BH - Cons and the General Strike

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Cons revival

- Balfour set up committee to improve party organisation in 1910, it helped the Conservative Chief Whip by creating 'Chairman of the Party Oreganisation' which dealt w/ matters outside parliament to ease the load of the Chief Whip

- Central Office was inefficient w/ records, and this was improved

- 1914 local constituency branches gained right to control propaganda + speakers + choose candidates rather than receiving orders from Central Office

Bonar Law - Balfour resigned after 3 electoral defeats, Austen Chamberlain v Walter Long regarding leadership would inevitable split the Cons 50/50, for party unity Bonar Law was elected, Bonar Law was against Irish Home Rule and to keep Ulster British

Benefits of WW1 - party stood for patriotism, strong defence, conscription, its ideology better suited war, Liberal split meant a lack of strong opposition

Ireland - Anglo-Irish treat partioned Ireland in 1922, no Irish Nationalist MPs in the Commons, Irish Nationalists always supported Libs, now only Ulster Unionists were in Commons who supported the Cons

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Stanley Baldwin

- speech at Carlton Club attacked LG, Bonar Law made him Chancellor of the Exchequer 

- honest, lacking in deviousness, better manager of people than LG, wanted a return to a clean government, respected by Labour MPs

- 'Looking Ahead' in 1924 contained his ideas... Moderate consensus, partnership between employer + employee, rejected class war

- killed off a Conservative private members bill to reduce trade union power

- popular figure, Labours 1929 election win was due to FPTP, Cons actually received more votes

- helped re-unite the Cons party however criticised for being idle, and lacking initiative... i.e. neglected Britains defences in face of Nazi Germany threat (1935-1937)

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Conservative dominant in UK politics

- most consistently successful party since Liberal split over Irish Home Rule in 1886

- can rely on support of the upper classes + upper middle class + majority of lower middle class

- adept at winning sufficient working class support 

- pragmatism, it principles are vague and can adapt to the social times

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Conservative achievements of 1924-29

- The Widows, Orphans, and Old Age Contributory Pensions Act (1925)

- vote extended to women aged 21+, though Plural Voting still existed

- The Unemployment Insurance Act (1927)... reduced benefits, but would be paid undefinitely if individual was seeking employment

- The Local Government Act (1929) - functions of Poor Law Unions were taken over by county borough councils, they would recieve block grants to cover cost of services

- BBC became a public corporation, controlled by governors appointed by the Postmaster-General... it expanded into more than just light entertainment

- General Strike lasted less than 2 weeks and 1927 Trade Disputes Act reduces trade union power

- Locrano Treaty, if Germany-France-Belgium broke their frontiers... Italy-UK would assist the state being attacked! Though it didnt protect the Eastern frontier from a German attack, implying no action if Germany attacked Poland

- Chamberlain persauded French to withdraw troops for Rhineland, the Locarno was arguably the start of appeasement

- The Kellog-Briand Pact of 1928, 65 states signed the pact which renounced war as an instrument of national policy, though it lacked any sanctions

- Were hostile to the USSR, and communists... Russian propaganda was partly responsible for unrest in India too, Police raided and found evidence of Russians plotting w/ British communist to overthrow capitalism, it broke diplomatic relations who too arrested British residents in Moscow as retaliation, it started istolation


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Cause of 1926 general strike

- post war economic depression, mass unemployment, they wanted a standard wage nationalizarion provides

- industrialists blamed declining profits on higher wages, causing strained relationships w/ workers

- coal sales were hurt due to the lack of demand and competition from Germany who had mechanized pits, and reperations meant it was given free to France

- government refusal to nationalize mines, mine owners lacked initiative

- 1925 -> return to gold standard hurt the export position of British industries, the £ was overvalued by 10% making exports more expensive

- 1925 sudden drop of coal exports meant lower wages + longer hours, after miners threatened w/ action, Baldwin conceded a subsidy for 9 months of national wage - it prepared the government for similar threats

- Trade Union Congress stressed backing of miners, wages of miners being reduced would prolly mean it following suit on other industries - but the TUC wernt syndacalists

- Samuel Commission set up by LG concluded, it suggested mine owners should modernize + insisting on longer hours would cause over-production... Initially miners must accept wage reductions, though the government made no force to accept the report

- mine owners reduced wages, the owners got in before the workers and staged a lockout... negotiation between the cabinet + TUC broke down

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Aftermath of Strike

- response from all industries were 100%, 3 mil went on strike... TUC made it clear it wasnt a political agenda, merely a strike to force the government to defend workers wages

- Churchill demanded the Bank of England freezes all trade union accounts, which was rejected by Baldwin and King George

- 'the Samuel Memorandum' suggested a short term subisdy to maintain wafe until reorganization occured, and a National Wages Board... the TUC accepted even though the Memorandum wasnt official and Baldwin hadnt assured it - NONETHELESS the coal strike continued and the TUC were known as betrayers

- after first week government attitude hadnt changed, the TUC were anxious the strike could turn violent

- a Liberal MP said in the Houses of Commons the strikes were illegal, the leaders being liable for damages - and potentially jail

- MacDonald was against these sympathetic strikes, and the TUC budget was 12 mil, by first week 4 mil had already been used

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Baldwin and Strikes

- Baldwin scarecly handled the strike, and allowed right wing of Cabinet to take aggressive action which could have provoked strikers into violence

- Chancellor Winston was subsided due to this, and put in charge of the British Gazette which then printed uncomprimising articles

- Churchill declared 'either we crush the strikes or the strikes crush us'

- HOWEVER some argued Baldwin played the waiting game, knowing the TUC didnt want a prolonged strike

- the strike was an attack on the constitution and not an industrial dispute, he only negotiated after strikes were ended

- operated emergency plans months earlier, volunteers kept food moving and mdrove trains and buses

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Result of strikes

- working class disillusionment w/ TUC for its betrayal, union memberships steadily dropped 

- TUC abandoned idea of a general strike, convinced it wouldn't succeed

- no solution to coal industry problems, nor modernizations... export figures kept declining

- Trade Disputes Act of 1927, was passed to make general strikes impossible... sympathetic strikes and intimidation were illegal, and union funds could be seized

- Trade Disputes Act of 1927 meant trade union members had the option of contributing to Labour party funds - 25% drop of Labours income

- Working class believed parliamentary action was a better method, it helped unite trade unions and Labour again (Labour gained 288 seats in 1929 election)

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1929 elections

- Conservatives slogan 'safety first'

- Labour concentrated on immediate reforms

- Liberals 'We can conquer unemployment' - they had long consultations w/ Beveridge + Keynes

- LG proposed reforms for agriculture, housing, road building and railway modernization - this could potentially create 500,000 jobs

- Labour receieved fewer votes than Cons, still gained 288 seats to Cons 260 + Libs 59

- Conservatives didnt solve unemployment issues which still remained over a mil, coal-mining industry declined, balance of payment unhealthy, lacked inspiration and energy

- Trade Disputes Act 1927 backfired on Cons, it was seen as unnecessary and united Labs + Trade Unions

- A Lib + Cons coalition was out of the question, Baldwin despised LG so Labour formed a minority government

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