Thursday, 29 July 2010

some are more equal than others.................

Early this year I was blogging about the Chartist campaign. At the time I couldn't bring to mind what the sixth point of the charter was. I am grateful to Stephen Glen for refreshing my memory. You may recall that in the 1830's a major push for expanding the franchise was under way and a charter of six point was drawn up, so acknowledgments Stephen they were:

  • A vote for every man twenty-one years of age, of sound mind, and not undergoing punishment for 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 tradesman, 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 parliaments, thus presenting the most effectual check to bribery and intimidation, since though a 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 twelve-month; and since members, when elected for a year only, would not be able to defy and betray their constituents as now.       
What brought this to mind yesterday? Well Jack Straw of course. He shares the view with Bootle Councillor Bobby Brennan that Labour seats should be smaller. Stephen spells it out in more detail.

The Chartists are enjoying something of a revival of interest. The Trade Unionist Bill Morris has just done a radio 4 programme on one of their leaders William Cuffay which is on iplayer for 6 more days.

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