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Welsh History Review


Vol. 2, nos. 1-4 1964-65

The central labour college. Book review.

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judges and jury, and though Professor Keeton argues very ably that they
acted within the unsatisfactory rules and conventions of the day, he does
not deny their political motives-which were hardly comparable with
Pym's or Cromwell's.
Statesmen and conspirators at least knew what treatment they could
expect. The townsmen and countryfolk of the west who had in one way
or another become involved in Monmouth's rebellion were a different
matter. Jeffreys' notorious tour, with its sentences of death or transporta-
tion handed out by the hundred, is excused by three pleas as familiar in
the twentieth century as they were then: the stories were exaggerated for
propaganda purposes; other people did things just as bad; there were
orders from above. All the arguments contain a good deal of truth but
not much contribution to historical understanding. Certainly Whig
writers then, and later, circulated stories on inadequate evidence and
dressed up party interests as constitutional or humanitarian ideals;
certainly the Jacobite rebels of 1745 were ill-treated too; certainly James
and Sunderland approved of Jeffreys' activities. What does this prove?
Professor Keeton cannot claim to offer much new factual material.
There are no private Jeffreys papers, and it would be useful to have more
specific instances of apparently deliberate destruction of references to
him. The diaries of a moderate Whig baroner in Cheshire, Sir Willoughby
Ashton, which have not been much used before, have some vivid dialogue
but little significant information. When the lurid colours have been toned
down we are left with a pretty nasty specimen of the brutal authoritarian.
THE CENTRAL LABOUR COLLEGE. By W. W. Craik. Lawrence and Wishart,
1964. Pp. 192. 30s.
The Central Labour College by W. W. Craik suffers from the failing
memory of the author, and the complete lack of the records of the college.
Consequently, it is an inadequate account of an institution which, in the
thirteen effective years of its existence, turned out nineteen Labour
members of Parliament, six ministers of Cabinet rank, and three
general secretaries of national trade unions.
With one exception, every constituency in the South Wales coalfield has,
at one time or another, had an ex-Labour College student as its member.
This is part of the story that is missing, together with the support that
the South Wales miners gave to the rebellious students. Without that
support there would have been no college.
The author describes the establishment of Ruskin College, Oxford, in
1899, by a wealthy American, with the object of 'training working men
for service in the Labour Movement'. The conflict between the ideas of
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