I've just finished the book 'Britons - forging the nation 1707-1837' by Linda Colley which was not the easiest of reads.
In it she explains the reasons, during these critical 130 years, why the English, Scots and Welsh forged themselves into seeing themselves as British. In very brief outline she explains the unifying effects of our Protestant faith against the Catholic foe in France, our joint business and commercial interests and ties to the emerging Empire, our unified class structure and support for the monarchy, the growing position of women in the countries, the role of men in our armed forces and finally our joint endeavours in Catholic emancipation, the 1832 parliamentary reforms and the abolition of slavery.
It was during the end of this period that the Chartists were establishing themselves and she makes some interesting points about their formation that I thought were very relevant to our own agenda today. The six general points she makes are :-
1. They appealed to ALL parts of the UK constantly talking of the 'Nation' and the 'People'.
2. They clothed their activities in patriotic rhetoric and symbols employing mass open air rallies using a background of blarring patriotic music and emotive banners.
3. Their opponents became viewed as the corrupt existing order acting against the National interest.
4. Their use of petitions was extensive with 3000 submitted to Parliament between October 1830 to April 1831 alone.
5. Papers such as the Scotsman supported the cause with a daily column deliberately called 'The National Movement' reporting every detail of the activities of the reformers.
6. Without a revolution they realised that no measure of parliamentary reform was possible unless sponsored by the parties in Westminster hence their extensive lobbying of their MPs and parliament.
Much of these half a dozen points transpose to today with the added tool at our disposal being the internet. I believe the three key lessons we can learn from the above are :-
1. We must keep our movement relevant to the whole country and appeal to the true patriot.
2. We should label and accuse our opponents as the corrupt status quo.
3. All opinions to communicate our message should be employed with our initial concentration being the use of the internet. In time with Brexit out the way we need a specific platform dedicated to daily reporting of events and activity around the country. Once we have built up a head of steam we should not bulk from using the peaceful tactics as advocatd by Gene Sharp.
These are still early days but our cause is just and long over due and we will succeed so long as we keep going. and don't give up.