I believe there are two reasons why, since its conception in 2012, THA hasn’t yet progressed to become a mass movement. The first, is that the vast majority of people are still too comfortable in their double glazed, centrally heated houses with two cars outside. The second, is that from a historical perspective such radical political reforms, as contained in our six demands, were never likely to be realised quickly. It is this second reason that I want to enlarge on this week.
Big ideas take time to implement and history is littered with ideas that come and go because their founders are trying to run a marathon at a sprint.
The Chartist movement (1838-1857), from whom we took inspiration, actually only lasted 19 years but in that time, they left an indelible mark on our politicians who over the next 20 -73 years enacted five of their six demands. However, what one must also factor into the time taken, for each demand to be realised, is that the general dissatisfaction with the system of governance started some 70 years before the Chartists officially started. The Reform Act of 1832, also before the Chartists formed, being a key component of the political reforms that were needed.
For the record let me list the Chartists demands and the year of enacted and the time taken, form 1838, for each to become law.
1. 1858 – No property qualification for MPs – 20 years
2. 1872 - A secret ballot – 34 years
3. 1884 - A vote for every man over 21 – 46 years
4. 1885 – Constituencies of equal size - 47 years
5. 1911 – Payment for MPs – 73 years
6. Annual General Elections – never enacted – thankfully!
Another topical example is the time taken for the formation of the Common Market and EU. Monet first thought of the idea in 1917 and as we know the European Economic Community came into being in 1957 some 40 years later and the EU some 36 years after that with the Maastricht Treaty.
As I said above those with a big idea, but in a hurry, never seem to last the pace and our own UKIP is testimony to that and the 5 Star Movement in Italy is, so I read this week, on the wane with their leader Beppe Grillo bailing out, and with disarming candour, saying the real need is to create a “new people” and not a new ruling class which was his initial aim. Two further points to make here is that new political parties, competing with the status quo, seldom if ever break through the existing system while mass people movements, pressurizing existing politicians of all colours, do seem to work over time.
In conclusion people with a clear vision set about laying firm foundations and then soldier on, regardless of the time needed, until they hopefully see their dreams realised. However, some don’t live to see their dreams fulfilled and one can wonder what would have happened to the 170 parks designed by Lancelot (Capability) Brown had he expected to see the finished results of his work in his life time.
As the saying goes Rome wasn't built in a day.