Monday, 3 May 2010

"No Dirty Hands"

In 1852 when Henry Bruce was nominated to succeed Josiah Guest a Merthyr’s MP (and was returned unopposed), some 8,600 people turned up to stand around the hustings where the election would have been held, and where, in any event, the result would be declared. But of those only about 900 had the right to affect the result. A large number however held their hands up in a symbolic gesture in a protest against their disenfranchisement all to no avail . Or as Bruce said to them:

You may hold up your dirty hands against me, but I’ll still be the MP tomorrow”.

The Reform Act 1867 (also known as the Second Reform Act, and formally titled the Representation of the People Act 1867), 30 & 31 Vict. c. 102, was a piece of British legislation that enfranchised the urban working class in England and Wales. Before the bill, only one million of the five million adult males in England and Wales could vote; the act doubled that number. In its final form, the Reform Act of 1867 enfranchised all male householders and abolished compounding (the practice of paying rates to a landlord as part of rent). However, there was little redistribution of seats; and what there was had been intended to help the Conservative Party.

However Merthyr was given a additional seat becoming a two seat constituency

In the election the following year the workers waved placards saying “No Dirty Hands” and Bruce was defeated.

One of the new MP’s was Henry Richard, He was to become known as one of the foremost nonconformists in the House of Commons. Here he was a leading member of the party which advocated the removal of Nonconformist grievances and the disestablishment of the church in Wales.

As secretary of the Peace Society  he helped to organize a series of congresses in the capitals of Europe, and was partly instrumental in securing the insertion of a declaration in favour of arbitration in the treaty of Paris in 1856. Through this work he  had became universally known in Europe and the United States until his resignation of the post of Secretary in 1885.

Less well known for his Anti-slavery work, and though unable to support the American Civil War as an appropriate means to end slavery because of his commitment to peace.Henry Richard was respected in this field. Indeed, a few weeks after his death the Anti-Slavery Society, now Anti-Slavery International, published an obituary in their journal, The Anti-slavery Reporter and Aborigine's Friend

Henry Richard was probably the first peoples champion to represent Wales and Welsh Values in the House of Commons and there have been precious few since.

On Thursday remember the Dirty Hands and vote for those who will represent the people of Wales and not the untruest of a London centric elite.

If you which to nominate someone who has been a "Welsh Peoples Champion" leave a comment.

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