Why did the General Strike of 1926 take place?

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History Coursework- Sophie Garrod 5MCG

Why did the General Strike of 1926 take place?

     The General Strike took place as a result of short and long-term problems. Long term factors such as the increase in Trade Union members, the change of ownership in the mines, and the threat of Communism were all starting points. The price of coal fluctuating along with economic instability in Britain, the US and Germany and the adherence to the Gold Standard also contributed to the timing of the General Strike. The growth of the Labour Party and the threat of nationalisation made private mine owners feel insecure. The First World War had seen the mines put into government hands. This meant national wage schemes and a seven-hour day guaranteed. However, at the end of the war the Sankey Report failed to report back uncammanly for nationalisation and Lloyd George did not enforce it. This meant workers found themselves back to regional pay scales and longer hours.


     Firstly, after World War One, the British citizens were expecting a change in lifestyle, and after losing many family members; they were expecting what the Prime Minister had promised them ‘a fit country for heroes to live in’. The standard of life during the war was considerably bad, as the government abandoned the need of food and supplies, and concentrated on military and war associated requirements. This meant that many imports and exports were lost for several reasons for example cotton from India and supplies from Japan, older industries such as coal; shipbuilding and steel were becoming extremely overpriced. Unemployment became high at 10% and falling prices were the beginning of a long struggle in the economy. Expectations were high in Britain at the time. So Winston Churchill decided to put Britain back on the Gold Standard to bring the economy back up, Britain had been taken off of the Gold Standard in 1914 and because the pound was no longer backed by gold anymore, it dropped in value quickly, worth only $3.20 after the war, rather than the $4.86 it was worth before the war. This meant that British goods where cheaper to buy overseas and fuelled the export decrease until 1920. However, the pound rapidly grew stronger, and by 1925 it recovered its pre-war value.

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Once the Ruhr had regained its freedom from France, the coal from the Ruhr became a competition to Britain when it entered the market. This meant that the price of coal was increased so that the mine-owners made a profit. However, between 1923 and 1924, there was a shortage of coal particularly in the United States and the Ruhr. This meant that the price of coal increased in Britain and the wages were cut. However, in 1925 when the Ruhr crisis happened, the price of coal went considerably low. The government did take action though, by giving a subsidy to ...

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