The General Strike of May 1926 was the biggest industrial stoppage in
British history. This showdown between the TUC and the British
Government was presented by the latter as a trial of strength between
the representatives of free democracy and revolutionary bully-boys.
However, even though the tactics of the General Strike were intended
to intimidate the government, in no way could they be viewed as
revolutionary that is, a coordinated attempt to overthrow the British
government and replace it with a socialist workers' state. The leaders
of the strike, the TUC, were at constant pains to stress that their
aims were industrial, not political, and certainly not revolutionary,
despite what the government propaganda said.
The TUC explicitly stated, when they called the General Strike, that
its aims were to protect the working conditions of the miners only.
The TUC leaders, who had been reluctant to call the Strike,
continually tried to make the strike as respectable as possible. The
General Council were not revolutionaries: they were responsible and
moderate men, anxious that the strides made by trade unionists over
the previous decades would not be destroyed. They were reluctant to
take sympathetic action in the first place and had no wish to see the
strike produce bitter and violent confrontation. The strike was simply
an industrial dispute and the General Council was keen to make it
appear as respectable as possible. They even declined a donation from
Russian trade unions of 2 million roubles, the equivalent of £26,000.
It clearly suited the government to present the strikers as potential
... middle of paper ...
...ence may flare up
thus passing initiative to the revolutionary leaders. Their strike was
often compared to the Russian Revolution which did not at all reflect
the moderate aims of the British workers.
In the years after the Strike, there was no political manifestation of
frustrated revolutionary socialism. The Union movement actually making
more moderate. Fewer strikes were called. The Labour Party continued
to stress its slow, reformist democratic path to building socialism.
In reality, the British working class remained relatively conservative
between the two world wars in comparison to their continental
brothers. Baldwin's Conservative government was able to pass the
Trades Disputes Act in 1927. This act effectively made another attempt
at a General Strike illegal and put the Unions firmly back in their
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