Nickname: John Bull Stanton
Charles Butt Stanton was at 37 Glanaman Road, Aberdare, on the 7th of April 1873. The son of Thomas and Harriet Stanton was educated at the British School in Aberaman. On leaving school he went to work as a pageboy in Bridgend but later returned to Aberdare to work as a miner. He first came to attention during the Hauliers’ Strike of 1893, during which he was alleged to have fired a gun during a clash between the miners and the police and was subsequently convicted of possession of a firearm without a licence and sentenced to six months imprisonment.
He later played an active part in the South Wales coal strike of 1898, after which he left for London and became a dock worker and took part in the London dock strike of 1898. He soon returned to Aberdare however and later became the South Wales Miners’ Federation agent and one of the miners’ leaders during the Cambrian Combine Strike of 1910 which led to the Tonypandy Riots; being; of course the dispute which led to Winston Churchill allegedly authorising the use of troops from the Somerset Light Infantry.
In addition to being an industrial militant, he was a self-declared “revolutionary Marxian Socialist, believing in the class war;” the first secretary of the Aberdare Socialist Society, an active member of the Independent Labour Party (ILP) who became president of the South Wales ILP, and a member of the Aberdare Urban District Council from 1903 to 1908. But having been described as “one of the most notorious advocates of industrial unrest”, everything changed for Stanton with the outbreak of World War I, after which he became either a “jingoistic demagogue” or an “arch-patriot”, depending on one’s point of view. Or as Stanton put it himself “In times of distress and trouble I stand in with my country”, an attitude that led him into conflict with the bulk of the Independent Labour Party. Indeed, when the ILP announced a meeting in favour of peace at Aberdare on the 6th of August 1914 Stanton, although advertised as the chairman of the meeting, flatly refused to even attend.
Matters came to a head following the death of Keir Hardie, one of the Members of Parliament for the local constituency of Merthyr Boroughs, on the 26th September 1915. This created a vacancy which, given the war-time true between the parties, should have led to the Labour candidate being returned unopposed. Stanton put his name forward for the Labour nomination as indeed did one of his political rivals James Winstone, the president of the South Wales Miners’ Federation, although as it turned out it was Winstone who won the nomination.
However, that was not the end of the matter as far as Stanton was concerned, particularly as Winstone was something of a pacifist and opposed to conscription. With the support of the Socialist National Defence Committee (which had been established specifically to counter such pacifist ‘cranks’ as Winstone), Stanton decided to stand against him as an Independent Labour Pro-Coalition candidate “to fight against the Huns for our homeland”, and spent much of his campaign attacking the ILP and Winstone for their failure to endorse conscription. The Merthyr by-election of the 25th of November 1915, therefore, it became the first contested election of the war, and much to everyone’s surprise Stanton won by the convincing margin of 10,286 votes to 6,084.
Stanton subsequently became a major figure in, and a Vice-President of the British Workers’ League (the successor organisation to the Socialist National Defence Committee) which generally spent its time disrupting the activities of the peace campaigners, with Stanton himself being one of the leaders of the “patriotic crowd” who broke up a peace meeting held at the Cory Hall in Cardiff on the 11th November 1916.
By the time of the next General Election was held on the 14th December 1918, the two members Merthyr Boroughs seat had been divided into two separate single-member constituencies, and Stanton stood for the newly created Aberdare seat for the equally new National Democratic and Labour Party. His only opposition was Thomas Evan Nicholas, a Welsh-speaking non-conformist minister, who stood as a Labour Pacifist. Stanton’s manifesto demanded that “the filthy, murderous Huns” be made to pay for the war whilst he also wanted to “expel all aliens”; an attitude that was no doubt coloured by the fact that his son Clifford had been mentioned in despatches but killed in action on the 31st of July 1917. Stanton won again, this time by the even bigger margin of 22,824 votes to 6,229.
Stanton was awarded a C.B.E. in 1920, however, the National Democratic and Labour Party proved to be a short-lived affair, particularly when the euphoria of victory became clouded by a post-war economic slump, and normal service was resumed as far as domestic politics was concerned. Stanton stood as a National Liberal in the General Election of 1922 when he was defeated by the official Labour candidate George Henry Hall (later the Viscount Hall of Cynon Valley) by 15,487 votes to 20,704.
He subsequently retired to Hampstead, joined the Liberal Party proper in 1928, and worked as a violinist and a publican, although he described himself as a ‘lecturer and social reformer’ and he also acted in, some films where his “distinguished appearance” enabled him to play assorted clergymen and aristocrats.
He was also the author of such political pamphlets as “Facts for Federationists, and Maxims for Miners, “and died in London on the 6th of December 1946, is survived by his son Frank Stanton.
Charles Butt Stanton was the Member of Parliament for Merthyr Boroughs (1915-1918) and Aberdare (1918-1922).
Miners’ agent, Aberdare, who, it was announced at the miners’ executive on Thursday, had received 6,318 votes as the result of the recent ballot of the miners of East Glamorgan for a candidate for Parliament to succeed Sir Alfred Thomas. Mr Alfred Onions received 3,786 votes, and a second ballot will take place.
Miners’ Ballot 22.04.1910
The ballot taken of miners in East Glamorgan to select a candidate for the next general election was officially announced at the South Wales Miners’ Federation meeting at Cardiff on Friday as follows:
Mr C. B. Stanton 11,879
Mr Alfred Onions 9,162
House of Commons 04.12.1915
At the House of Commons, Mr C. B. Stanton was introduced in the House of Commons on Tuesday afternoon by Mr Edgar Jones, the senior member for Merthyr, and Mr G. Roberts, the Labour Whip. Mr Stanton was the last of four new members to be introduced. As he advanced to the floor of the House he was greeted with & tremendous cheer from all parts of the Chamber. Having taken the oath and signed his name, he was again loudly cheered as he shook hands with the Speaker. Mr William Brace, who was seated on the Treasury Bench, also shook hands with him as he passed out from behind the Speaker’s Chair. Mrs Stanton journeyed to London on Monday unawares to her husband to witness the ceremony.
C. B. Stanton 05.09.1941
This morning over Hampstead Heath I met by chance Mr C. B. Stanton, the former M.P. for Aberdare. He looked well and is none the worse for some exciting ‘blitz’ experiences. He told me that his home was intact, though in the very heard of a severely bombed area. Like many others who suffered for their opinions in the last War, Mr Stanton makes many infrequent appearances in public life.
Two hobbies claim most of his time reading, especially the re-reading of old favourites, and painting. Mr and Mrs Stanton’s home were a veritable gallery of his paintings, among them, being pretty little paintings of scenes of Wales. His hand has not lost its skill with a brush, and in his recent work, he shows that fine sense of colour which served him well as a young painter.
Though he is not in political life he keeps himself well informed on affairs at home and abroad, and he is just as patriotic in this war as when between 1914-18, he fought the Pacifist extremists in the country and in the country and in the House. Mr Stanton lost one of his boys in the last War. His other son is now an officer with Sherwood Foresters.
Few people know that Mr Stanton before he went to work as London Docks, had been a page-boy in the Bridgend area, and during the time he was engaged at Bryntirion he knew all the big people and the big houses in the vale. It used to be one of his duties to accompany the hostess of Bryntirion to Bridgend for the shopping on a Saturday morning, and for this, he turned out in full uniform, with breeches and, of course, a silk hat and cockade. Bridgend had a lively school of boots, some of them with Irish blood in them. They used to bait young Stanton as he stood at attention by the carriage while my lady was in some store or other.
Saturday after Saturday the embryonic groom stood; these unpleasant attention’s, but in the end, his endurance gave out, and when his mistress was deeply engrossed in a shop, he started belabouring one or two of his persecutors. It led to a very serious brawl, in which all the boys of the neighbourhood seemed to join in the course of which “C.B.’s” breeches were torn, and his hat and cockade ruined beyond redemption to say nothing of the disfigured face and the bruised eye which his mistress saw when she returned to her carriage.
The only penalty which he received for this early assertion of qualities which were to make him a coalfield leader was that he had to tramp home. But when the family of Bryntirion heard his full story of how he stood up for the dignity of the house, so far from losing his job he was given a well-merited advance in pay.
Former M.P. and “Firebrand ” 09.12.1946
Mr Charles Butt Stanton, former M.P. for Merthyr, and Aberdare, and former and miners’ agent at Aberdare, has died at 32, Maitland Park Road, Hampstead, London, aged 73.
For some years after, his appointment as miners’ agent for Aberdare district Mr Stanton’s utterances, stamped him as an agitator of a very robust, type. He appeared to be soaring after the impossible and fully justified the title of “One of the Firebrands.” But no one ever questioned his sincerity, and the miner’s in his district were with him to a man.
Experience, however, brought about a moderating effect upon his methods. It taught him to be tolerant, and it had shown him that moderation was not inimical to success.
His first attempt to enter Parliament was made in December 1910. when he fought what was then known as the East Glamorgan Division, the seat held for many years by the late Lord Pontypridd. In a three-cornered contest, he was beaten by the late Mr Clem Edwards, the Liberal candidate, by a majority of 3.485, the runner-up being the late Col. Frank Gaskell, who stood as a Conservative.
Mr Stanton came into prominence In World War L for his active opposition to the pacifists and the Independent Labour Party. On the death of Mr Keir Hardie in 1915, he contested the Merthyr and Aberdare division as an independent Labour (pro-war) candidate. His opponent was the late Mr James Winstone, at that time president of the South Wales Miners’ Federation.
It was a most bitter contest and ended in Mr Stanton, who made unconditional support of the Government in its war policy the chief plank in his programme, being returned by a majority of more than 4,000.
Later, during the war, he led Cardiff seamen in a raid on a peace meeting at the Cory Hall, where the late Mr Ramsay MacDonald and Mr Winstone were amongst the speakers and succeeded in “dispersing” the platform after a hectic rough and tumble. At the general election in 1918, Mr Stanton defeated the Rev. T. E. Nicholas by a majority of nearly 17,000.
Subsequently, the Merthyr and Aberdare boroughs were separated and Mr Stanton, who stood for the Aberdare Division in the 1922 election, was beaten by Mr G. H. Hall. This ended his Parliamentary career. He afterwards joined the Liberal Party and became vice-president of the British Workers’ National League.
Mr Stanton lost his son, Clifford, in World War I, and in the last war his other son, Frank served as an officer in the Sherwood Foresters.
Musician and Painter
After losing his seat in Parliament. Mr Stanton went to live in London and took over a picturesque old inn at Hampstead, built on the original site of the house of Richard Steele, the essayist and friend of Dr Johnson and Addison.
On the walls of the saloon, he had a remarkable collection of, his own, pictures of Welsh landscapes, many of them painted from memory. He was a musician as well as a painter and played the violin exceedingly well. He was also a great reader and, as a writer. had several publications to his credit, including “Facts for Federationists ” and “Facts for Miners.”
He was given the C.B.E. in 1920, and in 1943 he celebrated his golden wedding. On the occasion of his 70th birthday 100 public men, of all parties and interests in Wales, joined in a tribute to him for his fine record of service and his sturdy patriotism. In addition to his son, Capt. Frank Stanton, he is survived by his widow.
The funeral will be at Golders Green Crematorium at two o’clock on Tuesday.
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