Posts Tagged ‘Frank Hodges’

Labour history uncut: the tale of not-so-Black Friday

21/03/2013, 04:24:09 PM

by Pete Goddard and Atul Hatwal

Within the Labour movement there are stories recounted through the ages that chill the blood. The tale of the 15th April 1921 or Black Friday (cue flash of lightning and crash of thunder) is one such legend.

On this dark day, the plucky, benighted miners were betrayed. The other unions stood silently by. The Labour party was cravenly silent and it was a disaster for the labour movement.

But was it really that simple?

For those taking part at the time, it certainly didn’t seem so.

Miners in Birmingham begin to suspect the guy in white has just taken a wrong turn off the golf course

Since the first world war, the government had run most of the mining industry, and had been doing very well out of it too. But by February 1921 price of coal had fallen sharply. With shipments of coal now coming in from Germany as part of reparations, the price was dropping faster than morale on the western front just after General Haig asked, “who fancies a stroll across the fields on this fine Somme morning?”

It looked like either redundancies or wage cuts were necessary. Or both.

Learning that mining was indeed dirty work, the government decided to act. They rushed through a bill to hand back the mines to their old private sector owners. Let them be the bad guys.


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