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Living Wage

The living wage and the law of supply and demand: a letter to the colliers

This pamphlet, on the current hot topic of the living wage, was published in 1893, written by Robert Blatchford, editor of The Clarion.

"Robert Blatchford.....can manufacture Socialists more quickly than anyone else. Tipton Limited sells more tea than any other firm, Bever sells more soap; one factory makes more boots; another most chairs. Mr Blatchford and The Clarion make more Socialists than any rival establishment" - George R Taylor, Leaders of Socialism, Past and Present (1910).

living wage pamphlet

Blatchford was born in 1851. After leaving the army he got a job as a storeman with a canal company and began writing short stories in his spare time. This led him into full-time journalism. He came to Manchester to work for the Sunday Chronicle under the pen name "Nunquam" (Nunquam Dormio - I do not sleep).

Blatchford became a Socialist after reading What is Socialism?, written by Henry Hyndman and William Morris. Blatchford was not a theoretician but came to Socialism because he saw it as a practical solution to the poverty and misery he had personally witnessed in Manchester. Edward Hulton, owner of the Sunday Chronicle, would not let him write about Socialism in the Chronicle so Blatchford walked out of his job and set up The Clarion, with his brother and friends.

It was a huge gamble but fortunately many of Blatchford's readers followed him and The Clarion soon became a welcome weekly visitor to thousands of households, attracting a fierce loyalty from its readers. The Clarion was never a dry as dust theoretical journal, but a jovial mix of news, comment, short stories, songs and poetry.

As well as the newspaper, they also published many Clarion pamphlets like this one.

The Clarion movement divided in 1914 when Robert Blatchford supported the First World War. Many of his readers were opposed and were imprisoned for their beliefs. The paper struggled on after the war but it was never the same. The paper became monthly in 1927 and finally disappeared in 1934, its heyday long past. Blatchford himself died in 1943 and now slept at last.

November 2013

Click here for more information on the Clarion movement

This has been chosen as the Library's Object of the Month for November to coincide with the launch of The Salford Standard, the new Charter to raise employment standards for working people and their employers in the city. Salford is the first council in Greater Manchester to introduce the full Living Wage, which independently sets the level below which no one should be paid.


Resources about the living wage in the library collection

Robert Blatchford, The living wage and the law of supply and demand: a letter to the colliers (1893) - Shelfmark: J18/8

FU Laycock, Good trade and a living wage (1896) - Shelfmark: B46

CC Cotterill, A living wage, a national necessity: how best to get it (1912) - Shelfmark: H51

Will Crooks, A living wage for all: an appeal for a 30/- weekly minimum and an answer to House of Commons critics (1912) - Shelfmark: AG Independent Labour Party Box 2

The industrial unrest and the living wage: given at the Inter-Denominational Summer School, held at Swanwick, Derbyshire June 28th-July 5th, 1913 - Shelfmark: B49

Philip Snowden, The living wage (1913) - Shelfmark: A59

MM O'Kane, Paper on the living wage and the family wage: read at the sixth annual diocesan congress, June 17, 1917 (1917) - Shelfmark: J21/13

Alfred Salter, A living wage for all: Dr Salter's speech in the House of Commons on Wednesday, March 7th, 1923 (1923) - Shelfmark: AG Independent Labour Party Box 4

HN Brailsford, John A Hobson, A Creech Jones, EF Wise, The living wage: a report submitted to the National Administrative Council of the Independent Labour Party (1926) - Shelfmark: AG Independent Labour Party Box 1

Independent Labour Party, Labour's road to power: the policy of the living income (ca. 1926) - Shelfmark: AG Independent Labour Party Box 7

R Palme Dutt, Socialism and the living wage (1927) - Shelfmark: J49

James Maxton, A living wage for all: speech of J. Maxton, M.P. in the House of Commons on moving the second reading of the Living Wage Bill (ca. 1931) - Shelfmark: AG Independent Labour Party Box 3

GDH Cole, Living wages: the case for a new minimum wage act (1938) - Shelfmark: AG Fabian Research  

WT Symons, A living wage or a living income: an attack upon the "living wage" programme and an alternative policy for the Independent Labour Party (no date) - Shelfmark: AG Independent Labour Party Box 5

Citizens UK and the Living Wage Foundation, Recommendations for living wage leadership (2013) - Shelfmark: AG Wages Box 2

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