My Life's Battles

My Life's Battles

My Life's Battles

My Life's Battles

Excerpt

The disintegration of the Chartist movement in the early 1850s led into a new phase of working-class history in Britain. For the next half century there was no independent working-class political party and politically conscious workers almost always adhered to the Liberal Party, the self-styled ‘Party of Progress’. It was a remarkable historical phenomenon: that, in the most proletarian country of all the industrialising societies of the nineteenth century, an independent party of working people was absent from the British political scene. There developed among the upper stratum of workers – mostly skilled but some also who were not fully skilled but who had developed a degree of control over their working conditions – a wide variety of self-help, defensive social organisations which in part offset the insecurities and the harshness of industrial society. The most important were, of course, the trade unions, and their tradition, as did that of the Friendly societies, went back into the eighteenth century; but the Nonconformist chapel, the Co-operative shop with its quarterly dividend, the workingmen’s club, the temperance society, the secularist group, all helped to provide a network of association that provided the framework for the life-style of these working men and their families. Which particular part of the association was especially important depended largely on where you lived and on the particular decades of the half century between 1850 and 1900. In the 1870s in South Wales, for example, the chapel would still have the strongest pull for many miners, while in the same period in the North-East the union would be as important. In Lancashire the cotton unions and Co-operation would be central to many lives . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.