The League of Nations Union (LNU) was formed in 1918 with the aim of supporting the UK’s membership of the League of Nations. Lancaster LNU was formed in October 1920 and by 1924 a District Council had been formed which eventually had at least 11 branches. This survey covers the years 1920-1933, ending just before the Peace Ballot, 1934/5.
The Lancaster Branch conformed in many ways to the characteristics discussed by Helen McCarthy. (1) It was a well-structured, well-organised branch, supported by most of Lancaster’s churches, and the professional and business people of the County town, with women as well as men joining. Unusually, Catholic clergy were supporters. All three political parties in Lancaster supported the League of Nations in principle, but the Liberals dominated the Lancaster LNU Executive leading to some friction with Labour and the trade unionists, whose positon in Lancaster was weak in the 1920s. (2) The Liberal bias of the Committee was bolstered by the support of the ‘Lancaster Guardian,’ which publicised the League of Nations in its detailed reports and editorials. The high educational standing of some of the leading members and guest speakers meant the intellectual content of it programme could be unusually high. However, with the social make-up of the membership, and the nature of the activities they provided, it is not surprising numbers only grew to about 700 or 1.6% of Lancaster’s population.
(1) H. McCarthy, 2011. The British People and the League of Nations. Manchester: Manchester University Press.
(2) A. White, ed. 1993. A History of Lancaster. Keele: Keele University Press.
D. S. Birn, 1981. The League of Nations 1919-1945. Oxford: Clarendon Press.