Wednesday, 13 March 2013


In 1832 six men from Tolpuddle in Dorset founded the Friendly Society of Agricultural Labourers. They met either under the sycamore tree in the village or in the upper room of Thomas Standfield's cottage. The intention of the society was to protest against wage deflation among agricultural labourers. Members swore an oath of secrecy – and it was this act that led to the men's arrest and subsequent sentence of seven years' transportation [learn more at the museum website]

The society was led by George Loveless, a Methodist preacher; following his sentencing he wrote these words while in prison:

God is our guide! from field, from wave,
From plough, from anvil, and from loom;
We come, our country's rights to save,
And speak a tyrant faction's doom:
We raise the watch-word liberty;
We will, we will, we will be free!

This rallying call underlined the Martyrs’ determination and has since served to inspire generations of people to fight against injustice and oppression (although belief in a supernatural deity is not now a prerequisite).

Following years of economic growth and rising living standards many people are now confronted with falling wages and a dilution of the support services that local and national government provide. This blog is to remind everyone that we achieve more when we stand together. The Tolpuddle Martyrs were released following a petition and mass protest march, the first of its kind.

I am a member of the Co-operative Party and as such share many of the views of the party and its members. The party stands for a sustainable economy and society, a culture of citizenship and socially responsible business represented by the practice of retail and industrial co-operatives. The Co-operative Party seeks to advance its agenda through the Parliamentary Labour Party, with whom it shares common values. I think that this is best summed up by clause IV of the Labour Party constitution:

The Labour Party is a democratic socialist party. It believes that by the strength of our common endeavour we achieve more than we achieve alone, so as to create for each of us the means to realise our true potential and for all of us a community in which power, wealth and opportunity are in the hands of the many, not the few, where the rights we enjoy reflect the duties we owe, and where we live together, freely, in a spirit of solidarity, tolerance and respect.

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