Radical Rowdyism

Sophie Franklin, a Research Assistant on the Project, writes about an Edwardian Conservative poem which gives a revealing view of attitudes towards the disrupters of political meetings:

Five days before the General Election in January 1910, the Conservative bi-weekly Manchester Courier published a curious poem titled ‘Radical Rowdyism’. It begins with a challenge to those loud ‘Socialistic gang of interrupters’, the Radicals of the poem’s title, who cause disturbance during hustings. Using the term ‘Radical’ in a derogatory fashion had a long tradition behind it, describing in various instances Chartists, staunch Liberals, and boisterous non-electors in general. The first stanza claims that those making the most noise were in fact the most well-fed, hinting at a kind of “champagne Socialism”, an accusation which runs throughout the poem:

Continue reading “Radical Rowdyism”

Shaftesbury Goons Thwarted By Telegraph

During the 1874 election in Shaftesbury, an attempt to employ hired ‘roughs’ (goons employed to disrupt elections by violent means) was made. However, the plans, made by some significant political actors, came to naught before they even had a chance to begin.  In this particular incident, it’s clear that roughs were not only hired, but brought in specially from London by train:

Continue reading “Shaftesbury Goons Thwarted By Telegraph”

Roughs at Elections: Hired to Cause Trouble

One of the main aims of our project is to examine the causes of electoral violence from both bottom-up and top-down perspectives – essentially, whether such violence was the result of spontaneous popular expression, or an strategic phenomenon, perpetrated by elites to influence election results.  It’s likely that (to varying extents) both types of violence existed between 1832 and 1914, but one strong indication that there was an element of elite-directed election violence is the presence of hired ‘roughs’ at many election contests. Continue reading “Roughs at Elections: Hired to Cause Trouble”