Why did Chartism fail?

Britain's economic and social situation improved during the mid 1840s:

  • employment increased
  • food prices came down
  • people had higher wages

In addition, people who still wanted to change British politics joined new movements such as the Anti-Corn Law League (a campaign to reduce the tax on corn and oats) and the Ten Hour Movement (hoping to limit by law the number of hours that anyone could work in a day).

Problems in the movement included:

  • Lack of single leadership - Chartism had two main leaders, Lovett and O'Connor, and they disagreed over Chartist tactics. Lovett believed in peaceful protest however O Connor wished to use more violent tactics
  • Poor coordination - Chartist groups were spread out in small groups all over the country. This made it difficult to successfully coordinate communication and meetings at a national level
  • Different aims - the Chartists did not always agree about what they wanted from Parliament. They all supported the Six Points, but some also wanted improved education, sobriety laws and working conditions
  • Different classes and poor funding - the Chartists did not all belong to the same class and this meant that many middle-class supporters withdrew their support after Chartism became linked to violence. When the middle-class members left, there was less money to fund the movement and it started to fail
  • The Chartists sent 3 petitions to parliament and all were ignored. The third petition was roundly criticised for containing many fake names. This did not help their cause.