Slump and Recovery, 1926–39

  • Henry Pelling


The immediate sequel to the General Strike was a considerable loss of prestige to the unions in general and to the General Council in particular. The total union membership affiliated to the T.U.C, declined by almost half a million between 1925 and 1927. Especially strong criticism of the General Council naturally came from the Miners Federation, whose members remained on strike until the end of November. The tiny Communist Party also attacked the trade-union leadership, and began to recruit members rapidly, especially among the miners, so that by the end of the year its membership had doubled to a total of some 12,000. Through the agency of the National Minority Movement the Communists sought to build up opposition to the existing union leaders, with a view to their eventual replacement. There was also a much more widespread dissatisfaction with the explanations given for the failure of the General Strike, and a demand for a full post-mortem. But in response to a request from the Miners Federation, the General Council’s formal report to the unions on its conduct of the strike was delayed until after the Miners’ struggle was over. It seemed at first that the delay would be especially damaging to the General Council’s reputation, for its members could not in the meantime defend themselves against attack.


Unemployment Insurance Labour Movement Union Leader Unemployed Worker Labour Party 
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© Henry Pelling 1976

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  • Henry Pelling

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