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Democracy Day

January 2008

A real head of steam has built up around the campaign for Democracy Day.  A petition has been launched urging Parliament to celebrate the pioneering sacrifices of the Chartists with a new bank holiday.

"We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to create a new Autumn Bank Holiday to be called "Democracy Day" as we believe that the pioneering sacrifices of those who sowed the seeds of British democracy should be celebrated.

We advocate an annual Democracy Day public holiday on the Monday nearest to the 4th of November, in commemoration of the Newport Chartist Rising of 4th November 1839 when more than 20 men were killed whilst demanding the right to vote.

Our proposed date recalls three pioneering movements in the development of British democracy:

* The 'Putney Debates' of 28th October to 9th November 1647, when the case for male suffrage was publicly formulated for the first time in British history.

* The demands of the People's Charter of 1838 which have become the foundation of parliamentary democracy in Britain.

* The cause of the Women's Suffrage Movement is remembered with the foundation of the Women's Social and Political Union in October 1903, and the events of Black Friday in November 1910 when suffragettes demonstrating outside Parliament were attacked and arrested by the authorities.

As outlined in the Early Day Motion Number 8 that was laid before Parliament on 6th November 2007, we call for this additional public holiday to remember the courage and vision of past generations and the challenge of building democracy today."

In November I tabled EDM 8 which states,

That this House believes that the pioneering sacrifices of those who sowed the seeds of British democracy should be celebrated with a new Bank Holiday on the Monday nearest to 4th November, the anniversary of the killing of more than 20 Chartist insurgents in Newport in 1839, recalling other significant events in the history of the Suffragettes (1903) and the Putney debates (1647); and calls for a fresh appreciation of the value of the courage and vision of past generations in order to defend, promote and develop Britain's democratic institutions.

You can sign the petition online at http://petitions.pm.gov.uk/Democracy-Day/