A number of reasons have been adduced to explain the lack of interest shown by scholars in cotton unions. One is that writers of socialist inclination may have found them an unsympathetic subject for consideration.4 Certainly they were slow to cast off the mantle of Liberalism in moving towards Labour politics after the turn of the last century and could even boast such Conservative leaders as James Mawdsley of the Spinners and James Crinion of the Cardroom Amalgamation who reflected, however, substantial working class Tory allegiance in Lancashire as a whole. Radical, charismatic leadership was also rare among them, a notable exception being John Doherty in the early decades of the nineteenth century, a man classed by E.P. Thompson as the 'greatest of the leaders of the Lancashire cotton workers'.5 Samuel Bamford's well-known list of political reformers in the county in 1816 included no spinners, although these were accepted to be the core of northern trade unionism at the time.6 Spinners in particular gained a reputation for caution, both in politics and finance and were potential employers to boot. As late as 1919 it could be claimed that one-third of the committee of the Employers' Federation had started life on the bottom rung of cotton manufacture as a piecer, i.e. as the junior on a loom who cleaned, mended broken threads and was usually employed by the spinner to whose status he aspired.