Reading the Riot Act
January 31, 2009 11:42 AM   Subscribe

Our Sovereign Lord the King chargeth and commandeth all persons, being assembled, immediately to disperse themselves, and peaceably to depart to their habitations, or to their lawful business, upon the pains contained in the act made in the first year of King George, for preventing tumults and riotous assemblies. God Save the King!

31 January 1919 saw the last reading(autoplay video) of the Riot Act in the UK. 60 000 demonstrators gathered in Glasgow's George Square to demonstrate in support of a 40 hour work week. An unprovoked attack by the police resulted in a riot that resulted in the mobilisation of the army, and was reported as far afield as New York. Key trade unionists, Socialist and Marxists were arrested after the event and tried for incitement to riot. These included future MPs William Gallacher and David Kirkwood and future Government Minister and Peer, Manny Shinwell. Just some of the people and events in the history of the Red Clydeside labour movement.
posted by Jakey (6 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
Interesting, thanks. I was just reading in the papers the other day - can't remember where but probably the Guardian - about the special loathing that the early Labour movement had for the Liberals (the slightly more left-wing of the two main parties pre-1900) - seeing them as the place where gradualist bourgeois voters congregated, and therefore the main obstacle to the progress of socialism. Lloyd George sending in the tanks I hadn't heard of.
posted by athenian at 1:08 PM on January 31, 2009

Interesting to see where the old phrase came from, I had no idea it was rooted in the labor movement. Coincidentally, History Detectives had a segment today on the Haymarket Riot in Chicago. Being a union member a century ago was a much braver act than it is now.
posted by tommasz at 2:27 PM on January 31, 2009

As a US citizen, the tone of the main article is interesting. Around here, if anyone ever mentions "class hatred" they are accusing people of hating the rich; everyone seems to be expected to look at class issues as if they will be a millionaire sometime soon if they are not already. - I've heard homeless guys working minimum wage daylabor jobs talk shit about High Taxes and Big Government and Hillary the Feminazi and her Communist Single Payer Healthcare Scam.

athenian: if I remember correctly, reserving their harshest criticism for the liberals was a hallmark Leninist strategy, it was an all or nothing gambit, aiming for a one party no compromise outcome (it makes sense, Democrats are more likely to criticize Nader than Republicans are, even if neither party makes no official notice of the Greens).
posted by idiopath at 3:02 PM on January 31, 2009

if I remember correctly, reserving their harshest criticism for the liberals was a hallmark Leninist strategy

Leninist nothing, most leftists hate liberals.
posted by Pope Guilty at 4:46 PM on January 31, 2009

John McLean's March, though I think the great man was away south in England speaking on this day.
posted by Abiezer at 7:20 PM on January 31, 2009

Hmm. Put's this Elvis Costello song in a new light (YT).
posted by bardic at 8:41 PM on January 31, 2009

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