British Values in Action: Votes for Working Men

Who was there to vote for in 1830?

In 1830, the people of Preston were faced with the same important choice that millions of people still face every few years. Who should they vote for to represent them in national politics: who should be their elected Member of Parliament (MP)?

Candidates for election in Preston, 1830:

One option was the wealthy, powerful Edward Stanley. Stanley had been an MP since 1820 and was from an old, wealthy, land-owning family. His father was the 13th Earl of Derby and he was educated at Eton College and then Oxford University.

The other option was Henry Hunt, seen here on the side of a jug (pictured above). 'Orator' Hunt was the son of a farmer, but was famous all over the country as the hero of an important political gathering held in Manchester in 1819 known as Peterloo (see National Archives link at the bottom of the page for more information). Hunt was loved by many working people because he believed in working people’s rights: he was a 'democratic radical'.

Who could vote in 1830?

In most towns in Britain in 1830 only wealthy men could vote, so Stanley would have won easily because most of the voters believed in the same things as he did. But in Preston, things were different. In 1830, unusual voting rules there meant that working men had the vote too. Here, Henry Hunt, the radical champion of the working classes, had a chance of being elected.

Glossary:

Democratic - When decisions are made by the whole group
Elected - Chosen for a job by a vote
Member of Parliament - Someone people vote for to represent their local area in Parliament
Orator - Someone who is good at speaking in public
Radical - Someone who believes in the need for major change

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