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The Cynosure

  Michael Bakunin
  William Godwin
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  Errico Malatesta
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As the strike developed more workers joined the strikers, the picket lines increased, the tourniquet on the high roads tightened. There was never any slackening of the strike. According to Professor W. H. Crook (The General Strike pp. 390-6) quoting reporters of the Ministry of Transport, 99 per cent of London Underground workers struck. On the G.W.R. by May 11th only 8.4 per cent of goods trains ran; on the L.M.S. less than 3 per cent and on the L.N.E.R. much less than 1 per cent. Railwaymen claim that these figures were exaggerated by running the trains over much shorter distances and so increasing the number of trains, but not the goods carried.

The reply of the Government was to increase the terror. The limits of their own laws were too narrow for them. Thrusting aside the constitution and laws, the Cabinet, no doubt with memories of their Black and Tan, promised immunity to the Armed Forces for any violence they might wish to commit. On May 7th they broadcast this announcement.

"All ranks of the Armed Forces of the Crown are hereby notified that any action which they may find it necessary to take in an honest endeavour to aid the Civil Power will receive, both now and afterwards, the full support of His Majesty's Government."

Nevertheless, the Armed Forces were little used other than as a threatening parade. The chief forces of the Government were the regular police, the Special Constabulary and an extra special body of mounted "special" recruited from the well-to-do to form Cossack troops. Their chief weapons were wholesale arrests, where the strikers were not too strong, and wild baton charges, often on crowds coming out of theatres and cinemas. But the strikers stood firm. The two classes confronted one another as over a barricade.

As the strike developed some members of the ruling-class, particularly those running municipalities, showed signs of worry. The Newcastle City

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