Our kids don’t know politically some of Manchester’s feats,
It’s strange that we don’t tell ‘em of the war fought on these streets,
It’s odd that we don’t say… just how those people died,
Fighting for the freedom that voting would provide.
It’s not their fault; I don’t blame them, only a tiny plaque was cast,
To honour this momentous day, this secret from our past,
It’s like MPs are still embarrassed or maybe they don’t care,
For this defining moment of an age, Manchester’s Tiananmen Square.
Coz it really was the moment, that they forced politically,
To change public opinion and bring democracy,
Is it fading from our memory banks, this fight some never knew?
Our greatest moment of reform; the battle of Peterloo.
It will soon be two hundred years, since eleven people died,
On these very streets of Manchester; where the authorities had lied,
They claimed it was a tragedy and arrested those who said,
That it wasn’t quite an accident but a massacre instead.
The people came in thousands to fight against their toils,
Sixty thousand gathered close to Discotheque Royales,
Just four years after Napoleon and the battle of Waterloo,
Poverty had bitten hard and northern life was cruel.
We didn’t have the vote back then and jobs were hard to find,
The Corn Laws were a barrier and daily life a grind,
The rich were getting richer; the poor had nowt to show,
And rich mps in London town just didn’t want to know.
Revolutionists in Manchester, guys like Henry Hunt,
They chose to fight for normal folk and do what mps wouldn’t,
But marches south just didn’t work out; London didn’t yield,
So they kept the fight here in Manc, and marched to St Peter’s field.
The banners shouted loud and proud, their message defiant,
Vote By ballot, No Corn Laws, Annual Parliament!
It was time to drag our politics from this darkest of Dark Age,
Let us die like men, the women said, and not be sold like slaves.
Reform leaders across the north, gathered there to say,
That parliament in London couldn’t have it their own way,
The masses came to listen; the authorities weren’t too keen,
At what remains today the biggest… UK meeting ever seen.
But as they started speaking and the crowds began to cheer,
The local MPs panicked and ordered soldiers near,
To run into the ordered crowd and swing their swords about,
To arrest the public speakers and pull the leaders out.
But the crowd refused to buckle and tried to stand its ground,
They tried to hold their banners high and form a shield around,
The speakers they were gunning for, their voices must be heard,
But through the crowds with sabres drawn, they were savagely murdered.
The horses trampled, stampeding folk who had nowhere to go,
Whilst soldiers swung their swords, butchering innocents below,
Some were stabbed by bayonet or trampled underfoot,
Some were shot by muskets as the cavalry went nuts.
Women died, and kids were hurt, no concessions made,
The cavalry just didn’t care for the people they had slayed,
Eventually the soldiers won and broke the human shield,
Eleven killed, five hundred hurt, a bloodied battle field.
Arrests were made and sanctions sought, the speakers put in jail,
But eventually from that shameful day, the changes they did hail,
For on the site those people died they built the Free Trade Hall,
Where the Anti-Corn Law league won out; a free economy for all.
Demonstrations hadn’t worked but a newspaper was born,
One to challenge everything and politically pour scorn,
Today it’s called The Guardian; a paper for us all,
A tribute to the folk that died; a Manc memorial.