A great piece of political ephemera - a membership card of the pioneering, and arguably most successful, of middle-class pressure groups, the Anti-Corn Law League. In 1846, Peel's government repealed the corn laws - the 'taxes on bread' - and so divided the Conservative party and made the most important single move towards free trade.
The corn law repeal - as generations of sixth formers have discussed endlessly - was arguably more about a tussle between the landed and manufacturing interests than achieving a cheap loaf. And in as much as it was about more affordable bread, then that was perhaps to allow industrialists to cut wages rather than about improving the lot of the labouring poor, the sort of people depicted (rather theatrically) on the League's membership card.
But as a memento of the embattled 1840s, it doesn't get better than this slender piece of card.
Andrew Whitehead's blog
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