The Scottish Miners, 1874-1939: Trade Unions and Politics
- Publish Date: 2000-11-13
- Binding: Hardcover
- Author: Alan Campbell
The Scottish coalfields were among the first areas in Britain to develop socialist politics from the 1880s onwards, although widespread electoral support for the Labour Party was not established until after the First World War. Sections of the Scots miners were also unusual in their support for communism. A breakaway 'Red' union was established in 1929 and two out of the three Communist MPs elected in Britain during the interwar period represented seats in the Scottish coalfields. Strikes were also much more frequent than in any of the English mining areas. But such political radicalism and industrial militancy were far from uniform, either between or within the principal Scots mining regions. This diversity provides the ideal arena in which to analyse the complex and intellectually contested relationships between political and industrial behaviour and class, ethnicity and gender. These volumes develop a new and multi-facetted approach to labour history by studying the interplay between the economic, social and political spheres at the local, regional and national levels for an important group of workers - by the 1920s, miners were the largest single occupational group in Scotland. The books therefore represent not just the study of one group of workers and their families but also make an important and novel contribution to the social history of modern Scotland. Both volumes draw on an exceptionally wide range of documentary and oral sources , including interviews with veteran miners, trade union and employers' records, Communist Party and Comintern records which have only recently been made accessible, previously unused government papers, Board of Trade Dispute books, the local and socialist press as well as census enumerators' books and civil marriage registers. They engage with a series of ongoing debates - on employers' strategy and the labour process, the meanings of 'community', reciprocities between social identities, 'rank and fileism' the character of communism in Britain - and will prove essential reading for students of labour, social, economic and contemporary history, politics, sociology and industrial relations.