The first thing I learnt, after reading ‘Chartism a new history’ by Malcolm Chase, is that political change is a slow process and that five of the Chartists six demands took between 10 and 63 years to become enacted – fortunately their demand for annual general elections never materialised.
The second realisation I’ve registered is that the majority of the people are still too comfortable which was summed up nicely at the end of the editorial, in the Christmas edition of the Spectator: -
“There is no doubt that the old rules of western politics are being rewritten, the clichés disproved the old electoral playbooks abandoned. But this is not in itself a reason to panic. There can be a tendency amongst politicians to confuse their own disorientation with the end of the world - when, in fact, the world is doing rather well. By most objective measures of human progress, this has been yet again the best year ever. It might go against our instincts and against much of the news agenda – but most of us have had firmer grounds for expecting, or for wishing others a happy new year.”Now I grant you this is rather OTT but in principle it is true that the ‘people’, on whom we rely to progress our movement, are not sufficiently bothered to take to the street in protest. However, when presented with an opportunity on a plate, as they were on 23rd June, then they clearly are able to muster enough energy to let our, out of touch, politicians know what they really want but then voting in a referendum is really not too taxing.
The third point I’d make, which leads on from the above two points, is that history shows us that our politicians never volunteer to give up their privileges or power. They don’t wake up one day and say ‘I’ve suddenly realised that the way I control and dominate others is wrong. I must change my ways. So, I’ll initiate a variety of changes to our governance to give the people more power over their lives.’ That is NEVER how it works. History is full of examples how power has to be fought from those that have it.
So, in conclusion, until people become more uncomfortable, and therefore have the incentive to take positive action, then all those who support our aims can do is to help ensure The Harrogate Agenda’s pilot light stays lit so we are there ready and waiting when needed.