TITLE

Lancashire to Westminster: a study of cotton trade union officials and British labour 1910-39

AUTHOR(S)
Fowler, Alan
PUB. DATE
March 1999
SOURCE
Labour History Review (Maney Publishing);Spring99, Vol. 64 Issue 1, p1
SOURCE TYPE
Academic Journal
DOC. TYPE
Article
ABSTRACT
This article discusses the decline in the political influence of cotton trade union officials on the British labor movement from 1910 until 1939. The period was difficult and tempestuous for the British labor movement in which trade unions had to meet the challenge of world war and depression. Structural changes in the world after World War I, leading to the fall from pre-eminence of the British cotton industry, might be thought to have been responsible for the growing marginalization of the cotton trade unions within British labor. However, the process of declining influence was evident prior to the decline of the industry from the first decade of the twentieth century. The cotton trade union officials lost their ability both to lead and influence British labor at the political level at precisely the same time as the role of the state in the economy was taking on a new and more significant form. The British labor movement was also going through a period of transformation, moving from a concern with labor representation to a situation where Labor was the alternative party of government. Faced with an industry which was in crisis and a labor movement more concerned with political events and power than ever before, the cotton unions' voice failed to be heard. Part of the explanation may be found by examining the structure of trade unionism in cotton, in particular the role of full-time officials and the method of their selection which, whilst producing highly technically competent officials, was flawed in that it failed to produce individuals with political acumen.
ACCESSION #
4044648

 

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