Prototype‎ > ‎

Ask the experts

Parvaneh from London asks:
If a minority of people come together to protest about First Past the Post (FPTP) to ask for a more representative election system for the UK, are they being undemocratic, and are they radicalised?

Our expert, historian Brendon Carter replies:

That’s a very good question.The government sees democracy as a core British value. However, how democratic is British democracy? It’s a question worth exploring.

I’ve heard a number of people complain that FPTP is an undemocratic system, and people feel underrepresented by it. If we look through British history, the chartists are an example of a group who went against the status quo and were perhaps mistreated by the government. Maybe there’s a danger that the same thing could happen again.

While Britain had a democracy of sorts in the early-nineteenth century, this was the time of ‘rotten boroughs’, and the chartists wanted votes for all men, they wanted secret ballots, they wanted anyone to be able to stand for parliament. To be honest they were turned into a criminalised and radicalised group.

Perhaps is worth debating whether it’s wrong to stop groups of people getting together to form a protest just because they are in a minority... They may have a valid point. I feel the rhetoric of the current government is a little dangerous.

<this was intended to be a podcast, the idea being that the audio, or series of audios if more stories were included in this section, could be downloaded/RSSed so that the audience of this project could engage with it away from the main website. However, due to me not being able to embed a podcast/RSS feed onto googlesites, I put the audio and picture together onto a video. Picture credit: Le Kizz (2005) 'Chartist Mural, Newport  - available under CC BY-NC 2.0>