Thomas Attwood (1783-1856) was a democrat, promoting parliamentary reform and opposing the growing mood of centralism at Westminster. He believed that Birmingham could manage its affairs without the help of appointed commissioners from London or parliamentary committees.
He promoted measures which would lead to full employment, peace and prosperity, having seen the effects of growing unemployment upon ‘an affectionate people’ in Birmingham, warning that: ‘Poverty has made them madmen; by coercion you may make them devils’.
Attwood regarded foreign trade as incidental to the nation’s wealth. He found the vision of English prosperity deriving its life force from “sucking, as it were, the blood and strength of other nations” offensive.
He proposed various reforms to the monetary system, believing that these would promote ‘healthy activity in the different channels of commercial and agricultural interest’.
He was a founder of Birmingham’s Political Union for the Protection of Public Rights which campaigned for the reforms passed in the 1831 Reform Bill and was one of the city’s first two MPs.
Three subjects close to his heart and which we hope to further today are:
participative decentralised democracy
the strengthening of regional economies
economic and monetary reform