The Spectator

Which year was the worst for strikes? 

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Populist roots

Where did the term ‘populist’ come from? The original Populist party grew out of the Farmers’ Alliance, a movement set up to fight corporate interests in the US in the 1880s. It then joined with other minor parties to fight the 1892 presidential election under the Populist banner. Its candidate James B. Weaver won 8.5% of the vote and carried four states – Colorado, Idaho, Kansas and Nevada – with a set of left-leaning policies including free-collective bargaining, shorter working hours and lower interest rates. In spite of its success it broke up during the 1896 election campaign when many members chose to back the Democrat candidate William Jennings Bryan instead.

Remaining seatless

Reform UK is polling at around 10% of the vote, but still might not win a seat. The share of the vote of the largest party not to win a seat in recent elections:

1979 National Front 0.6%

1983 Alliance (Northern Irish party) 0.2%

1987 Green party 0.3%

1992 Green party 0.5%

1997 Referendum party 2.6%

2001 Ukip 1.5%

2005 Ukip 2.2%

2010 Ukip 3.1%

2015 Alliance 0.2%

2017 Ukip 1.8%

2019 Brexit party 2.0%

Striking statistics

The 20th century’s most fractious years for industrial relations: Worker-days lost

1926 162.2m (general strike)

1921 85.9m (Black Friday strike)

1912 40.9m (national coal strike)

1919 35m (shipbuilders/engineers)

1979 29.5m (winter of discontent)

The miners’ strike comes sixth, with 27.1m worker-days lost in 1984 and 6.4m in 1985. 

Source: Office for National Statistics

Baby bust

The total fertility rate for England and Wales fell to 1.49 in 2022; the replacement rate is 2.1. Where is it highest and lowest?


City of London 0.63

Cambridge 1

Brighton & Hove 1.06

Westminster 1.02

Camden 1.05


Barking and Dagenham 1.98

Luton 1.96

Oldham 1.94

Slough 1.92

Gravesham 1.9

Source: ONS