Wilkes was recognised as a champion of English Freedom. In 1774 he was elected Lord Mayor of London, an in 1776 he introduced the first motion for parliamentary reform.
Wilkes was also the first MP to propose universal suffrage in the Commons and during the American War of Independence Wilkes he took the forward step of even condemning British policy on America. He argued for yearly elections and called for the abolition of rotten boroughs, and it is even said that he established freedom of the press as we know it.
For more, see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Wilkes