Is now the time for the New Chartists?

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I mentioned Cromwell's speech to the Rump parliament when dismissing it for good the other day, and that I did not agree with his solutions. It got me thinking about historical precedents and I came, perhaps unsurprisingly, to the Chartists. The 1838 Chartist demands were:

  • Universal male suffrage
  • Secret ballots
  • Parliamentary elections every year
  • Constituencies of equal size
  • Paid MPs
  • The end of the property qualification for MPs

Five of these six demands have been fulfilled: we do not have annual elections and most might think that a good thing. But we have gone further. We have:

  • Universal suffrage
  • The voting age has been reduced to 21
  • Representative government in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland

And yet so much that we would recognise as problematic in the parliamentary system remains in place:

  • First past the post
  • A two party system
  • Seats that never change hands
  • Tens of millions without an MP who represents their views and no chance that they will get one
  • The continuing use of the Royal prerogative
  • An unelected House of Lords
  • Devolved parliaments with limited powers
  • The diminishment of local government
  • A patchy mayoral system with conflicts with other authorities implicit in it
  • A loss of faith in the processes of government and democracy as a result

So what do we do about it? Is this the time for The New Chartist Movement? The New Chartist demands night be:

  • Proportional representation on the basis of regional constituencies
  • Universal suffrage from 16
  • A Senate to replace the House of Lords
  • A written constitution covering individual rights and the responsibilities of each tier of government
  • A constitutional requirement to continually reduce income, wealth, regional and international inequality and to increase the share of GDP that goes to labour