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Dundee and the Empire'Juteopolis' 1850-1939$
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Jim Tomlinson

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780748686148

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: September 2015

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9780748686148.001.0001

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The Empire Strikes Back:Responding to Crisis in the 1930s

The Empire Strikes Back:Responding to Crisis in the 1930s

(p.138) Chapter 8 The Empire Strikes Back:Responding to Crisis in the 1930s
Dundee and the Empire

Jim Tomlinson

Edinburgh University Press

This chapter examines various responses to the crisis in the Dundee jute industry during the 1930s, a crisis that stemmed from the competition posed by India. None of the main political parties offered a plausible solution to the crisis. The National government, despite being in favor of protectionism, drew the line at any statutory restriction on imports from India. The Conservatives were divided on how this aim was best achieved, whereas the Labour Party's equivocation about the benefits of free trade was significantly increased by the crisis after 1929. However, the triumph of a protectionist Conservative Party in 1931 acted to revive and reinforce Labour's traditional ideological opposition to tariffs. In Dundee, the crisis underpinned two distinct alignments of forces. One was a local version of a Labour Party/Communist Party alliance; the other was a purely local, ‘united front’ which brought together a protectionist alliance between the local jute employers and jute trade unions, along with the city council and the local MPs. The crucial underpinning for both these developments was the depth of the unemployment crisis of the 1930s in Dundee.

Keywords:   jute industry, competition, India, free trade, political parties, tariffs, employers, trade unions, unemployment, protectionism

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