Campaigners, trade unionists and political 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 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.  

The Peterloo Massacre was a pivotal point in the struggle for extending the franchise, when armed forces were sent in to break up a huge gathering on St Peter’s Field in 1819. 18 were killed. 

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

They will be joined by trade unionists, academics, writers and activists.

The conference comes in the face of increasing public dissatisfaction with our democratic institutions. Recent research by the Hansard Society found 2/3 of people believe our governing needs ‘quite a lot’ or ‘a great deal’ of improvement [1].

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

‘This is What Democracy Looks Like’ will bring together leading voices to make the case for change and address the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead in campaigning for democratic reform. 

Lynn Henderson, National Officer for the PCS union and a spokesperson for Politics for the Many, said:

“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. Trust in our political system is at a record low and our institutions do not serve the majority. 

“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.”

Organiser Jonathon Shafi said:

“From the continued power of unelected Lords to government efforts making it harder to vote, power today lies in the hands of the few – with millions feeling ignored and alienated by politics.

“Once again those campaigning for a better politics will come together in Manchester to build a new movement for political reform. Each generation we have to rebuild democracy anew. As Parliament crumbles in more ways than one, that task is urgent.”

Confirmed speakers so far include:

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

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

Sign up link: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/this-is-what-democracy-looks-like-building-a-politics-for-the-many-tickets-61879653710

ENDS

[1] https://www.hansardsociety.org.uk/publications/reports/audit-of-political-engagement-16

Politics for the Many is the trade union campaign for political reform: http://politicsforthemany.co.uk

Its launch statement says:

From the Chartists pushing for universal suffrage, to the Scottish TUC’s role campaigning for a Scottish Parliament, trade unions have often been at the forefront of demands for a better democracy that puts working people at the centre.

100 years ago the Representation of the People Act was passed – extending the right to vote to many women and abolishing the requirement that men must hold property to vote.

Today, there is a new democratic frontier for trade unions in Britain: reforming Westminster’s creaking establishment. From a broken voting system, to an unelected House of Lords and denying 16 and 17 year olds the vote, Parliament is skewed towards a privileged few.

Trade unions exist for workers to stand up against concentrations of power and wealth. Today, our politics concentrates power to a handful of voters in wealthier swing seats, while throwing 22m votes in the electoral scrapheap. That’s a recipe for alienation and distrust.

Democracy is never a finished thing. We have to constantly struggle to remake democracy anew for each generation.

Today we are proud to launch Politics for the Many – the trade union campaign for political reform. If you are involved in a trade union, join us.

Nancy Platts – Politics for the Many Campaign Co-ordinator and former trade union advisor to Jeremy Corbyn
Mark Serwotka – General Secretary, PCS
Howard Beckett – Assistant General Secretary Unite (in a personal capacity)
Billy Hayes – Labour Campaign for Electoral Reform
Ian Hodson – President, BFAWU
Sam Tarry – Political Officer TSSA and President of CLASS 

Mike Kirby – Scottish Secretary, Unison

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