Thursday 10th April the TUC are highlighting the contribution of the Chartists.
The People’s Charter called for six reforms to make the political system more democratic:
- A vote for every man twenty-one years of age, of sound mind, and not undergoing punishment for a crime.
- The Secret Ballot – To protect the elector in the exercise of his vote.
- No Property Qualification for Members of Parliament – thus enabling the constituencies to return the man of their choice, be he rich or poor.
- Payment of Members, thus enabling an honest trades-man, working man, or other person, to serve a constituency; when taken from his business to attend to the interests of the country.
- Equal Constituencies, securing the same amount of representation for the same number of electors, instead of allowing small constituencies to swamp the votes of large ones.
- Annual Parliament Elections, thus presenting the most effectual check to bribery and intimidation, since as the constituency might be bought once in seven years (even with the ballot), no purse could buy a constituency (under a system of universal suffrage) in each ensuing twelvemonth; and since members, when elected for a year only, would not be able to defy and betray their constituents as now.
Chartism can be interpreted as a continuation of the 18th century fight against corruption and for democracy in an industrial society but attracted considerably more support than the radical groups for economic reasons including wage cuts and unemployment.
Not a lot changes for the worker over the centuries. Keep fighting.