Unemployed Jarrow Men March 300 Miles

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Photograph: Some of the 200 men on route to London.

October 31, 1936

More than two hundred jobless men from the town of Jarrow in England’s north have marched 300 miles from their town to Parliament House in London in an attempt to secure government help for their unemployment crisis.

Frustrated by many Londoners ignorance to the staggering seventy per cent unemployment levels and horrid living conditions, the men felt it was necessary to take peaceful action in order to resolve the issue. Even before the Depression had begun, northern England towns were close to crisis, taking action with a general strike in 1926, but since the financial crisis, the economies of these towns has only gotten worse.

Last year, the Palmers Ship Yard, which was the town’s main source of employment closed down. Since then, the town has almost died, with local Member of Parliament, Ellen Wilkinson, describing it as ‘utterly stagnant’.

The National Government is yet to take action, with its only form of decisive action during the depression being the 1931 budget, which cut the pay of government employees and cut unemployment benefits in a desperate attempt to balance the books.

Source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/british/britain_wwone/jarrow_01.shtml

Bidgood, Anthony et al. Twentieth Century History: 1900-1945. Collingwood, Vic.: History Teachers’ Association of Victoria, 2006. N. pag. Print.

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Depression Desperation Creates Extreme Political Parties

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Photograph: (left to right) supporters at a communism march in country Britain, Fascist leader Oswald Ernald Mosley salutes to the crowd at a Fascism march.

December 4 1934

While Britain faces economic hardship, citizens have become desperate for a political resolution, turning to extreme and new political ideologies such as communism and fascism in search of an answer.

The most popular ‘extreme’ parties have become the British Fascist Union (BFU) and the Communist Party of Great Britain (CPGB). Both parties promise a future with less unemployment, less poverty and a better way of life.

The BFU was founded in 1932 by former Labour politician Oswald Ernald Mosley, and in its first year, gained over five thousand members in its first year. The party’s greatest success was its most recent rally at Albert Hall in London, where over 10,000 supporters were present. The BFU has similar philosophies to that of the rising Nazi Party in Germany, and Italian dictator Benito Mussolini, who place a focus on national pride and complete government control. A key feature of a fascist supporter or leader is a black jacket, giving them the name the ‘Black Shirts’.

Communist parties, similar to that of the successful Russian Communist movement, have also gained support, with an estimated membership of 12,000 people. A fair proportion of communist supporters come from a farming or industrial background, who are among the worst affected by the great depression. The CPGB believes in a society run completely by the government and the abolishment of private ownership. This philosophy has been prosperous in Russia, where industrial output has increased by 250 per cent in the last five years.

It is difficult to tell which way the public will vote, with both parties previously making an appearance in Parliament, however we are surrounded by countries led by believers of both philosophies that can serve Britain as an indication of what ideologies will help to relieve us of depression.

Sources:

http://www.english-online.at/history/fascism/life-in-a-fascist-regime.htm

http://www.angelfire.com/ak2/newmanbyrne/brfasc.html

http://www.marxists.org/history/international/comintern/sections/britain/history.htm

Depression Not All Bad News for Londoners

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September 28, 1933

Photograph: A London woman tunes into her radio, to hear the latest BBC news broadcast.

Whilst homelessness and unemployment rates rise in the northern UK, new industries are proving a success in London and south east Britain.

A survey has found that living standards have on the whole improved in London since the beginning of the depression. In 1930, about ten per cent of the city were living at subsistence level, meaning they are only able to afford enough to stay alive. This figure has significantly fallen to four per cent over the past four years.

This is also related to Britain leaving the Gold Standard last year, which resulted in a decrease in the value of the Pound, increasing exports and lowering interest rates which has led to higher consumer sentiment for those with a job.

Although unemployment rates in London are still considerably high at thirteen percent, they are predicted to fall over the coming years. Technology developed during the Great War is being made increasingly available to the middle class residents of London, and as a result, businesses making these new products are booming.

Devices such as the radio and the washing machine, which are both powered by electricity are very popular, and relatively inexpensive due to falling prices. It is estimated that half of all British households own a radio, and a new network has been created, named the British Broadcasting Corporation or the BBC. The automobile industry is also successful, with more cars on the London roads than ever before, and now there is even a driving test to ensure that no hooligans are causing havoc on the road.

As well as being able to afford luxury electrical appliances, interest rates have fallen meaning that buying a house is an option for more and more people. For those who are employed, there has never been a better time to live in London, especially considering the state of the rest of the western world.

Sources: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Depression_in_the_United_Kingdom

http://www.bbc.co.uk/schools/gcsebitesize/history/mwh/britain/depressionrev1.shtml

Northern England Suffers From Depression

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Photograph: The poor and unemployed line up for food in England’s north

April 4, 1932

The home of Britain’s traditional ‘heavy industries’ is the hardest hit from this depression, with unemployment rising at staggering rates.

The industries of ship building, coal, and steel manufacturing were already struggling prior to the depression due to their failure to modernise post-war; however, the current depression could mean the end for these companies, and the destruction of towns that rely upon them for employment.

Demand for ship building has fallen over ninety per cent in the past three years, meaning demand for related industries, such as steel and coal have also fallen dramatically. It is estimated that north eastern towns, such as Sunderland are the worst, with unemployment here reaching a staggering seventy precent. The north east is also suffering from a deteriorating export based textiles industry.

The unemployed are turning to church-run soup kitchens to be fed, and some even turn to digging for coal with their bare hands to keep warm. Author George Orwell described the scene:  ‘several hundred women scrabble in the mud for hours… searching eagerly for tiny chips of coal in slagheaps so they could heat their own homes. For them, this arduously-gained ‘free’ coal was more important almost than food.’

While the Government does provide welfare, it is based on a means test for need, which many of the poor find extremely humiliating and as a result, turn to other means of making money.

Sources: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Depression_in_the_United_Kingdom

<http://www.bbc.co.uk/schools/gcsebitesize/history/mwh/britain/depressionrev1.shtml

 

America Calls Back War Loans

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Photograph: Londoners read the news of the Wall Street Crash in dismay.

October 30 1929

In the wake if its current financial crisis, the United States has recalled their loans to Germany, putting an end to the Dawes plan (1924) and leaving the Allies without payment. President Hoover has also placed restrictions and tariffs on imports. These restrictions are likely to heavily reduce demand for British goods overseas, as they will become extremely expensive. Without the revenue from exporting steel and other building materials, Britain will face economic turmoil.

The Dawes Plan, which was created by The Allied Reparations Commission, involved the US loaning to Germany so they are able to meet their reparations as agreed in The Treaty of Versailles. With America retracting these loans, Germany will face a crisis, rendering them unable to pay.

Prime Minister MacDonald stands firm on his promise to maintain a balanced budget at any cost. This could mean cut welfare benefits or unemployment for many English men and women.

Sources: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_Depression_in_the_United_Kingdom#Economic_Crisis_and_the_Labour_government_1929-1931

http://www.bbc.co.uk/schools/gcsebitesize/history/mwh/britain/depressionrev1.shtml

 

Another Wall Street Crash; Is An International Financial Crisis on the Horizon?

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Photo: investors flock to Wall Street New York to sell their shares, western farmers have stock, but no one to sell it to.

October 29 1929

After a brief recovery in the US stock market over the weekend, share prices have once again fallen dramatically.

On Tuesday, just days after what has been called ‘Black Thursday’, the US share market took another turn for the worse. Sixteen million shares were sold yesterday alone, leading to a New York Times Journalist (author unknown) declaring the day “The most disastrous in Wall Street’s history”.

But the latest crash, combined with worldwide agricultural overproduction could lead to something much worse than cause a slump in the American Economy. The US is at the centre of the global economy and a recession there could have a major impact worldwide. However, British economist John Maynard Keynes believes there is no need to worry, saying “There will be no serious direct consequences in London. We find the look ahead decidedly encouraging.”

It is expected that the newly elected US President Hoover will cut taxes and expand public works spending in an attempt to lessen the effects, however, Hoover has stated that ‘Economic depression cannot be cured by legislative action or executive pronouncement. Economic wounds must be healed by the action of the cells of the economic body – the producers and consumers themselves.’ This leaves millions of Americans in fear of the lack of government support they are likely to receive in the coming months, or even years.

The recent crashes have led economists to question how it all went so wrong, some blaming overvalued share prices, and others believing that the US stock market was a ticking time bomb.

 Sources: http://www.qotd.org/quotes/Herbert.Hoover

http://www.whitehouse.gov/about/presidents/herberthoover

Wall Street in Panic after Price Plummet

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Picture: Investors rush to Wall Street to sell their shares, but the system cannot keep up with the demand.

October 24, 1929

After years of economic success, The US faces a financial crisis. On Thursday, the Dow Jones, which measures the value of the American stock market (Wall Street, New York), fell by a whopping nine per cent in just one day.

Economists believe an initial drop was caused by investors losing faith in their investments and selling their shares. This caused ‘Panic Selling’ by other investors who wanted to quickly get rid of their shares before a further drop in price occurred. The more prices fell, the more shares were sold, and the further prices dropped. This vicious circle continued until closing, at which time 12.9 million shares had been sold.

Investors and Governments around the world are all hoping that the US market will make a strong recovery, as many countries, including Britain, are relying on their financial system to help those still recovering from the Great War.

sources: http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/USAwallstreet.htm
“Socio-Economics History Blog.” SocioEconomics History Blog. Qotd.org, n.d. Web. 02 May 2013.