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Peterloo

24 Nov

If you see one film this year, I suggest it should probably be Mike Leigh’s latest, Peterloo. Peterloo remains a watershed moment in British history and its aftermath made clear that the authorities could not just cut down a crowd of peaceful protesters with no consequences. But, in spite of the outrage, it made the government stubbornly sink its boot heels even further into the blood soaked mud of power. Very quickly the Six Acts were passed, effectively preventing all mass protests.

This was when about two percent of the nation had the vote, Think long and hard about that. Also think hard about the 86 year old woman, whose comments I read on one site, who was told about Peterloo as a child by her grandmother, who in turn had been told about it first hand by her own grandmother. History is always breathing down our necks and never as long ago as our short lives sometimes make us think.

The right to participate in the fair running of the land, and have a say in that, is not one that was readily allowed. The brutal horrors of Peterloo and the like should be so far removed from our modern experience that we should almost not understand how such a situation could have been. But still it resonates. We are precariously close to many things being revoked and vigilance should always be on our mind. People literally died so we could vote today, and while we should also think long and hard on that as well, we should also act.

When we can, and because we can, we should always act.

 

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