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Lecture 6

HIS349 Lecture 6.docx

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Sarah Amato

Lecture 6 Oct 18 Early Twentieth-Century Britain Keywords: -Golden Age -Strange death of liberal England? -Charles Booth's Life and Labour of the people in London (1889-1900) -Seebohm Rowntree, Poverty, A study of Town Life 1901 -Fabian Society 1884 -Beatrice and Sidney Webb, George Bernard Shaw -Independent Labour Party 1893/ Labour Representative Committee 1899/The Labour Party 1906 -Taff Vale Dispute 1901 -New Liberalism -Liberal Victory 1906 -Free school meals and medical inspection 1906 -Old Age Pensions 1908 -Labour Exchanges 1909 -Trades Board Act 1909 -1911 National Insurance Act -People's Budget 19010 -Parliament Bill 1911 The Goden Age 1900-1914 -1920s and beyond through the lens of WWI; before then remembered as a golden age in Britain, period between 1900 and 1914 -cite a particular type of enjoyment most people have in the arts and in consumerism as contributing to golden age -artistic developments that shaped our understanding of the age, flourishing of the music hall; working class actors dominate -flourishing of consumer society, more and more goods becoming available; department store and bargain basement reach maturity -lots of people can access these goods more and more freely -improvement in standards of living -other interpretation of this era; era of soul-searching and crises arising just before the war -1900-1916 often thought about/written about according to the phrase: bringing about the strange death of liberal England -about increased attention to economic crisis in Britain; in 1870s through 90s, economy seems to be stagnating, certainly in comparison to its other European competitors, mostly Germany, who seem to be experiencing constant economic growth -particular industries like coal and cotton are hard hit in the 1880s and 90s -latter half of 19th century, all sorts of new social investigations being conducted, mostly by middle class intellectuals; social investigations gain lots of publicity Charles Booth's Life and Labour of the People of London 1889-1900, Seebohm Rowntree, Poverty, A study of Town Life 1901 -Charles Booth; launches social investigation thinking that he is not going to find much evidence for dire poverty in inner London; interested in disputing the claims of intellectual socialists that industrialism has worsened the plight of the people -he is shocked by what he finds; 30% of the working population of inner London is living in what he calls absolutely degraded conditions, too degraded to be independent -Booth ventures into inner cities and shines a light on the poverty he finds there; attention to the condition of England -Rowntree does the same thing in the city of York; poverty not localized to city of London, occurred throughout the country, in all the industrial areas -concern hit home particularly hard during the Boer War i.e. recruits turned away, deemed unfit for service -result of investigations, it becomes known that the children of the working class in particular are malnourished -study compares 13 year old children, finds working class children are 15 pounds lighter and 2 or so inches shorter than private school children (public school not funded by the state at this point) -thought that dominant liberal ideology, laissez faire is no longer working; ideas in later 19th century that are being proposed as solutions to the crisis that Britain is in, in terms of its population and poverty -one solution proposed by socialists; socialism in Britain throughout the 19th century is largely an intellectual middle class movement, with various strands of socialism; in common with all groups; create a society characterized by cooperation instead of competition -most influential strand of socialism is Fabian, 1884 Fabians -leaders: George Wallace, Beatrice and Sidney Webb and George Bernard Shaw -middle class intellectuals, invested in thinking about the optimal ways in which the state should run; advocate through 1880s and influence in early 20th century in developing bureaucratic expertise; duty of responsible government is to make informed decisions and to rely on the experts of bureaucrats to make those decisions -argue that social institutions need reform, draw conclusion from 3 principles areas of endeavour: -first, Fabians are early sociologists; go out, gather statistics, believe that all decisions the government makes should be informed decisions, concentrate on mechanisms and statistics surrounding the poor law of 1884, and assess workhouses -examine institutions regarding the poor -second, propose that the government must provide some legislation and institutional reform to correct extreme cases of poverty -third, they advocate income redistribution between the rich and the poor -seek out an alliance with the Liberal party in the early 20th century; exert tremendous influence on the liberal party, and are part of the early architects of welfare systems in Britain in the early 20th century Rise of the labour party -same thing, changes in name, as party goes through changes in organization -labour is a strange case in Britain; it is the liberal party for most of the 19th century, is the party of both middle and working class in Britain; into the 1880s, it seems that workers are satisfied with having their interests represented by liberals -minimal government intervention, self help philosophy -change comes in 1880s and 90s in response to these extreme economic crises and downturns in cotton and coal industries in particular -economic downturn makes clear to some labour leaders that it would be in the interest of the working class to represent themselves in parliament; self representation in parliament idea - 1893 in response to dire conditions of coal/cotton industries, a number of working class clubs meet in Bradford and form the independent labour party in 1893; radical statement - vow to secure the collective ownership of the means of production; policy initially is deemed too extreme to gain adherence; in particular, support that the party needs is union support; support of the unions on mass does not arrive until turn of the 20th century, 1901 -number of workers who have joined unions increases substantially; over 1.4 million workers in 1900; 4 million by 1914 -2 periods of economic crises lead to economic unionism -in 1901, labour party interests join union interests - Taff Vale Dispute 1901 -strike in 1900 on the Taff Vale railway line in South Wales; sue union for damages accrued during the strike - court rules in favour of employers; gives potential for all strikers to henceforth be liable for the costs incurred during a strike; essentially means that it can be prohibitively expensive to go on strike -union joins forces with labour party to gain representation in parliament and to agitate for causes of the working class within the parliamentary system; by 1901, something like 120 unions join with forces of labour party -1901, clout of labour party is worrying the liberal party; between 1901 and 06, they form a liberal-labour alliance; agree in constituencies of a running labour candidate, no liberal candidate will run - will not run against each other in an election - labour agrees to support the liberal party in exchange; alliance is hugely beneficial to labour such that in 1906 election, labour gains 29 seats -liberal government coming to power in 1906 is hugely influential, huge mandate for governance, huge majority supported in addition to these 29 labour party seats-liberal government is very important; great reforming ministry; huge impact on social legislation in Britain -intellectual influence that is driving the labour party comes from several strands; one hand, by Fabian society, and also forming what has been termed as a kind of new liberalism New Liberalism -strand of thought developed by intellectuals, businessmen and writers gathered around the liberal party in early 20th century and who break with Victorian liberalism; question the logic of the laissez faire policy which had dominated liberal thinking prior -realize that self regulation of the market economy had resulted in some of the dire social conditions present in Britain -suggest that the state should intervene in society when necessary; intervention they advocate is very very limited, just interested in creating the necessary conditions for society to thrive -elected government of 1906 is heavily influenced by these new strands of liberal thought; sets Britain on the road to the welfare state -one of the great reforming ministries of the 20th centuries -implements a series of legislation which are created to improve the condition of the people and to improve conditions for individuals to thrive Free School Meals and Medical Inspection 1906 -provides free school meals to children in English and Welsh schools, beginning of nourishment for an underfed population, and establishes medical inspections in schools Old Age Pensions 1908 -very important because its the beginning of the government's starting to think about government obligations towards the elderly -by 1908, very beginning of growing numbers of workers reaching old age; legislation provides a very small income (minimal) given out weakly to elderly workers who qualify; astonishing because you can collect the weekly
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