We shall not be moved

How Liverpool’s working class fought redundancies, closures and cuts in the age of Thatcher

Brian Marren
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The last quarter of the twentieth-century brought forth enormous change to the lives of working-class Britons. This transformation came mainly in the form of widespread industrial closure and the impoverishment associated with permanent unemployment. No British city bore closer witness to this phenomenon than Liverpool. The despair of joblessness and economic deprivation blighted Merseyside to a significantly greater extent than any other major British conurbation. Liverpool had frequently been prone to industrial unrest since 1945, but it was the dawn of Thatcher and the rise of neoliberal economics which made this city a nucleus of resistance against the encroaching tide of monetarism and sweeping de-industrialisation. This critique explores six case studies which illustrate how elements of a highly mobilized and politicized working-class fought against the rapid rise in forced redundancies and increasing industrial closures. Some of their responses included strikes, factory occupations, organising and politicizing the unemployed, effecting radical left-wing municipal politics, and sadly, even surrendering to violent civil unrest. This critique concludes that in the range, intensity and use of innovative tactics deployed during these conflicts, Liverpool stood out from every other British city. Liverpool was distinctive mainly because of its own unique history which involved a long, tortured, familiarity with poverty and mass unemployment.

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‘Overall, Brian Marren has produced a very good book which for many years to come, will certainly contribute to the debate about political activism during the Thatcher years. Furthermore, through the gradual release of government archives and as historians begin to research the 1980s in greater depth, this study will in no doubt, feature in a number of books and articles about Liverpool and the Merseyside region, especially when reflecting how far the city has travelled and progressed over the past few decades.'
Neil Pye, University of Huddersfield
Labour History Review

‘Marren brings the history of Liverpool to life in all its peculiarities and unique nature: a working-class city that has had many of its own dark times, but has always resisted and found humour in its struggle.'
Lisa Mckenzie is research fellow in the department of sociology, London School of Economics
April 2016

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