Remember British Chartism


This video from Britain says about itself:

A short animation telling the story of Chartism and the struggle for working men to receive the vote. The story is set to the Kaiser Chiefs – I predict a riot.

By Hywel Francis in Britain:

Our democratic debt to the Chartists

Tuesday 07 May 2013

We take for granted now that any democracy would embrace such basics as secret ballots and universal suffrage. But these had been denied in the 1832 Electoral Reform Act and so the Chartist movement emerged.

Seventy-seven MPs from a wide range of political parties recently signed the Parliamentary early day motion saluting the men and women of the Chartist movement who sacrificed so much to create what Karl Marx called the first political organisation of the working class in the world and what Eric Hobsbawm called “the greatest of all mass movements of British labour.”

Many Chartists died for this noble cause as in the Newport Rising of November 1839. Others risked victimisation as in the great 1842 Chartist General Strike.

Others, many of the leaders, were arrested, imprisoned and transported to Australia.

Two of these outstanding men, leading Welsh Chartist John Frost and the black Chartist William Cuffay, along with many others, would undoubtedly have been elected MPs had there been a democratic Parliament in their day.

Instead, for their role in campaigning for democratic change, they were transported to Australia. Frost eventually returned to Britain, but Cuffay died in poverty in an Australian workhouse.

The all-party group on archives and history will commemorate the Chartists this year.

First, Chartist historian Professor Malcolm Chase of Leeds University will give a lecture on the People’s Charter in the Speaker’s House in October.

And second, we will arrange for a digitised photograph of Frost to be lodged in the parliamentary archives.

The original photograph was donated to the South Wales Miners’ Library 40 years ago by Edgar Evans of Bedlinog who had himself been imprisoned for his role in the struggle against the scab union in south Wales in 1935.

We will also add to the parliamentary archives a digitised version of Lord Byron‘s collected works, which had been given to Cuffay by the Westminster branch of the National Charter Association prior to his transportation.

One hundred and seventy-five years after they and so many others launched the Chartist movement we will at last welcome Cuffay and Frost to the Palace of Westminster as fellow democrats and fellow citizens.

Hywel Francis is Labour MP for Aberavon.

—-
EDM 1088, tabled by Hywel Francis, signed by 77 MPs

This house celebrates the 175th anniversary of the launch of the People’s Charter on May 8 1838 which was a blueprint for our parliamentary democracy
Salutes the men and women of the Chartist movement across the UK who sacrificed so much to achieve universal adult suffrage; acknowledges the black Chartist leader William Cuffay and others who were transported to Australia for striving for political justice
Recognises that it was left to the Suffragist and Suffragette movements to win universal female suffrage
Notes the subsequent roles of political parties in legislating for many of the Chartist demands including the secret ballot
And welcomes the work of the all-party parliamentary group on archives and history to commemorate in appropriate ways the debt that all parliaments owe to the selfless campaigning of the Chartists in achieving democracies in many countries.

11 thoughts on “Remember British Chartism

    • You’re welcome đŸ™‚ The images in the video are interesting, though maybe especially non-Britons might like a little more explanation, like a reply to questions like Whose portrait is this?, etc.

      Like

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