Back then, politics was corrupt, peasants didn't have the vote, and if you wanted to be an MP, you could basically buy your seat.
Thank God things aren't like that now, you might be thinking! Well, sorry to dissapoint, but we still have a little way to go.
Why? Not everyone has the vote.
Prisoners, for example. Prisoners aren't allowed to vote.
In my mind, this is inexcusably wrong.
Why shouldn't prisoners have a say in who runs the country? They live here too, and are a sizeable portion of our population- one that is being completely denied their right to an opinion that counts. Many people say that prisoners shouldn't have the vote simply because they're bad people, or that we don't want them to vote because they'll vote for the wrong people- which is a tad naive, but let's humour that view for a moment, eh?
Perhaps that could be true. Maybe all the prisoners will club together and vote for the 'Let Prisoners Run Wild and Take Over Britain' party. Who knows! But somehow I doubt that, and I still think that a democratic country like ours should give everyone over the age of 18 the vote- and not just exclude minorities we don't think deserve the vote.
The other excuse people come up with for not giving the prisoners the vote-specifically David Cameron, who is refusing to change the law on the issue, despite the European court of human rights ruling that prisoners should be able to vote- is that when you go to prison, you somehow lose your right to vote. It's apparantly part of the punishment that as well as losing your freedom, you also lose any say you had in politics.
Talk about backwards thinking! This kind of view is just medieval.
Which is why I believe that if we're going to parade ourselves as a great example of a democracy in the world, we need to give prisoners the vote. Frankly, it's embarrassing that they don't already have it!