The Trades Union Congress, 1868-1921

The Trades Union Congress, 1868-1921

The Trades Union Congress, 1868-1921

The Trades Union Congress, 1868-1921


The Trades Union Congress was founded in 1868, and has, since then, met annually, except for the years 1870 and 1914.1This Congress was cancelled at the outbreak of war. Over the course of this time the T.U.C. has grown in status from a yearly demonstration to a powerful and influential institution that speaks in the name of more than eight million members of affiliated unions.

Although the T.U.C. is well on the way towards its centenary, no full history of its development and achievements has been written until now. In this volume the story of the T.U.C. is taken as far as 1921, when the constitution was thoroughly revised and a new era began. This point is a natural one at which to break the narrative, but in some respects it is the middle, rather than the end of a period. The General Strike of 1926 was, in fact, the culmination of many of the ideas that assumed significance in the decade prior to 1921. However, the balance of advantage seemed to lie with concluding this volume in 1921; especially since to extend it to 1926 would have necessitated a substantial addition to its length. Volume II will, therefore, cover the period from 1921 to the present day.

The research for this study was originally started at Nuffield College in 1948, but it had to be suspended for some years. I am grateful to Nuffield College for having given me the opportunity to begin this research. I would also like to express my thanks to the London School of Economics and Political Science for the facilities provided by the Research Division, which have enabled me to complete this study.

The Trades Union Congress has made available its records of the meetings of Congress, and I am grateful to its library staff for their helpfulness.

H. Pelling and F. Bealey have read certain chapters and given me the benefit of their expert knowledge of the origins and early history of the Labour Party. It must, however, be made clear that I alone am responsible for the selection of facts and for the opinions expressed.

Acknowledgments for permission to quote are due to the Passfield Trust, Macmillan and Co. Ltd., Routledge and Kegan Paul Ltd., Ernest Benn Ltd. and the Oxford University Press.

The burden of checking typescript and proofs has fallen upon my wife; she has also compiled the index. Without her help and encouragement this book would not, I am certain, have been completed.

September 1957 B. C. R.


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