The Struggle For Democracy, How We Won It And How We Lost It

In the run up to the 2010 election this is your essential guide to how we got the vote, where representational democracy has gone wrong and possible alternatives to party democracy.

Recent British histories arrogantly claimed that the ‘we’ brought democracy to the Empire and ultimately the world in the 19th and 20th Centuries. Despite centuries of struggle to wrestle power from an elite few, the vote in Britain is still seen as a gift from the rulers to the people to help bring ‘us’ into the modern age. These days, the establishment of western style ‘democracy’ is used by Britain as a context for invasion, war and occupation.

In April this year through the media of public lectures, debates, history walks and other events, Bristol Radical History Group will be critically examining the British history of democracy and enfranchisement. Tracing a path from the English and French Revolutions via the Spenceans, the Chartists and the Suffragettes to New Labour we will be trying to answer the following questions:

  • How was the vote for everybody achieved?
  • Who wanted democracy and who didn’t? What was the composition of the movements that fought for the vote for all?
  • What did these movements actually want?
  • What were the alternatives?
  • What did we end up with?
  • Is democracy historically necessary for capitalism to exist?
  • Does ‘democracy’, as we know it, have a future?

Join us in uncovering the hidden history of democracy and enfranchisement in Britain. A perfect antidote to the misery of ‘election fever’.

Date Time Title Details With Link
, 2010 US NOW – Popular Democracy And The Internet The film US NOW which tells the stories of the online networks whose radical self-organising structures threaten to change the fabric of government forever and a discussion. Tom Arclight,
Chris Chalkley,
Roy Norris,
David Goldblatt
, 2010 The Chartists And Their Legacy The Chartists are commonly regarded as the first mass working class movement of the 19th Century. Their demands for the vote, secret ballots and the end of property qualifications are now standard […] Dorothy Thompson,
Owen Ashton,
Les James
, 2010 Mills & Bone Subverting Democracy Mills & Bone relate their experiences of contemporary interventions into the electoral process. Ian Bone,
Steve Mills
, 2010 Thomas Spence The Forgotten Revolutionary Spence's ideas and their relevance to the present day and tracing the fate, after Spence's death, of this alternative current in English radicalism. Steve Poole
, 2010 How Protest And Riot Won Working Men The Vote The unrest that proceeded the 'Great Reform' of 1832 and an analyses of the popular pressure which led to the later Reform Acts of 1867 and 1884. Roger Ball,
Dave Cullum
, 2010

Opening The Archives Your chance to view primary source material related to the struggle for democracy. Jane Bradley,
Dawn Dyer
, 2010 Suffragette! Votes for Ladies: The Suffragette Movement 1903-1914. They Fought for it, They Starved for it: THE VOTE Anny Cullum,
Dawn Dyer
, 2010 ‘Every Cook Can Govern’ From Athens To Westminster? Follow a historical path from ancient Athens via Anglo-Saxon participatory democracy through to the French Revolution. And Is representative democracy necessary for modern capitalism to exist? Daniel Bennett,
Tony Dyer,
Dave Cullum
, 2010 Leon Rosselson And Robb Johnson The Liberty Tree The Liberty Tree is an evening of contemporary songs reflecting the revolutionary ideas of Thomas Paine. Leon Rosselson,
Robb Johnson,
Eirlys Rhiannon
, 2010 Bristol Radical History Walk Thomas Clarkson, James Nayler, St. Wulfstan, Dorothy Hazard and various Bristol Riots. Mark Steeds,
Roger Ball,
Steve Mills
, 2010 Mock Election Bonfire Night To round off this series of events come and stick two fingers up at electoral politics in 2010. Write your own manifesto! Bring and burn an effigy of your most despised public figure! Join us for […] Eirlys Rhiannon
Election Special 2010 Programme Outside
Programme Outside
Electiom Special 2010 Programme Inside
Programme Inside
Election Special Shark Poster - Colour
Election Special Shark Poster – Colour
Election Special Shark Poster - B&W
Election Special Shark Poster – B&W
Queen Victoria Election Special Poster - Colour
Queen Victoria Election Special Poster – Colour
Queen Victoria Election Special Poster - B&W
Queen Victoria Election Special Poster – B&W
Election Special Bollot Poster
Election Special Bollot Poster
Election Special Dragoon Poster
Election Special Dragoon Poster

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