There is financial difficulty and emotional loss. There is drink and a tinge of despair. The Liberal Party ploughs its way from crisis to crisis, and Asquith has neither the capacity nor the will to sustain its life. It is, then, certainly not a history of personal happiness and consummate political achievement. Yet, Koss is at pains to emphasize, and rightly, that it was the life Asquith himself wanted, and he has not painted a pathetic picture of a man suborned from greatness by the imperious will of Margot. KEITH ROBBINS Bangor 1926: THE GENERAL STRIKE. Edited by Jeffrey Skelley. Lawrence and Wishart, 1976. Pp. xiv, 412. Hardback £ 6.00, paperback £ 2.00. The fiftieth anniversary of the General Strike stimulated a whole crop of books, monographs and articles, to say nothing of television specials and radio programmes, which sought to reassess the most dramatic event in British interwar history. The subject had become even more topical, because mining and the miners were once again at the centre of British politics. Partly because of this, the emphasis in all this discussion was much more serious than in some earlier accounts, which had concentrated on the British middle class muddling through, with undergraduates in plus-fours and fair-isle pullovers driving buses and trains. Such emphasis could hardly be expected from a book published by Lawrence and Wishart, in which many of the contributors are members of the Communist Party. Instead, the thesis of a really revolutionary situation in which the working class, only dimly aware of the opportunity their remarkable solidarity had created, was betrayed by self-serving leaders is implicit in many of the individual contributions. Prominent too in some of the essays are the hard facts about the coal crisis, the collapse of Britain's traditional export industries, and the subjugation of manufacture to finance, symbolised by the catalytic, and catastrophic, decision to return to the Gold Standard in 1925. But the real value of this collection of separate studies and personal memoirs is their regional focus. The great gap in our knowledge of the Strike has been at the local level. Apart from Emile Burn's pathfinding 1926 study, Trades Councils in Action, which was based on reports sub- mitted by strike leaders, regional analyses have been few and far between. Yet if we are really to understand the Strike, why it happened as it did, why it was so solid, and why it failed, we have to understand the differences between the regions, which were much greater then than now. So it is refreshing in these pages to be able to follow events not only on Wales, but also Scotland, Lancashire, Yorkshire, the Midlands and the West Country, as well as London-though Whitechapel rather than Whitehall. The problem with this regional perspective is revealed in George Barnsby's workmanlike chapter, where he states baldly 'There are no surviving trade union sources for the strike in the Black Country'. New branch secretaries sweep clean, and old records are slung out just at the time when
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