‘Down with the concentration camps!’
Opposition and protest
in Working men’s bodies
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This chapter examines protest and resistance within the camps, as well as outside campaigns against their existence. Of the outside bodies, the most important was the National Unemployed Workers Movement, an offshoot of the Communist Party. While the NUWM made conditions in the camps a public issue, and also influenced the Ministry of Labour and other government departments responsible for policy, its campaigns also reflect Communist Party priorities. In particular, it campaigned most strenuously against Labour-led municipal labour colonies, and then against the training provisions of the 1934 Unemployment Insurance Act, for reasons of Soviet statecraft. Within the camps, protests are poorly recorded, but were evidently not rare, and included organised activities including strikes and demonstrations. Unlike the NUWM, the trainees’ concerns were largely material, rather than political.

Working men’s bodies

Work camps in Britain, 1880–1940


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