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Save Our Chartist Mural Campaign
Campaigning to stop the bulldozing of Newport's Chartist Mural to make way for a shopping mall!
Interests: In Newport on 4th November 1839 marched three bands of men to The Westgate Hotel. They asked for the freedom of the common man's right to vote. The historic event was commemorated with an impressively sized and detailed mosaic mural by artist Kenneth Budd in 1978. The mosaic is unique in that it directly commemorates the march of The Newport Chartists and it's fatal outcome for 22 of the men in their struggle for democracy. Newport City Council have made plans to erect a shopping mall around John Frost Square (named in remembrance of the former Mayor of Newport, John Frost, who helped lead the Newport Chartists campaign), but it is becoming clear that many people are in disagreement with the council's plans to run a bulldozer through an historic piece of public art in the process! We would therefore like to work with all parties - the mall's developers and the council - to develop an imaginative plan that will save Newport's beloved mural by incorporating it within the shopping development's architectural plans, thus keeping this great piece of public art for our children to continue to gaze at and ask who were the Chartists? Newport City Council have previously said they have some budget available to recreate a smaller facsimile of the mural by printing a copy of it onto a ceramic tiled display area but the potential home of such a smaller display is also now in doubt and, in any event, would this really be the best we can do here, regenerating the area but knocking down what remains of our cultural history in the process, thinking that a smaller laser-printed copy will suffice in its place? So... please pass the word about - it would be a shame for our mural to disappear one day, only to leave people suddenly wondering why and how such a travesty could have been allowed by our council. For now, maybe it's not too late and maybe, just maybe, we can save it still - until it's broken into pieces, it's still ours! If you know of a family member who was involved in the original Chartist uprising then we would love to hear your stories relating to the mural itself, or, the bigger picture of the threat it is now facing. In the meantime, here's the six point Charter that the 22 marchers died for in 1839, with additional comments by Stephen Williams, MP for Bristol West, explaining the connection with the democracy we enjoy today: 1) “A vote for every man twenty-one years of age, of sound mind, and not undergoing punishment for crime.” – not achieved for men until 1918 and fully for women in 1928 at Parliamentary elections. 2) “The secret ballot – to protect the elector in the exercise of his vote.” – the public hustings and declaring of votes was ended by the Ballot Act in 1872. 3) “No property qualification for members of Parliament - thus enabling the constituencies to return the man of their choice, be he rich or poor.” – the only people now prevented from standing are bankrupts, Church of England vicars, members of the House of Lords and the Royal family. A £500 deposit is needed for elections to the Commons but there are no residence or property qualifications. 4) “Payment of MPs – thus enabling an honest tradesman, working man, or other person, to serve a constituency, when taken from his business to attend to the interests of the Country.” – a salary for all MPs (of £400) was introduced in 1911. 5) “Equal Constituencies, securing the same amount of representation for the same number of electors, instead of allowing small constituencies to swamp the votes of large ones.” – this won’t actually be achieved until the next general election in 2015, when finally all constituencies will have approximately 76,000 electors, rather than the huge anomalies that currently exist. 6) “Annual Parliaments – thus presenting the most effectual check to bribery and intimidation, since though a constituency might be bought once in seven years (even with the ballot), no purse could buy a constituency (under a system of universal suffrage) in each ensuing twelve-month; and since members, when elected for a year only, would not be able to defy and betray their constituents as now.” – unlikely that we will ever get a general election every year, in fact we will now have 5 year fixed term Parliaments. The expenditure on campaigns by parties still needs reform…though bribery of voters was outlawed in 1883. The accountability of MPs is still a hot topic! When Frost died he may have been satisfied that some of the aims of the Chartists had been realised. But I’m sure he would have been astonished to be told that by 2012 so much more still needed to be done to reform politics in Britain.
Recent Activity
Mr. Flynn, you say that: "No area in the whole of the UK had done more to honour the memory of the Chartists and advance their ideals than Newport. To suggest that the Council would do anything to disrespect that memory is nonsense on stilts." In light of the official planning documentation we have cited on our campaign page (, can you please tell us how the Council's plans - to demolish the Chartists Mural and dump it in a skip - can be considered anything other than disrespectful to the memory of these men? Men who died for the democracy we all enjoy today and that pays you a handsome wage, not to mention your expenses... If Birmingham managed to successfully relocate Kenneth Budd's JFK Mural (4.5m × 14m!) during the development of its city then can you please tell us why the council for your constituency is incapable of doing the same for Budd's Chartist Mural? Ref: and,_Birmingham Regards, Save Our Mural ( PS. We now have over 1,200 petitioners and hundreds of comments in support for the saving of our mural: - our supporters would appreciate your joining our cause and signing up too.
Save Our Chartist Mural Campaign is now following The Typepad Team
Feb 23, 2013