A History of the Labour Party from 1914

A History of the Labour Party from 1914

A History of the Labour Party from 1914

A History of the Labour Party from 1914

Excerpt

I published in 1941 a volume entitled British Working-Class Politics, 1832-1914, in which I dealt both with earlier ventures in Labour politics and with the history of the Labour Representation Committee and the Labour Party up to the outbreak of the first World War. The present volume is a sequel to this earlier work. The Great War of 1914-18 brought with it a sharp break in the history of the Labour Party, which had been up to 1914 only a small fourth Party in a Parliament still dominated by Liberals and Conservatives, as well as complicated by the presence of a large Nationalist Party from Ireland. Only during the war years did the Labour Party reorganise itself on a truly national basis, with the aim of taking over from the divided Liberals the position which they had forfeited and of becoming a claimant to power. Accordingly, the present volume tells the complete story from the emergence of the Labour Party as a national parliamentary force. I have stopped the historical record at 1945, because the time has not yet come for passing historical judgment on the work of the first Labour Government to take office in Great Britain with a clear majority behind it. It may be possible for me to carry the story further in a future edition when the achievement of the Labour Government during the whole life of the Parliament elected in 1945 can be better assessed.

In writing this book I have relied mainly on the published records of the Party, on the newspapers, and on my own recollections and researches into the records of the earlier movements. I have neither sought nor obtained any access to confidential information. I have, however, particularly to thank Mr. Michael Young and Miss Rose Davy, of the Labour Party Head Office, for a number of valuable suggestions, and Mr. John McNair, General Secretary of the Independent Labour Party, for help in obtaining access to documents which I do not myself possess. I have also to thank Alderman D. H. Daines, Secretary of the London Labour Party, for information used in the chapter on Local Government, and Mr. John Taylor, Secretary of the Labour Party Scottish Council, for information concerning the Labour Party's activities in Scottish local government, as well as a number of good Socialists who were kind enough to help me in filling up the gaps in my file of Labour Party Reports.

Hendon, December, 1947. G.D.H.C.

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