December 4, 2023

The 70s 80s 90s Blog

Three Decades of History with TV historian Tony McMahon

Love on the Dole under Thatcher

2 min read
Love on the Dole was tough in the 1930s and still challenging in 1981 when the Jobs Express train campaign saw one couple pop the question

Love on the Dole was a 1933 novel that seemed very relevant in 1981. The author was Walter Greenwood and he aimed to show how working class people were trying to retain their humanity in the Great Depression while suffering immensely. Even the act of falling in love was fraught when you were living on the dole.

Fifty years later and the dole queues had swollen again. Hundreds of young people had boarded the Jobs Express, a train bound for London to petition Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher to change course and boost employment.

Aboard the train, love certainly seemed to be blossoming for some on the dole!

Paul Mooney popped the question to his girlfriend Terese Shortt when both of them – members of the Unemployed Workers Association – were aboard the Jobs Express. They were a couple from Cambridge and Paul picked a quiet moment to ask Therese to marry him.

The pair got a card from Tony Benn MP and Terese was selected with five others, out of the 400 protestors, to go and meet Thatcher and plead their case. Later on, Tony Benn signed the wedding card. A socialist endorsement of love on the dole.

Given the current rise in unemployment in 2020 after the Covid-19 lockdown, I wonder whether a re-versioning of Greenwood’s Love on the Dole would be very timely. After the novel came out in 1933, it was rapidly turned into a play and by the end of 1935 had been seen by over a million people.

Love on the dole
Love on the dole

2 thoughts on “Love on the Dole under Thatcher

  1. Hi just come across this.
    My name is Terese Mooney (Shortt),
    Paul and I did marry the next year 1982.
    We still are, three children of our own all grown and now we foster.
    Still very much on the left!!!
    It was great to see all your stuff

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