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

By Henry Pelling (auth.)

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By this time the government was finding, amidst all its other distractions, including the great struggle over Irish Home Rule, that an ever greater proportion of the budget had to be devoted to armaments, particularly for a naval building programme to keep well ahead of the German effort. s, together with a substantial minority of Liberals, favoured resistance to this tendency. For ideological reasons, they were quite as suspicious of Russia as of Germany, and they held that the best thing for Britain to do was to keep out of continental quarrels by a policy of isolation.

But one most valuable contribution to the study of the party in 1906-14 is Clegg, Fox and Thompson, op. cit. (see p. 17), though its narrative ends in 1910. , discussed details of legislation with Liberal ministers without consulting Hardie or Henderson, the Labour Party's chairmen. From 1910 onwards, an equally valuable study of party organisation, based on the papers at Transport House, is R. McKibbin, Evolution rif the Labour Party, 1910-1924 (Oxford, 1974). The book by W. P. Maddox, cited above, provides valuable analysis of policy formation within the party.

The party was thus equipped with a greatly improved constitution, at least for the purpose of making an appeal to the electorate as a whole rather than just to the interest of the unions. It also had a practical programme which in domestic affairs was a compromise between Marxian Socialism on the one hand and the piecemeal social reform of the Chamberlain-Lloyd George type on the other. All this enabled the party to make its bid to rank as an alternative government of the country: a bid that within the first post-war years was to prove unexpectedly successful.

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