Tony Cliff & Donny Gluckstein

Marxism & Trade Union Struggle:
The General Strike of 1926


Chapter Twenty:
Conspiring for a defeat

FROM THE BEGINNING of the strike, while the trade union and Labour leaders were expressing in public their resolute determination to struggle, in private they were moaning about the strike and looking for an escape route. It was not long before a saviour appeared, in the form of Sir Herbert Samuel.

On 6 May Samuel rushed back from Italy hoping he could help to solve the crisis. A phone call to Jimmy Thomas elicited a warm welcome. Thomas promised to arrange a meeting with the TUC Negotiating Committee. Samuel’s intervention was exceedingly well-timed, because by Friday Bevin as well as Thomas was urging the General Council ‘to get negotiations going somewhere’. [1]

On Friday afternoon, 7 May, the Negotiating Committee met Samuel in the plush Bryanston Square home of Sir Abe Bailey, South African mining millionaire and friend of Thomas. Samuel asked whether the miners were now prepared to face the prospect of wage cuts. Yes, replied the Negotiating Committee, provided the Samuel Report proposals of reorganisation of the mining industry were implemented. [2] In fact the miners did not express their agreement at all. They knew nothing of the negotiations.

Thomas had other irons in the fire besides Samuel. On the same day the Negotiating Committee met Samuel, Citrine wrote in his diary:

Thomas ... raised the possibility of members of the General Council getting into conversation with influential businessmen who might be able to exert some power to achieve a settlement. The Council agreed that ... we should lose no opportunity of getting on to negotiations. Thomas apprised us of a conversation he had had with Lord Londonderry [a leading coal owner]. He also mentioned that he had seen Mansfield, the vice-president of the Federation of British Industries. [3]

Other Labour leaders also got into the act of negotiation. According to Tom Jones, the assistant secretary to the Cabinet, Ramsay MacDonald went secretly to Downing Street on Friday morning, 7 May, with Sir Allan Smith, chairman of the Engineering and Allied Employers’ Federation, to press for a settlement based on a temporary wage cut of 10 per cent, and the establishment of a Tribunal ‘with S.W. Mackenzie, chairman, to fix the permanent wage’. Baldwin turned the scheme down. [4]

Nevertheless MacDonald’s negotiating efforts served the main thrust of government policy. Jones explained that MacDonald

had suggested an interview between Pugh and the PM to which there were obvious objections. My policy was to split Eccleston Square in two with the aid of a gesture from the PM which would help the moderates. Even if it did not split the executive it would weaken loyalty in the country and induce men to return to duty. [5]

Next day, 8 May, yet another Labour leader, Harold Laski, contributed his bit to the secret wheeling and dealing. Jones records what Laski told him:

‘I spend all day at Eccleston Square. I take Pugh home every night. I think I know their minds there. Of the twenty-six known to me not more than three are out-and-out revolutionists.’ ... Thomas ... has won the confidence of Herbert Smith by the way he has fought for the miners. Herbert Smith would consent to 15 per cent off the wages of the hewers and 10 per cent on an average off the rest.’ [Laski’s] scheme was a conditional withdrawal of the strike with arbitration on unsettled points in the [Samuel] Report ... I told him I would show the document if he liked to the PM, leaving his name out. [6]

Here was a Judas who did not even ask for his pieces of silver!

The same day as Laski’s proposition was made, Thomas carried on negotiations with Lord Wimborne and friends. The destiny of millions of families already at near-poverty level provided an agreeable topic for after dinner chit-chat at Lord Wimborne’s sumptuous Arlington Street residence. Wimborne was a landowner and industrialist and former Lord Lieutenant of Ireland. Thomas’s fellow guests included the mine-owners Lord Londonderry and Lord Gainford (former Viceroy of India), Lord Reading, a former Liberal Attorney-General, and Ethel Snowden, wife of Philip Snowden, the former Labour Chancellor of the Exchequer.

Thomas came to an agreement with Wimborne which was conveyed to Baldwin on 10 May.

If some assurance could be given that negotiations would be resumed for the purpose of bringing the recommendations of the [Samuel] Report into operation without delay, it is possible that the TUC might call off the General Strike and indicate that miners accept the Report unconditionally with all its implications, including the question of possible adjustment of wages as the basis of a settlement. This assurance might be accepted if it were made by some person of influence, not a member of the government. [7]

The General Council as a whole was kept in the dark about these negotiations, but the Cabinet were aware of them from the outset, Churchill, Birkenhead and Tom Jones all being informed of the first meeting, and the latter channelling information to Baldwin on subsequent transactions. These secret negotiations went on and on; indeed, until the strike was brought to an end.

While all this was happening, the General Council pretended in public that the strike would not end until victory. Thus the British Worker of 10 May stated:


The General Council’s Message to Trade Union Members

We are entering upon the second week of the general stoppage in support of the mine workers against the attack upon their standard of life by the coalowners.

Nothing could be more wonderful than the magnificent response of millions of workers to the call of their leaders. From every town and city in the country reports are pouring into the General Council headquarters stating that all ranks are solid, that the working men and women are resolute in their determination to resist the unjust attack upon the mining community.

The General Council desire to express their keen appreciation of the loyalty of the trade union members to whom the call was issued and by whom such a splendid response has been made ...

The General Council’s message at the opening of the second week is: ‘Stand Firm. Be Loyal to Instructions and Trust your Leaders.’ [8]

To encourage the same spirit, the paper also published the following item:


Veteran, Leader, Cheered by Splendid Solidarity

‘I am pleased I did not die last year,’ says Mr Harry Gosling MP in a letter to members of the Transport and General Workers’ Union. ‘Even if I do not live to see the end of the struggle, my life would have been worth while. I am glad I have lived to see this splendid demonstration of solidarity that is the first of its kind in the world’s history.’ [9]

Such a scale of bureaucratic cretinism was indeed ‘the first of its kind in world history’! But still rank-and-file solidarity shone through. On 11 May – one day before the strike was called off – the British Worker announced:


‘All solid – spirit wonderful – conduct of the men leaves nothing to be desired,’ is the purport of messages which continue to pour into the headquarters of the Transport and General Workers’ Union from branches around the country. [10]

Then came the following statement:

Message from the executive council and officers to our members:
The might of the governments cannot defeat men who are in the right.
Remain calm and undaunted.
Do not be provoked to disorder.
Our passive resistance is invincible.
We shall continue steadfast in our stand for justice and right.
Hold fast. We must see the Miners through.
(Signed) H. Gosling. Ernest Bevin. [11]

With the weekend over, the General Council was faced with the alternatives: either bring the strike to an end by negotiation, or extend it. Characteristically, they did both. On Friday 7 May the General Council issued instructions to trade union executives to bring out all the engineers, shipbuilding and textile workers so far unaffected by the strike, the order to be effective from Tuesday night, 11 May. The General Council used this intensification of the struggle as a ploy to end it.

While publicly the General Council was speaking about extending the struggle, completely different intentions were expressed in the diary of Walter Citrine. Here again and again we read that the strike must be brought to an end. Thus on Sunday 9 May, he wrote:

It was evident to me that the General Council were coming to the conclusion that it was simply hopeless to continue the strike if the intention was that in no circumstances and in no conditions would the miners accept any reductions. We cannot see any possibility of winning on this negative issue. [12]

On the same day, 9 May, Thomas declared at a public meeting in Hammersmith that ‘he had never disguised and did not disguise now that he had never been in favour of the principle of a general strike.’ He concluded:

The responsibility is indeed a heavy one. But there will be a graver responsibility on whichever side fails to recognise the moment when an honourable settlement can be arrived at. The moment must be accepted, and everyone must work to that end. [13]

The significance of these words was not lost on the government: they were quoted on the BBC’s 9 p.m. news bulletin, and given prominent coverage in two consecutive issues of the British Gazette. Thomas’s speech, and press speculation generally about secret negotiations, began to feed the miners’ suspicions.

An agency report in Thursday’s Manchester Guardian Bulletin stated: ‘It is understood Mr Baldwin and Mr Thomas are again in formal conversation with a view to seeing whether some understanding can be reached without delay.’ More newspaper speculation was inspired by MacDonald’s indiscreet comment to reporters that he was ‘keeping in continual touch with the government side, and was hourly in conference regarding settlement of the strike’. [14]

This led the General Council to deny categorically that any negotiations were taking place. On 7 May the British Worker stated:

It is being persistently stated that Mr Ramsay MacDonald, Mr Herbert Smith, Mr Arthur Cook, and other trade union leaders have been engaged in an attempt to reopen negotiations with a view to ending the General Stoppage.

The General Council wish it to be clearly understood that there is no truth in this assertion. No official or unofficial overtures have been made to the government by any individual or group of individuals, either with or without the sanction of the General Council. [15]

But the miners’ leaders did not trust this denial. On Saturday 8 May they heard that contact had been made with Samuel – though it was not the TUC that told them this. A.J. Cook and Herbert Smith asked why the negotiations with Samuel had been started without them. There was a fiery scene. John Bromley, the ASLEF leader, told Smith:

By God, we are all in this now, and I want to say to the miners in a brotherly, comradely way, but straight – but straight – that this is not a miners’ fight now. I am willing to fight right along with them and suffer as a consequence, but I am not going to be strangled by my friends.

Smith rose to this:

I am going to speak as straight as Bromley. If he wants to get out of this fight, well I’m not stopping him.

The quarrel was smoothed over by explanations that it was only a conversation that had been held with Samuel, not negotiations. [16]

Next day, 9 May, the miners’ leaders nevertheless became alarmed at what seemed to be going on. A.J. Cook described their feelings:

On Sunday 9 May it was quite evident that these discussions and pow-wows had reached a stage when the Negotiating Committee and the leaders of the Labour Party felt that something tangible had been secured to justify a move towards calling off the General Strike ... we were again pressed by certain individual to consider proposals for a reduction of wages. Attempts were being made by the Negotiating Committee to draft new formulae – to use the expression of our president, ‘to provide a new suit of clothes for the same body’ ... It did seem terrible that we had to fight, not only the government and the coal-owners, but certain Labour leaders as well. [17]

A meeting between the miners’ executive and the General Council took place at which the first draft of Samuel’s proposals was produced. The proposals took for granted that there must be wage cuts. Citrine described the meeting:

Herbert Smith was just as dour and dogged as ever. Miner after miner got up and, speaking with intensity of feeling, affirmed that the miners could not go back to work on a reduction of wages. Was all this sacrifice to be in vain? [18]

After the miners left, Samuel revised the draft and it was then submitted to the miners with a recommendation by the General Council to accept. In the early hours of the following morning, Tuesday 11 May, the miners replied to the General Council saying that they could not accept the proposal.

Later that same day the General Council decided to call off the strike on the basis of the Samuel Memorandum, even if the miners did not agree. The miners’ leaders were furious. Herbert Smith declared:

‘I don’t understand what has been going on in these conversations ... I protest about the miners not being consulted. Why should a decision be taken tonight? Have you committed us to anything?’ He was indignant at being presented with a finalised document without any opportunity for amendments. [19]

Cook wanted to know what guarantee there was that the government would accept Samuel’s proposals – including the reorganising of the mining industry. Thomas replied: ‘You may not trust my word, but will you accept the word of a British gentleman who has been Governor of Palestine?’

Members of the General Council were livid with Herbert Smith and A.J. Cook. Citrine reports that Arthur Hayday

pointed out that the miners were not aware of the general industrial situation. They were not trade unionists in the general sense. They were ignorant of the position. They lived in villages, and they thought in the mass. They did not realise that we could not keep people out much longer. They would never understand that all there would be left to sacrifice in a few days would be the broken-hearted best of our members.

Thomas followed and said that Hayday had put his hand right on the spot. The miners were not big enough. They were not trade unionists in a proper sense, and did not understand or very much care about what happened to the rest of the movement. [20]

George Hicks, the ‘left’ darling of the Communist Party, said:

You cannot ignore the action of the miners. They have put us in the soup. They have no regard at all for the thousands of people who have sacrificed their jobs. [21]

Thomas’s reassurance to Cook notwithstanding, Samuel never pretended that the government accepted his memorandum: Baldwin, J.R. Lane-Fox, the Minister of Mines, and Arthur Steel-Maitland, the Minister of Labour, saw Samuel on 8 May and told him that the abandonment of the strike must precede any negotiations. Steel-Maitland went so far as to write a letter emphasising that the government could not possibly agree to

procure the end of the general strike by a process of bargaining ... I am sure that the government will take the view that while they are bound most carefully and most sympathetically to consider the terms of any arrangement which a public man of your responsibility and experience may propose, it is imperative to make it plain that any discussion which you think proper to initiate is not clothed in even a vestige of official character. [22]

In a letter to the General Council after the strike Samuel stated:

I have made it clear to your committee from the outset that I have been acting entirely on my own initiative, have received no authority from the government and can give no assurances on their behalf. [23]

So the perfidious Thomas, Bevin, Pugh and the rest were lying through their teeth to the miners’ leaders.

The General Council made one last effort to carry the miners with them. In his pamphlet, The Nine Days, Cook describes how on Wednesday morning, 12 May, Labour Party and TUC leaders met miners’ officials once more. During an interlude

Ramsay MacDonald approached me and asked if he could come to see us and help us in this business as this ‘was a tragic blunder’. I replied: ‘No, you have already taken your stand in appealing to us to consider reductions and the full acceptance of the Samuel Report, which meant reductions. That has been your attitude throughout, and we do not want you to come to our meeting.’ [24]

Although during the meeting the miners’ leaders refused to inflict a humiliating settlement on their members, the General Council went ahead with its sell-out anyhow. The decision to surrender was unanimous. The two miners’ representatives on the 32-strong council were absent. Torn Richards was ill and Robert Smillie stayed in Scotland to assist his members there.

Later Ben Turner, a right-winger on the General Council, made this highly significant comment in a letter to the Communist Party-influenced Sunday Worker:

I don’t think you were just to the General Council of the TUC. You divided us into left-wingers and right-wingers ... [But] the absolute unanimity of the General Council in declaring the General Strike off did not divide us into left-wingers and right-wingers. [25]

From surrender to rout

On Wednesay evening, 12 May, the General Council issued the following statement to affiliated unions, trades councils and strike committees:

The General Council, through the magnificent support and solidarity of the trade union movement, has obtained assurances that a settlement of the mining problem can be secured which justifies them in bringing the general stoppage to an end. Conversations have been proceeding between the General Council representatives and Sir Herbert Samuel, chairman of the Coal Commission, who returned from Italy for the express purpose of offering his services to effect a settlement of the differences in the coal mining industry.

The government had declared that under no circumstances could negotiations take place until the General Strike had been terminated, but the General Council feel, as a result of the conversations with Sir Herbert Samuel and the proposals which are embodied in the correspondence and documents which are enclosed, that sufficient assurances had been obtained as to the lines upon which a settlement could be reached to justify them in terminating the General Strike.

The General Council accordingly decided at their meeting today to terminate the general stoppage in order that negotiations could be resumed to secure a settlement in the mining industry, free and unfettered from either strike or lockout.

The General Council feel, in taking the last steps to bring the crisis to an end, that the trade union movement has given a demonstration to the world of discipline, unity, and loyalty without parallel in the history of industrial disputes.


Yours fraternally,
Arthur Pugh, Chairman. Walter M. Citrine, Acting Secretary. [26]

The decision of the General Council to call off the strike was taken without consulting the miners. Only after the decision was taken were the miners’ representatives notified of it. As Cook describes:

In a long speech, Mr Pugh solemnly and seriously declared that the General Council had decided that these proposals [the Samuel Memorandum] must be accepted by the miners’ representatives as a basis for negotiations, and that they would call off the strike. They had guarantees that satisfied them that the government would accept these proposals, and that on the strike being withdrawn the lockout notices also would be withdrawn, and the miners should return to work on the status quo (with, of course, a reduction in wages to come after resumption of work). We were told these proposals were unalterable, could not be amended, that we had to accept them en bloc, as this was the unanimous decision of the TUC. [27]

Cook’s comment on the behaviour of the General Council was apt:

Before myself and my colleagues an abyss had opened. It was the culmination of days and days of faint heartedness. It had begun even before the General Strike with the attempt to use this magnificent expression of working-class solidarity as a mere bluff – albeit, gigantic bluff.

To prevent that bluff being called they had been prepared (on Saturday and Sunday and Monday, from the 1st to the 3rd of May) to give away all the TUC had stood for. They had been prepared to force us to retreat in order that they might carry out the retreat they longed for. When the truculence of the Tory Cabinet thrust them willy nilly into the General Strike they had not ceased in their endeavour to ‘smooth it over’. [28]

None of the editions of the British Worker revealed the crucial fact that the Miners’ Federation had issued a statement that they were ‘no party in any shape or form’ to the calling off of the strike. The evening edition of the British Worker on Wednesday 12 May ran banner headlines: Strike Terminates Today: Trade Union Congress General Council Satisfied that Miners Will Now Get a Fair Deal.

On Thursday evening, 13 May, the British Worker published the following statement:

The General Strike is ended. It has not failed. It has made possible the resumption of negotiations in the coal industry and the continuance during the negotiations of the financial assistance given by the government. [29]

There was not a word of truth in this: the government did not promise the continuation of subsidies to the mining industry. The historian Allen Hutt writes:

Comment on the misleading nature of these communications can be left to the reader. How some unions were deluded may be seen from the circular letter addressed by the Railway Clerks’ Association to its branches on 12 May. Signed ‘Yours in the Victory’ by general secretary A.G. Walkden, this letter ran in part: ‘I am very glad to say that the efforts of the TUC General Council during the stoppage have resulted in ensuring for the miners the inauguration of the large measures of reorganisation which have long been overdue in their industry, and the adoption of reforms which will bring for them a brighter and better future’ while they ‘also brought about an undertaking for the withdrawal of the lockout notices and the continuance of the subsidy for such reasonable period as may be required for completing the negotiations.’ Mr Walkden added that ‘it was part of the understanding on which the General Strike was concluded that there should be no victimisation on either side.’ At no single point did this letter bear any sort of relation to the facts. [30]

The telegram sent by Cramp to members of the NUR claimed not only that the lock-out notices had been withdrawn but that ‘There are to be no wage cuts whatever for the miners.’

Some strike committees took these bogus declarations at face value. Birmingham, for instance, printed a special ‘Victory Bulletin’ and even the militant committees in Islington and St Pancras thought there was cause to celebrate. Others were puzzled but felt certain that, in the words of the Wealdstone committee, ‘whatever the conditions, it means that justice has triumphed.’ [31] The Altrincham Express strike sheet reported on 13 May a huge victory meeting:

The portions of the settlement message that gave the greatest pleasure to the trades unionists of the district, were the following two sentences: The General Council have terminated the strike because they are convinced that the miners are now assured of a square deal – and – The miners wish to thank the General Council, the trades union movement, and all who have supported them, for their splendid help.

It was generally felt, that so long as the settlement seemed to be satisfactory to the miners, whatever it might be, it was satisfactory to the rest of the movement, for the fight had been waged on behalf of the miners. [32]

The employers’ vendetta

The headlines of the last issue of the British Gazette demolished whatever illusions remained: Unconditional withdrawal of notices by TUC. Men to return forthwith. Surrender received by Premier in Downing Street. The Daily Mail of 13 May exulted: ‘urrender of revolutionaries. Further headings were For King and Country and Revolution routed.

The workers who went on strike were now facing victimisation and reprisals. On the railways, in the docks, in passenger transport and the print, employers were taking advantage of the end of the strike to put the boot in. Threats of reduced wages and longer hours faced the workers. Humiliating documents were thrust before them for signature.

The General Council left each union to organise the return to work of its own members. These had to do the best they could to secure the reinstatement of members on the previous terms, and they found this difficult. Many of the men returning to work on Wednesday night and Thursday, including engineers who had only entered the strike at midnight on Tuesday, were refused employment. Others were offered terms which might include wage cuts, loss of seniority and pension rights, and a ban on union membership.

The reaction of the trade union leaders was pathetic. The TUC official Bulletin issued by the General Council on 13 May stated:

Those employers who are refusing to reinstate their workers unless wage reductions are accepted, are deliberately and maliciously defying His Majesty’s appeal for peace. [33]

Workers were so angry that, without waiting for an instruction from their own union executive, they refused to accept the degrading terms the employers tried to impose:

... the General Council [was] inundated with indignant telegrams and phone calls from strike committees ... All over the country strike committees were [calling] for a continuation of the struggle independently of national union leaderships. In some areas a rent strike was developing; in others, which had hitherto been peaceful, there were outbreaks of violence. There was, for instance, a major riot at Swindon on Thursday when a crowd of thousands, including women with aprons full of stones, prevented the first trams from returning to the streets. The Intelligence Committee reported on Thursday: ‘Feeling is running frightfully high all over the North.’ Desperate to regain the initiative, the executives of the three rail unions ordered their members not to resume work until previous agreements were recognised and the General Council issued a belated ‘Stand Together’ appeal of its own. [34]

Workers refused to give up the strike. The Postmaster General, as Chief Civil Commissioner, reported on 13 May at 11 a.m.:

Broadly speaking, the general strike still continued in all parts of the country, largely owing to the unwillingness of workers to return unless employers would take back the whole of the men who had gone on strike. [35]

J.H. Thomas told the House of Commons on Thursday, 24 hours after the General Council had declared the strike terminated, that the number of workers on strike had increased by 100,000. [36]

In Hull the railway and tram workers, and the dockers, refused to go back on Friday because 150 tramway employees were threatened with dismissal. On the same day a demonstration of 30,000 railway workers was held in Manchester, which affirmed a demand for unconditional reinstatement. On this day the BBC reported that there had been no general return to work, on Saturday railwaymen were still out everywhere although an agreement had been signed on Friday, and not until the weekend were terms of settlement reached for the printing workers and the dockers. [37]

The terms were very harsh. The railway unions were compelled to sign humiliating agreements, which did not, however, include wage reductions.

The trade unions admit that, in calling a strike, they committed a wrongful act against the Companies, and agree that the Companies do not, by reinstatement, surrender their legal rights to claim damages arising out of the strike from strikers and others responsible.

The unions undertake —

  1. Not again to instruct their members to strike without previous negotiations with the Company.
  2. To give no support of any kind to their members to take any unauthorised action.
  3. Not to encourage supervisory employees in the special class to take part in any strike. [38]

These terms were described as ‘eminently satisfactory’ (Thomas) and ‘very satisfactory’ (Bromley), while Mr Walkden spoke of the ‘managers magnanimous spirit’. [39]

The agreements reached by the TGWU for the dockers were similar to those made by the railway unions:

The Union undertakes:

  1. Not in future to instruct their members to strike, either nationally, sectionally, or locally for any reason without exhausting the conciliation machinery of the National Agreement.
  2. Not to support or encourage any of their members who take individual action contrary to the preceding clause.
  3. To instruct their members in any future dispute to refrain from any attempt to influence men in certain supervisory grades (to be specified hereafter) to take strike action. [40]

What about the press?

Settlement terms in connection with the strike on the press were, perhaps, more serious in the losses to the unions than in many of the other trades. In Glasgow the whole of the Outram Press, controlling four daily newspapers, turned ‘non-union’, enforcing its decision so strictly that its journalistic staff were forbidden to meet their union colleagues at a dinner. In Manchester the Manchester Guardian, famed for its tolerance, changed its habit of years and formed a ‘company union’.

In general, however, the settlement made between the Newspaper Proprietors’ Association and the unions concerned, for the London press, was largely copied in other provincial cities, with occasional local additions or alterations. The London terms included an agreement by the unions that there should be ‘no interference with the contents of the newspapers’ or with any of the members of the staffs who remained at work or returned to work during the period of the strike. No union interference was to be tolerated with the process of employment or discharge of members of the staff, nor were private secretaries or managers of departments necessarily to be union members. No ‘chapel’ meetings (meetings of the local union members in the newspaper office) were to be held during working hours, and strictest observance of agreements was henceforth to be ‘a matter of honour affecting each individual employer or employee’.

The government’s own printing plant posted a notice declaring that His Majesty’s Stationery Office would henceforth include non-union workers alongside union employees, and that any unionist returning to work must recognise that the plant would not be a union shop thereafter. [41]

The engineers were particularly bitter, facing victimisation after being called out on 11 May, although the General Council had by then already decided to call off the strike the next day.

Regional reports show that most of the AEU officers spent the whole of June dealing with victimisation problems: in Edinburgh, ‘immediately after the very precipitate and badly arranged calling off of the strike, we were in a sea of trouble in connection with the complaints of members who had failed to secure reinstatement’; in Glasgow, ‘many members have lost their employment, directly or indirectly because of the strike’; in Preston the organiser reported, ‘I feel it a crime that these men who were loyal in every degree should have been left without any safeguard against victimisation’; in Bristol it took until 27 May to sort out the terms of restarting work for all firms and even then eighty members were not back; ... on the Yorkshire coast ‘many members’ were still out of work at the end of May. [42]

The vindictiveness of the railway companies continued for many months after the strike. In October 1926, at the Labour Party Conference, Thomas stated that the NUR ‘had 45,000 men out of work who had not gone back to work since 1 May, and 200,000 who were working three days a week.’ [43] To some extent these figures reflect the general decline in railway freight transport due to the continuing coal lock-out, but there was also deliberate victimisation by the railway companies.


1. Bullock, p. 323.

2. Citrine, p. 185.

3. Citrine, p. 184.

4. Jones, volume 2, pp. 39–40.

5. Jones, volume 2, p. 40.

6. Jones, volume 2, p. 43.

7. Osbert Sitwell, Laughter in the Next Room (London 1950), p. 228.

8. British Worker, 10 May 1926.

9. British Worker, 9 May 1926.

10. British Worker, 11 May 1926.

11. British Worker, 11 May 1926.

12. Citrine, p. 188.

13. The Times, 10 May 1926.

14. Farman, pp. 276–8.

15. British Worker, 7 May 1926.

16. Citrine, p. 186.

17. Cook, pp. 18–19.

18. Citrine, p. 194.

19. Citrine, p. 195.

20. Citrine, p. 199.

21. Citrine, p. 203.

22. CAB 23/52 27 (26) 1, 8 May 1926, 6pm.

23. TUC Library, Box HD 5366.

24. Cook, p. 22.

25. Sunday Worker, 23 May 1926.

26. British Worker, 12 May 1926.

27. Cook, p. 20.

28. Cook, p. 21.

29. British Worker, 13 May 1926.

30. Hutt, pp. 158–9.

31. Farman, p. 291.

32. TUC Library, Box HD 5366.

33. TUC Library, Box HD 5366.

34. Farman, pp. 295–6.

35. CAB 23/53 31 (26)3, 13 May 1926.

36. Hansard, 13 May 1926.

37. Symons, p. 216.

38. Page-Arnot, The General Strike, p. 239.

39. Postgate, Horrabin and Wilkinson, p. 90.

40. Postgate, Horrabin and Wilkinson, p. 243.

41. Crook, pp. 462–3.

42. Morris, p. 101.

43. The Times, 13 October 1926.

Last updated on 15 August 2014