The Vote

The Vote:How It Was Won and How It Was Undermined

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The dramatic story of the peoples' fight for the right to vote

The culmination of a lifetime's work by the great journalist and historian Paul Foot, The Vote tells the thrilling story of the hard, long-fought struggle for the right to vote in Britain, and the slow erosion that followed.

In the tradition of "history from below", Paul Foot examines the great democratic debates that dominated the fight for electoral democracy. Taking readers from the smoke-filled church of the Putney debates, to the dramatic arguments between Thomas Paine and Edmund Burke in the aftermath of the French Revolution, to the rise of Chartism and the struggles for votes for women.

Throughout, Foot shows how vested interested first delayed and then hobbled the progress of parliamentary democracy. Concentrating on the vital role played by direct action, he shows how rank-and-file resistance to ruling-class injustice was followed by retreat into parliamentary impotence. Into the twentieth-century, Foot exposes the gaps between the promises of a succession of Labour governments and their actions once in power, and its abandonment of any aspiration to economic democracy.

A gripping work of narrative history, written in Paul Foot's inimitable energy and engaged style, this book is a classic work of history, and a must-read for anyone interested in how today's political scene was formed.


  • A work of true scholarship ... irresistibly readable

    Roy Hattersley
  • Exhilarating, passionate, energetic and invincibly cheerful

    Francis Wheen
  • Foot at the height of his powers. Here is the superb journalist, historian, advocate again saying the unsayable

    John Pilger