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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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The Government Attempts to Take a Stand: The Establishment of the UAB and Mass Action

The Government Attempts to Take a Stand: The Establishment of the UAB and Mass Action

(p.161) 5 The Government Attempts to Take a Stand: The Establishment of the UAB and Mass Action
Unemployment and the state in Britain

Stephanie Ward

Manchester University Press

The protests in early 1935 against the newly established Unemployment Assistance Board drew crowds of hundreds of thousands and contributed to the government introducing a legal standstill of the reformed means test regulations. This chapter examines the attempt by the National Government to centralise the administration of unemployment benefit, ending local control over the means test, and the movement against the new measures. One of the important features of the protests in 1935 was the role of bodies and organisations beyond the unemployed; these included working-class wives and children, and middle-class shopkeepers, teachers and chapel and church leaders. Why such a cross section of society became involved, and the nature of ‘community’ protests are considered. Emphasis continues to be placed upon the leadership of the unemployed, and the role of these bodies in organising action from the very announcement of benefit changes in 1933 is analysed. The reasons why south Wales produced a greater number of street protests in comparison to the north-east of England is considered. The tactics of the police in managing the crowds and allegations of police heavy handedness form an important part of the debate within this chapter.

Keywords:   Unemployment benefit, Community, Class, Protest, Marches, Unemployment Assistance Board, Militancy, Government, Policing, Middle class

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