Sunday, 5 April 2015

Joseph King, the Union of Democratic Control & election defeat

Joseph King wrote a number of political pamphlets and articles that are held in the library at the London School of Economics.  One, The Russian Revolution: The First Year (April 1918) is published by the Union of Democratic Control.

Russian Revolution, King, Joseph,
Union of Democratic Control, April 1918

According to Wikipedia, the Union of Democratic Control (UDC) was a "British pressure group formed in 1914 to press for a more responsive foreign policy.  Whilst not a pacifist organization, it was opposed to military influence in government."   King is listed as one of the early members of the UDC.  Other early members included Arthur Ponsonby, Rolston (Haslemere 1850 - 1950, Phillimore) reported that Joseph King held a party for Ponsonby and another's elevation to the peerage in 1930 at his house, Hill Farm with George Bernard Shaw addressing the gathering.

The UDC was formed the day after the declaration of war by Charles Trevelyan (the former Parliamentary Secretary for the Board of Education) who resigned from the Cabinet, he was joined by two Liberal Party pacifists: Norman Angell and E. D, Morell, and Ramsay MacDonald the leader of the Labour Party.   The group was mainly funded by Quaker businessmen George Cadbury and Arnold Rowntree.

In 1916 Joseph King is reported to have voted against the Conscription Bill (Hull Daily Mail, 8 January 1916) in an article: "The "Daily Graphic" gives the following particulars of the Liberal's (including the tellers) and Labour members who voted against the Bill to compel unmarried men who are hanging back without reason or excuse to join in the defence of this country."  Also listed as having voted against the Bill is "Mr Arthur A. W. H. Ponsonby (Stirling) Leader of the Union of Democratic Control.  Has been challenged to resign.  Age 45."

Rochdale Observer, 28 September 1918, p1

Spartacus educational reports that "in the 1918 General Election all the leading members of the Union of Democratic Control lost their seats in Parliament."  Joseph King did indeed lose his seat at the 1918 election, and perhaps this explains why.


  1. Thats fantastic-I had no idea of the Russian connection and GB Shaw etc-even found that article in the Hull newspaper-well done

  2. Thanks Dunc. There are quite a few Russian connections.


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