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‘Durham miners, the “Forward Movement” and political change before the Great War’ Lewis H. Mates Lewis H. Mates Ninth International Congress of Mining.

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Presentation on theme: "‘Durham miners, the “Forward Movement” and political change before the Great War’ Lewis H. Mates Lewis H. Mates Ninth International Congress of Mining."— Presentation transcript:

1 ‘Durham miners, the “Forward Movement” and political change before the Great War’ Lewis H. Mates Lewis H. Mates Ninth International Congress of Mining History, Johannesburg, South Africa, April 2012 Ninth International Congress of Mining History, Johannesburg, South Africa, April 2012

2 1. Introduction: the “rise of Labour” debate Two schools of thought (See Laybourn, 1995; Roberts, 2009; Johnes, 2010); Two schools of thought (See Laybourn, 1995; Roberts, 2009; Johnes, 2010); 1. ‘Inevitabilist’ or ‘evolutionist’; emerging (working-)class politics marginalises Liberals; class-based nature of Labour’s appeal, deep and solidarisitic class- consciousness; integral role of trade unions; organisational strength of Labour’s centralising machine; distinctive ideological appeal (c.f. McKibbin, 1974) 2. ‘Revisionist’ or ‘accidentalist’; terminal split in Liberal Party during the Great War; continued ability of both old and ‘new liberalism’ to attract working-class; Labour’s electoral weakness before August 1914 (c.f. Clarke, 1971; Douglas, 1971) ‘New political history’ (NPH); ‘textual’ approaches; reject deterministic class- based sociological interpretations; emphasise role of political language, ideology and (often) agency (Black, 2003; Readman, 2009); boosts ‘accidentalist’ school ‘New political history’ (NPH); ‘textual’ approaches; reject deterministic class- based sociological interpretations; emphasise role of political language, ideology and (often) agency (Black, 2003; Readman, 2009); boosts ‘accidentalist’ school Duncan Tanner’s Political Change and the Labour Party (1990); regional developments; by 1914 Labour not developed ideological/political strength for expansionist strategy; no solid “class” vote; no uniform trade unionist support Duncan Tanner’s Political Change and the Labour Party (1990); regional developments; by 1914 Labour not developed ideological/political strength for expansionist strategy; no solid “class” vote; no uniform trade unionist support Criticism of Tanner’s case studies (Laybourn, 1995; Berger, 1993; Lancaster, 1992) but subsequent work tends to endorse basic case (Packer, 2011; Cole, 2011; Tanner and Hopkin, 2000) with few exceptions (McHugh, 2002; Hall, 2001) Criticism of Tanner’s case studies (Laybourn, 1995; Berger, 1993; Lancaster, 1992) but subsequent work tends to endorse basic case (Packer, 2011; Cole, 2011; Tanner and Hopkin, 2000) with few exceptions (McHugh, 2002; Hall, 2001)

3 2. The Durham miners and the debate DMA; wealthiest, second largest in MFGB; Liberalism dominant; i. economically (wages tied to coal prices) and ii. Politically (Durham mining constituencies return Liberals after 1885) DMA; wealthiest, second largest in MFGB; Liberalism dominant; i. economically (wages tied to coal prices) and ii. Politically (Durham mining constituencies return Liberals after 1885) Embodied in John Wilson DMA general secretary (1896) and Liberal MP (1885); miners and owners shared interest in maintaining profitability Embodied in John Wilson DMA general secretary (1896) and Liberal MP (1885); miners and owners shared interest in maintaining profitability ILP challenge; 2 Labour seats won ; late 1907 DMA voted 3:1 join MFGB ILP challenge; 2 Labour seats won ; late 1907 DMA voted 3:1 join MFGB 1908 MFGB affiliates to Labour; Liberal official House converts; ILP victorious? 1908 MFGB affiliates to Labour; Liberal official House converts; ILP victorious? BUT Wilson engineers doubt over DMA’s exclusive support for Labour; continues a ‘Lib.-Lab.’ MP; attempt to clarify this defeated in December 1911 BUT Wilson engineers doubt over DMA’s exclusive support for Labour; continues a ‘Lib.-Lab.’ MP; attempt to clarify this defeated in December general elections: Labour net loss of two MPs to Liberals 1910 general elections: Labour net loss of two MPs to Liberals Context; backlash over Eight Hour Day settlement; mass unofficial strikes against three-shift system; damages DMA leadership and ILP (eight hour day) Context; backlash over Eight Hour Day settlement; mass unofficial strikes against three-shift system; damages DMA leadership and ILP (eight hour day) Post-1910 industrial unrest; potential challenge to Labour from syndicalism Post-1910 industrial unrest; potential challenge to Labour from syndicalism Argument; i. need to place DFM at centre of discussion; foundation for developing comprehensive account of how Durham became Labour stronghold; major narratives (Gregory, Tanner) highlight further Labour electoral failures after 1910; none attach importance to ILP-led rank-and-file movements Argument; i. need to place DFM at centre of discussion; foundation for developing comprehensive account of how Durham became Labour stronghold; major narratives (Gregory, Tanner) highlight further Labour electoral failures after 1910; none attach importance to ILP-led rank-and-file movements ii. Importance of agency (NPH); dynamic relations socio-economic context ii. Importance of agency (NPH); dynamic relations socio-economic context DFM shows Labour-supporting activists very successfully deployed rhetoric that resonated within considerable constituency DFM shows Labour-supporting activists very successfully deployed rhetoric that resonated within considerable constituency

4 DMA members in residence at Ruskin, 1908 (Harvey top right and Lawson sitting in middle)

5 3. DFM described and concrete successes Origins; in reinvigorated Minimum Wage Movement (MWM) from July 1911; increasing cost of living; growing trade union belligerency; ILP national minimum wage campaign and South Wales miners intervention Origins; in reinvigorated Minimum Wage Movement (MWM) from July 1911; increasing cost of living; growing trade union belligerency; ILP national minimum wage campaign and South Wales miners intervention DFM’s Birth; rank-and-file conference 4 May 1912; after national miners’ minimum wage strike ended (six weeks) in April 1912; won individual minimum wage, but no ‘5 and 2’ DFM’s Birth; rank-and-file conference 4 May 1912; after national miners’ minimum wage strike ended (six weeks) in April 1912; won individual minimum wage, but no ‘5 and 2’ DFM important advance; 1. More concrete organisation 2. Activity more intense and longer 3. Support; built on hardcore MWM lodges (including most of the largest); well attended meetings 4. Broadens remit; material concerns (minimum wage) also onto ‘political’ plane; democratic reform of DMA DFM important advance; 1. More concrete organisation 2. Activity more intense and longer 3. Support; built on hardcore MWM lodges (including most of the largest); well attended meetings 4. Broadens remit; material concerns (minimum wage) also onto ‘political’ plane; democratic reform of DMA Successes? Wins 2/5 agreed proposals at DMA AGM December 1913 Successes? Wins 2/5 agreed proposals at DMA AGM December New rule all fulltime officials to be elected by individual ballot 2. DMA new object ‘To promote and financially support Parliamentary candidates’ run solely under auspices of Labour Party This the single most important concrete achievement (material/industrial side negligible gains); DMA’s prestige/resources harnessed exclusively for Labour This the single most important concrete achievement (material/industrial side negligible gains); DMA’s prestige/resources harnessed exclusively for Labour DFM (and MWM before it) chief means ILP to mobilise lodge opinion DFM (and MWM before it) chief means ILP to mobilise lodge opinion

6 4. (Positive) significances… Two-pronged industrial/political strategy; MFGB/ Labour Party; DFM’s inability/reluctance to pursue industrial action; onus more onto Labour; April 1914, DFM political strategy over amending Minimum Wage Act; general public praise (not criticism) of Labour in Parliament Ideological challenge; Minimum wage undermining ‘economic liberalism’; (wages invariably tied to coal prices); spring 1912 votes 2/3 miners favourable ‘Our interests and those of the owners are not identical; they never were and never will be’ (May 1912 DFM circular) DFM grows after minimum wage strike; more miners won to minimum wage? Key activists ‘Labour rather than socialist’? (Tanner, p.92); miners ‘would only get from the coal owners what they were compelled to give at the point of a sword’ (Jack Lawson); Lawson self defines as ‘socialist’; pro-nationalisation Syndicalist elements to rhetoric? DFM monopolises discontent; outflanking revolutionaries; negligible ILP defections to syndicalism (Tanner, p.226) Militant language can also resonate; moderation not only way to success Crucial ideological cleavage in Labour challenge (Tanner misses); part between DMA leaders/ led; partly generational DFM (and MWM) catapults younger ILP militants to fore; begin winning key DMA posts from 1912 (EC etc.,); April 1914 new DMA PPC vote

7 5. The DFM’s failures… Inside the DMA; 1. Failure to remove Wilson; ‘old’ Liberal and dominant force; Wilson’s relative strength (long established, institutionally empowered, well respected, canny operator); DFM institutionally weak; many of its lodges underrepresented (DMA council) 2. Failure to tackle representation issue; Why? Debate over lodge level democracy (Gregory); Marsden lodge example; moderate leaders more militant membership?; wider process of lodge democratisation Outside the DMA; failure to translate DFM support to votes for Labour (Houghton-le-Spring, 1913, North-west Durham 1914) Lawson disinterested and naïve about ‘political’ organising? DFM lodges not pro-LRCs; Marsden complex process; BUT general long-term reluctance move outside pit politics (trades councils too); no automatic relationship and lack of mechanisms to make a link; until April 1914? Other reasons for Labour’s electoral failure; House’s ideology…; Irish vote, etc., Franchise factor?; DFM activists younger; radical pits more transient populations; less likely to qualify to vote… DMA only organised 2/3 Durham miners…

8 6. Conclusion hour day/ three-shift system ILP and DMA leaders in trouble 1911; Minimum wage movement reinvigorated; offers ILP a lifeline In MWM and DFM ILP build influence in lodges and new aggressive form of politics; industrial militancy and pro-Labour (incongruous?) Marginalises syndicalist challenge, builds support for Labour; evident in December 1913 vote With notoriety of new younger activists; DFM wins proper institutional support for Labour and its activists populating its positions; While socio-economic circumstances not entirely favourable to ILP project (syndicalism better placed?); Agency thus vital to understanding process In spite of all the work in this debate; there is still a lot that could be done..

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10 Acronyms DFM: Durham Forward Movement DFM: Durham Forward Movement DMA: Durham Miners’ Association DMA: Durham Miners’ Association MFGB: Miners’ Federation of Great Britain MFGB: Miners’ Federation of Great Britain MWM: Minimum Wage Movement MWM: Minimum Wage Movement NPH: ‘New political history’ NPH: ‘New political history’

11 Bibliography S. Berger, ‘The Decline of Liberalism and the Rise of Labour: The Regional Approach’, Parliamentary History, 12:1 (1993) S. Berger, ‘The Decline of Liberalism and the Rise of Labour: The Regional Approach’, Parliamentary History, 12:1 (1993) L. Black, ‘What kind of People are you?’ in J. Callaghan, S. Fielding and S. Ludlam (eds.), Interpreting the Labour Party (2003), pp.23–38 L. Black, ‘What kind of People are you?’ in J. Callaghan, S. Fielding and S. Ludlam (eds.), Interpreting the Labour Party (2003), pp.23–38 P.F. Clarke, Lancashire and the New Liberalism (Cambridge, 1971) P.F. Clarke, Lancashire and the New Liberalism (Cambridge, 1971) M. Cole, ‘The Political Starfish: West Yorkshire Liberalism in the Twentieth Century’, Contemporary British History, 25:1 (2011), pp.175–188 M. Cole, ‘The Political Starfish: West Yorkshire Liberalism in the Twentieth Century’, Contemporary British History, 25:1 (2011), pp.175–188 R. Douglas, The History of the Liberal Party, 1855–1970 (1971) R. Douglas, The History of the Liberal Party, 1855–1970 (1971) R. Gregory, The Miners and British Politics, 1906–1914 (Oxford, 1968). R. Gregory, The Miners and British Politics, 1906–1914 (Oxford, 1968). V.G. Hall, ‘The anatomy of a changing consciousness: the miners of Northumberland, ’, Labour History Review, 66:2 (2001), pp.165–186 V.G. Hall, ‘The anatomy of a changing consciousness: the miners of Northumberland, ’, Labour History Review, 66:2 (2001), pp.165–186 M. Johnes, ‘For Class and Nation: Dominant Trends in the Historiography of Twentieth-century Wales’, History Compass (2010); covers the Welsh literature on the rise of Labour debate M. Johnes, ‘For Class and Nation: Dominant Trends in the Historiography of Twentieth-century Wales’, History Compass (2010); covers the Welsh literature on the rise of Labour debate K. Laybourn, ‘The Rise of Labour and Decline of Liberalism: The State of the Debate’, History 80:259 (1995), pp.207–226; good overview of rise of Labour debate to 1994 K. Laybourn, ‘The Rise of Labour and Decline of Liberalism: The State of the Debate’, History 80:259 (1995), pp.207–226; good overview of rise of Labour debate to 1994 B. Lancaster, ‘The Rise of Labour’, Labour History Review, 57:3 (1992) B. Lancaster, ‘The Rise of Labour’, Labour History Review, 57:3 (1992) D. McHugh, ‘Labour, Liberals and the Progressive Alliance in Manchester, 1900–1914’, Northern History, 39:1 (2002), pp.93–108 D. McHugh, ‘Labour, Liberals and the Progressive Alliance in Manchester, 1900–1914’, Northern History, 39:1 (2002), pp.93–108 R. McKibbin, The Evolution of the Labour Party 1910–1924 (Oxford, 1974) R. McKibbin, The Evolution of the Labour Party 1910–1924 (Oxford, 1974) I. Packer, ‘Contested Ground: Trends in British By-elections, 1911–1914’, Contemporary British History (2011) I. Packer, ‘Contested Ground: Trends in British By-elections, 1911–1914’, Contemporary British History (2011) P. Readman, ‘The State of Twentieth-Century British Political History’, Journal of Policy History, 21:3 (2009) P. Readman, ‘The State of Twentieth-Century British Political History’, Journal of Policy History, 21:3 (2009) M. Roberts, Political Movements in Urban England, 1832–1914 (Basingstoke, 2009), especially pp.128–160 M. Roberts, Political Movements in Urban England, 1832–1914 (Basingstoke, 2009), especially pp.128–160 D. Tanner, Political Change and the Labour Party 1900–1918 (Cambridge, 1990) D. Tanner, Political Change and the Labour Party 1900–1918 (Cambridge, 1990) D. Tanner and D. Hopkin, The Labour Party in Wales 1900–2000 (Cardiff, 2000) D. Tanner and D. Hopkin, The Labour Party in Wales 1900–2000 (Cardiff, 2000)


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