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General Strike - Diary 8th May

8th May 1926

 

The fifth day of the strike began with a show of force by the government. The warehouses at the docks in London were to be reopened with the assistance of Guardsmen and Tank Corps soldiers. The Victoria Docks in London's East End became a hive of activity as army men set to work unpacking and loading goods blocked at the docks. As the British Gazette reported,

London needed the flour and London had to have it.

The battle to get public transport running again continued, this time with official notices to strike workers to return to work and man the trams. Plymouth council tramway committee issued notices to return to work, but all to no avail. The first tram to leave the depot was delayed, and then beset upon by angry strikers. Only Police intervention allowed the tram to eventually depart without further interference.

The control of the strikers, traditionally led by the TUC, was beginning to falter. Whilst the electricians were demanding to join their brothers in the strike, others wanted to return to work. Strikers were seeing their jobs being taken by volunteers, and reading government assertions in the British Gazette that support would be offered to those returning to their jobs.

The evening of the 8th May also saw a landmark event, with the public wireless broadcast of Baldwin to the nation. This was the first such broadcast by a British Prime Minister directly to the country in a time of emergency. It marked a watershed moment in the development of the strike. He began his speech,

The General Strike has now been in progress for nearly a week, and I think it is right now that, as Prime Minister, I should tell the nation once more what is at stake in the lamentable struggle that is going on.

Baldwin was at pains to establish the legitimate nature of the miners' dispute and the unconstitutional nature of the General Strike. Baldwin rejected any calls or suggestion that a conditional end to the strike should be agreed. The strike continued.