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Download Popular Politics and Society in Late Victorian Britain by Henry Pelling PDF

By Henry Pelling

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The most "classconscious' workers were perhaps those who were geographically most isolated, in particular the miners: and they adhered solidly to the Liberal Party until after the 1906 election. On questions of social reform, as was clear in the case of the abolition of the half-time system, the leaders of the unions and the politicians of the Labour Party, cautious though they were, were in fact more progressive than their rank and file. The members of the working class as a whole, cynical about the character of soeiety as they knew it, were yet fearful of change which they thought would more likely be for the worse than for the bett er.

It may be surmised, however, that the English immigrants were, at least to begin with, less accustomed than the Welsh to regular worship on Sundays. All the same, the Welsh mining villages were, by and large, noteworthy for chapel attendance on Sundays. mber of'hearers' or 'adherents' - that is, attendants who were not members, most of them working miners. 2 This change was thought to presage the class war in the valleys, and the abandonment of Liberalism for Socialism. And indeed, we may weIl believe that in the case of the 'Velsh, as with the Irish, religious attendance was an expression of national feeling - and when the wrongs of Wales ceased to be the primary instinct of the working-class population, and the grievances of the working class under Capitalism took their place, the chapel .

2 London was in an intermediate situation between Dublin and, let us say, Manchester, the hub ofthe factory district. On the one hand, its industries were for the most part either connected with the port, where there were comparatively few craftsmen anyway, or they were engaged in manufacture for the luxury market of the West End, on which industrialisation had little impact. nd both the supply oflabour and the market for goods were uniquely large. Craftsmen like William Lovett, who picked up cabinet-making in the West Country and who then 'worked five years to the business' in London be fore becoming a member of the Cabinet-Makers Society, must have been by no means unusua1.

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