The 1926 General Strike: why should we remember it 90 years on?

In Uncategorized on May 21, 2016 by kmflett

The 1926 General Strike at 90> report on discussion at the Institute of Historical Research


The London Socialist Historians held an event at the Institute of Historical Research on 21st May to recall and review the 1926 General Strike.

My thanks to Ian Birchall and Daryl Leeworthy for papers and to Sue Bruley for commenting on them and raising important historiographical points about recent research.

A tweet from Daryl Leeworthy perhaps summed up matters:

Really tired but such a great day of socialism, feminism, and labour history. Am very privileged to be part of keeping the tradition alive!

Individual papers will be no doubt be posted elsewhere but I will summarise some important points.

My brief introduction raised the themes both of how much we don’t know about what impact the General Strike had on everyday life even 90 years on, and how much more material thanks to the internet and digitisation is now available.

I also reprised my, as yet, brief research on cricket and the General Strike. The point to be taken here is that although the matter is of some interest there is nothing published on it.

Ian Birchall’s paper on how the General Strike was viewed in France, particularly by L’Humanite and other left currents, will be on-line shortly. An international perspective to the events of 1926 however, it might be noted, has not been a feature of research published so far.

Daryl Leeworthy looked at the strike in South Wales and the West and introduced important new evidence from diaries both of a trade union official and of a police officer about events during the strike.

Sue Bruley’s commentary reviewed both papers and also made some significant historiographical comments on work by Anne Perkins and Heston Barron. There was also discussion about the late Nina Fishman’s work on Arthur Horner which Daryl Leeworthy is preparing a paperback edition of.

A couple of wider points to take from the day. Firstly that looked at 90 years, the Strike still has interesting lessons about how society might be run and organised if the rule of capital floundered. Secondly, that the impact of the web and digitalisation has provided much further scope for research.




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