‘The Fascists … are … to be depended upon.’ The British Government, Fascists and Strike-breaking during 1925 and 1926

  • Richard Charles Maguire


On 31 July 1925, or ‘Red Friday’ as it came to be known, Stanley Baldwin’s Conservative government intervened in an industrial dispute in the British coalfields, offering to provide an extremely costly subsidy to the coal industry while a Royal Commission examined its economic circumstances. This step averted a national lockout of miners by colliery owners, which would have led to widespread sympathetic industrial action by the members of other British trade unions. Nine months later the failure to find a mutually acceptable solution to the difficulties in the coal industry resulted in the General Strike. At the time, the Red Friday decision was fiercely attacked by many. Yet, the dominant interpretation of this action in recent years has been to see it in the context of what Philip Williamson calls Baldwin’s ‘appeal for industrial peace’: a final attempt at mediation in which, after ‘unsuccessful attempts during July 1925 to reconcile coal owners’ and miners’ leaders, and in the face of threatened strikes by transport unions in support of miners, he [Baldwin] took the large political risk of offering a temporary Government subsidy and a Royal Commission of Inquiry’.1 This reading of Red Friday sits comfortably with the dominant conception of British governance in this and other eras, which emphasises a culture of minimal force, consensus and dialogue.


Trade Union Labour Movement Coal Industry Royal Commission Conservative Party 
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© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited 2005

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  • Richard Charles Maguire

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