‘This is What Democracy Looks Like’: Why campaigners are gathering in Manchester 200 years on from the Peterloo Massacre

Josiah Mortimer
Author:
Josiah Mortimer

Posted on the 15th May 2019

Nearly 200 years ago, thousands of working people gathered on St Peter’s Field in Manchester with a simple demand: political representation.

Local magistrates tried to shut down the meeting – the cavalry charged on the 60-80,000 present – and many lost their lives.

While it did not result in immediate enfranchisement, it was a pivotal moment in Britain’s democratic history.

Democracy is not static. It must be defended, remade, built on each generation. 200 years on from the Peterloo Massacre, it’s time to revive the campaign for a real democracy. Click To Tweet

This August, campaigners, trade unionists and political activists will unite to set out a vision for ‘real democracy’, at a major conference in Manchester marking the 200th anniversary of the Peterloo Massacre this August.

This is What Democracy Looks Like’, hosted by the Politics for the Many campaign, will bring campaigners together to argue the struggle for a better democracy must continue today.

Speakers at the bicentenary conference will make a progressive case for building a new democratic settlement today.

Hundreds of activists will be joined by trade unionists, academics, writers and public figures.

All this comes in the face of increasing public dissatisfaction with our democratic institutions. Recent research by the Hansard Society found that two-thirds of people believe our governing needs ‘quite a lot’ or ‘a great deal’ of improvement. Political trust is at record lows.

The event hopes to set out a vision for a new democracy campaign today.

Peterloo was one of the pivotal moments in the people’s history of our country, when tens of thousands of people stood up for parliamentary reform. 200 years later our democracy is crying out for change. Click To Tweet

Peterloo was one of the pivotal moments in the people’s history of our country, when tens of thousands of people stood up for parliamentary reform.

200 years later our democracy is crying out for change. As the organisers argue: “Working people have been at the forefront fighting for progressive change throughout our history. Now it’s time for us to build on our legacy and create a politics for the many today.”

Confirmed speakers so far include:

  • Paul Mason, writer and commentator
  • Dawn Foster, Guardian and Tribune Columnist
  • Jon Trickett, Shadow Minister for the Cabinet Office
  • Dave Ward, Communication Workers’ Union General Secretary
  • James Meadway (Former Chief Economic Advisor to John McDonnell)
  • Hillary Wainwright, Editor, Red Pepper
  • Katy Ashton – Director, Manchester Peoples History Museum

Event Details:

  • Title: This Is What Democracy Looks Like: Building a Politics For The Many
  • Venue: The Manchester Conference and Pendulum Hotel, Sackville St, Manchester M1 3BB
  • Times: 31 August 2019
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