Tuesday 14 August 2018

Counting Down And Up

As the year 2018 begins to wind its way to its weary end, will we, won't we have a General Election, or perhaps the return of Corporal Punishment and the rest, there are predictions to be made for next year, 2019 and the doom mongers are winding up the clock.

David Olosuga in The Guardian has run a think piece to warn us of what is to come if history repeats itself or rather belches up more bad news in the shape of disturbances, revolts and trouble for us all as the strains and differences among us become more violent. He turns to the years 1819 and 1919.

He cites the Massacre of Peterloo in 1819 when the working classes went to a meeting at St. Peters' Fields by Manchester on a holiday to hear speeches by reformers wanting them to have the franchise and major political reforms.

The local magistrates holed up in an inn took fright after having a few jars and decided to send in the militia to move them on. The militia, being amateur weekend soldiers and more to the point were of the local ruling class made a mess of it. How much the regular cavalry were involved is a question for debate.

There were deaths and it made the media of its day and again arguably finally set in motion the movement to the great reforms of later decades. My initial thinking on this arose from seeing the film "Fame Is The Spur" of the late 1940's based on the Howard Spring book which took the side of the reformers.

This was in the belief that should any of my lot have been there being but humble, well not quite, workers they would have been among the mass of the people. Sadly, research has come up with one certain person present. It seems that mine was one of the officers of the Militia with a brother-in-law who was with James Skinner at the founding of the regiment Skinners' Horse in India with Arthur Wellesley, later Tory Duke of Wellington.

Which brings me to 1919 and what happened in Liverpool and Glasgow, Royal Naval ships were sent to the former and tanks to the latter as major demonstrations erupted in both cities as the after effects of World War 1 hit their economies. What is interesting about the Liverpool one is that one of the Kings Liverpool Regiment Pals Battalions had been sent to Murmansk and Archangel in support of the White Russians in the aftermath of the revolution of 1917.

It does not take much imagination to think how this went down in Liverpool a City that had given so much to King and Country only for the government to renege on its release promises to troops to assist the Tsar. It delivered a popular cause in the hands of communists and hard left interests.

But there was more to it than that. WW1 and the submarine war had meant that most of the old steamships of 1914 had gone and had been replaced by much bigger, faster merchant ships with modern engines etc. That meant the volume of imports needed a lot fewer ships and in design etc. needed far fewer dock workers to deal with them. Also, many of the old docks were too small for them so they went elsewhere and to add to the pressures fewer and modern shipbuilding yards.

What will be the issues of 2019 that will have their riots etc., where will they be and what will be the consequences? The past tells us that the actual causes may well not be predictable. We might assume in the UK that it will be London, but looking around that could be badly wrong. As for results, who knows?

McDonnell of Liverpool for Prime Minister?

1 comment:

  1. "McDonnell of Liverpool for Prime Minister?"

    I'm sure that's his plan.