Labour representation in Woolwich

Weinbren, Dan (1994). Labour representation in Woolwich. Labour History Review, 59(3) pp. 17–19.


The article focuses on the forces that contributed to the rise of the British Labour Party in Woolwich. The author stresses the importance of industrial conflict, the influence of new unionism, the role of the local co-operative movement and the activities of individuals. An examination of a couple of campaigns in which the early Woolwich Labour Party was involved indicates the importance of these political traditions and business and social links. After the Boer War there was a campaign to keep the Arsenal busy through a programme of diversification into peacetime products. The emphasis was on the importance of maintaining skilled workers at the Arsenal and the campaign drew in traders, councillors and clerics. During the First World War Labour campaigned for accommodation for the workers at the expanded Arsenal. The legislation which resulted was framed in the interests of the working class elite, and reflected the biases of the Arsenal's eminently respectable militants. A Garden City was built for the artisans whilst the labourers lived in what the Ministry of Munitions Inspector called literally human packing cases.

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