English History Rebellions & Riots
Whilst many today think that in England no rebels existed or that people never rebelled and that any such rebellions were always done peacefully over a cup of tea – it may surprise some to discover just how bloody armed insurrection was in the past – even in modern times the Miners Strike where the police and army employed brutal tactics.
Even within the ranks of the early Chartist movement people were arming themselves – for open rebellion – a fact often swept under the carpet by those armchair rebels – who much like the way things are now – and will not do anything of risk to make for change. Today the modern Chartist Movement bares no resemblance to what it was. It is without leadership – and influenced by pacifists – weak-minded men.
Let’s look at the rebellions which have occurred in English history they have been bloody they took up arms to kill people – and there was always much betrayal – and of course an elite that always crushed the hopes of men and women who’s one desire was to break their chains.
Most of our rebellions by the common people have occurred quite late in our history – people did not welcome the Danes or Romans or the Danes there was no nlightenment revolution in the 18th century and Britain was not affected by the wave of European revolutions in 1848.
Yet there was violence when the Parliament ignored the will of ordinary people for reform, such as when the Reform Act was rejected by the conservative House of Lords in 1831. The Chartist movement to enlarge the franchise subsequent to this did contain radical elements, but was notable for the generally rather polite way in which it pressed its demand for reforms, mainly via petitions of hundreds of thousands of people – but not all were so polite.
Chartism was launched in 1838 by a series of enormous meetings in Birmingham, Glasgow and the north of England. A huge meeting was held on Kersal Moor, Kersal near Salford, Lancashire on 24 September 1838 with speakers from all over the country. Speaking in favour of manhood suffrage, Joseph Rayner Stephens declared that Chartism was a “knife and fork, a bread and cheese question”.
These words indicate the importance of economic factors in the launch of Chartism. If, as the movement came together, there were different priorities amongst local leaders, the Charter and the Star soon created a national, and largely united, campaign of national protest. John Bates, an activist, recalled:
There were [radical] associations all over the county, but there was a great lack of cohesion. One wanted the ballot, another manhood suffrage and so on … The radicals were without unity of aim and method, and there was but little hope of accomplishing anything. When, however, the People’s Charter was drawn up … clearly defining the urgent demands of the working class, we felt we had a real bond of union; and so transformed our Radical Association into local Chartist centres .
The movement organised a National Convention in London in early 1839 to facilitate the presentation of the first petition. Delegates used the term MC, Member of Convention, to identify themselves; the convention undoubtedly saw itself as an alternative parliament. In June 1839, the petition, signed by 1.3 million working people, was presented to the House of Commons, but MPs voted, by a large majority, not to hear the petitioners.
At the Convention, there was talk of a general strike or “sacred month”. In the West Riding of Yorkshire and in south Wales, anger went even deeper, and underground preparations for a rising were undoubtedly made.
Newport Rising – Several outbreaks of violence ensued, leading to arrests and trials. One of the leaders of the movement, John Frost, on trial for treason, claimed in his defence that he had toured his territory of industrial Wales urging people not to break the law, although he was himself guilty of using language that some might interpret as a call to arms.
Dr William Price of Llantrisant—more of a maverick than a mainstream Chartist— described Frost as putting “a sword in my hand and a rope around my neck”. Hardly surprisingly, there are no surviving letters outlining plans for insurrection, but physical force Chartists had undoubtedly started organising.
By early autumn men were being drilled and armed in south Wales, and also in the West Riding. Secret cells were set up, covert meetings were held in the Chartist Caves at Llangynidr and weapons were manufactured as the Chartists armed themselves. Behind closed doors and in pub back rooms, plans were drawn up for a mass protest.
On the night of 3–4 November 1839 Frost led several thousand marchers through South Wales to the Westgate Hotel, Newport, Monmouthshire, where there was a confrontation. It seems that Frost and other local leaders were expecting to seize the town and trigger a national uprising.
The result of the Newport Rising was a disaster for Chartism. The hotel was occupied by armed soldiers. A brief, violent, and bloody battle ensued. Shots were fired by both sides, although most contemporaries agree that the soldiers holding the building had vastly superior firepower. The Chartists were forced to retreat in disarray: more than twenty were killed, at least another fifty wounded.
Testimonies exist from contemporaries, such as the Yorkshire Chartist Ben Wilson, that Newport was to have been the signal for a national uprising. Despite this significant setback the movement remained remarkably buoyant, and remained so until late 1842. Whilst the majority of Chartists, under the leadership of Feargus O’Connor, concentrated on petitioning for Frost, Williams and William Jones to be pardoned, significant minorities in Sheffield and Bradford planned their own risings in response.
Samuel Holberry led an abortive rising in Sheffield on 12 January; and on 26 January Robert Peddie attempted similar action in Bradford. In both Sheffield and Bradford spies had kept magistrates aware of the conspirators’ plans, and these attempted risings were easily quashed.
Frost and two other Newport leaders, Jones and Williams, were transported. Holberry and Peddie received long prison sentences with hard labour; Holberry died in prison and became a Chartist martyr.
The depression of 1842 led to a wave of strikes, as workers responded to the wage cuts imposed by employers. Calls for the implementation of the Charter were soon included alongside demands for the restoration of wages to previous levels. Working people went on strike in 14 English and 8 Scottish counties, principally in the Midlands, Lancashire, Cheshire, Yorkshire, and the Strathclyde region of Scotland.
Typically, strikers resolved to cease work until wages were increased “until the People’s charter becomes the Law of the Land”. How far these strikes were directly Chartist in inspiration “was then, as now, a subject of much controversy”.
The Leeds Mercury headlined them “The Chartist Insurrection”, but suspicion also hung over the Anti-Corn Law League that manufacturers among its members deliberately closed mills to stir-up unrest. At the time, these disputes were collectively known as the Plug Plot as, in many cases, protesters removed the plugs from steam boilers powering industry to prevent their use.
Amongst historians writing in the 20th century, the term General Strike was increasingly used. Some modern historians prefer the description “strike wave”. In contrast, Mick Jenkins in his The General Strike of 1842 offers a Marxist interpretation, showing the strikes as highly organized with sophisticated political intentions. Unrest began in the Potteries of Staffordshire in early August, spreading north to Cheshire and Lancashire (where at Manchester a meeting of the Chartist national executive endorsed the strikes on the 16th).
The strikes had begun spreading in Scotland and West Yorkshire from the 13th. There were outbreaks of serious violence, including property destruction and the ambushing of police convoys, in the Potteries and the West Riding.
Though the government deployed soldiers to suppress violence, it was the practical problems in sustaining an indefinite stoppage that ultimately defeated the strikers. The drift back to work began on 19 August. Only Lancashire and Cheshire were still strike-bound by September, the Manchester powerloom weavers being the last to return to work on 26 September.
The state hit back. Several Chartist leaders, including O’Connor, George Julian Harney, and Thomas Cooper were arrested. During the late summer of 1842 hundreds were incarcerated – in the Potteries alone 116 men and women went to prison. A smaller number, but still amounting to many dozens – such as William Ellis, who was convicted on perjured evidence – were transported.
However, the government’s most ambitious prosecution, personally led by the Attorney General, of O’Connor and 57 others (including almost all Chartism’s national executive) failed: none were convicted of the serious charges, and those found guilty of minor offences were never actually sentenced.
Cooper alone of the national Chartist leadership was convicted (at a different trial), having spoken at strike meetings in the Potteries. He was to write a long poem in prison called “The Purgatory of Suicides.”
Despite this second set of arrests, Chartist activity continued. Beginning in 1843, O’Connor suggested that the land contained the solution to workers’ problems. This idea evolved into the Chartist Co-operative Land Company, later called the National Land Company.
Workers would buy shares in the company, and the company would use those funds to purchase estates that would be subdivided into 2, 3, and 4 acre (8,000, 12,400 and 16,000 m²) lots. Between 1844 and 1848, five estates were purchased, subdivided, and built on, and then settled by lucky shareholders, who were chosen by lot.
Unfortunately for O’Connor, in 1848 a Select Committee was appointed by Parliament to investigate the financial viability of the scheme, and it was ordered that it be shut down. Cottages built by the Chartist Land Company are still standing and inhabited today in Oxfordshire, Worcestershire, Gloucestershire and on the outskirts of London. Rosedene, a Chartist cottage in Dodford, Worcestershire, is owned and maintained by the National Trust, and is open to visitors by appointment.
Candidates embracing Chartism also stood on numerous occasions in general elections. There were concerted campaigns in the election of 1841 and election of 1847, when O’Connor was elected for Nottingham. Feargus became the only Chartist to be elected an MP; it was a remarkable victory for the movement.
More commonly, Chartist candidates participated in the open meetings, called hustings, that were the first stage of an election. They frequently won the show of hands at the hustings, but then withdrew from the poll to expose the deeply undemocratic nature of the electoral system.
This is what Harney did in a widely reported challenge against Lord Palmerston in Tiverton, Devon in 1847. The last Chartist challenge at a parliamentary poll took place at Ripon in 1859.
With O’Connor elected an MP and Europe swept by revolution, it was hardly surprising that Chartism re-emerged as a powerful force in 1848. On 10 April 1848, a new Chartist Convention organised a mass meeting on Kennington Common, which would form a procession to present a third petition to Parliament.
The estimate of the number of attendees varies depending on the sources (O’Connor said 300,000; the government, 15,000; The Observer newspaper suggested 50,000). Historians say 150,000.
The authorities were well aware that the Chartists had no intention of staging an uprising, but were still intent on a large-scale display of force to counter the challenge. 100,000 special constables were recruited to bolster the police force. In any case, the meeting was peaceful.
The military had threatened to intervene if working people made any attempt to cross the Thames, and the petition was delivered to Parliament by a small group of Chartist leaders. The Chartists declared that their petition was signed by 6 million people, but House of Commons clerks announced that it was a lesser figure of 1.9 million.
In truth, the clerks could not have done their work in the time allocated to them; but their figure was widely reported, along with some of the pseudonyms appended to the petition such as “Punch” and “Sibthorp” (an ultra-Tory MP), and the credibility of Chartism was undermined.
After the defeat of April 1848, there was an increase rather than a decline in Chartist activity. In Bingley, Yorkshire, a group of “physical force” Chartists led by Isaac Ickeringill were involved in a huge fracas at the local magistrates’ court and later were prosecuted for rescuing two of their compatriots from the police.
The high-point of the Chartist threat to the establishment in 1848 came not in on 10 April but in June, when there was widespread drilling and arming in the West Riding the devising of plots in London.
The banning of public meetings, and new legislation on sedition and treason (rushed through Parliament immediately after 10 April), drove a significant number of Chartists (including the black Londoner William Cuffay) into the planning of insurrection. Cuffay was to be transported, dying in Australia
O’Connor’s egotism and vanity have been identified as causes in the failure of Chartism. This was a common theme in histories of the movement until the 1970s. However, since the 1980s, historians (notably Dorothy Thompson) have emphasised the indispensable contribution O’Connor made to Chartism.
Further, she argues that the causes of the movement’s decline are too complex to be blamed on one man. Historians have recently shown interest in Chartism after 1848. The final National Convention—attended by only a handful—was held in 1858. Throughout the 1850s, there remained pockets of strong support for the Chartist cause in places such as the Black Country.
Ernest Charles Jones became a leading figure in the National Charter Association during its years of decline, together with George Julian Harney, and helped to give the Chartist movement a clearer socialist direction. Jones and Harney knew Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels personally. Marx and Engels at the same time commented on the Chartist movement and Jones’ work in their letters and articles.
In Kennington, the Brandon Estate features a large mural by Tony Hollaway, commissioned by London County Council’s Edward Hollamby in the early 1960s, commemorating the Chartists’ meeting on 10 April 1848.
Chartism did not directly generate any reforms. It was not until 1867 that urban working men were admitted to the franchise under the Reform Act 1867, and not until 1918 that full manhood suffrage was achieved. Slowly the other points of the People’s Charter were granted: secret voting was introduced in 1872 and the payment of MPs under the Parliament Act of 1911.
Annual elections remain the only Chartist demand not to be implemented. Participation in the Chartist Movement filled some working men with self-confidence: they learned to speak publicly, to send their poems and other writings off for publication, to be able, in short, to confidently articulate the feelings of working people. Many former Chartists went on to become journalists, poets, ministers, and councillors.
Political elites feared the Chartists in the 1830s and 1840s as a dangerous threat to national stability. In the Chartist stronghold of Manchester, the reform movement undermined the political power of the old Tory-Anglican elite that had controlled civic affairs. However, the reformers of Manchester were themselves factionalised.
After 1848, as the movement faded, its demands appeared less threatening and were gradually enacted by other reformers. After 1848, middle class parliamentary Radicals continued to press for an extension of the franchise in such organisations as the National Parliamentary and Financial Reform Association and the Reform Union.
By the late 1850s, the celebrated John Bright was agitating in the country for franchise reform. However, working class radicals had not gone away. The Reform League campaigned for manhood suffrage in the 1860s, and included former Chartists amongst its ranks. Chartism has also been regarded by historians as a forerunner to the UK Labour Party.
After the Irish War of Independence culminated in Ireland gaining its independence in 1922, armed insurrection generally gave way to non-violent political movements more like that of the Chartists. During the First World War, as the British government attempted to keep its huge empire together, the labour movement, suffragists and Irish Republicans all achieved significant progress within a short time.
That is not to say that government mismanagement and poor decision making never produces a violent backlash any more. The Brixton Riots, Miners’ Strikes, Poll Tax Riots and more recently the Student Fees Protests and even the 2011 London Riots were all symptoms of the disenfranchisement of particular groups which the government of the time were economically burdening or socially excluding.
What can be said of these early grass roots Chartists that they were all very keen to overthrow the state by violent means – getting arms drilling themselves to form local militia groups engaging in bloody battles with police and army and for many years the elite thought that the Chartists were a threat to their authority.
Yet the established elite have managed to demonstrate a remarkable ability to slowly grant reforms in order to avert revolutions yet still keep it’s grip on the common man. Today 2018 The New Chartist Movement – British Constitution Group – are nothing like their former Chartists. The lion has been reborn a lamb letters to MPs – and of course tea and biscuits.
The British people have been involved in open rebellion throughout our history and have had many riots – mainly against the established elite. British people have always engaged in rebellion and rioting on our streets – though many today like to bury their head in the sands and ignore this fact. For those of you who doubt this – who claim no rebellions or riots I offer you this list:
43–51 — Caratacus sets up guerrilla resistance to the Roman invasion. Caratacus was eventually captured and pardoned by Emperor Claudius, dying in exile in Italy.
61 — Iceni rebellion against Roman rule under Boudica.
83–84 — Caledonian resistance to Roman rule . After conquering the south of Britain, they faced tough resistance from a Caledonian confederation led by Calgacus, the first Highlander to be recorded in history. Tacitus invented a speech he is supposed to have given before being defeated by the Romans in which Calgacus is supposed to have said of Rome, “they make a desert and call it peace.”
367–8 — The Great Conspiracy – A coordinated attack on Roman Britain by invading Picts, Saxons and Franks
450–550 — Romano Celtic resistance to Anglo-Saxon occupation – If you read the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, the period after the Germanic invasions of Britain reads like an extended slaughter of the Celtic natives. Ambrosius Aurelianus was a Romano-Celtic warlord who commanded the victorious Britons at the Battle of Badon Hill, as related by Gildas in his 6th century work On the Ruin and Conquest of Britain. The Saxons had pushed the Britons further and further west until this battle, but it was to be a temporary halt to the Germanic conquest of the islands. The story of King Arthur dates from this period and is probably inspired by it.
870–80 — Alfred the Great – Viking invasions lead to the Danish conquest of all the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms of the Heptarchy period, leaving only Wessex under Alfred. Managing to unite the remaining Anglo-Saxons, he retook London and established a border with the Danes along the Thames. This is not traditionally seen as a rebellion, but is a good example of a successful resistance to conquest.
1068–75 — Rebellions against the Norman Conquest This period included a number of violent confrontations including the Siege of Exeter, the Harrying of the North, the rebellion of Hereward the Wake and the Revolt of the Earls.
1135–1154 — The Anarchy – A succession crisis following the reign of Henry I, between his daughter Matilda and nephew Stephen de Blois — led to rebellions by Scottish, Welsh and English nobles against Stephen’s rule.
1211 — Welsh Uprising – Llywelyn ap Iorwerth, after recovering from a military defeat to King John, managed to unite many of the Welsh princes and win back his lands.
1215–17 — First Barons’ War – After the unpopular King John was forced to make legal concessions to the nobility with the signing of The Magna Carta, both sides reneged on their promises. The Barons invited Prince Louis of France to intervene, and he occupied London and much of the rest of the country. King John died and his 9-year old son was crowned Henry III. He reissued the Magna Carta and many nobles switched to his side and helped to defeat Louis, who gave up his claim to the English throne in 1217.
1321–2 — Despenser Wars – A rebellion of the Marcher Lords against Edward II.
1381 — The Peasants’ Revolt – After the Black Death in the 1340s, the peasant population was greatly reduced. The government tried to fix wages at pre-plague levels and levy poll taxes to pay for the Hundred Years War with France, which was going badly and becoming very expensive. The rebels marched from Kent into London, where Richard II sought to calm tensions by agreeing to many of their demands. However, an argument broke out between the rebel leader Wat Tyler and the King’s retinue, who stabbed and decapitated Tyler, before displaying his head on a pike at London Bridge, ending the rebellion.
1400–15 — Welsh Revolt – Owain Glyndŵr, the last native Prince of Wales, rose in rebellion against the usurper King Henry IV, the Welsh barons having been loyal to his predecessor Richard II.
1450 — Kent Rebellion of Jack Cade – Despite Cade’s attempt to keep his men under control once the rebel forces had entered London they began to loot. The citizens of London turned on the rebels and forced them out of the city in a bloody battle on London Bridge. To end the bloodshed the rebels were issued pardons by the king and told to return home. Cade fled but was later caught on 12 July 1450 by Alexander Iden, a future High Sheriff of Kent. As a result of the skirmish with Iden, Cade was mortally wounded before reaching London for trial.
1455–87 — The Wars of the Roses – Aristocratic feuding between rival branches of the royal family erupted in a number of bouts of open warfare, due to the weak rule of Henry VI and the expense of England’s unsuccessful bid to hold its territory in France. The Lancastrians under Henry Tudor eventually defeated the last Yorkist king, Richard III in 1485. The depletion of the aristocracy caused by the wars may have accelerated the decline of Feudalism while increasing government centralisation and the power of the merchant classes.
1497 — The Cornish Rebellion – Impoverished peasants from Cornwall rose up against the imposition of war taxes to support Henry VII’s campaign in Scotland. These taxes overturned rights granted to the Cornish Stannary Parliament, which exempted Cornwall from all taxes of 10ths or 15ths of income. The rebels marched to London, growing to an army of 15,000 but unsure how to proceed with the refusal of the King to concede to their demands. They eventually met a royal army of 25,000 at Deptford and without the supporting cavalry or artillery, were easily defeated. The leaders of the rebellion were hung at Tyburn, now Marble Arch.
1534–5 — Silken Thomas Rebellion, Kildare, Ireland – Thomas Fitzgerald was left as Deputy Governor of Ireland when his father was summoned to London by Henry VIII. Hearing rumours that his father had been executed, he renounced his allegiance to Henry and rebelled against the crown. Fitzgerald did not win the local support he expected and was eventually arrested and executed.
1536 — Lincolnshire Rising and the Pilgrimage of Grace – Protests against the policies of Henry VIII and the confiscation of monastic lands. The risings were suppressed and the leaders executed in 1537.
1549 — Kett’s Rebellion – Rebels opposing land enclosures stormed Norwich and defeated a small government force before being defeated by an army under the Earl of Warwick.
1549 — Prayer Book Rebellion – A rebellion in Devon and Cornwall against the introduction of the Church of England’s Book of Common Prayer.
1554 — Wyatt’s Rebellion – Sir Thomas Wyatt and other Protestant noblemen led a popular uprising against Mary I’s decision to marry the Catholic Philip of Spain.
1569 — Rising of the North – An unsuccessful attempt by Catholic northern Earls to depose Elizabeth I
1594–1603 — Nine Years War in Ireland – An uprising of Irish chieftains against the English. The chieftains were defeated and exiled, and the English decided to colonise Ulster with settlers from the mainland.
1605 — The Gunpowder Plot – Catholic gentry attempted to assassinate James I by blowing up the House of Lords, but the plot was foiled and its leaders executed.
1607–46 — The Levellers – In the Midland Revolt of 1607, the name was used to refer to those who levelled hedges in enclosure riots — against the enclosure of common land. The revolt culminated in the Newton Rebellion where 40–50 were killed when local landowners engaged rioters on 8 June who were attempting to remove enclosures.
Leveller ideas percolated in radical groups within Cromwell’s New Model Army during the English Civil War. Army agitators published a pamphlet which led to the Putney Debates, in which the army radicals were invited to state their case before a general Council of the Army, led by Cromwell himself.
Cromwell and his supporters refused to consider the overthrow of the King and the principle of universal male suffrage. The debates led to the publication of the Agreement of the People, setting out the Levellers’ demands. However, Charles I escaped captivity, restarting the Civil War, and after he was executed in 1649, Cromwell refused the right of the Army to petition Parliament and crushed Leveller opposition within the army.
1641 — Irish Rebellion – An attempted coup by Irish Catholic gentry turned into an ethnic and religious conflict between Protestants and Catholics called the Irish Confederate Wars.
1642–51 — English Civil War – Landed gentry fought with Royalist aristocracy over the manner of government of the state, with the Parliamentarians under Cromwell eventually victorious over Charles I’s absolutist monarchy.
1688 — The Glorious Revolution – A propagandistic misnomer for a royal coup replacing James II with the Protestant William and Mary
1688–1788 — Jacobite rebellions – Supporters of the deposed Stuart dynasty attempted a number of uprisings and re-invasions with French support, including the Williamite War in Ireland and the Dundee Rising in Scotland.
1798 — Irish Rebellion – The Society of United Irishmen, comprised of both Protestant and Catholic reformers inspired by the French and American Revolutions, attempted to rebel with French support. A French army failed to land in Ireland in 1796, but despite a large British military presence, widespread rural resistance occurred in 1798 with a small French force landing in the North West and creating the short-lived Republic of Connacht before being defeated by British forces.
1803 — Irish Rebellion of Robert Emmet – An abortive republican revolution led by a Protestant Irish nationalist. It was badly organised and Emmet was arrested and executed for treason, making a famous final speech which inspired other Irish republicans.
1817 — Pentrich Rising – A small force of men marched on Nottingham with a set of unfocused revolutionary demands. The rising was probably encouraged by government spies trying to bring revolutionaries into the open and was easily crushed.
1819 — Peterloo Massacre Cavalry charged a protest of 60–80,000 protesting for parliamentary reform, killing 15.
1820 — Scottish Insurrection or Radical War – Revolutionary demands suppressed during the Napoleonic wars returned and were exacerbated by an economic downturn. A week of strikes and unrest were easily put down, and it was again clear that government agents had encouraged dissent to bring radicals into the open after paranoia surrounding a conspiracy to assassinate government ministers in London.
1831 — Second Reform Bill riots – Following the rejection of the Reform Bill which would have increased the franchise, public riots broke out in many cities, with rioters occupying Bristol for three days.
1838–58 — Chartism – The Reform Act, while producing some electoral reform and enfranchising more middle class people, only encouraged those still disenfranchised to ask for their rights. The Chartists wanted to extend the suffrage to all men, which was proposed with the 1838 People’s Charter. This was not a rebellion in the sense of an armed insurrection, but a political movement making demands which were eventually realised without the use of violence.
1839 — Newport Rising – Chartist sympathisers marched on Newport to free imprisoned Chartists. Troops opened fire, killing 22 protesters, and the leaders were given death sentences which were later commuted to transportation for life.
1867 — Fenian Rising in Ireland – The Irish Republican Brotherhood attempted to gain US support for a general insurrection, but it was poorly planned and quickly suppressed by the British government.
1903–18 — Women’s Suffrage Movement – The foundation of the Women’s Social and Political Union by Emmeline Pankhurst in 1903 began a more militant phase of the call for votes for women, which had been growing through the end of the 19th century. The Suffragettes used militant tactics like vandalism, arson, bombing and hunger strikes, with one member committing public suicide by throwing herself under the King’s horse at a race in 1913. The movement was wound up when some women were enfranchised in the 1918 Representation of the People Act, before all women over 21 were given the vote in 1928.
1916–21 — Easter Rising and Irish War of Independence – The Irish Republican Brotherhood and other revolutionaries fought the British army for five days in Dublin in 1916 before surrendering, the leaders later being executed. However, the rebellion reignited armed resistance and led to the Irish War of Independence from 1919–21.
1948 — The National Health Service and The Welfare State – Like the Chartist movement which led to full adult suffrage by 1928, the creation of the National Health Service was the culmination of a long campaign for social assistance for all of British society. As the Labour Party gained power and the enlargement of the franchise gave them a bigger pool of working class voters, the Liberal Party was encouraged to introduce social reforms in order to prevent the mass social unrest which was precipitating violent revolutions in other parts of Europe.
Pensions were introduced in 1908, and following the Labour victory in the 1945 election, the NHS gave citizens free universal healthcare for the first time. The Liberal Party made changes – to prevent an active rebellion from overthrowing the elite.
1979–91 — Thatcherism – If the creation of the Welfare State was a kind of revolution, so was its destruction. In the Middle Ages there were many elite rebellions, and Thatcherism certainly had revolutionary implications. Ideologically opposed to the socialist trend of social reform which had predominated throughout the 20th century, Thatcher used populist rhetoric to strip back the size of the public sector, privatise industry and make huge cuts to income and corporation tax, allowing private companies to run public services for profits rather than as social goods.
Thatcherism is reminiscent of the creation of Feudalism, where elites used their power to build castles and force peasants into debt bondage in exchange for protection. By slowly reducing the size of the welfare state and encouraging people to take on large debts to go to university or to buy a house, modern capitalist societies have replicated with wage slavery the condition of Serfdom for medieval peasants. This idea goes back to Marx, but the negative effects of such a system are becoming increasingly apparent.
1984–5 — Miners’ Strike – The closures of mines and pay restraint led to a confrontation between the National Union of Mineworkers and the Thatcher government. The strikes were notable for their high levels of violence, with three people killed and violence both from pickets and police. It culminated with a series of confrontations at Orgreave in Yorkshire where thousands of miners tried to close the pit and faced off against a similar number of police.
2003 — Iraq War Protests – The biggest peaceful protest ever seen in the UK opposed Prime Minister Blair’s decision to invade Iraq with the US, with between 1–2 million people marching in London on February 15. Of course, the government completely ignored this outpouring of public opinion and the consequences are still being felt today.
2010 — Student protests against tuition fees – A number of demonstrations by student groups took place in November and December 2010 against the proposed increase in university tuition fees. The protests were strongly suppressed by police, who used the tactic of kettling to forcibly detain hundreds of people for hours. The protests often turned violent, with some students occupying and vandalising the Conservative Party headquarters.
2011 — London Riots – London has seen numerous riots, sometimes over concerns as minor as the price of theatre tickets. but those in 2011 were notable for their scale and duration (6–11 August). Hundreds of people were arrested, 5 people died and there was massive damage to property after police in North London shot dead a man who they falsely accused of shooting at them. The riots escalated as many people took advantage of a perceived breakdown in state control to destroy and loot property. While the riots were condemned by the media as opportunistic, acquisitive violence, many looters stole food, and it was considered by others to be a deeper expression of underlying social alienation.
2018 -We see a growing upsurge of people impoverished by the Tories – having their pensions removed – paying for medical care – zero hours contracts – the deliberate policy to let in more and more Muslims to destabilise the country so that the government can increase it’s grip over the people. All that a “Socialist” government had brought in – the Tories have destroyed reducing the population to debt slaves. One outrage after another – yet there has been no great spark to trigger another rebellion. But it will come.
We have had our riots too – acts of violent protests – all based on an “injustice”to which people express their common anger at a system that is indifferent to the sufferings and injustices inflicted on common people. Many sheep within the Chartist Movement and the Lawful Dissent Movement and the Democracy Movement do not acknowledge that the people of England are rebellious and are want to riot when injustice reigns. On the contrary people will rise up and actively join in a rebellion – especially when it means breaking their chains of slavery.
Here is a look at the history of riots that occurred in London – people do riot people will do violent acts as a form of protest against injustice. The following is a list of riots and protests involving violent disorder that have occurred in London:
1189: The Massacre of the Jews at the coronation of Richard I
1196: William with the long beard causes riots when he preaches for the poor against the rich.
1221: Riots occur after London defeats Westminster in an annual wrestling contest; ring-leaders hanged or mutilated in punishment.
1268: Rioting between goldsmiths and tailors
1391: Riots break out in Salisbury Place over a baker’s loaf
1517: Evil May Day riot against foreigners takes place
1668: Bawdy House Riots took place following repression of a series of attacks against brothels
1710: Sacheverell riots, following the trial of the preacher, Henry Sacheverell
1719: Spitalfields weavers rioted, attacking women wearing Indian clothing and then attempting to rescue their arrested comrades
1743: Riots against Gin Taxes and other legislation to control the Gin Craze, principally the Gin Act 1736; rioting was fuelled by consumption of the drink itself
1768: The Massacre of St George’s Fields after the imprisonment of John Wilkes for criticising the King
1769: The Spitalfield riots when silk weavers attempted to maintain their rate of pay
1780: Gordon riots against Catholics
1809: Old Price Riots, 1809 following a rise in the price of theatre tickets
1816: Spa Fields riots, Spenceans met in support of the common ownership of land
1830: Attacks against the Duke of Wellington in his carriage and on his home, for his opposition to electoral reform (which had been seen partly as a solution to rioting by rural workers).
1866: a riot took place in Hyde Park after a meeting of the Reform League was declared illegal
1886: The West End Riots followed a counter-demonstration by the Social Democratic Federation against a meeting of the Fair Trade League.
1887: Bloody Sunday, a demonstration against coercion in Ireland and to demand the release from prison the MP William O’Brien
1907: The Brown Dog riots, medical students attempt to tear down an anti-vivisection statue.
1919: The Battle of Bow Street, Australian, American and Canadian servicemen rioted against the Metropolitan Police
1932: The National Hunger March ended in rioting after the police confiscated the petition of the National Unemployed Workers’ Movement
1936: The Battle of Cable Street saw rioting against the Metropolitan Police as they attempted to facilitate a march by the British Union of Fascists
1958 Notting Hill race riots between White British and West Indian immigrants.
1968: Rioting outside the United States Embassy in Grosvenor Square in opposition to the Vietnam War.
1974: Red Lion Square disorders happened following a march by counter-fascists against the National Front.
1976: Riots during the Notting Hill Carnival.
1977: The Battle of Lewisham occurred when the Metropolitan Police attempted to facilitate a march by the National Front
1979: Southall riots during a Anti-Nazi League demonstration in opposition to the National Front.
1981 Brixton riot against the Metropolitan Police. Especially on 10 July, rioting extended to other parts of London and numerous other cities around the UK
1985 Brixton riot against the Metropolitan Police after they shot the mother of suspect Michael Groce.
1985: Broadwater Farm riot, residents of Tottenham riot against the Metropolitan Police following a death during a police search
1990: Poll Tax riots followed the introduction of a poll tax.
1993: Welling riots, October 1993. A march organised by the ANL, the SWP and Militant resulted in riots against the Metropolitan police.
1995 Brixton riot against the Metropolitan Police occurred after a death in police custody.
1996 Rioting in Trafalgar Square and surrounding streets following England losing against Germany in the semi-final of UEFA Euro 1996.
1999: Carnival Against Capitalism riot
2000: Anti-capitalist May Day riot
2001: May Day riot in central London by anti-capitalist protestors.
2002: Rioting around The New Den stadium following Millwall F.C. losing against Birmingham City F.C. in the 2002 Football League Division One play-off.
2009 G-20 London summit protests occurred in the days around the G-20 summit.
2009 Upton Park riot before, during and after a 2009–10 Football League Cup second round match between West Ham United F.C. and Millwall F.C..
2010 UK student protests against increases in student fees and public sector cuts.
2011 anti-cuts protest in London against government public spending cuts.
2011 England riots, initially in London, following the police shooting of Mark Duggan in Tottenham
2017: rioting outside Forest Gate police station following the Death of Edson Da Costa.
Nearly every year we have had riots demonstrations of one kind or another and we have had a fair share of hundreds of armed rebellions.
I have voted Labour all my life. I voted for the Greens when they first started but in the early days just a bunch of hippies who could not organize anything. But where has our revolution gone?? The truth is in 8 years the Tories have destroyed everything that Atlee brought into being. Thatcher destroyed the Unions sold off social housing and created a Nation of Debt Slaves.
So whatever happened to the revolution??? Now we are faced with a revolution – all because of one man – Jeremy Corbyn – and the fact that UK Politics have the sewer stench of corruption. You have all come to the conclusion and the realisation that all you have held dear has been destroyed.
Destroyed. We were not bombed or invaded but nevertheless all that generations ago fought for are lost. Back then people had determination to make changes – so they cam out in force to enforce their will on those that rule us. Back then most men were seasoned soldiers of the second war – and this fact gave the elite something to dwell upon – especially when they all had guns.
Even within the Army there was some reluctance to go out on the streets and shoot your mates. Even the idea of conscription was dropped – why mobilise and train people to fight when as defenceless uneducated untrained the population can be better controlled??
Now three generations on our so-called leaders with the Chartist Movement are emasculated wimps and the entire population population are indoctrinated to have no attributes no meaning to the language used in every day speech. A prime example of this is “peaceful rebellion” to which people speak of as if it has some reality of meaning or “peaceful dissent” another contradiction of terms to which those who with little or no education bandy about and attest to some truth to these meanings.
Sure you can go on peaceful demonstrations with marshals and the police lining your route carry your banners beat your drums blow your trumpets and keep within the prescribed dedicate route all is well – you can go eat with your kids in MacDonald’s and say to yourselves well done! But have you changed anything? Fuck all has changed – you have had a nice day out chatting with people.
Ok so you meet up in Hyde Park – and your surrounded by police – and your speakers they rally you to support this or that programme – but are very very careful not to inspire you to action but to join up pay out money – because if they inspired you to any kind of action – that would be deemed by those in power as a direct challenge a rebellion to which they will crush. If the police can not deal with the situation then the army will be called. So actually none of your political leaders will tell you to so anything but remain as passive slaves – who brainwashed think that their presence had added something besides a Big Mac.
Let’s turn our attention to the spoken gibberish that so many aspire to follow because they think the speakers of such gibberish have some power some knowledge. The first thing to say is peaceful rebellion is a delusion. Peace is defined as being non-aggressive – tranquil – non-violent. Rebellion on the other hand is an act of armed resistance to an established government or leader.
Taking up arms does not mean raising your arms above your heads or beating drum or blowing trumpets or chanting some slogan or other. Armed mean taking up weapons to resist and to overthrow a government or a person. War and Peace or not the same things – whilst many so deluded think so.
Peaceful Dissent is another contradiction in terms used by the uneducated. Dissent means the holding or expression of opinions at variance with those commonly or officially held – which leads to some kind of conflict – be it in magistrates courts or police stations one is in direct opposition – though of course you quite sensibly remove yourself from physical confrontation – they just consider you an annoyance.
It matters not if there are five people or twenty million people – who think not to resist but to get pushed around and return home – saying to themselves well done lads and lasses we showed em!
Alas one can not get twenty million on a march – not even three million. You will not make any difference to the elite. They can chop up your mass rallies into sizeable chunks that are easy to control and direct – so that none of the parts can join up to be an effective force – but those that speak of lawful dissent do not want you to be an effective force for change.
One has to gain power. If we look at the power base now – we see constant 4 yearly battles to gain power. You have to think about like a war. We have the voters and those that we vote for – and those we vote fore have an executive and a leadership – much like ancient times of Barons and their knights a ruling aristocracy and a monarchy.
A leader calls on his followers to vote for his Barons – who if win the local battle get elected and back their leader. That leader has a majority and thus can introduce whatever bills they want – which will pass into statute law when the monarch rubber stamps them. We elect dictatorships and we can and do elect tyrants.
But then 4 years down the line all that was made law can be stripped away and so no gains are made. This is the game you play. You play that same game time and time and time again – your kids will play that game and their kids will play that game. It suites the elite that you play that game – because at the end of the day nothing changes.
The Constitutional Parliamentary Labour Party is part of that game. Every elected parliamentarian before taking his/her sit is required by parliamentary law to swear an oath to the authority of parliament – some swear allegiance to the monarch- though there has been a rule change for people not to do this. So if you are expecting some change your sadly mistaken.
The Parliamentary Labour Party will introduce Bills that are given a rubber stamp by the monarchy which creates Statute Law – which 4 years down the road are repealed by the next Political Party that gains a majority (dictatorship) and they make Statute Laws in the very same way which can and do get repealed.
That game goes on and on and on and on – through successive generations which are deluded into thinking they live in a democracy. This 4 year cycle of gain and loss – there are many well-educated and intelligent people who are terrified even to think about the implications people have their “causes” and belief systems – they build a world of fictions to justify their way of thinking their way of doing things – which do not bring any change into people’s everyday lives – people are still poor starving homeless uneducated not liberated and still their chains remain.
We need Liberation and if that means open Rebellion so be it. Think about it – and be honest with yourself. Slavery Bondage Chains – we all make choices in our lives – to break the chains of human misery or let those chains continue generation after generation. What will you tell your grandchildren – you did nothing – or that you were part of the revolution?