British History


Why was there a need for the Labour Party?

  • Economic and Legal Pressure on Trade Unions - Economic slump put pressure on TU's to do more for those they represented. New Unions were more class concious and more open to socialist Ideas. Industrial action was not successful (Lyons v Wilkins) this put pressure on TU's to take political action. 
  • Limited success of Lib-Labs  - First 2 were elected in 1874 but they became undistinguishable from the Liberal party. They made little impact for the w/c. W/c candidates could not support themselves financially if they were elected they tended to be "swallowed" by the m/c dominated Liberals and therefore have little impact. 
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Why was there a need for the Labour Party?

  • Government Failure In Social Reform - Gladstone had extented the Franchise to the masses, but the w/c looked for a party to represent their interests, the Liberals failed to produce social reform as they were more preoccupied with Ireland and they were split.There was some support from the w/c for the Conservatives, "Slum Toryism" patriotism for the Boer War. BUT governments support for employers (Taff Vale), opposition to state intervention (Laissez Faire) and a lack of significant social reform, lost w/c support. 
  • Extension of Franchise - In 1867, w/c had been made a force in parliment for the first time. By 1900 w/c formed the majority of the electorate. Additionally Better Education was making the w/c more conscious of their political strength and more articulate about their grievances. 
  • Growing Disparity Between Rich and Poor - Increasing problems for the w/c, long working hours, unemployment, appalling living conditions, proved that w/c needed representation
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