Rees Mogg, Brexit, the Anti-Corn Law League & the 10 Hours Bill

In Uncategorized on July 6, 2018 by kmflett

Rees Mogg, Brexit, the Anti-Corn Law League and the Ten Hours Bill

As you may have missed backbench hard right Tory MP Rees Mogg has said that Theresa May’s apparent dislike of a Hard Brexit is similar to Tory Prime Minister Peels repeal of the Corn Laws in 1846 despite being elected in 1841 in support of them (Parliamentary terms were 6 years then).

My take on that is here:

Correspondence in the Guardian from myself indicates why the repeal of the Corn Laws was not helpful to workers together with a suggestion from Steve Flatley that the Anti-Corn Law League was ‘largely progressive’ similar to todays’ Remain lobby

While the ACCL had some support for the right of the Chartist Movement its aim was to reduce duty on foreign imports of corn and hence cut the price of domestic bread. Good news for workers when bread was a key item of the staple diet surely? Not exactly. The aim was to allow Manufacturers who Peel was now trying to align the Tory interest to, to cut wages, as bread was cheaper, and increase profits.

By contrast most Chartists and the early working-class movement were backing a move to cut the hours of labour- the Ten Hours Bill. It was actually passed in 1847 and Engels noted in 1850 this happened because various ruling class factions, both Tory and Whig (Liberal) who backed the landowners wanted their own back on the industrialist factions who had repealed the Corn Laws.

A happy accident but historically it underlines that whatever side Rees Mogg thinks he is on historically it has nothing to do with the interests of working people, either then or now. Brexit or no Brexit neo-liberalism rules. The labour movement has other priorities and working hours remain a huge issue.

The sense of realignment in ruling class politics as in 1847 is real however and the opportunity for the labour movement to take advantage also exists as it did then.

It was thus a piece of good fortune for the workers that in the confused period of 1847, when all the old parliamentary parties were dissolved and the new ones had not yet taken shape, the Ten Hours’ Bill was finally passed. It was passed in a series of most confused votes, directed apparently only by chance, in which no party voted compactly and consistently except the decidedly Free Trade manufacturers on the one hand and the fanatically protectionist landowners on the other. It got through as a piece of chicanery that the aristocrats and a faction of the Peelites and the Whigs put over on the manufacturers to avenge themselves for the great victory which these had wrested from them in the repeal of the Corn Laws.

Engels 1850



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