chapter  6
30 Pages

Ordeal by Peace: Manchester, 1920–21

The largest May Day 1920 celebration in Manchester had all of the hallmarks of popular demonstrations in postwar industrial England. The Manchester Guardian, as the threatened Triple alliance Strike loomed, captured this sense of impending doom and its perceived origins in the experiences of war and demobilization. The demobilization of British society brought about, largely through its unevenness, a set of concerns about the moral health of the citizenry, particularly the younger members of society. As demobilization proceeded and the unemployment situation worsened, concerns about public morality and unemployment intersected and fostered something of a moral panic. Even dancing, declared the editor of the Dancing Times, declined in the postwar years as Bolshevism has crept into the ballroom. By some standards, labor militancy in Lancashire and Cheshire was at its apogee in 1920 and 1921. Strikes and work stoppages became a part of everyday life, leading many to conclude that industrial society was breaking down under the postwar strain.