The Real Representation of the People

Charles Bradlaugh campaigned for working class men and women to obtain the vote.

He wrote about his wish to see Universal Suffrage for men and women in his work ‘The Real Representation of the People’ and his efforts to bring democracy were rewarded with the Representation of the People Act 1918 which celebrates its centenary next month.

Holding, as I do that, the opinion that every sane human being unconvicted of crime should have the means of exercising, through the electoral suffrage, an influence on the management of the public affairs of the state in which he or she is resident….

Prior to Henry VI Universal Suffrage was the norm, probably annoyed that villeins were voting he introduced a property owning criteria hence it was lost until 1918. Northampton’s unique artizan culture resulting in good numbers of working class men owning property is possibly the reason Bradlaugh chose it as his constituency.


Representation of the People Through the Centuries

The argument for Universal Suffrage for both sexes was a class struggle undoubtedly hindered by renowned campaigners only wanting more voters if they were likely to vote Conservative.

… I deem it my duty to bring specially before the working classes, who are most interested in renewal of a movement for reform, certain views which appear to me of vital importance to them …

The 1918 Representation of the People Act is 100 years old in February, the Society acknowledges the achievements of Charles Bradlaugh MP for Northampton in advancing the cause resulting in democracy for Britain.