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A Short History of the Labour Party by Henry Pelling (auth.)

By Henry Pelling (auth.)

This textual content presents an introductory account of the Labour occasion from its beginning. It not just covers the interval as much as and together with the election of Neil Kinnock because the chief of the Labour celebration but additionally concentrates at the difficulties of the parliamentary leadership.

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But there was little conflict between the two men. Henderson was content to regard MacDonald as by far the most suitable parliamentary spokesman, for he had a high regard for his abilities. Their co-operation provided the party with an effective working team, and this accounts for the re-election of MacDonald as chairman of the parliamentary party in each successive session from 1911 to the outbreak of war. By 191 4, then, the Labour Party was consolidating its influence in towns and industrial areas throughout Britain.

Demanded democratic control of foreign policy, no annexations, an international organisation to maintain peace, and disarmament. New alignments thus cut across the ranks of the Labour Party, and threatened its continued existence as a political force. Yet at the time, there were few who thought that the war would last as long as a year. Although Henderson had disagreed with MacDonald and had taken his place as party chairman, he did not want to expel the anti-war minority from membership of the party, for he expected an early return to the peace-time condition of politics.

One highly controversial issue was the dilution of labour in the factories - that is, the admission of unskilled workers into occupations hitherto reserved for craftsmen who had served their apprenticeship. Another was military conscription, which was strongly opposed by most sections of the labour movement. Members of the government soon began to realise that the participation of Henderson and his colleagues in office did not guarantee the loyalty of all the workers in the factories and mines.

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