The Luddites were a group of armed protestors who stormed factories, breaking machinery and causing havoc”the incidents were explained as protesting the economic crisis, stemming from unemployment, wage cuts and price rises. The attacks were serious because it resorted in damages that would be costly to the industrialisation of Britain, with broken machinery having to halt production by at least some. However, these attacks were rather sporadic in their aims”as it was local action from the unemployed working-class, some wanted their jobs back and some wanted to stop industrialisation altogether”and the government were successful in repressing this series of incidents.
The Cato Street conspiracy was a plot to kill all of the British cabinet members, as they met at Grovesnor Square in February 1820”organised by a group of Spenceans, in hopes that it would paralyse decision making and cause an atmosphere of chaos and confusion as a setting for potential uprisings. In this instance, the government made use of a spy to foil the plans”George Edwards had acted as part of the group to become privy to the plot; the information he learned would go on to lead to the arrest of Arthur Thistlewood and four others as they gathered in Cato Street.
This plot showed that the radicals were becoming more organised and goal-orientated in their work”with this incident being the most isolated act of defiance of the time. However, the plot was easily foiled and the conspirators were apprehended before any harm came of the cabinet; when they had been arrested, they did not inspire any uprisings, which shows the plan was unsuccessful on all fronts.
The Pentrich Revolution was an attempt to revolt, stirred up by an agent provocateur”especially WJ Richards”who informed a group of workers that they could expect support from workers in other areas. On 9 June 1817, Jeremiah Brandeth set out with 200 men to march to Nottingham”when they arrived they were met by army troops, not the supporters they were lead to believe would be then. 45 men were tried for high treason because of this rebellion, and 3 of them were executed. This was another example of the naivety of the radicals; the use of spies had fooled them into a trap set up by the government to apprehend radical leaders.
Lord Liverpool did not only use spies and soldiers, he also used legislation. The first act he passed with the suspension of the Habeas Corpus; this meant that any political prisoner could be held without trial”it was seen as a breach of personal liberties. This would mean that radical leaders could be held to reduce the possibility of further threats to Liverpools government. However, only 44 people were arrested and 37 detained, which shows that it was not used on a wide basis, but was implemented as a deterrent against further threat.
This suspension only lasted 10 months. Also, the Seditious Meetings Act made the unauthorized meeting of over 50 people illegal”this was stop threats that came from things such as the Spa Fields riots and the Peterloo massacre. After Peterloo and Pentrich the government passed the Six Acts”they gave more power to the magistrates; the Blasphemous and Seditious Libels Act allowed local magistrates to search for and seize publications of this volition”this was used as a way of stopping radicals from spreading their message.
Overall, then, the main reason that Lord Liverpool survived and handled the radical threats was the weakness of the radical challenges; they were localised, and did not spread across with national support. They lacked the unity they needed to pose a threat to Liverpools government. Liverpools ability to use spies and legislation to easily spoil any plans the radicals had managed to come up with showed how ineffective they were in attacking Liverpools government.