By John Belchem
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Extra resources for Popular Radicalism in Nineteenth-Century Britain (Social History in Perspective)
Henceforth, the old demand for 'economical reform', a programme to reduce the influence of the executive, gave way to the new slogan of 'cheap government', promoted as the means to economic relief and recovery. Whether to facilitate commercial liberalism or artisan protectionism, parliamentary reform was increasingly recognized as the necessary first step to economic amelioration. Encouraged by the successful coordination of parliamentary and external pressure mobilized by the anti-slave trade 37 Popular Radicalism and 'petition and debate' campaigns, moderate reformers redoubled their efforts, seeking to galvanize concern at economic distress into support for direct-taxation household suffrage.
As a multivocal symbol of opposition, Caroline attracted national support, reaching into small market and historic towns untouched by the post-war radical platform. 111 However, much of her appeal depended on 'collusion and convergence', on old-style political manipulation by Whigs, Burdettites, city reformers and other influential out-groups. Patronized by the opposition, public processions in support of the Queen were expensive and impressive spectacles, allowing the people, as Hazlitt shrewdly observed, to enjoy 'the mock equality with sovereign rank, the acting in a farce of state'.
32 Radicalism, Revolution and War, 1790-1815 More populist (and unrestrained) than the commercial arguments of the middle-class friends of peace, the economic thrust of popular radicalism began to engage a 'working-class' audience. Assuming the role of the poor man's friend, Cobbett used the columns of his Register to explain how the war had consolidated 'the Thing', the system of political corruption and financial plunder - now known to historians as the 'fiscal-military state' - which had been tightening its hold since the late seventeenth century at the expense of the unrepresented and heavilytaxed poor.