The 1926 general strike, lasting from 4-12 May, remains one of the greatest moments in the history of the British labour movement. It was the biggest – and most revolutionary – strike that these islands have ever seen.
During the nine days that it lasted, the strike went from strength to strength. ‘Councils of action’ sprang up all over the country, with local working class activists elected to coordinate the movement. These bodies represented the embryo of workers’ power. If linked up, they could have formed the basis for a revolutionary workers’ state.
In this talk, James Kilby looks back at this radical episode in British history and asks: if the strike was so strong, why was it defeated after only nine days? What was the role of the workers’ leadership in this struggle? And what lessons does the strike hold for us now, in this latest epoch of intense political radicalisation?