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Popular Politics and Popular Culture in the Age of the Masses

Studies in Lancashire and the North West of England, 1880s to 1930s

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Jeffrey Hill

The book is a selection of essays from the author’s work since the early 1980s. It presents an analysis of political and cultural trends based upon a series of case studies drawn from the North West of England, covering mainly the years between the Third Reform Act (1884) and the outbreak of the Second World War. The region was a heavily industrialized one, seen by many as in the vanguard of changes that gave rise to what is often referred to as ‘modern’ society. In politics the emergence in North West England of a new labour consciousness is plainly evident, but so too is the survival and adaptation of older political allegiances, notably popular Toryism. The region is also renowned in cultural terms for the emergence of modern sport, examined here in relation to both association football and cricket. Keenly aware of the general political, social and cultural developments in Britain and elsewhere during these years, the author is also alert to their impact in particular localities. The theme of locality has been a recurring one in the author’s research, and the composition of this book reflects his changing approaches to it and to other, related issues of identity.
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Chapter Two: The Lancashire Miners, Thomas Greenall and the Labour Party, 1900–1906

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← 30 | 31 → CHAPTER TWO

The Lancashire and Cheshire Miners’ Federation (LCMF) was the first of the big county miners’ unions to become affiliated to the Labour Party. It did so in 1903, a full six years before the general passage of the Miners’ Federation of Great Britain (MFGB) from Liberal to Labour. This early alignment of the Lancashire Miners with the new party, though an event of some significance in Labour politics, has not elicited very much detailed comment from historians,1 for whom the explanation for Lancashire’s affiliation has been sought in the unique convergence of pressures affecting the miners of this region. It is generally recognised that the Lancashire Miners shared with their fellow workers in other coalfields a desire for parliamentary representation as a means of securing remedial legislation for the industry. Thus the LCMF had been a prominent campaigner for the Eight Hour Day ever since the issue had first been raised in the early 1890s and had later come to embrace a number of other legislative objectives, including the controversial demand for the nationalisation of the mining industry.2 Consequently, the Lancashire Federation was no stranger to electoral activity and in 1892 and again in 1895 had mounted campaigns ← 31 | 32 → in the Wigan coalfield to elect miners’ leaders to Parliament. Indeed, the Federation President Sam Woods had represented Ince3 as a Lib-Lab for three years from 1892. But historians have been quick to point out that a feature peculiar to the working class...

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