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Unemployment and the state in BritainThe means test and protest in 1930s south Wales and north-east England$
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Stephanie Ward

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780719086809

Published to Manchester Scholarship Online: January 2014

DOI: 10.7228/manchester/9780719086809.001.0001

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Taking a Stand: The Response of the Unemployed 1931–34

Taking a Stand: The Response of the Unemployed 1931–34

(p.116) 4 Taking a Stand: The Response of the Unemployed 1931–34
Unemployment and the state in Britain

Stephanie Ward

Manchester University Press

This chapter draws together the themes of the previous two chapters to analyse how the unemployed responded to the means test. While many studies of the unemployed have noted that the movement against the means test generated the largest interwar demonstrations, there has been little attempt to look at these movements in detail. By comparing the anti-means test protests in south Wales and the north-east of England, this chapter considers how protests were shaped by place, political culture and traditions. The attempts to develop a sustained movement of the unemployed by the Communist Party and the affiliated National Unemployment Workers’ Movement are contrasted to the leadership offered by the Labour Party and trade unions. The protests of unemployed and employed, men and women and the policing of the marchers, are considered at a local, regional and national level. While the marches of the unemployed may have captured the public imagination, this chapter is also concerned with the other ways in which the voice of protest could be expressed.

Keywords:   Protest, Demonstrations, Social movements, Labour movement, Communist Party, National Unemployed Workers’ Movement, Policing, Unemployed, Means test

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