Why didn’t the reforming Labour government of 1945-51 abolish the death penalty?

Individual Labour MPs such as Sidney Silverman were significant to campaigning for abolition of the death penalty in Britain and the Labour Party was more hospitable to the idea of abolition than the Conservatives. Nevertheless, despite passing the reformist Criminal Justice Act in 1948 the Labour Government was opposed to abolishing the death penalty, which did not happen in Britain until 1965. This talk will explore why the death penalty was not abolished in 1948. It will also examine how […]

‘How Labour Governed’ – 1945-1951

1945: The war in Europe has just ended and the Labour Party wins a resounding general election victory. What follows is celebrated on much of the left as a period of progressive government which should inspire us to build a fairer society. However, at the time, critics pointed out that every socialist principle had been betrayed by politicians. In fact this was really a period much like any other, marked by continued militarism, colonialist suppression, racism, austerity and reactionary […]

Bristol dockers strike of 1949 in support of Canadian Seaman

M Shed 10th anniversary series

The 1949 Docks Strike involving Bristol dockers was notable as an international solidarity action in support of strike action by the Canadian Seamen’s Union. Canadian employers had used ‘scab crews’ to load ships. One of these, the SS Gulfside, had remained strike bound in Avonmouth from 1st April. A second ship, the SS Montreal City arrived with a cargo of tomatoes and bananas. As tugmen and dockers refused to work the so called ‘blacked’ ships, the Labour Government brought in troops to unload […]