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The struggle for control of the Durham Miners' Association, 1890s-1915

Mates, Lewis (2018) 'The struggle for control of the Durham Miners' Association, 1890s-1915.', in Labour united and divided from the 1830s to the present. Manchester: Manchester University Press.


This chapter addresses the complex interplay of disunities on three main levels; intra-organisational, inter-organisational and between labour organisations and spontaneous working-class protests. It does so by examining the struggle for control of the well-established and influential Durham Miners’ Association’ as a case study. It firstly considers the historiographical debates and the applicability of the ‘leaders vs. led’ model to disunities within the union from the 1890s-1910. The focus then turns to spontaneous protest in relation to the mass unofficial striking and rioting that emerged with changed shift systems as part of the implementation of the eight hour day in 1910. Finally, it considers seven distinct forms of disunity that, taken together, show how a generally younger cohort of more radical socialists were able to emerge from the trauma of 1910 to build a mass movement around the miners’ minimum wage. It allowed them to undermine the Liberal DMA leaders on the one hand and outflank the syndicalists on the other.

Item Type:Book chapter
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Date accepted:No date available
Date deposited:08 September 2021
Date of first online publication:31 January 2019
Date first made open access:08 September 2021

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