“Prime Minister Liverpool equated Parliamentary Reform with treason. At a peaceful and massive meeting – around 50-60,000 – in Manchester’s St. Peter’s Field in 1819, demanding Reform , troops attacked the assembly and killed nine men and two women, and wounded 400. This event became known as the “Peterloo Massacre’
Far from reviewing the error of his resistance to reforms, Liverpool responded to Peterloo by rushing in the Six Acts. This law forbade meetings of more than 50 people, extended the power of summary conviction by magistrates, made ‘blasphemous and seditious libel” a transportable offence, and placed a heavy tax on newspapers.
There is a parallel today. Blair’s government, instinctively authoritarian as was Liverpool’s, seizes on catastrophic events, resulting from his own criminal policy, to take repressive measures and rush in laws against freedom of speech.
Lord Liverpool’s henchman and foreign secretary from 1812-1822 was Lord Castlereagh, about whom the redoubtable poet Shelley wrote after Peterloo.
I met Murder on the way
He had a mask like Castlereagh.
His come-uppance was a bitter one. Deranged by power, Castlereagh suicided in 1822. Chroniclers record that on the news the Capital’s “mob” celebrated in the streets, and at his funeral cheered.
Something perhaps for Blair and his henchmen to ponder?”