during the early 1890s was the growth of the Labour Churches. Led by John Trevor, a Manchester Unitarian, who thought he saw God working through the labour movement as once He had worked through the Christian Churches, the Labour Church movement supplied a staging post on the road to secular socialist politics for many people alienated from nonconformity by its bourgeois aura and its identification with the Liberal Party.
Robert Blatchford, whose Merrie England was one of the most popular socialist texts of all time, captured the essence of ILP socialism: 'I think that the best way to reallse Socialism is -- to make Socialists. . . . Give us a Socialistic people, and Socialism will accomplish itself.' 13 Questions of strategy and tactics paled into insignificance beside the propagandist mission -- 'to make Socialists'. Propaganda for the socialist ideal was, indeed, of primary importance. But, in practice, no socialist party beyond the merest sect could escape the need to intervene in the everyday struggles of the working class. Within the ILP, ethical socialism served as a substitute for any coherent attempt to relate the practical politics of the party to its socialist goals. This left the leadership of the party with considerable freedom of political manoeuvre -- a freedom from any constraints of socialist principle. In this way the ethical socialism of the 1890s paved the way for the subordination of the socialist movement to trade unionism and to the New Liberal revival after 1900.