The Labour revolt that swept Britain in the years before the First World War was one of the most sustained outbreaks of industrial militancy and social revolt the country has ever experienced
The industrial militancy involved large-scale strikes by miners, seamen, dockers, railway workers and many others, and was dominated by unskilled and semi-skilled workers, many acting independently of trade-union officials. Amidst this powerful grassroots activity, the country saw widespread solidarity action, phenomenal union membership growth, breakthroughs in both industrial unionism and women’s union organisation, and a dramatic increase in the collective power of the working-class movement. It heralded political radicalisation that celebrated direct action and challenged head-on the Liberal government and police and military, as well as the Labour Party’s parliamentary reformism.
There are many parallels and differences with the contemporary state of the unions and political parties. There may well be some lessons for today.
There will be ample time for questions and comment.
About the speaker:
Ralph Darlington is Emeritus Professor of Employment Relations at Salford University. He has published several books of labour history, including Glorious Summer: Class Struggle in Britain 1972 and Radical Unionism: The Rise and Fall of Revolutionary Syndicalism. His research has been featured in national newspapers, and radio and television. Ralph is a member of the SHS.