First published in 1988. In a few short years during and just after the Great War, the Labour Party and the trade unions established themselves firmly at the centre of the British political and industrial scene. But at the same time, the politics and organisation of both Labour and unions were reshaped.

This is a grass-roots study of a key period in the building of Labour’s political and industrial base. It is a study of how unions and Labour were organised and motivated to seize their moments of destiny – and of how a new political industrial movement was limited by the common-sense of the age in which it was born. It is a study of shifting support for various Labour and Communist political and industrial strategies – of the pressures and struggles which reshaped the movement, stamping on it the character we know today. And it is a study of how labour – at work and in the community – responded to war, to prosperity, to depression.

chapter Chapter One|7 pages


chapter Chapter Two|18 pages

Edinburgh after the Great War

chapter Chapter Three|29 pages

Standards of Living and the Working Class

chapter Chapter Four|8 pages

Economic Development and the Organisation of Work

chapter Chapter Five|37 pages

Employers’ Strategies and the Control of Work

chapter Chapter Six|45 pages

Trade Union Development: Motivation and Organisation

chapter Chapter Seven|23 pages

Labour Politics and the Impact of War

chapter Chapter Eight|25 pages

The Reorganisation of Labour 1917–1921

chapter Chapter Nine|40 pages

The Struggle for Labour Politics

chapter Chapter Ten|9 pages