The Chartists: A Reassessment—Part 2

I want some votes - thumb
‘Please, sir, I want some votes.’[1]
(Part 1 is here.)

The common narrative is of peaceful Chartists—with ‘Chartists’ synonymous with the entire British working class—asking for the vote before being brutally beaten down by the authorities. A sort of Oliver Chartwist plaintively begging, ‘Please, sir, I want some votes.’

The reality is rather more complex.

Illustrative of the complacent way the Chartist story is promulgated is this page, ‘Chartism—A Historical Background,’ from the British Library, e.g.:

Although the working classes had high hopes for the [1832] Reform Act, they eventually felt betrayed as despite the new legislation, the poor ultimately remained voiceless in the way their country was run. … Friedrich Engels wrote that ‘…in Chartism it is the whole working class which rises against the bourgeois’ …

Propaganda rather than a history or even overview, as noted, it identifies the working class in its entirety with the Chartist point of view. It is unsurprising that Engels (socialist, collaborator of Karl Marx, and co-founder of Communism) co-opts the ‘whole working class’ for Chartism; more surprising is the British Library employing a writer who does the same, even choosing to quote Engels in support of his theme.[2]

The Rise, Fall, then Strange Success of Chartism
The Chartists famously presented three petitions to Parliament. Less famously,[3] there were actually two more petitions in 1849 and 1851 gaining far fewer signatures.

The first (1839) petition of 1,280,000 signatures was ‘greeted by laughter’ by the Commons chamber.[4] The second (1842) petition had 3,317,752 signatures and ‘equated to around a third of the adult population’.[5] The third (1848) claimed 6 million signatures—but ‘a number of these were later found to be fake’ (perhaps we can also blame the Chartists for the ‘Muh Six Gorillion’ meme).

At Kennington Common, [Feargus] O’Connor had claimed that it contained 5,700,000 signatures, which happened to be almost exactly double the size of the 1842 Petition. This figure had a spurious ring to it, even more so minutes later when [Ernest] Jones rounded it up to 6 million, the total that stuck in the public mind. Now, however, according to the committee, 13 clerks working for over 17 hours had calculated that total to be 1,975,496 signatures. Furthermore, ‘a large number’ of signatures were written consecutively by the same hand, and ‘a large number were those of persons who could not be supposed to have concurred in its [the petition’s] prayer: among those were the names of Her Majesty, signed as Victoria Rex, the Duke of Wellington, Sir Robert Peel, &c., &c.’. The report continued that a ‘large number’ of additional signatures were evidently fictitious and numerous names were obscene. The committee did not give figures for these large numbers, even though its clerks had managed to calculate the overall total with a precision that was as spurious in its own way as O’Connor’s and Jones’s estimate. … O’Connor made a frantic arithmetical calculation of the logistics of the committee’s claim: the clerks must each have counted non-stop at an average rate of 150 names per minute. This was physically impossible, he declared … Unfortunately O’Connor also conceded that he had no knowledge of the Petition’s content, not a single sheet of which, he admitted, had he seen. Worse still, he alleged that any false names the petition contained would have been the work of government spies.

(Chase, Malcolm. Chartism. A New History. Manchester University Press, 2007. 312–13.)

The committee replied to O’Connor’s attack upon their veracity and related the steps taken to secure a fair count.
There is no reason to doubt that the number of signatures to the Chartist petition was given with approximate correctness by the committee. Joseph Hume on the following February gave the slightly higher estimate of 2,018,000 … On either estimate the number of petitioners in 1848 was barely three-fifths of the number in 1842, even assuming that the same allowance must be made for fraudulent signatures in both cases. No doubt the number of signatures was more carefully ascertained in 1848 than in the previous year, but even the most conservative papers accepted without serious question the estimated number in 1842, while the claims advanced by O’Connor and Ernest Jones in 1848 seem to have had no basis whatever except guess-work. The conclusion is irresistible, that six years of agitation had not only won nothing for the Chartist cause, but had left it in a weaker state than before. In 1848, for the first time, the fact of their declining strength was brought home to the mass of the Chartists.

(Slosson, William Preston. The Decline of the Chartist Movement. Columbia University, 1916. 101–102. Studies in History, Economics and Public Law, 73(2).)

Two more petitions in 1849 and 1851 counted a mere 53,816 and 11,834 signatures respectively.[6] The chart below depicts the waxing then waning fortunes of Chartism.[7]

Chartism’s rise & fall: graph

As the majority of Chartists were male (the People’s Charter calling for ‘Universal Manhood Suffrage’[8]), the 3.3 million signatures on the 1842 petition implied a remarkable 78.9% of the 4.2 million men of England, Scotland and Wales recorded by the 1841 census. However, female Chartists, often organising as separate groups such as the Female Political Union and the London Female Democratic Association, were a significant minority, and petitioners encouraged women and even children to sign,[9] so not just the male component but the entire adult (at least) population must be factored in (as Chase did, note 5), leaving one to seriously contemplate that over 62% displayed anything from indifference to hostility to the Chartists’ goals. And whether measuring Chartist support against just the adult male population or both male and female, one cannot shy from the fact that after its 1842 highpoint, Chartism steeply declined, support diminishing by 1848 to 40.2% of men or 19.2% of men and women, and a mere three years after that saw it ebb to less than ¼%. As Chase writes:

Support for the movement had ebbed during the economic recovery of the mid-1840s … although it surged forward again during a further economic crisis in 1847–48 …

(Chase, M. (2016) Chartism. In: Campaigning for Change: Lessons from History. Friends of the Earth, London, 40–52.)

This is one of the many problems with democracy—the electorates are oft fickle, and what they passionately argued for yesterday, they are indifferent to today and arguing passionately against tomorrow.

Furthermore, that Chartist support ebbed and flowed according to economic conditions shows that for most, Chartism was not an end in itself but only a means to an end, that end being not participation in government but only a decent life: ‘A fair day’s wages for a fair day’s work’.[10]

Political reforms were certainly valued because of their abstract justice, but they were also looked upon as a means of securing a better social position for the humbler classes; and argued in this sense, the speeches of the radical orators always told with most effect. It may be doubted whether there ever was a great political movement of the people without a social origin. The chief material object of mankind is to possess the means of social enjoyment. Secure them in possession of these and small is the care they have for political abstractions. … In times of comparative prosperity there is scarce a ripple to be observed on the ocean of politics, but let that prosperity be succeeded by a period of adversity and the waves of popular discontent will roll with such impetuous force as to threaten the safety of the political fabric. The masses look on the enfranchised classes, whom they behold reposing on the couch of opulence, and contrast that opulence with the misery of their own condition. Reasoning from effect to cause there is no marvel that they arrive at the conclusion—that their exclusion from political power is the cause of our social anomalies.

(Gammage, R.G. History of the Chartist Movement 1837–1854. London, 1894. 9. [Bold added])

Slosson’s Decline has the following table comparing wages with prices, showing how support for Chartism declined as prosperity increased:[11]

Table of wages & prices

Despite Chartism’s decline, the Political Class nevertheless incrementally implemented all their demands bar annual elections over the ensuing decades: the property qualification for MPs went with the Property Qualification for Members of Parliament Act 1858, a secret ballot was introduced with the 1872 Ballot Act, equal constituencies with the 1885 Redistribution of Seats Act, salaries for MPs with the 1911 Parliament Act[12] and universal manhood suffrage with the 1918 Representation of the People Act.

The Granting of Universal Manhood Suffrage
A common slogan used to promote the expansion of the franchise (culminating in the passing of that Representation of the People Act 1918) was, ‘If they’re fit to fight, they’re fit to vote’ (e.g. HC Deb (14 August 1916) vol. 85, col. 1450)—a proposition that many would be sympathetic to, either from motives of justice or practicality.[13] However, as the linked debate shows, no sooner was it proposed ‘to enfranchise at once all our soldiers and sailors who are fighting for their country … to create a new, or what I may call a military and naval franchise—that is, that a special right to vote be granted to those gallant men who are serving their country on sea and land in all parts of the world’ than equivalence was drawn between those at the sharp end and factory workers, women, etc. While the man at the Front is of small use without the logistical tail keeping him continually supplied—from the munitions worker and farmer to the Army Service Corps drivers taking food and ammunition up the Line—it is nonetheless reasonable to distinguish the man who fixes bayonet on the end of his rifle and clambers out of a trench to charge across No Man’s Land from people in far safer jobs—however necessary—‘in the rear with the gear’.

Men and women in WW1 - thumbnail
Many contributed, but some sweated more, risked everything, and gave all.[14]
Women specifically performed vital work, contributing significantly to the war effort, but their primary contribution was, by going into the factories and other hitherto male occupations, they released men for war service—into the cauldron of the Western Front.[15] A couple of statistics should suffice to illustrate the difference in contribution: while 702,410 British soldiers lost their lives in WW1,[16] the Commonwealth War Graves Commission counts but 655 British women[17] as war dead—not even 0.1% of the British Army’s sad total. And a page on the CWGC website commemorating one of WW1’s dead says much, describing ‘the heroic nurse who is the only woman among more than 10,000 men in the CWGC’s second largest cemetery in Belgium.’

Parliament should have debated seriously whether to enfranchise all who served or just those who saw combat; whether extra votes (plural voting being abolished in blind egalitarian pursuit only in 1948) should be given to people for distinguishing themselves with bravery and/or achieving various levels of authority (e.g. at the battalion level—RSM and CO).

Repeatedly were voices raised making similar such points to keep the franchise meaningful. E.g. in this debate (HC Deb (25 June 1917) vol.95) an amendment was proposed to enfranchise all serving at 19 years of age while civilians waited until 21 but even that modest privilege was objected to.[18] Captain Hugh O’Neill of the Irish Unionist Party declared (so often do Ulstermen prove to be the best of us):

… There was in this House the other day some discussion with regard to the sacrifices borne in the War. The hon. Member asks what about mothers who have lost their children. Mothers who have lost their children undergo a terrible sacrifice; all of us who lose relatives in this War undergo terrible sacrifices; but no mother, no father, no brother, nobody undergoes anything in proportion to the sacrifices made by the soldier who is actually fighting for his country, and facing death every day. There is no comparison. … I can imagine no more terrible case of hardship than that of a soldier who has gone through many months of this terrible War … he may have been badly wounded, may have lost an arm or a leg, and probably gone through all the hardships and trying sacrifices of war in the trenches. That man, I submit, has given more to the country than any munition worker or any other person.

An amendment disqualifying Conscientious Objectors (HC Deb (26 June 1917) vol.95) was debated and defeated; a similar amendment did become part of the 1918 Act (s. 9(2)) but watered down to disenfranchising them for only 5 years after war’s end—potentially sitting out but one election.[19] Nor did the limited CO disqualifier apply to those deemed medically unfit[20] or those British subjects residing in territory the Military Service Acts did not extend to, neither category needing to register as a CO to avoid military service.[21]

‘If they’re fit to fight, they’re fit to vote,’ became ‘Whether they risked life, limb and sanity for King & Country in lice- and rat-infested trenches or sat out the war in relative safety and comfort—or even made common cause with the Kaiser—as long as they’re still breathing at 21, they can vote.’ With 6,211,427 total enlistments[22] recorded from Great Britain and Ireland, and the 1918 Act expanding the electorate to 21,392,322,[23] while some of the 15,180,895 difference would have been veterans of Imperial service and conflicts such as the Boer War, most obtained the franchise largely through the actions of others—those others who went to fight. People who had never put on uniform—baldly refusing in some cases or, as noted, fighting for the enemy—obtained the vote by riding on the coattails of others who had been through hell.

Did ‘The People’ Even Want the Vote?
U.S. Senator Roscoe Conkling (1829–88) once remarked that when Dr Johnson spoke of ‘patriotism’ as the last refuge of the scoundrel he overlooked the vast possibilities latent in the word ‘reform’;[24] and both overlooked the vast possibilities latent in the phrase ‘The People’ in whose name so much is demanded.[25]

One might think those so eagerly championing ‘democracy’ and invoking the ‘will of the people’[26] might trouble themselves to ascertain the actual will of the people before imposing what they claim to be the will of the people, employing the mechanism of a plebiscite. In the absence of such plebiscites, one is reduced to estimates, interpretations of incomplete data, and outright guesswork.

As one example, how popular was women’s suffrage really, even amongst women themselves? A petition with 337,018 signatures opposing female suffrage collected by the Women’s National Anti-Suffrage League was presented to Parliament in March 1909,[27] while a similar petition from the suffragists had markedly less: 288,736 signatures.[28] In the US, in Massachusetts, women were consulted in 1895: and only 22,204 women out of an estimated 575,000 voted affirmatively in the referendum—<4%.[29] The push for female suffrage seems to have come only from an activist minority and political representatives gaming the system, while the greater mass of women wanted to be left alone.

It is notable that after the expansion of the franchise in 1918, that year’s December General Election recorded a turnout of only 57.2% in comparison to the three GEs prior seeing 83.2%, 86.8% and 81.6% turnouts;[30] and only two GEs since—1950 & 51—saw turnouts over 80%. It is quite possible that the push for mass democracy came similarly only from an activist minority and MPs wanting to game the system,[31] with most people simply wanting to be left alone (Justice Louis Brandeis holding that being ‘let alone [is] the most comprehensive of rights, and the right most valued by civilized men’[32]).

Illustrative is the case of one of our Channel Islands, Sark, which suddenly saw their political, legal and cultural traditions up-ended due to an arriviste minority refusing to assimilate and imposing their practices and lifestyle on the islanders, whose community can trace its roots to 1565.

The Sarkees, happy with their way of life in the ‘last feudal state in Europe’, had zero desire for change. But the incomers, the two Barclay brothers, cared nothing for that—between cultural arrogance and mercenary self-interest, they bulldozed their way over Sark’s traditions.

In 2008, Sark held its first ever election. However, the Sarkees did not vote the way the Barclays wanted, so having successfully employed ‘lawfare’ to turn the Sarkees’ world upside down, they now waged economic warfare against the ungrateful Sarkees (at least the Barclays had no air force to impose their democracy with drone-mounted Hellfires).

Western democracy in action: you’re getting it whether you want it or not—so be grateful and vote the way your political masters want.

(Articles:
• “Lost world: the last days of feudal Sark,” Independent, 25 Oct 2006.
• “A Revolution Not Televised,” Time, 17 Jan 2008.
• “Barclay brothers lose supreme court challenge over Sark politics,” Guardian, 1 Dec 2009.
• “Sark Spring,” New Yorker, 22 Oct 2012.
• “Sark really is a world apart,” spiked, 19 Apr 2019. )

Britain is suffering a surfeit of ever more elected sinecures—regional assemblies, mayors, PCCs (an inferior knockoff of US elected sheriffs)—and if people, never having asked for the nonsense, boycott the election de jour, they get told by the likes of Dan Hannan that they ‘don’t matter’; but if dutifully voting but against our political masters’ wishes, their livelihoods are damaged (in the case of the Sarkees), they are routinely disparaged and vilified (Scottish Unionists and Brexiteers), or their vote simply ignored (Denmark in 1992, Irish Republic in 2001, France in 2005, Switzerland in 2014—and Britain TBC).

‘Democracy’ is not synonymous with ‘liberty’—it can even be antonymous,[33] as we are increasingly discovering in Orwellian Britain and across the West. Pace Orwell, if you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face—and doing so in the name of ‘democracy’.

Endnotes
[1] Illustration by George Cruickshank (1792–1878), from Oliver Twist (1838) by Charles Dickens.

[2] Or slightly misquote: ‘But in Chartism it is the whole working class which arises against the bourgeoisie …’ (Engels, Friedrich. The Condition of the Working Class in England. 1845, tr. 1886. Penguin, 1987. 236.)

[3] The Parliament website’s page on ‘The Chartist Movement’ states incorrectly: ‘In April 1848 a third and final petition was presented.’ That third petition’s fraudulence is unmentioned.

[4] Chase, Malcolm. Chartism. A New History. Manchester University Press, 2007. 79

[5] Ibid., 205.

[6] Chase, M. (2018) What Did Chartism Petition For?: Mass Petitions in the British Movement for Democracy. Social Science History. ISSN 0145-5532.

[7] The 1841 census counted 4,071,876 adult males and 8,535,635 total adults on the British mainland, while the 1851 census counted 5,422,922 and 11,376,683 respectively. These two figures allow an average annual increase of 135,105 men and 284,105 men and women, and the annual populations are estimated based on that average. Census counts are sourced from ‘A vision of Britain through time’ (1841, 1851 England & Wales, and Scotland); petition figures from Chase (Chartism) and Slosson (Decline).

[8] ‘The six points were:—Universal Manhood Suffrage, Annual Parliaments, Vote by Ballot, No Property Qualification, Payment of Members, and Equal Voting Districts. To this bill was given the title of The People’s Charter.’ (Gammage, R.G. History of the Chartist Movement 1837–1854. London, 1894. 6.) While the word ‘man’ originally applied to both males and females and continues to do so in many contexts (e.g. ‘That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.’), the People’s Charter explicitly called for ‘every male inhabitant of these realms be entitled to vote for the election of a member of Parliament’ (Ibid., 411).

[9] ‘[L]et every man, woman and child sign the Petition … Go on, good men! Go on, virtuous women! Go on little children! Sign the Petition,’ Feargus O’Connor was recorded as saying in an address on 23 February 1839 (Northern Star, 23 Feb 1839 [bold added]). Henry Hunt was similarly recorded: ‘Let every man, woman and child sign the petition … Go on, good men! Go on, virtuous women! … Sign the petition!’ (London Dispatch, 24 Feb 1839. Cited in Thompson, Dorothy. The Chartists: Popular Politics in the Industrial Revolution. Pantheon, 1984. 120.). Over a quarter (24,000) of Birmingham’s 86,180 signatures to the first petition were from women (ibid.).

[10] Phrase from Thomas Carlyle’s Past and Present (New York, 1843. 21).
Although from a much later period, George MacDonald Fraser’s description of his fellow-soldiers in the run-up to the 1945 election in his memoir of his Far East service in WW2 is relevant:

They voted with high hopes, for a better, fairer Britain, and to some extent they got it. Mostly it was a vote to get “them” out—“them” being not just the Conservatives, but all that it was believed they stood for: wealth and privilege and authority as personified by civilian employers and Army officers (who, I suspect, were as likely to vote Labour as Tory, especially the younger men). … [T]hey were Labour to a man, but not necessarily socialists as the term is understood now. Their socialism was of a simple kind: they had known the ’thirties, and they didn’t want it again: the dole queue, the street corner, the true poverty of that time. They wanted jobs, and security, and a better future for their children than they had had—and they got that, and were thankful for it. … Still, the Britain they see in their old age is hardly “the land fit for heroes” that they envisaged—if that land existed in their imaginations, it was probably a place where the pre-war values co-existed with decent wages and housing. It was a reasonable, perfectly possible dream, and for a time it existed, more or less.

Whatever the view of the Soviet Union among C.P. Snow’s men of the left, there was a definite feeling at the grass roots of the British Army—or what I saw of it—that after Berlin and Tokyo, “next stop Moscow” would not be a bad idea. … Labour voters they might be, but for Communism few of them had any use.

(Quartered Safe Out Here. 1993. Harper, 2000. 263–4,281.)

At least as far as Fraser could discern from the people around him, the almost 12 million Labour voters of 1945 were not voting to transform Britain beyond recognition into some Brave New Socialist World but simply wanted the British way of life—Orwell’s ‘clatter of clogs in the Lancashire mill towns, the to-and-fro of the lorries on the Great North Road … the rattle of pin-tables in the Soho pubs, the old maids hiking to Holy Communion through the mists of the autumn morning … solid breakfasts and gloomy Sundays, smoky towns and winding roads, green fields and red pillar-boxes … The hanging judge, that evil old man in scarlet robe and horse-hair wig, whom nothing short of dynamite will ever teach what century he is living in, but who will at any rate interpret the law according to the books and will in no circumstances take a money bribe’(*)—to continue, just with the rough edges smoothed over. And as Fraser wrote, ‘It was a reasonable, perfectly possible dream’—and likely shared by those who signed the initial petitions then left the movement when realising the dream was achievable without upending the British Constitution. (* “The Lion and the Unicorn: Socialism and the English Genius” (1941). George Orwell: Essays. Penguin, 1984, 2000. 139,145.)

[11] Slosson, Decline, 137:

[T]he average annual wages in the cotton factories has been taken, not only because of the importance of the industry in itself and the unusually complete wages data we have for it, but also because it furnished so many recruits to the Chartists. The average of the wages from 1838 to 1841 inclusive has been chosen as the basis of comparison with rates of later years. The index of the cost of living has been taken by averaging the index numbers of the retail prices of foodstuffs listed on page 108 [123, Columbia University ed.], but weighting wheat as double because of its general use in bread.

[12] Although claimed to derive from the Parliament Act 1911, no such provision appears therein, and instead seems to have been implemented via Parliamentary Motion, 256 Ayes to 158 Noes.

[13] Pax Dickinson once perceptively wrote:
Pax Dickinson on democracy
[14] Clockwise from top right, images are: (1) members of the Women’s Land Army operate a horse-drawn plough; (2) a woman at work in an armaments factory during WW1; (3) two women operate a telephone exchange switchboard during WW1; (4) a British machine gunner who fought to the end; (5) troops blinded by gas await treatment, 10 April 1918 (IWM); (6) British soldiers in a waterlogged trench on the Western Front.

[15] Having taken men’s places to enable them to go on Active Service, the Feminist narrative then invites pity for those women later having to give up their jobs to the men fortunate enough to return; e.g. ‘The number of women in paid employment increased from 4.93 million to 6.19 million during the war and many wartime work opportunities were better paid and were more rewarding roles. Yet, when the troops were demobilised these women were expected to stand aside,’ writes Rosemary Wall here, a lecturer at the University of Hull. Wall’s words should be considered in the light of tales like this poor fellow:

Thomas Kelly, a private in the Gordon Highlanders, received a 100% disability pension after having both of his legs amputated above the knee. Kelly received 12 months of training in boot-repairing under the instruction of a private employer. However he wasn’t able to obtain employment as a boot repairer and was advised that he was unfit for such work. Despite the difficulties he experienced, Kelly turned his attention to opening his own business—a tobacconist and newsagent’s shop—in 1921, which he funded with his own money. When the business began to struggle, Kelly received a grant for £40 from the Harry Lauder Million Pound Fund for Maimed Men, Scottish Soldiers and Sailors. … Kelly eventually had to give up his business. A letter he sent to the Ministry of Labour shows that he was keen to continue in employment. After asking for training in basket making at Erskine House Kelly offered the following reminder:

‘I left a good job to join the soldiers, but now when I am maimed and not fit for manual labour, this country has no further use for us. Yet it was to be a country fit for heroes to live in. …’

(“Employing injured soldiers.” ‘Great Wharton’ at The National Archives.)

[16] War Office. Statistics of the Military Effort of the British Empire during the Great War. HMSO, 1922. 237. C.R.M.F. Cruttwell cites the figure of 744,702 for total military deaths (A History of the Great War 1914–1918 (Clarendon Press, 1934), 630). According to this page from Forces Network, including RN, RFC/RAF and Merchant Marine fatalities, provides a figure of 757,696.

[17]Women are “forgotten victims of First World War”.’ Pilling, Kim. Independent, 9 Nov 2010.

[18] [Sir George Cave, Conservative] ‘But the franchise is not given in any sense as a reward for public service, and if it were so given we should have to consider not only the case of the soldiers and sailors who are defending the country, but that of others who are doing admirable work for our defence, such as munition workers. …’ [Sir Frederick Banbury, Conservative] ‘If a boy of nineteen is fit to exercise a vote because he happens to be in the Army, then a boy of nineteen who is not in the Army—perhaps who has taken honours at Oxford—is equally fit; I think myself more fitted.’ However, their objections seem more tactical than principled, Banbury continuing, ‘My own opinion is that nobody is fit to exercise a vote at nineteen. … I think that it would be a very dangerous precedent to be introduced to lower the age from twenty-one to nineteen. It would certainly be followed by a demand that the age should be lowered for everybody. The right hon. Gentleman mentioned munition workers. They would certainly, rightly or wrongly, demand that they should have the vote just as well as anybody else. Therefore, I am glad that the Home Secretary has announced that he is unable to accept this Amendment.’

[19] As history turned out, they should have had to sit out the 1918, 1922 and 1923 General Elections.

[20] Those rejected for active service for being medically unfit merit no condemnation, nonetheless their condition places them in the position of requiring protection by those more able and it is reasonable that they not obtain privileges earned by those who risk what they do not—to do otherwise simply enshrines the ‘Free Rider Principle’ into law. Also, note the thoughts of one decorated British WW1 veteran:

Percy Lewis was my greatest friend before the War. … The War came and I joined up. Percy tried to do the same but was rejected. He had chronic valvular disease of the heart. He tried every recruiting officer in London and was consistently turned down. At last he wrote me he had been accepted in my own Regiment as A1 fit. I was naturally amazed at such a miracle until he let me into the secret.

… Percy got a friend of his about the same height and build as himself to present himself as a recruit in the name of Percy Lewis. He passed the doctor with flying colours and was duly attested and received instructions to report for duty on the following day. On the following day Percy turned up in person. In the rush of recruits passing through, no one noticed the substitution and Percy was duly drafted to the front, valvular disease of the heart and all. I always think of dear old Percy when some laddie or other explains solemnly how much he would have liked to fight for his country if only the doctors had let him. Where there’s a will there’s always a way. Percy’s heart may have been physically defective but it did not prevent him losing his life in the service of his King.

(Pollard, A.O. (Capt), VC, MC*, DCM. Fire-Eater. The Memoirs of a VC. 1932. Naval and Military Press, 2005. 66.)

[21] As William Coote (1863–1924), the Irish Unionist member for South Tyrone put it:

A Clause was inserted in the Representation of the People Bill penalising conscientious objectors—about 6,000 of them, I understand—in this country. There are no conscientious objectors in Ireland in the sense that they will not fight, because in both North and South they can hardly be accused of being conscientious objectors in that respect. But they are exempt from the purview of this Bill, and, while you penalise about 6,000 conscientious objectors, at the same moment you enfranchise about half a million men who are opposed to you and will not take service under you, and you are too much afraid to compel them to come in, but you leave them free. Your mercantile marine bring them food at the risk of life, and you protect them with your Fleet, and give them privileges you have not in this ​ country of food and other things.

(HC Deb (17 January 1918) vol. 101, col. 561–5)

[22] Cruttwell, History, 630.

[23] Cook, Chris & Stevenson, John. A History of British Elections Since 1689. Routledge, 2014. 118.

[24] Munro, W.B. (1925) The Reformer, the Boss, and the Leader. The American City, 33. 592.

[25] After every communist revolution the wealth of the nobility is seized in the name of the ‘People’ but it is not the ‘People’ driving around in the Rolls Royces but the Lenins and apparatchiks (аппаратчики); it is not the ‘People’ sailing about in the confiscated Royal yacht but the Raskolnikovs and Reissners (Orlando Figes describes how the ‘feudal lifestyle of the Communist bosses’ was one of the causes of the 1921 Kronstadt mutiny (A People’s Tragedy: The Russian Revolution 1891–1924. Pimloco, 1996. 761.)). Nor are the democratic-socialists of the modern West any less self-serving hypocrites: e.g. Diane Abbott who criticises others for sending their children to selective schools while sending her own to a fee-paying one. (The ‘Meet the new boss / Same as the old boss’ pattern is depicted amusingly in a Dave Allen sketch.)

[26] A concept that goes back to at least Rousseau and the French Revolution’s ‘Declaration of the Rights of Man and the Citizen’ (Article 6’s ‘volonté générale’ or general will).

[27] Swelling to ‘over 420,000 by the end of the year’: Bush, Julia. Women Against the Vote: Female Anti-Suffragism in Britain. Oxford University Press, 2007. 189.

[28] Harrison, Brian. Separate Spheres: The Opposition to Women’s Suffrage in Britain. 1978. Routledge, 2013. 120. An interesting table appears (p.20) in A.E. Metcalfe’s 1917 Woman’s Effort: A Chronicle of British Women’s Fifty Years’ Struggle for Citizenship (1865–1914):
Petitions for Women’s Suffrage 1890–1912
As much as can be gauged through petitions, it shows support for women’s suffrage waxing and waning, and like Chartism, was in decline at the very moment the Suffragettes were handed victory.

[29] Benjamin, Anne Myra. Women Against Equality: A History of the Anti-Suffrage Movement in the United States from 1895 to 1920. 2nd ed., Lulu Publishing, 2014. 4.

[30] See Table 4 in: Craig, F.W.S. (ed.) British Parliamentary Election Results 1885–1918. Palgrave Macmillan, 1974. 582–3.

[31] Just as today’s ‘left’ wing parties favour liberal immigration policies as immigrants generally vote for them, Labour in the UK and Democrat in the US. See: Green, A. (2011) Was Mass Immigration a Conspiracy? Migration Watch UK.; Campbell, R. (2018) The puzzle of the people least likely to vote Tory. BBC.; Patten E. & Lopez, M.H. (2013) Are unauthorized immigrants overwhelmingly Democrats? Pew Research Center.; Gimpel, J.G. (2014) Immigration’s Impact on Republican Political Prospects, 1980 to 2012. Center for Immigration Studies.

[32] Olmstead v. United States, 277 U.S. 438 (1928).

[33] So argues Plato in his Republic, Book 8, that tyranny inevitably follows democracy. Cf. remarks by Peter Schiff about monarchy on ‘London Real’ in 2013.


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