As a librarian, my father did not take part in the general strike of 1926. He thought of himself as a man of religion, rather than a man of politics, He didn’t see any connection between the two. The Lord alone knows what he would be thinking these days, what with libraries closing left right and centre because of the need for “austerity” and a lack of care about how people might educate themselves. Then again, he wasn’t too bothered about education either, unless it was education in the will of God. He educated me and my sisters in the will of God himself, by preaching at us at home from Monday to Saturday, and by making us go to Church and to Sunday School every Sunday. He also encouraged our moral upbringing by nipping us hard on the legs every time he felt that we had strayed from the one true path of righteousness. I am sure that he was the reason that I suffered so bad with my veins in later life.
Anyway, whether he supported it or not, the general strike was a big feature of 1926. Another example of the working people of Britain attempting to earn a decent living and being slapped down by the ruddy Tories. That sodding stupid rag the Daily Mail was in the thick of it as usual an’all, writing their usual tripe about Communist plots to overthrow the government. They took a bit of a knock when the Print Workers refused to print it. The prime minister was spluttering about the liberty of the press and free speech. I wish they had closed it down forever, and I’m not even a communist either, I just don’t like people who tell fibs, particularly rich people who tell fibs in print, and ruin honest people’s lives by doing it.
George V wasn’t too pleased either. Of course, he couldn’t have a direct shot at the Mail, what with him being the King and all that. But He did say that before anyone started having a go at the strikers, they should try living on their wages. A bit rich for the ruddy King, but his heart was in the right place. The way I see it, the Royal Family can’t help being the Royal family, but Tories could try and stop being grasping so and sos. What happens when a member of the Royal family starts talking sense? They make him out to be a bumbling idiot. Look at Prince Charles. Anyway, the strike came to nothing really. It only lasted ten days. Blacklegs, the army and special constables kept things going, and the government saw no need to listen to the unions’ demands. Mines were closed. Wages dropped. Poverty continued. The nobs kept their riches. The Daily Mail continued to support them. The Jarrow hunger matches were ten years away.
Doris’s Pop pick of 1926: “When the Red Red Robin Comes Bob Bob Bobbin’ Along” by Al Jolson. A nice cheerful little number, for a miserable little year.