Was government mismanagement the most important cause of the General Strike of 1926? There were many factors in the lead up to the strike of 1926 which could be blamed for causing it. However it is argued Government mismanagement is the most important cause due to the fact that it had such a significant impact because it was a continual cause and that it could be blamed as a trigger for the start of it. One of these factors that could be classed as a cause for the General Strike of 1926 is the infamous coal owners.
In particular the attitude of these coal bosses towards their workers is an issue. Their selfish outlook on life was first emphasized when in the early asses the price of coal began to drop but instead of taking it on the shoulder and sacrificing some of their profits they decided the only solution was to introduce harsh pay cuts and longer days. Moreover the conditions in the mines continued to deteriorate as the owners refused to use any of their own money to help the miner’s lives out even to the extent that some wouldn’t even provide a pithead bath.
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This angered the miners as there was no sign of any compromise. Additional factors that could be responsible for the strike of 1926 are the social and political causes. The growth of left wing politics is an important issue because it sets off warning signs for both the working and upper class due to the communist uprising that was currently happening in Russia. Therefore fear quickly spread throughout the country which cause the government to slightly panic and left themselves vulnerable to any pressure from miners who were already thinking about striking.
The social factor of education also had an impact on the events of 1926. This because for the first time in British history the working class were now being educated and were therefore more likely to stand up for themselves as they were owe able to negotiate and offer compromise towards mine owners and the government. Furthermore if required they were now able to organism themselves and co-ordinate a strike in response to any wrong doing. The Trade Union Congress was another important cause for the General Strike of 1926. This was due to their half hearted approach.
As most of the members, who ran and organized the UTC, had a social status closer to that of the MSP than the working class miners it meant they didn’t care about the cause as much as they should of and had a very moderate approach. This in fact angered the miners and other strikers ore as once again they felt they weren’t being properly represented. Also as the UTC rarely communicated with them and when they did it was a telegram consisting change and the strikers could easily notice there was no fight in the UTC so believed they would have to take it into their own hands.
Arguably however government mismanagement was still the major cause in triggering the General Strike. The first failure the government made was in 1919 with the Snakes Commission. In 1919, the miners put forward demands for a 30 percent wage increase, a reduction of working hours from eight to six per day, and assassination of the industry with Joint control by owners and miners. The miners were angry that the mines were privatized, with rich upper class people who really did not care about miners tending to the mines which lead to a ridiculously high death rate where the focus was not safety, but money.
So to prevent an extremely likely strike from not Just the miners but from the Triple Alliance the David Lloyd George government promised the Snakes Commission. The Commission issued its report in two parts. In the first part, made public Just 17 days after the Commission ad been set up, it conceded the miners’ demands for higher wages and a seven- hour day, and suggested the prospect of a six-hour day in the not too distant future. As to the question of the ownership of the miners, the Commission said nothing for the time being.
This is where they made a mistake by not acting sooner, when they had the chance, with the problem of who should own the mines. Therefore as the years went on it became increasingly difficult to intervene and the miners became less likely to compromise and more likely to strike. Another problem the government somehow made worse was Red Friday. The industrial dispute of 1925 between the miners and the mine owners over pay cuts and longer working days threatened strike action once again until the intervention of the government and the then Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin.
The threat of union action forced the government to offer a 9 month subsidy so that the miners’ wages would stay the same and the mine bosses would stop the idea of introducing pay cuts. However what Baldwin did was not necessary a good idea for two reasons, firstly as it showed he was vulnerable in giving into union pressure, which meant the union loud know what to do again if they were in trouble, and secondly he only postponed problem 9 month, which in fact meant they had more of a difficult task after the subsidy had ran out as no one willing to negotiate or compromise and expected the same again.
Therefore I do agree with the statement that government mismanagement was the most important cause of the 1926 General Strike as although there were many other significant factors because of the continual problems the government caused and the fact that they were in the best position to make a difference I think they are to blame.