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'The Curse of the Co-ops': Co-operation, the Mass Press and the Market in Interwar Britain

Gurney, Peter (2015) ''The Curse of the Co-ops': Co-operation, the Mass Press and the Market in Interwar Britain.' English Historical Review, 130 (547). 1479 - 1512. ISSN 0013-8266

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Abstract

Though it continues to be neglected by historians, the British Co-operative movement had 6.5 million members in the early 1930s. The movement?s phenomenal success inevitably brought it into conflict with both private capitalists and government, who sought to contain co-operators? ambitions. The movement?s ideologues proclaimed that the great lesson of the Depression was that markets ought to be regulated by the democratic will of the people and that co-operative success proved that this was both practicable and possible. This article assesses the threat that co-operation posed to economic and business elites in this period, highlighting particularly co-operators? critique of the myth of the ?free? market and their fears concerning the rapid post-war growth of combines and syndicates. It explores co-operators? thwarted attempt to regulate markets in the interest of working-class shoppers by means of the Consumers? Council Bill after 1929 and then goes on to discuss the ?penal? taxation imposed on the Co-operative movement as a kind of disciplinary measure by the National Government in 1933. The role of the mass-circulation press provides a vital thread in the story throughout, for the anti-co-operative ?crusade? was fervently taken up by the press barons, Lord Beaverbrook and Lord Rothermere, who used all the powers at their disposal to try to extinguish the largest democratic movement of consumers Britain had ever had.

Item Type: Article
Subjects: D History General and Old World > D History (General) > D204 Modern History
D History General and Old World > DA Great Britain
Divisions: Faculty of Humanities > History, Department of
Depositing User: Peter Gurney
Date Deposited: 14 May 2015 09:42
Last Modified: 02 Dec 2019 15:15
URI: http://repository.essex.ac.uk/id/eprint/13746

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