On 16 August 1819, armed cavalry charged into a peaceful gathering of men, women and children who had assembled in St Peter’s Fields, Manchester, to demand political representation.18 people were killed and several hundred were injured. The event is widely seen as pivotal in the struggle for democratic representation.
A new report, Peterloo 200, by Owen Winter, LCER's youth officer, commemorates the 200th anniversary of Peterloo. The report sets out the history of the Peterloo massacre and links the struggles for representation 200 years ago with present-day campaigns for proportional representation.
From the Preface of Peterloo 200, by Jonathan Reynolds MP and Rupa Huq MP:
Labour remains the only socialist party in the developed world to support the use of FPTP for general elections. It is time for us to learn from our sister parties and embrace PR. Indeed, this is already happening. One third of Labour MPs have come out in favour of PR. At the time of writing, 69 Constituency Labour Parties have passed pro-PR motions since 2017, with dozens more debates scheduled. Two affiliated unions now support PR as policy, and one of the two unions with policy against PR is reviewing its position following calls from its membership.
200 years on from the Peterloo Massacre, we should remember and celebrate those who fought for democracy before us. We should take inspiration from their understanding that only through greater democracy can we transform society. We hope you will consider the arguments and evidence in this report and join us in calling for a democracy fit for the 21st century.
Jonathan Reynolds is Labour and Co-operative MP for Stalybridge and Hyde, and Shadow Economic Secretary to the Treasury; Rupa Huq is Labour MP for Ealing Central and Acton