Was is solely because of weak leadership that Chartism failed to bring about political reform by 1841?".
The Chartist movement was prolonged and widespread. It organised mass petitions and popular demonstrations, and was clearly taken seriously by the governments of the day. The list of reasons for its failure is almost endless. Lack of unity, organisation and leadership among the Chartists themselves, and sensible, firm action by the government, all combined to defeat the movement. Most of the Chartism were also fired by economic content. However, the government's approach to the situation was a major reason for the movement's failure and the Chartist's weak leadership was not necessarily responsible for its failure.
Lack of unity was one of the reasons for its failure. The various leaders failed effectively to communicate or co-operate, disagreeing on how to achieve their objectives - Lovett wanted to use moral force i.e.speeches, whilst O"Connor wanted to use direct action. This showed it was never a united force. There were broad regional differences, within Chartism. The physical force chartists tended to be dominant in the North of the country while the moral force moderates were more dominant in the South. The basic lack of unity therefore was a major reason for the failure of Chartism, severely undermining its chances of presenting a united front and forcing concessions from a reluctant government.
The lack of leadership was another reason for its failure. There were important differences between the Chartists leaders over objectives and method. Lovett supported moral force, whereas O"Connor advocated direct action. This rivalry between O"Connor and Lovett did much to weaken Chartism as a movement. .
The strength and attitude of the government was a key factor in Chartism's failure.