The membership of the National Unemployed Workers' Movement 1923-1938

Davies, Sam
March 1992
Labour History Review (Maney Publishing);Spring92, Vol. 57 Issue 1, p29
Academic Journal
The article examines the membership of the National Unemployed Workers' Movement (NUWM) from 1923-1938 in Great Britain. Of the estimates of membership most often quoted, virtually all of them have their origins in statements in various publications and records of the NUWM itself, or else of the Communist Party of Great Britain (CPGB). The author would argue that they should be regarded as no more than very general, and very unreliable, indications of the real size of the NUWM. First of all, it is fairly clear that the political pressures on the NUWM and the CPGB would tend to push representatives of the movement to either inflate or downplay the success of the movement in recruiting members depending on the audience they were addressing. Secondly, there is no evidence that the leaders of the NUWM ever systematically tried to calculate the real membership of the movement. To better estimate of the membership of the NUWM, one approach might be by calculating the membership of individual branches and then producing an aggregate total.


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