, true, he was criticised for his remarks. He declared that the case ‘calls into question the very existence of an ancient liberty of which this country is proud: freedom from arbitrary arrest and detention’; and ‘The real threat to the life of the nation, in the sense of a people living in accordance with its traditional laws and political values, comes not from terrorism but from laws such as these’ (quoted, Guardian, 2004c). It was as a consequence of these complaints that, the next year, the government introduced the new measure already mentioned, embracing British citizens as well as aliens, whereby the Home Secretary was able to impose a ‘control order’ on anyone suspected, though not tried and proven guilty, of terrorist activity. The orders provided for various restraints including house arrest. Many lawyers and politicians were bitterly opposed to this undermining of Habeas Corpus. Although compromise arrangements were made for the judiciary to be involved in the process, this reaction to the threat of terrorism effectively presented a stark choice. Risk citizens’ civil rights of freedom or citizens’ right to life; in constitutional terms, protection by the judiciary or protection by the executive. Scarcely a novel dilemma as some of the evidence in above chapters attests. Thus stood the crucial matter of rethinking citizenship in Britain in June 2005. In so far as Britain’s security forces predicted suicide bombers striking, it was assumed that such attacks would be conducted by Muslim extremists entering the country from abroad, not by British citizens. On 7 July 2005 that simple pattern was instantaneously and hideously transformed. On that day British-born Muslim citizens detonated bombs slaughtering, maiming and wounding fellow-British citizens travelling to work in London. Minds were consequently focused with even more intense concentration on the two aspects of citizenship we have already explained in the context of these new, frightening conditions: Britishness and the balance of the protection of citizens’ rights and citizens’ bodies. 241

Citizenship in Britain Because the atrocities were perpetrated by Muslims, the following questions took on a more pressing relevance than hitherto. Could all British Muslims be trusted to be loyal citizens of the United Kingdom? Could they be expected to feel co-citizens with non-Muslims? Had the state provided the best conditions for these citizenly feelings to flourish? Because of the Muslims’ distinctiveness and now the fear consequent upon the bombings, would the distinction between Muslim and non-Muslim be exacerbated into a serious mood of Islamophobia among members of the non-Muslim population? And would not this involve physical attacks on perfectly innocent, loyal and responsible citizens? It was obvious to thoughtful people that it would be unintelligently simplistic to generalise over a varied Muslim population of more than one and a half million people. Yet some opinion polls recorded a quarter not identifying with Britain in any way. These have drawn their sense of belonging from their families’ countries of origin (for example Pakistan) or from the tight bonds of their ‘ghetto’ communities or, and mostly, from their religious faith strengthened by their devout membership of their mosques. Some of these with no sense of commitment to Britain have been positively hostile, alienated by their resentment of Britain’s policies on Palestine and Iraq. The extraordinarily difficult task for the population in general, Muslim and non-Muslim, community leaders, again Muslim and non-Muslim, schools, the police, Parliament and the government has been to devise and implement methods of strengthening feelings of multiple identity. All Muslims should come to understand, in heart as well as mind, that Islam and citizenship are compatible and both require commitment. Not all commentators, it must be said, seem to have remembered the Cantle Report (see p. 235). One, simple example of stressing citizenly needs is that Muslim communities should be assured that the police treat Islamophobic incidents seriously. But the whole population – all citizens – need to be protected from terrorists. This requirement has not only raised questions about the efficiency of the security services but the appropriateness of existing laws and the judicial system to cope with a virtually unprecedented situation – a continuation of the rethinking already under way (the reason for ‘virtually’ will be explained on p. 244). Should citizens’ basic freedoms and rights (e.g. as enshrined in Habeas Corpus and the Human Rights Act) be impaired by the introduction of new legislation and procedures to imprison, interrogate and deport suspects and ‘undesirables’, such as Muslims who preach or encourage hatred or violence? In particular, should the government have powers to interfere with the judiciary’s handling of trials in this field. The Lord Chancellor, Lord Falconer, explained in August 2005: 242

Citizenship as a key concept All law operates on the basis that if the facts change, then the law changes – and the law is going to change. We just need to be more measured about the issue. People are saying it is the judges on behalf of civil liberties against the executive who are determined to clamp down on terrorism. We have got to get the right balance and ultimately where the balance lies is a matter for parliament. (Quoted, Guardian, 2005b)

How distressing that serious rethinking about citizenship in Britain should have been prompted by communal strain rising to the point of crisis.

Concluding thoughts As the writing of this book draws to a close, in mid-2005, worries about citizenship are being voiced in several different situations. The issue of security is merging into distress that the constitutional balance of powers, historically a crucial safety device for the protection of the freedom and rights of citizens, is being perilously disturbed. The anxiety is that the executive arm of government, in pursuing its policies against terrorism and crime, is abridging the authority of both Parliament (despite Lord Falconer’s later statement) and the judiciary. Commenting on both, Jeffrey Jowell, a Professor of Public Law, has written: Sovereignty of Parliament is a common law rule and there’s nothing in our constitutional theory to stop the judges saying another common law rule which is of equal importance – perhaps of more importance these days – is that the citizen should have access to the courts and the judges. (Guardian, 2005a)

Another matter is widespread concern about the geographical spread of the rights of European citizenship as the number of EU member-states increases by eastward expansion. This is connected to the question of immigration and the fear and resentment of the ‘dilution’ of the country’s ‘Britishness’. A quite separate issue is the uncitizenly behaviour of some unruly youths. We concluded Chapter 4 on this melancholy note with a reference to AntiSocial Behaviour Orders (ASBOs). By early 2005 4,000 of these had been issued and a new corps of Community Support Officers (CSOs), with limited powers to assist the police, was being recruited to help cope with the problem. The Prime Minister has tried to popularise the notion of ‘respect’ and to restore this element in inter-personal and social behaviour. The much more useful and neglected word we need to latch on to, though, admittedly, not suitable for politicians’ public use, is ‘civility’, a complex concept that has been examined in a modern meaning by Edward Shils, John Rawls and, 243

Citizenship in Britain conveniently and recently, by Catriona McKinnon (2000). By citing Roger Scruton’s simplified definition, the relevance of the concept to Britain’s current condition and need becomes evident: The virtue of the citizen, hence the kind of behaviour appropriate to ‘good citizenship’. In particular, those parts of ‘good manners’ which enable people to accept one another as members of a common social order, and so treat one another with due regard for social well-being and quotidian moral rights. (Scruton, 1983, p. 66)

The term is especially apposite for Britain’s present condition. It has a depth of meaning which can help remind us that inconsiderate and offensive behaviour in various modes is not confined to young hooligans. Some commentators, indeed, have identified what is sometimes referred to as selfish, aggressive individualism: widespread incivility. However, since this book is a historical study we should surely conclude by placing these concerns in a broad time perspective. English/British constitutional history is replete with examples of the efforts to restrain executive power, especially as exercised by monarchs from the struggles against John, Charles I and James II down to current complaints about the vicarious use by the Prime Minister of the royal prerogative. The people and their representatives – citizens – have needed protection of their rights against these periodic abuses. Recent concentration on terrorist and virtually treasonous activity by extremist Muslims may remind us of the extremist Catholic threat – against Elizabeth I (see p. 23) and, in the notorious Guy Fawkes plot, against Parliament – and by the extremist Irish movements, the Fenian Brotherhood (see p. 110) and the IRA (see p. 225). Negative relations between English/British people and the mainland continent, voiced now as Europhobia, is not a new phenomenon either. We have seen how the faith of the Catholics (not prone to violence) requiring their commitment to the Pope made their loyalty to their country suspect in the sixteenth century. But the English were already identified in their secular behaviour as xenophobic, having, in the words of an Italian observer, ‘an antipathy to foreigners’ (quoted, Hale, 1993, p. 63). Nor is anti-social behaviour a recent outburst. For example, the famous Renaissance silversmith Benvenuto Cellini referred to ‘such beasts as the English’, a characteristic that deterred him from living in this country (quoted, Hale, 1993, p. 62). And a historian, describing Britain’s reputation in the eighteenth century, has piled up his pejorative adjectives in the


Citizenship as a key concept superlative degree: ‘one of the noisiest, most aggressive, brutal and bloodthirsty nations . . . in the world’ (Perkin, 1981, p. 29). However, to avoid ending on a critical, doleful chord, let us consider some positive findings. American political scientists remarked c. 1960 that, in comparison with other countries, Britain had many creditable civic qualities. The main, and influential, work was The Civic Culture by Gabriel Almond and Sidney Verba (1965; originally published in 1963). They reported, for example, a happy balance between participant citizenship and deferent subjecthood, though tilted a little too much towards the latter (e.g. p. 361). Yet, there was a high degree of ‘political efficacy’, the belief that the citizenry could ‘do something about an unjust local or national regulation’, a much higher score in Almond and Verba’s research than Italy and Germany (p. 142). Finally, we may attempt to assess what is special about the history of citizenship in Britain. It has developed over many centuries, bolstered by a constant conviction of the right to freedom and by a distinguished line of political theorists from the Humanists to Marshall. It has also succeeded in incorporating a variety of traditions and ideas without the trauma that France most conspicuously experienced on the occasion of its delivery of the status of citoyent´e and the feeling of civisme during the Revolution. Consequently, in addition to the relative (an important qualifier) bloodlessness of the British experience, the gradualness of the process means that citizenship has acquired a character of fullness and tolerance, so that now the people of the United Kingdom are endowed with a multiple citizenship in a multicultural country. And the process of adaptation will undoubtedly continue. However, for all the, sometimes bewildering, complexities of their civic status, the British people have inherited from this lengthy evolution a rich and therefore flexible style of citizenship, the history and value of which should be more widely understood and appreciated.



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Citizenship in Britain Hancock, W. K. and Latham, R. T. E. (1937), Survey of British Commonwealth Affairs: Vol. 1 Problems of Nationality, 1918–1936, London: Oxford University Press. Hanson, D. W. (1970), From Kingdom to Commonwealth: The Development of Civic Consciousness in English Political Thought, Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press. Harrington, J. [1656, 1700] (1992), The Commonwealth of Oceana and A System of Politics, ed. J. G. A. Pocock, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Hayek, F. A. (1944), The Road to Serfdom, London: Routledge. Hayes, N. and Hill, J. (eds) (1999), ‘Millions Like Us’? British Culture in the Second World War, Liverpool: Liverpool University Press. Heater, D. (1991), ‘Citizenship: A Remarkable Case of Sudden Interest’, Parliamentary Affairs, 44:2, pp. 140–56. Heater, D. (1993), The Remarkable History of Rottingdean, Brighton: Dyke Publications. Heater, D. (1999), What is Citizenship?, Cambridge: Polity. Heater, D. (2004), A History of Education for Citizenship, London: RoutledgeFalmer. Hennock, E. P. (1973), Fit and Proper Persons: Ideal and Reality in Nineteenth-Century Urban Government, London: Arnold. Hetherington, P. (2002), ‘Breaking with Britain’, Guardian, 29 March. Hill, B. W. (ed.) (1975), Edmund Burke on Government, Politics and Society, London: Fontana. Hill, C. (1975), The World Turned Upside Down: Radical Ideas during the English Revolution, Harmondsworth: Penguin. Hobbes, T. [1647] (1998), On the Citizen, ed. R. Tuck and M. Silverthorne, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Hobbes, T. [1651] (1914), Leviathan, London: Dent. Hobhouse, L. T. (1911), Liberalism, London: Williams and Norgate. Humm, M. (ed.) (1992), Feminisms: A Reader, Hemel Hempstead: HarvesterWheatsheaf. Hunt, T. (2004), Building Jerusalem: The Rise and Fall of the Victorian City, London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson. Hyam, R. and Martin, G. (1975), Reappraisals in British Imperial History, London: Macmillan. Jenkins, P. (1964), ‘Bevan’s Fight with the B.M.A.’, in M. Sissons and P. French (eds), The Age of Austerity, 1945–1951, Harmondsworth: Penguin, pp. 240–65. John of Salisbury [1159] (1990), Policraticus, ed. C. J. Nederman, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Johnson, P. (1975), The Offshore Islanders: From Roman Occupation to European Entry, Harmondsworth: Penguin. Jolliffe, J. E. A. (1961), The Constitutional History of Medieval England, London: A. & C. Black. Jones, D. (1975), Chartism and the Chartists, London: Allen Lane. Jones, J. M. (1956), British Nationality Law, Oxford: Clarendon Press. Kearney, H. (1989), The British Isles: A History of Four Nations, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.


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Citizenship in Britain Mackie, J. D. (1978), A History of Scotland, rev. and ed. B. Lenman and G. Parker, London: Allen Lane. McKinnon, C. (2000), ‘Civil Citizens’, in C. McKinnon and I. Hampsher-Monk (eds), The Demands of Citizenship, London: Continuum, pp. 144–64. McKinnon, C. and Hampsher-Monk, I. (eds) (2000), The Demands of Citizenship, London: Continuum. MacKinnon, J. (1924), The Constitutional History of Scotland from Early Times to the Reformation, London: Longmans, Green. Macpherson, C. B. (1962), The Political Theory of Possessive Individualism, Oxford: Oxford University Press. MacShane, D. (2004), ‘Workers are protected in this union’, Guardian, 2 July. Madge, J. (1945), The Rehousing of Britain, London: Pilot Press. Marquand, D. (2004), Decline of the Public, Cambridge: Polity. Marshall, T. H. (1981), The Right to Welfare and Other Essays, London: Heinemann. Marshall, T. H. and Bottomore, T. (1992), Citizenship and Social Class, London: Pluto Press. Marwick, A. (1970), Britain in the Century of Total War: War, Peace and Social Change 1900–1967, Harmondsworth: Penguin. Mather, F. C. (ed.) (1980), Chartism and Society: An Anthology of Documents, London: Bell & Hyman. Mill, J. S. [1861] (1972a), ‘Representative Government’, in Utilitarianism. On Liberty and Considerations on Representative Government, London: Dent. Mill, J. S. [1861] (1972b), ‘Utilitarianism’, in Utilitarianism. On Liberty and Considerations on Representative Government, London: Dent. Mill, J. S. [1869] (1983), ‘The Subjection of Women’, in J. S. Mill, The Subjection of Women and H. T. Mill, Enfranchisement of Women, ed. K. Soper, London: Virago Press. Mill, J. S. [1873] (1924), Autobiography, ed. H. J. Laski, London: Oxford University Press. Milton, J. [1649, 1651] (1991), Political Writings, ed. M. Dzelzainis, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Mitchell, J. (1971), Woman’s Estate, Harmondsworth: Penguin. More, T. [1516] (1965) Utopia, trans. P. Turner, Harmondsworth: Penguin. Morgan, A. E. (1943), Young Citizen, Harmondsworth: Penguin. Morgan, D. and Evans, M. (1993), The Battle for Britain: Citizenship and Ideology in the Second World War, London: Routledge. Morgan, K. O. (1990), The People’s Peace: British History 1945–1989, Oxford: Oxford University Press. Morley, J. (1903a), The Life of William Ewart Gladstone, Vol. II, London: Macmillan. Morley, J. (1903b), The Life of William Ewart Gladstone, Vol. II, London: Macmillan. Neale, J. E. (1949), The Elizabethan House of Commons, London: Cape. Nicholas, S. (1998), ‘From John Bull to John Citizen: Images of National Identity on the Wartime BBC’, in R. Weight and A. Beach (eds), The Right to Belong: Citizenship and National Identity in Britain, 1930–1960, London, I. B. Tauris, pp. 36–58.


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Act of Union: Ireland (1801), 106, 221 Act of Union: Scotland (1707), 14, 216–17 active citizenship, 209, 213, 231 Ad hoc Bodies: local government, 122 advertising: and British Empire, 157 Advisory Group on Citizenship, 214, 215–16 Agreement of the People, The (Winstanley), 35, 37, 39, 43, 44 All-Party Commission on Citizenship (1988), 208 American Declaration of Independence, 91, 101 Amery, Leo, 162 ancien r´egime (English): concept of, 3, 82–3, 85 ‘Ancient Constitution’, 27, 48 Anglo-Irish Agreement (1985), 224 anti-social behaviour, 240, 244–5 Anti-Terrorism, Crime and Security Act (2001), 240–1 aristocracy, 3, 82 Hobbes’s view of, 54, 55 Aristotle, 15, 26, 52 armed forces: British Empire, 155, 181–2 Army Bureau of Current Affairs (ABCA), 180–2, 183, 188 Army Education Corps (AEC), 181 Arrow against all Tyrants, An (Overton), 38 Art of War (Machiavelli), 27 Ashdown, Paddy, 210 Assembly of Saints see Barebone’s Parliament Association Movement, 89 Astor, Nancy, 145 asylum seekers, 237; see also immigration Australia, 161 BBC: Second World War, 179–80, 183

Bacon, Francis, 14, 27 Baden-Powell, Robert Stephenson Smyth, 1st Baron, 158–9 Baldwin, Stanley, 156 Barebone’s Parliament, 44, 50, 135 Becker, Lydia, 140 Bentham, Jeremy, 91, 99–100, 101 Bevan, Aneurin, 194–5 Beveridge, William, 184, 188, 189, 195 Beveridge Report (1942), 185–9 Bevin, Ernest, 183, 184 Birmingham, 128, 130, 131, 132 Blair, Tony, 213; see also New Labour Blunkett, David, 211, 213, 214, 215, 238 Board of Guardians of the Poor Law Unions, 122–3 Board Schools, 123 Bolingbroke, Henry St John, 1st Viscount, 69–71, 87 Bondfield, Margaret, 145 ‘Bonnie Prince Charlie’ see Stuart, Prince Charles Edward boroughs, 5–6, 7–11, 125; see also burghs Bosanquet, Bernard, 174, 176 Boy Scouts, 158–9 British Commonwealth, 161–4 British constitution, 3 British Empire, 81, 152–65 British Idealists, 166–76, 197 British National Party (BNP), 237–8 British Nationality Act (1948), 162–3, 164, 165, 224, 240 British Overseas Territories Act (2002), 165 British Way and Purpose (ABCA), 181 Britishness: idea of, 238, 239; see also nationhood Brixton disorders, 234–5


Index Bruce, Robert see Robert I, King of Scotland Buchanan, George, 14, 20–1 Burdett, Sir Francis, 94 burgesses, 6, 8, 9, 11, 50 burghs (Scotland), 125, 217 Burke, Edmund, 84, 99–100 Burne-Jones, Lady Georgiana, 126, 127 Butler, R. A., 206–7 Calvinism, 25 Campbell, John, 73 Canada, 161, 162 capitalism, 201, 202, 203 ‘Captain Swing’ riots, 102 Carnarvon, Henry Howard Molyneux, 4th Earl of, 160 Cartwright, John, 86, 89–90 Cary, Mary (later Rande), 135 Catholic Emancipation Act (1829), 222 ‘Cato’, 69–70, 71–2 Cecil, Robert, 3rd Marquess of Salisbury see Salisbury, Robert Cecil, 3rd Marquess of censorship: seventeenth century, 31 Chamberlain, Joseph, 128–9, 130–2, 154–5, 161 character: concept of, 170 Charles I, King, 22, 24, 38–9 charters, 209, 210–12 Chartism, 108–9 Chatham, William Pitt, 1st Earl of see Pitt, William (the Elder) Cheke, Sir John, 17–18 Christianity and Social Order (Temple), 179 Church of England, 22 churches: and British Empire, 158 Churchill, Sir Winston, 182, 184, 189, 190, 206 cinemas: Second World War, 179 cities, 7, 128, 129–33 ‘citizen’: meanings of, 4–5, 15, 33 Citizen’s Charter (Conservative Party), 209 Citizen’s Charter (Labour Party), 211 citizens, 3, 4, 5, 6 active, 209, 213, 231 as consumers, 209, 211 Irish, 224 rights of, 61, 197, 244 and state, 171 young people as, 213 Citizens’ Britain (Liberal Democrats), 210 citizenship ceremonies, 240 economic, 210

education, 213–16, 237 environmental, 231 meanings of, 1–3, 4–8, 15–16, 91–2, 228 political, 210 social, 97, 98, 109, 210, 211 world, 175, 231–3 Citizenship and Social Class (Marshall), 198–205 civic consciousness, 26, 38, 89 Civic Culture, The (Almond and Verba), 245 civic duties, 18, 19, 54, 166, 172 civic education, 56–7 civic equality, 38 civic humanism, 13, 26 civic identity, 152 civic pride, 129 civic republicanism, 25–6, 67 civic responsibility, 11–12, 186 civic rights, 3, 144, 161, 198, 199, 200, 201 civic spirit: Second World War, 177–83 civic virtue, 66–74 civil equality: Locke’s view of, 61–2 civil government: Locke’s view of, 59–60, 62 civil religion, 129–30 civil rights, 33, 39, 85, 93, 202 Northern Ireland, 227 civil society, 54–5, 128 Civil War see English Civil War civility: meaning of, 243–4 Clark, J. C. D., 3, 82 class see middle classes; social class; working class classical humanism, 26–7, 28; see also civic humanism clubs and societies, 75, 78 Coke, Sir Edward, 135 Coleridge, Samuel Taylor, 80 Colour and Citizenship (Rose), 234 Combination Acts, 103, 105 common good, 169 Commoner’s Liberty, The (pamphlet), 33 commonweal, 18, 22 Commonwealth, 43–4 Commonwealth of Oceana, The (Harrington), 47–52 Commonwealthmen, 44, 45, 68 communes, 5, 6 communism see Winstanley, Gerrard Community Cohesion Panel, 235 Community Relations Councils (CRCs), 236 Conservative Party, 206–10, 223


Citizenship in Britain constitutions see ‘Ancient Constitution’; British constitution; European Union Constitution corporations, 10 corruption: politicians, 70, 71, 72–3 ‘Councillor’: meaning of, 7, 20 counties see shires Country party, 67, 68, 86 County Councils, 125, 136 Court party, 67, 68 Covenanters, 24 Craftsman, The (periodical), 69–70, 71, 87 Crick, Bernard, 211, 214, 215, 238 Criminal Law Amendment Act (1871), 104 Cromwell, Oliver, 44 crowds: and elections, 87, 88, 89, 101; see also mass meetings Crowley, Robert, 17–18 Daily Mirror: Second World War, 178 Davenant, Charles, 67 Davison, Emily Wilding, 142, 143 Dawson, George, 129–30 De Cive (Hobbes), 52, 53–6 De Republica Anglorum (Smith), 19, 20 Defence of the People of England (Milton), 46 Defence of the Realm Act (1798), 79 democracy, 101, 117, 124 devolution, 216 Ireland, 222 Scotland, 74, 216–19 Wales, 219–20 Dialogue between Cardinal Pole and Thomas Lipset (Starkey), 17, 12 Diggers, 36, 37, 39, 40, 42, 43 Disraeli, Benjamin, 81, 153, 160 Dissenters, 65, 91, 106 divine right, 22 economic citizenship, 210 economic rights, 38–9 education, 49, 56–7, 95, 115–16, 123, 158, 173, 176, 190–2, 200 citizenship, 213–16, 237 women, 136–7 see also Army Education Corps (AEC); BBC; Ministry of Information (MOI) Education Acts, 112, 123, 125, 191, 214 elections see franchise; suffrage; Wilkes, John Elizabethan Religious Settlement, 21–2 employment: women, 143–4 employment rights, 230–1; see also unemployment

England Elizabethan period, 21–3 Medieval period, 4–8, 15–16 monarchy, 5, 7 national identity, 75 Parliament, 16 English Civil War, 21, 24, 32; see also New Model Army environmental citizenship, 231 Equal Franchise Act (1928), 145 Equal Pay Act (1970), 149–50 equality: concept of, 170, 233 ethnic minorities: rights of, 203 European Community, 228–31, 243 European Convention on Human Rights, 229, 240, 241 European Union, 228, 229, 230–1 European Union Constitution, 230 exclusion: suffrage, 40–1, 51, 62–3 Falconer, Charles Leslie, Lord, 242–3 Fawcett, Millicent, 140 Fawcett Society, 147 federalism see imperial federalism Federation League, 159 feminism, 147–52, 204; see also women: rights of Fenian Brotherhood, 110, 222 Ferguson, Adam, 74 feudalism, 5 Fianna F´ail, 223 flappers, 145 Fletcher, Andrew, 74 Florence: and classical humanism, 26 Forster Education Act (1870), 112, 123, 136 Fortescue, Sir John, 16–17 France, 74, 78–9, 228; see also French Revolution franchise, 3, 9–10, 31, 32, 45, 99, 101, 111, 116–17, 199 British Empire, 161 Ireland, 223 Northern Ireland, 226–7 women, 134–5, 144–5 see also suffrage; vote: right to Franklin, Benjamin, 88 freedom, 38, 60–1, 72, 81–2, 90, 169, 199; see also liberty French Revolution, 91–2, 99, 100, 245 Friends of the Earth (FOE), 231 Gaitskell, Hugh, 207 Garibaldi, Giuseppe, 110


Index General Will, 174 gentry: civic status of, 24, 27; see also aristocracy; knights of the shires Girl Guides, 158, 159 Gladstone, William Ewart, 106, 110, 111, 139, 155, 222 Glasgow, 129, 132–3 globalisation, 232 Gordon, Thomas see ‘Cato’ Government of Ireland Act (1920), 223 Grattan, Henry, 221 Green, T. H., 167–70, 174, 175 Greenwood, Arthur, 187 Greer, Germaine, 147, 148–9 guilds, 6 Habeas Corpus, 63–4, 93, 102, 221, 241, 242 Haldane, Richard Burdon Haldane, 1st Viscount, 173 Hancock, Keith, 162 Hanson, Donald, 26 Harrington, James, 47–52 Hattersley, Roy, 211 Hegel, Georg Wilhelm Friedrich, 173 Hobbes, Thomas, 45, 52–8 Hobhouse, Leonard Trelawney, 197 Hoffmann, Leonard, Baron, 241 ‘Home Front’: Second World War, 177, 181 Home Rule Bill (1886), 222–3 Hong Kong, 164 Hooker, Richard, 22, 23 householders: franchise, 10 housing, 195 Human Rights Act (2000), 229 Hume, David, of Godscroft, 13–14 Hurd, Douglas, 208

Ireton, Henry, 35, 37, 40 Irish: and suffrage, 111 Irish Act of Union (1801), 106 Irish Nationality and Citizenship Act (1935), 224 Irish Republican Army see IRA (Irish Republican Army) Islam see Muslims Jacobite uprising, 76–7 James VI and I, King, 14, 10, 13, 14 Jews: rights of, 106 John of Salisbury, 15–16 Jones, Henry, 172 Jowell, Jeffrey, 243 Justices of the Peace, 8–9 Kenny, Annie, 141 knights of the shires, 8, 9, 50 Knox, John, 23

IRA (Irish Republican Army), 225 Idea of a Patriot King, The (Bolingbroke), 70–1 Idealists see British Idealists immigration, 163, 165, 228, 232–3, 236–7; see also multiculturalism Immigration Acts, 163–4 imperial federalism, 159–61 imperialism see British Empire Independent Labour Party (ILP), 141 Independents (17th-century radicals), 35, 40 Information and Petition, An (Crowley), 18, 19 invasion: fear of, 78 Ireland: and nationhood, 220–8 Ireland Act (1948), 224

Labour governments, 193 Labour Party, 145, 166, 211; see also Independent Labour Party (ILP); New Labour law: access to, 243 Law of Freedom in a Platform, The (Winstanley), 36, 37 Laws of Ecclesiastical Polity (Hooker), 22, 23 legislation: and civil rights, 93 Legislative Rights of the Commonalty Vindicated (Cartwright), 89–90 Letter Concerning Toleration (Locke), 64–5 Levellers, 32–3, 34, 35, 36, 37–43 Leviathan (Hobbes), 52, 56 Liberal Democrats, 210–11 Liberal Party: and women’s suffrage, 140–1; see also New Liberalism liberty, 81, 85, 87, 113; see also freedom ‘Life in the United Kingdom’ Advisory Group, 239–40 Lilburne, John, 33–4, 36, 39–40 literacy, 31–2, 92, 158 local government, 120–33 Northern Ireland, 226 Local Government Act (1894), 126 Local Government (Northern Ireland) Act (1898), 226 Locke, John, 25, 57–65, 85, 96 London, 6–7, 32 London Corresponding Society, 92 Long Parliament, 44 Lovett, William, 111–12


Citizenship in Britain Lowe, Robert, 111 Luddism, 102 MEPs (Members of the European Parliament), 229 MPs (Members of Parliament), 84, 100–1, 108 colonial, 160 female, 145–6, 151 Irish, 106, 221, 223 Northern Irish, 225 Scottish, 217 Maastricht Treaty see Treaty of European Union Machiavelli, Niccol`o, 26, 27 Major, John, 209 Mandeville, Bernard, 73–4 Married Women’s Property Acts, 136 Marshall, T. H., 1, 98, 196–205 mass media and British Empire, 157–8 and Second World War, 177–80 mass meetings, 93 mayors, 7 Melbourne, William Lamb, 2nd Viscount, 104 Mercurius Politicus (newspaper), 46 middle classes, 114, 115, 156 military service, 27, 49, 79–80, 87 Mill, Harriet Taylor, 118 Mill, James, 112 Mill, John Stuart, 112–21 Milton, John, 45–6 Ministry of Information (MOI), 180, 181, 182, 183, 187, 188 Mitchell, Juliet, 148 mobs see crowds Molyneux, Henry Howard, 4th Earl of Carnarvon see Carnarvon, Henry Howard Molyneux, 4th Earl of monarchy, 3, 22 abolition of, 44 Bolingbroke and, 70–1 England, 5, 7, 16, 22 Hobbes and, 53, 54, 55–6 limitation of, 36, 46, 67 Scotland, 11, 12, 21 morality see Societies for Reformation of Manners More, Sir Thomas, 17, 18, 19 multiculturalism, 204, 237–8, 239; see also ethnic minorities: rights of; immigration Municipal Corporations Act (1882), 123–4

Municipal Franchise Act (1869), 136 Municipal Franchise Bill (1869), 123 music: and British Empire, 76, 157; see also National Anthem, 76–7 Muslims, 237, 242 Napoleon: fear of attack by, 79 National Anthem, 76–7 National Curriculum, 214 National Health Service, 194 national identity see Britishness; political identity; Scottishness national insurance, 193 national sovereignty, 231 National Union of Women’s Suffrage Societies (NUWSS), 140, 144–5 nationality, 164; see also Britishness; Ireland: and nationhood; Muslims; political identity; Scottishness nationhood British, 75–81 Irish, 220–8 Scottish, 216–19 Welsh, 219–20 natural rights, 99, 100, 168 Nedham, Marchamont, 46 New Labour, 212–13 New Liberalism, 166; see also Beveridge, William; Welfare State New Model Army, 28–9, 32 New Zealand, 161 newspapers, 30, 92, 128, 178, 188–9 Nonconformists, 125 North Briton, The (journal), 87 Northern Ireland, 225–7 Northern Ireland Assembly, 226 O’Connell, Daniel, 222 O’Connor, Feargus, 108, 109 Oakley, Ann, 149 Orwell, George, 179–80, 183 Overton, Richard, 34, 38 Paine, Thomas, 96–7 Paisley, Rev. Ian, 225 Pankhurst, Christabel, 141 Pankhurst, Emmeline, 140, 142, 143 Paradise Regained (Milton), 46 Parish Councils Bill (1893), 126–8 parishes, 122, 125, 135–6 Parliamentary elections: England, 9 parliamentary reform, 100, 101, 108 Parliamentary system: British, 83


Index Parliaments English, 16, 19, 20, 24, 44 European, 229, 230 Irish, 221 Northern Irish, 225–6 Scottish, 11, 24, 217–18 sovereignty of, 50 see also Long Parliament; MEPs; MPs participation: representative government, 117 partition: Ireland, 223, 225 Patriarcha non Monarcha (Tyrell), 135 ‘patriot’: meanings of, 74–5 patriotism, 71, 72, 75 Penguin Specials, 178 Peterloo Massacre, 102 Petty, Maximilian, 40 Phillips, Trevor, 238 Pitt, William (the Elder), 1st Earl of Chatham, 90 Pitt, William (the Younger), 90, 91 Plaid Cymru, 219 Plant, Raymond, 211 political citizenship, 210 political consciousness: England, 16, 21, 30 political economy, 73 political identity, 216 Ireland, 220–4 Northern Ireland, 225–8 Scotland, 216–19 Wales, 219–20 political rights, 3, 198, 203 political virtue: and Locke, 60, 66 Politics (Aristotle), 15 poor law, 98, 122–3, 125, 200 Poor Law Amendment Act (1834), 98, 200 Poor Law Boards, 125, 136 poverty: and social reform, 173 Powell, (John) Enoch, 163, 235 Price, Richard, 91 Priestley, Joseph, 91 Prisoners’ Temporary Discharge Act (1913), 142–3 property ownership of, 38–9, 67–8 and suffrage, 40, 50, 62, 86 Proportional Representation, 117 Protestantism, 77–8 Northern Ireland, 225, 226 publishing: political publications, 30; see also newspapers Puritanism, 24–5 Putney Debates, 35, 39, 42–3

race relations, 163–4, 165, 233–43 Race Relations Acts, 236 Radical Programme, The, 124 radicalism, 30–43, 81–98, 102 radio see BBC Rainsborough, Thomas, 35, 37 Rande, Mary see Cary, Mary real freedom: British Idealists, 169 referendums European Union Constitution, 230 Scottish devolution, 217–18 Welsh devolution, 220 Reform Acts, 107–8, 110, 121, 136, 137, 144, 153, 199 reforms: nineteenth-century, 99–112, 122–33, 173 religion: and politics, 30–1, 64–5, 77–8, 106, 218, 223, 226; see also Dissenters; Muslims; Roman Catholics religious intolerance, 13, 235, 237 Remonstrance of many thousand citizens, A (Overton and Walwyn), 34, 38, 42 Representative Government (Mill), 116, 120 republicanism, 42, 43–52, 71 Revolution of the Saints (Walzer), 24–5 rights, 168–9, 171–2, 198–9 civic, 3, 144, 161, 198 civil, 33, 39, 85, 93, 199, 200, 201, 202 natural, 99, 100, 168, 198, 199 political, 3, 198, 199, 203 social, 3, 104–5, 198, 199, 200, 202, 203, 212 voting, 106–7, 230 see also Human Rights Act (2000) Rights of Man, The (Paine), 96 riots, 234 Robert I, King of Scotland (Robert the Bruce), 11, 12 Roman Britain, 4 Roman Catholics, 244 Ireland, 220, 222 Northern Ireland, 227 rights of, 22–3, 77, 106 Rousseau, Jean-Jacques, 84–5 Rowbottom, Sheila, 148 Rowlandson, Thomas, 78–9 Royal Army Education Corps (RAEC) see Army Education Corps (AEC) Rump Parliament, 44 St John, Henry see Bolingbroke, Henry St John, 1st Viscount Salisbury, John of see John of Salisbury


Citizenship in Britain Salisbury, Robert Cecil, 3rd Marquess of, 154 Scarman, Leslie George Scarman, Baron, 234, 236 Schools Inquiry Commission (1864), 136–7 Scotland, 10–14, 23, 24, 73–4, 125, 216–19 devolution, 74, 216 female MPs, 146 suffragettes, 142 Scottish Act of Union (1707), 14, 216–17 Scottish Constitution Convention (SCC), 217 ‘Scottish Martyrs’, 93 Scottishness, 12, 13, 14, 218 Scouting see Boy Scouts Second World War, 177–83 secondary education, 191–2 Serious and Organised Crime Act (2005), 240 Sex Discrimination (Election Candidates) Act (2002), 146 Sex Disqualification Removal Act (1919), 137 sexual discrimination, 118, 137, 144, 146; see also feminism sexual equality, 147, 149–50 Sheffield Constitutional Society, 93 shires, 8 Sinn F´ein, 227 Skinner, Quentin, 28 Smith, Adam, 73, 91 Smith, Sir Thomas, 19–20 Social Chapter: European Union, 230–1 social citizenship, 97, 98, 109, 210, 211; see also Beveridge Report; Welfare State social class, 200–1, 203 social equality, 198 social reform, 173, 183 social rights, 3, 104–5, 198, 199, 200, 202, 203, 212, 230 social security, 192–3 social systems, 3 Societies for Reformation of Manners, 68–9 Society for Constitutional Information, 89, 96 Society of Supporters of the Bill of Rights, 89 South Africa, 161 sovereignty, 3, 38, 41, 54, 55, 62, 85, 96, 115, 231 Speenhamland system, 98, 200 Stanhope, Charles Stanhope, 3rd Earl, 93 Starkey, Thomas, 17, 18, 19 state intervention, 166 Statute of Artificers (1563), 199 Statute of Westminster (1931), 162 Stephens, J. R., 108–9 Stoicism: Scotland, 73

Stuart, Prince Charles Edward, 77 Sturges-Bourne Act (1818), 123 Subjection of Women, The (Mill), 112, 118–19 suffrage, 39–42, 103, 109 women, 137–45 see also franchise; vote: right to suffragettes, 141–3 System of Logic (Mill), 113 Tawney, R. H., 191 Taylor, Harriet see Mill, Harriet Taylor Tenure of Kings and Magistrates, The (Milton), 46 terrorism, 237, 240–3, 244 Thatcher, Margaret, 145, 207, 212 Toleration Act (1689), 64 Tolpuddle Martyrs, 104 Toynbee Hall, 176 trade unions, 103–5, 184, 201, 212 Women’s Trade Union League, 141 Treaty of European Union (1993), 229–30 Trenchard, John see ‘Cato’ Tudor England, 8–9, 17–20 Turnbull, George, 73 Two Treatises on Government (Locke), 58–63 Tyrrell, James, 135 unemployment, 184, 186, 195–6; see also employment rights Unexpurgated Case Against Women’s Suffrage (Wright), 138 Unionist parties: Northern Ireland, 227 Utilitarianism, 101, 112, 113, 115 Utopia (More), 17 Vestries Act (1831), 136 Vindication of the Rights of Woman (Wollstonecraft), 95 Volunteer Corps, 79 vote: right to, 106–7, 230; see also franchise; referendums; suffrage Wales: nationhood, 219–20 Walwyn, William, 34 Walzer, Martin, 24–5 wards: London, 7 Warr, John, 39 Webb, Sidney and Beatrice, 125 Welfare State, 184–96, 218 Whitgift, John, 22 Wilkes, John, 87–8, 90, 91 Winstanley, Gerrard, 36, 37, 39, 40, 42


Index wireless see BBC Wollstonecraft, Mary, 94–5 Woman’s Consciousness, Man’s World (Rowbottom), 148 women as citizens, 94–5, 118, 134–52, 146, 151, 174 and civic virtue, 69 and feminism, 147–52 and franchise 3, 107, 118–20, 124, 134–5, 137–45 as MPs, 145–6 rights of, 203 and Second World War, 179, 182 and society, 146–7 Women’s Estate (Mitchell), 148

Women’s Liberation Movement, 147 Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU), 140 Women’s Trade Union League, 141 workhouses, 98 working class, 81, 111, 114, 116, 141, 148, 156, 198 world citizenship, 175, 231–3 Wright, Sir Almroth, 138 xenophobia, 244 Yorke, Henry Redhead, 72 Yorkshire Association, 89 Young, Hugo, 208 Young Citizen, 178