The Great Labour Unrest


The Great Labour Unrest examines the struggle between liberals, socialists and revolutionary syndicalists for control of Britain’s best established district miners’ union. Drawing widely on a vast and rich body of primary sources, this study reveals the debates that grassroots activists had during the fascinating and turbulent ‘Great Labour Unrest’ period. It charts the contexts in which the socialists challenged the union’s Liberal leaders from the late 1890s and considers the complex strikes in 1910 against the implementation of the Liberal government’s miners’ eight-hour day. It analyses the emergence and development of a mass rank-and-file movement in the coalfield based around demands for a miners’ minimum wage and, when this principle was won in March 1912, for an improved minimum wage. This book is of interest to academics, advanced students and lay people interested in political, social and economic history, political thought, economics, and industrial relations.


‘Mates claims to offer a case study which gives a new perspective on the nature and significance of the turmoil in Edwardian Britain. It is a claim that is well justified. Like every good case study, it demonstrates the complexity of events and the role of the personal and the idiosyncratic. But it also demonstrates convincingly the intertwining of the political and the industrial struggles in the early years of the twentieth century, with the consequences that are with us still.’
Quentin Outram, University of Leeds, Labour History Review, vol. 81 No. 2 July 2016

‘This is a painstakingly thorough account.’
Don Watson, North East History no. 47 2016


Lewis H. Mates is Tutor in Politics at Durham University