By John Lovell
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Additional info for A Short History of the T.U.C
C. , but this was overwhelmingly defeated under the new voting system; the coal and cotton unions which had together the largest block of votes, as expected, supported the Committee. The factor which had finally persuaded Burns and Mawdsley to act as they had done was the establishment of the Independent Labour Party in 1893 under Hardie's leadership. P. had strong support in the Trades Councils and it was feared that it might gain control of the Congress through these bodies. C. it was now argued that their affiliation was anomalous and simply amounted to dual representation.
Osborne, had brought an action to test his contention that the executive committee of the union had no power to levy members one shilling a year to cover the cost of parliamentary representation. The union had taken eminent counsel's opinion as to the legal validity of the rule and had been advised that the rule did not conflict with the law. The Judge who heard Osborne's action took the same view as the counsel and found in favour of the Society. However, this decision was reversed in the Court of Appeal.
The stimulating force behind these developments was of course war, and the aftermath of war. Before 1914 labour had rarely been in short supply in Britain, so that the bargaining power of trade unions was in normal times strictly limited. This of course was particularly true of those unions catering for unskilled or semi-skilled workers. The war turned this situation on its head. Unlike previous conflicts in which Britain had been engaged, the war which began in 1914 was of so total a character as to require almost complete mobilisation of the nation's manpower resources.