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How far do you agree that it was The Great War that transformed the Labour Party?

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Introduction

How far do you agree that it was The Great War that transformed the Labour Party? The Great War started in May 1914 and ended in August 1918. The Labour Party before the war was a minor party with no real hope of competing against the likes of the Liberal and Conservative parties. By October 1918 the Labour Party was the official opposition to the government, reorganised and ready to take the place that the Liberal Party previously held in British politics. It could be argued that The Great War, and what it did to the Labour Party was responsible for the party's meteoric rise, it could also be said that the effect that the Great War had on the Liberal Party was even more beneficial. The Great War had a profound effect on the Labour Party itself. A split and new leadership luckily did not destroy the Labour Party as it did the Liberal Party. The Labour Party was offered to join a 'Coalition government' with the Liberal and Tory Parties in May 1915. The Coalition government was a special government including all parties into the war effort in order to deal with the unexpected pressures of total war. The Labour Party was the most 'left wing' party in Britain and consequently pacifists had joined it thinking it a peaceful party. ...read more.

Middle

Whichever party was to follow World War One in power was going to have to give the working class what they wanted because for the first time they were conscious of what they wanted. The Labour Party served their needs. After the war the newly enfranchised working class and not to mention women had fought for something. One might say they fought for their country or the imperialists who started the war; but truly it was for a better world. After time the debate over whether or not to enter the war was forgotten and the people thought about finishing it more so than the war's beginning. In this period of contemplation the people realised that once it was over the world had be a better place. David Lloyd George used the phrase 'Brave New World' and that perfectly describes the hopes and dreams of Britain. The Representation of the Peoples Act had made it so that whoever gave the people this 'Brave New World' would win the working class' support. The Conservative/Liberal Coalition which continued after the war did not ideologically believe in giving the working class a better life, the only vote which would bring them their 'Brave New World' was the Labour Party. ...read more.

Conclusion

Asquith of course declined and lost his last chance to ever repair the Liberal Party. Dangerfield did not believe that this was a consequence of the war but an on going crack which would have opened in time. It is more acceptable to believe that the war was far too much pressure for two such personalities so strongly opposed. It was not so much the personalities which determined who won but the attitudes of the country; Liberalism was an old ideology now overshadowed by much more interventionist politics which Lloyd George had shown worked before and during the war. Liberalism could not live up to the 'Brave New World' and indeed the war which fought for it. The dramatic change in popular attitudes towards politics, class and the justification of the working class' genuine right for political power changed Britain socially. The change created heavy pressures on the old Liberal doctrine and thus in a great war such as this only the strong survive. Liberalism was not strong enough to survive the war and with it died Liberalism's last real master. The 'Brave New World' which the war had created and Lloyd George had coined was to be the era of Labour; the Great War transformed not only the Labour Party but transformed British society in the Labour Party's favour. ...read more.

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