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A Short History of the T.U.C by John Lovell

By John Lovell

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Socialist Conference in February 1918, at which Parliamentary Committee Chairman, J. W. Ogden, presided. The drafting of this memorandum gave British Labour a foreign policy that was distinctive. It was a foreign policy, furthermore, which appealed to liberal minded men of all classes. Henderson had looked beyond a mere military victory, and had thought in terms of a democratic peace settlement, to be safeguarded by a League of Nations. This policy stood in marked contrast to that of the British Government, which was loath to publish any aims beyond the achievement of a complete military victory.

Although the Labour Party occupied a strategic position it did not wish to vote against the Trade Union Bill, since this might have led to the defeat of the Government and might possibly have brought about its fall. Labour members preferred to try to improve the Bill by amendments and to help the Government defeat Conservative amendments and in this policy they were supported by the Parliamentary Committee. Support for the syndicalists and militancy had flagged considerably towards the end of 1912 and first part of 1913, but as the Trades Union Congress met in that year the attention of delegates was drawn to a strike that had led to violent clashes with the police in Dublin.

T. U. In the second place the rules gave far less power to the Management Committee than the sponsors thought desirable. The fact was the large unions were not willing to give up their sovereign powers and this had to be recognised for there to be any hope of attracting their support. But perhaps of even greater significance was the realisation that the mutual insurance fund would rapidly be dissipated if member organisations were constantly involved in strikes and lock-outs. The Federation had then from the outset to discourage militancy and seek for peaceful settlements rather than to promote aggressive action.

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