"Fatally flawed from the inside" how valid is this argument against the Chartist movement?

Authors Avatar

“Fatally flawed from the inside” how valid is this argument against the Chartist movement?

The Chartists were not fatally flawed from the inside, because they did not fail.  The fact that none of they’re six political objectives were never met within their lifetime just displays how troublesome and intolerant external really conditions were.  However, There were major internal dilemmas that hindered the progress of the Chartists such as a lack of co-ordination, the Chartists’ image of violence and the forged signatures for the national petition for reform.

Only recently has the sovereignty and effectiveness of Chartism been re-evaluated, previous historians have dismissed the Chartism movement as simply being a political mob, as R.G. Gammage said in 1854 “He had no wish for that body to be anything more than a mob”.  This illustrates how quickly an ex-chartist leader was to criticize the movement he was once heavily involved in himself!  

To see the full picture one has to look at the movement with hindsight.  No historian including myself can seriously conclude that there were no internal problems facing the Chartists because there were.  There was a massive lack of co-ordination which is shown in the Newport rising where fourteen Chartists were 1,000 miners marched into Newport to demand the release of Henry Vincent, fourteen were killed.  Many historians sounded very much like Lenin when conveying the view that the working class weren’t ready for the vote, which is effectively a polite way of describing them as “useful idiots”.  One of Chartism’s greatest achievements is the fact that it raised political awareness among the working class, a feat that had previously gone untouched.  A massive blunder that may have cost the Chartism its effectiveness is the forging of the Signatures on a petition sent to Parliament which supposedly contained 3,000,000 names on but was later revealed to contain only 1,000,000 names which weren’t forged, despite this fact there were still 1,000,000 signatures which is unprecedented for its time, but it was too late for the Chartists, the 1,000,000 names didn’t matter anymore, it was the fact that 2,000,000 names were forged which ultimately led to the demise of the chartists, they had lost the support of the greater public.

Join now!

One has to take each argument with a pinch of salt because they both have valid points.  To get a proper overview of the Chartism movement you have to take into account the external environment, which still viewed ‘Democracy’ as a dirty word and a parliament that was still made up of the upper class, gentry and the aristocracy.  If it weren’t for the 1832 reform act, the world we live in may have been very different; it introduced the problems and brought them to the table just like the Chartists tried to.  The fact that none of the ...

This is a preview of the whole essay