Author Archive

Malcolm Chase

Malcolm Chase is Professor of Social History at the University of Leeds. He is the author of Chartism: A New History (Manchester University Press, 2007) and of The Chartists: Perspectives and Legacies to be published by Merlin Press later this year.

Looking at the distance between the Westminster parliamentary system and those to whom elected representatives are ultimately accountable, the Chartists had a point – in fact, at least six points. Magna Carta: Law, Liberty, Legacy. The coincidence of the British Library’smagnificent exhibition with a general election campaign is bound to tempt political parties to claim a particular affinity with Magna Carta, or more precisely with what they believe it embodies. As David Carpenter’s new Penguin Classics edition demonstrates (together with the review of it that Peter Linebaugh contributed to this series) – this is a subject still wide-open to contest. Yet this in no way diminishes the significance of previous interpretations, especially those that helped shape past political movements. That great popular movement of the …