During the last Great Depression over 120,000 unemployed men were given the 'choice' of no dole or a period in a labour camp. The camps were proposed by the Tories but then enthusiastically set up by the 1929 Labour Government.
Conditions in the camps were nothing like as brutal as those in Stalin's or Hitler's camps (or even the Concentration Camps that the British set up during the Boer War). However, as this shocking film shows, they were brutal enough, and may have got far worse if Britain had faced crises as deep as those of Russia or Germany in the 1930s.
At a time when Ed Miliband's Labour Party are denouncing Tory welfare cuts, it's important to remember that the Labour Party has always been as keen as the Tories to impose work on behalf of the capitalist system.
For more on the subject of Britain's labour camps see:
Dave Colledge, 'Labour Camps, the British Experience' (1989)
D. Colledge, ‘To Recondition Human Material…’: an Account of a British Labour Camp in the 1930s, History Workshop Journal, (1983) 15 (1): p152
Desmond King, 'In The Name of Liberalism : Illiberal Social Policy in the 1930s', (1999).
John Field, 'Able Bodies: Work camps and the training of the unemployed in Britain before 1939'.
Loading more stuff…
Hmm…it looks like things are taking a while to load. Try again?