Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Don't shade your eyes

I'm posting from work, because this is (unusually) a work-related question. And I do mean 'question': I will be expecting comments. Look sharp.

I'm formulating a research proposal, building on the work I've done on what went on in Italy between 1966 and 1980. Basically, you have two successive waves of protest: one which starts in the universities around 1966, spreads to the factories and goes crazy around 1969 before subsiding; and another which starts in the factories around 1972, spreads to working-class neighbourhoods and from there to the universities, and goes crazy around 1977 before subsiding.

I've made them sound reasonably similar, but there was one crucial difference between the two. The first wave died away because Communist-affiliated trade unionists got behind it, with the result that the workers basically got what they were asking for (on the condition that they stayed with the union). By the time of the second wave, by contrast, the Italian Communists were in their ultra-respectable phase: the second wave died away largely because the police forced it off the streets using armoured cars and live ammunition, with the Communists' full support. So in one case the protest achieved a lot and stopped because, for most people, it wasn't needed any more; in the other case it achieved next to nothing and stopped because, for most people, it wasn't worth the aggro any more.

What I'm looking for is examples of the same scenarios happening in Britain. Either:
  1. Protest starts
  2. Protest spreads
  3. It all kicks off in a big way
  4. Demands are more or less met with a little help from Labour
  5. Protest dies away because most people don't see the need any more
  1. Protest starts
  2. Protest spreads
  3. It all kicks off in a big way
  4. Public order clampdown with full support of Labour
  5. Protest dies away because most people don't think it's worth it any more

I don't think I'm going to have an enormous amount of difficulty thinking of examples of the second scenario - the 1993-4 period springs to mind straight away. I could do with some suggestions for examples of the first scenario, though. There have to be some...

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Blogger John Angliss said...

Does the 1926 general strike work?

29/11/06 16:00  
Blogger Phil said...

I don't think so. Spartacus sez:

"In 1927 the British Government passed the Trade Disputes and Trade Union Act. This act made all sympathetic strikes illegal, ensured the trade union members had to voluntarily 'contract in' to pay the political levy, forbade Civil Service unions to affiliate to the TUC, and made mass picketing illegal."

The two best examples I've been able to think of are the 1974 miners' strike (which sank Heath) and the, er, 1974 Ulster Workers' Council strike (which sank Stormont). The 1970s - it wasn't all flares and spacehoppers.

30/11/06 16:27  
Blogger Rob Jubb said...

The best I can come up with is Taff Vale, but that wasn't really the Labour Party as such, more the Labour movement, whose interests it directly concerned anyway. In a really restricted sense, and I show both my Whiggish contempt for our backward Mediterreanan cousins and party affiliation here, we might be glad of the difficulty in finding examples of 1: it shows that the British political elite wasn't quite as egregiously unjust as the Italian one, since, postwar at least, most of the time basic - and I mean basic in the first, and absolutely crucial sense - criteria of legitimacy were met, and the so the scope for protest was more limited. But even I know that's pushing it.

Actually, hang on. I maybe thought of one: what happened after Brixton in 1981? Was the Scarman report implemented? How much did Labour have to do with that?

30/11/06 23:20  
Blogger Alistair D'souza said...

hi Phil,

I just moved to blogger Beta a couple of hours back and found the problem you and deepa were discussing... i.e. about the previous posts section anways showing the most recent posts. I see from your blog that its not fixed as per the way we want it to be... show the posts written before the post we just clicked and are viewing... were you able to get some idea of how this is to be fixed or if it cannot be fixed in beta...

3/12/06 11:57  
Blogger Martin Wisse said...

Of example two, there's probalby a good reason you haven't mentioned it, but the 1984 miners strike?

4/12/06 14:05  
Blogger Phil said...

Martin - thanks for that. I overlooked the miners' strike because I was thinking of protest 'spreading' in terms of spreading to different and unconnected groups. If you omit that requirement it fits rather well.

4/12/06 14:53  
Blogger Phil said...

Alistair - no luck, I'm afraid. I'm probably going to go over to the date-hierarchy display.

4/12/06 14:54  
Anonymous Jim Bliss said...

How about the fuel protests of 2000? Despite being a bunch of planet-despoiling bastids, they do seem to fit scenario 1.

8/12/06 13:19  
Blogger Freudian Slip said...

Is it me or do these protests just not carry the weight they use to?
Less power for the people...

24/12/06 05:32  

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