Edna Bold (B.1904): Politics & Protest

There is no strong emphasis on Bold’s political views or actions throughout her memoir. The omission for this can be found in her conclusion when Bold says;

“what pain and suffering have laced my days have been excluded from these pages. The incidence of two world wars, the persecution of minorities, the atrocities perpetuated by terrorists leave scars and blemishes throughout the nervous system, sufficient to tarnish the golden thread that still remains immaculate, bright as the day it first emerged to the light of consciousness. Which would seem to be a lesser miracle in this disturbing, riddlemeree planet.”(ng)

Coalition

David Lloyd George, 1863-1945.
David Lloyd George, 1863-1945.

Bold’s conclusion reveals that she did have a clear understanding of the politics of her time. Her reference to “pain and suffering”(np) is evidence that she was affected by the policies. The Conservatives served with the Liberals in a coalition government during World War I, which continued under Liberal Prime minister David Lloyd George until 1922. At this time society was segregated and there was a strong emphasis on class distinction. Interestingly, this is the same coalition which is in power today, with the coalition of Conservative leader David Cameron and Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg. This is evidence that politics are still exclusive today. Although David Cameron claims “Tories are the true party of ‘working people’ in Britain”[1], with benefits about to be cut, the working-class is once again going to suffer from the negative effects of a Conservative government.

The Ancoats Brotherhood

Manchester Art Museum, Ancoats Hall. The Museum provided a chronological narrative of art, with detailed notes, labels and pamphlets.
Manchester Art Museum, Ancoats Hall. The Museum provided a chronological narrative of art, with detailed notes, labels and pamphlets.

Bold’s Aunt Harriet attended The Ancoats Brotherhood every Sunday. Although Bold was interested in the Brotherhood, her Aunt would not “include”(44) her. Bold learned about the Brotherhood through the “content of the meetings”(44) which were accounted to her by her Aunt in her Grandmother’s kitchen. The Ancoats Brotherhood was started in “1880 by the serious minded and public spirited Charles Rowley”(44) it brought concerts from military and other bands to the streets and held meetings on Sunday afternoons which would attract 500-900 men. These concerts were among the earliest examples given for the public’s benefit. Rowley advocated a cleaner physical  environment and a greater access to art and literature in an attempt to eliminate the suffering of the poor. Rowley was inspired by William Morris who was “a founding father of socialism”[2]. Morris was also an associate of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood which was founded “In the mid-19th century, [by] a group of young men [who] challenged the art establishment of the day. The pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood were inspired by the real world around them, yet took imaginative licence in their art”[3].  Rowley was a socialist whose “main preoccupation was to help benefit the working class”(45). Rowley’s aim was to bring art and literature to the working classes. Bold describes her Aunt as “fortunate”(45) to attend these meeting and says her accounts of the Brotherhood would fill her Grandmother’s kitchen “with pulsating excitement and delight that could well outlast the week”(45). The Ancoat’s Brotherhood would have been a huge influence in developing Bold’s interests in art, literature and music (See, Edna Bold (B.1904): Habits, Culture & Belief).

Labour

Keir Hardie, a founder of The Labour Party.
Keir Hardie, a founder of The Labour Party.

John Corlett and Belle Corlett would often be involved in the discussion in Bold’s Grandmother’s kitchen. Bold says “they had a mutual interest in politics and music. They supported the Labour party”(33). Bold wanted to be “like Jack and Belle”(33). The Labour Party was initially formed as a left-wing political party. Their social democratic ideology rose among sections of the working classes at the end of the nineteenth century. The Labour party’s was created in 1900. Their formation was the result of many years of hard effort by working people, trade unionists and socialists, united by the goal of changing the British Parliament to represent the interests of everybody. The working-class was not accommodated by the coalition government of the Conservatives and Liberals.

Chartism

The Chartist movement was an early movement which was fundamental in the founding of the Labour party. Chartism was a working-class movement for political reform in Britain between 1838 and 1848. They created The People’s Charter which called for six basic reforms to make the political system more democratic. Chartism played an important role in creating a collective working class voice. This was before Bold’s time, but it certainly paved the way for the politics of her time, including The Labour Party.

The Six Points of The People's Charter.
The Six Points of The People’s Charter.

 

Although Bold does not go into great detail about her political views, her interests in music, art and literature certainly benefited from the political movements of her time. Bold chose to exclude any suffering she may have experienced from her memoir, but her mentioning of “the persecution of minorities”(np) suggests she was effected by the ruling government . This is further suggested by the inclusion of the word “suffering”(np). As a member of the working class, Bold and her family would have suffered under the conservative government. Bold supported the Labour party who were strong benefiters to the working-class.

 


[1] Taken from Working Class can trust Tories, says Cameron. The Gaurdian. Wed. Accessed 25th April 2013.

[2] Tames, Richard. William Morris: An Illustrated Life of William Morris 1834-1896.  Oxford: Shire Publications, 2003. Pg.66.

[3] Armstrong, Stephen. “BBC2 drama on icons among Pre-Raphaelites”. The Sunday Times, July 2009. Accessed 25th May 2013.

Bold, Edna. THE LONG AND SHORT OF IT BEING THE RECOLLECTIONS AND REMINISCECES OF EDNA BOLD. July 27th 1978. Found at The Burnett Archive of Working Class Autobiographies, at Brunel University.

N.B. All images link to their original source.

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