the friend online
31 August 2007


A social revolution? - preview

The Chartists failed but their story needs telling again, says Rowena Loverance

As Friends ponder whether to take up the threat to civil liberties as a key campaigning issue for today, it is timely to remind ourselves of how these liberties were won, and at what cost

  • One episode which has rather passed out of popular history is that of the Chartists, who agitated for the vote and Parliamentary reform in the 1830s
  • Unlike the anti-slavery campaigners earlier in the century, or Cobden and Bright's successful campaign against the Corn Laws in the following decade, the Chartists' campaign ended in failure, despite much petitioning and even an attempt at a general strike
  • They were ahead of their time, however: five of their six principles (adult male suffrage, a secret ballot, equal electoral districts, payment of MPs and abolition of MPs' property qualification) were wrung from the political authorities during the sixty years from 1858 to 1918
  • (The sixth principle, that of annual elections, never won much support, though arguments about the related issue of fixed term Parliaments are still very much alive)

  • Rowena Loverance

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    Epistle from the 22nd Triennial of the Friends World Committee for Consultation
    Friends World Committee for Consultation
    News round-up
    A matter of trust
    Noël Staples
    Ruth Camm & Miranda Chadkirk
    Friends’ work in India and Pakistan 1946 to 1948
    John Hawkins
    A social revolution?
    Rowena Loverance
    Shaking the foundations in the 21st century
    Robin Waterston
    Have faith!
    Inez Hussey
    Living in the End Times?
    Laurie Michaelis

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