‘There is only one P in Perth - And, it stands for Pullars!'
: the Labour, Trade-Union, and Co-operative Movements in Perth, c. 1867 to c. 1922

  • Paul S. Philippou

    Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


    In recent years a number of studies within Scottish labour history have added to the discipline’s understanding and knowledge of the history of the labour and trade-union movements of several Scottish towns/cities hitherto neglected by a historiography traditionally dominated by research into the West-Central Belt. These studies, of which this thesis forms part, provide data against which generalising narratives which purport to describe the development of the labour and trade-union movements in Britain can be read - a process which ultimately must improve these now orthodox narratives or see them replaced. The thesis also provides a historical description of the progress of the labour and trade- union movements in Perth, c. 1867 to c. 1922. This study of Perth is unique in that Perth’s labour and trade-union movements have been almost entirely neglected and thus the thesis provides a substantial body of fresh observations and data in the form of a critical and comparative history of the Perth labour and trade- union movements, c. 1867 to c. 1922. Comparative considerations within the thesis revolve around existing studies of the labour and trade-union movements of Scotland’s main industrial towns/cities/areas including Paisley and the Vale of Leven which shared common features with Perth. In gathering evidence use has been made of an array of primary sources. Both qualitative and quantitative methods feature throughout the thesis which is arranged using a thematic and chronological structure. The thesis also examines the Perth co-operative movement and the city’s working-class housing, in so far as they offer an understanding of the reasons for the historical development of working-class consciousness and support for Labour in Perth. The thesis provides an example of a development of class consciousness and support for Labour that shows strong deviation with those (according to conventional Scottish labour history) found in many other parts of Scotland. In particular, the thesis considers why a significant proportion of the Perth working class either remained loyal to Liberalism or shifted allegiance to Conservatism in the very early 1920s at which point the death agony of the Liberal Party had become deafening and the rise of Labour inexorable. In addition, the thesis examines the slow development of trade unionism in Perth and its failure to make any substantial headway until almost the conclusion of the Great War. The thesis when placed alongside studies such as Catriona Macdonald’s work on Paisley adds to the case for a fragmented development of class and trade-union consciousness across Scotland in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The motor for the deviation between Perth and elsewhere is shown to be due to a ‘local identity’ - in particular a lingering and powerful industrial paternalism, the absence of a sizeable and powerful branch of the Independent Labour Party, and an insular craft-union dominated trades council. Additionally, the Perth working class is shown to have played a significant role in its own subordination going so far as to act to maintain the local industrial order even as Perth’s industrial paternalists and Liberal elites were abandoning the consensus upon which it was built.

    Date of Award2015
    Original languageEnglish
    SupervisorBilly Kenefick (Supervisor) & Christopher Whatley (Supervisor)


    • Labour history
    • Scottish
    • Trade union
    • Labour Party
    • Co-operative movement

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