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But because the working class had not continued the fight in 1919 on the formal political battle of which class would administer society, its victory in substance in 1926 could not have any formal political effect. The Government had no choice: it had to wait for the old stability and order to be reasserted. It is this situation of the two classes that explains the end of the General Strike.

The position of the coal industry meant that the Strike could not end with the miners gaining their demands (If the money had been there, it is certain that the Government would have tried to settle the dispute by applying the coercion of public opinion. Indeed, the progressive owners like Mond were attempting to do just this right up to the very end. Every time Mond had a confidential chat with a Cabinet Minister about what to do, the employers organisation would find out, and haul him back into line.).

The working class forced the TUC to declare the General Strike because it believed that the miners' trade union demands could be won by trade union means, i.e. that the owners had the resources and only needed the pressure of the organised working class to compel them to concede.

The working class also took seriously the bourgeoisie's challenge that a General Strike would constitute a threat to society, that it was not "peaceful picketing" within the law, but lawbreaking. Burns records the reaction of workers at every meeting up and down the country during the ten days being "this strike is against the Tory Government". The working class set about showing the bourgeoisie that it was possible to conduct a General Strike which was intended to enforce the working class's power to halt society while continuing to have society function "as normal". The class had recognised that it would have to use its full active force to win the strike for the miners.

When the TUC called off the General Strike after ten days without the miners demands being won, the working class could not understand the decision, because it seemed as if the working class was winning. And what is more the second line of defense (engineers, shipbuilders, textile workers) were only just about to be called out to give further substance to "peaceful picketing". There was no question of a will to permanently displace the Government or employers in the working class. It was simply that the class had decided to fight for its just demands and did not understand why it should give up when it was winning.

The reason the TUC leaders called off the strike was the same as why they had done all they could to avoid beginning it - not that they did not subjectively as members of the working class want the miners to win - but because they were not equipped by the political consciousness of the working class or by their mandate from the class to help the miners win, to continue to run the country indefinitely. And that was precisely the Government's main line of defense.

After four or five days' confusion about whether to uphold the General Council's decision (i.e. whether to continue an unofficial General Strike), the working class went back and the TUC gained a formal face-saver at a Special Congress called to decide whether the miners had been betrayed. 

It remains to say a word about the political leaders of the working class. The Labour Party tried to pretend that the General Strike was not happening, i.e. they supported the miners but did not defend the working class in Parliament against the attacks on the unconstitutionality of the strike: they refused to lead the working class and took their place at the tail of the TUC. It was left to the local actions of the working class to prove that attack wrong in practice. The CPGB took up a position as the most consistent militants from the very beginning (Red Friday, May 1925). They acted as the most conscious members of the working class within the limits of the already existing class consciousness. Their only contribution to the political 'advance' of the class was the slogan "All Power to the General Council". Nowhere did they explain the significance of the constitutional argument or the action of the working class to the class except in terms which were identical to the General Council (support of the miners) or the reaction of the class itself (making sure there were no blacklegs).

The 'left' historians' view of working class heroism in the General Strike is undoubtedly correct, except that the working class were not heroic because their spirit had decisively and suddenly altered. They acted heroically because the development of the class struggle from 1919 had determined that a General Strike would have to take place, while the political consciousness of the working class determined that it could indeed run society. The "spirit" had been there all the time; but it needed the vicissitudes of the economic struggle to determine a situation in which the working class would use its ability to be the dominant force in society.