Leonard Ellisdon (1885-1968): Politics, Protest & Class – Writing Lives

Leonard Ellisdon (1885-1968): Politics, Protest & Class

Throughout Ellisdon’s autobiography there is no strong mention of his political views or actions, or reference to any protests, if any at all. Politics does not stand out to be a major factor upon his life, never divulging into political debates or discussions. However Ellisdon’s working class background might have effected his involvement with politics, but protest throughout the working classes was not a rare occurrence during the 20th century.


Not once in Ellisdon’s memoirs does he mention voting for any political party even though he had full rights to. GDH Cole states in his book British Working Class Politics that in 1918 not far short of half the total population had the right to vote. Finally, in 1928 women were given the parliamentary vote on the same terms as men. This now meant that more than two – thirds of the people could vote, including nearly all the adults, therefore leaving Ellisdon with no excuse not to vote. The nature of his autobiography is of a light and humorous prose, with little snippets in which Ellisdon thought funny and would entertain his readers. Politics might not have been one of them. (Cole, n.d.)

Ellisdon as a fair few sections of his autobiography shows us, that he did not struggle with finding a job. By 1910 trade had recovered from the depression of the two years previous, and by 1911 employment was rapidly expanding. Even though there is not any mention of his political views, Ellisdon took came from a working background and took pride in himself, which would portray the kind of person who would want a say into his countries affairs.


Ellisdon would have undoubtedly made a man’s claim to citizenship, representing his working class family in a protective role. Ellisdon would be skilled, participated with trade unions, supporting his wife and children with the notion of being the breadwinner. Though there is no mention of politics, I’m sure Ellisdon would have a good understanding of class; he was born into nothing and worked his way up to being a managing director of his firm. He is a strong example of social mobility, illustrating that categorising yourself into a certain class is overviewed and not needed to go far in life.

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Politics today has become a great more inclusive, with many political parties promising so many different policies it is hard now to keep up with who is going to what, and who is doing it. When Tony Blair became leader of the Labour party in 1994, he continued to change the Labour Party, moving it more towards the ‘centre’ by relaxing ties with the trade unions and approving many of Margaret Thatcher’s liberal economic policies. As there are now so many different parties within the 21st century it is hard to see what today’s political parties stand for and where there true wishes for the country lay. Observers pronounce the Labour Party had by 1994 morphed to a social democratic party from a democratic socialist party, a procedure which brought three general election successes but alienated some of its core base policies, leading to the formation of the Socialist Labour Party.

Further Reading:

Cole, G. D. H., n.d. British Working Class Politics, 1832-1914. s.l.:s.n.

Savage, M., 1987. The Dynamics of Working-Class Politics: The Labour Movement. s.l.:Cambridge University Press.




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