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How Far was the First World War responsible for the growth of the Labour Party?

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Introduction

How Far was the First World War responsible for the growth of the Labour Party? In this question many factors have to be considered. Four years of war wrought great changes in British politics, ultimately; these developments played a critical role in expanding the Labour Party and established it as a potential party of government. The effects of the war, however, took some time to turn into electoral success. As in 1918-coupon election there number of MP's was near the 1910 figure of 42. By 1922 the number of Labour MP's was at 142. Arguably there are many factors that led to growth of the Labour Party, was the main factor the War or had pre-war Acts such as Taff Vale been responsible for the growth of labour. The first factor was that Labour at the time of Taff Vale they were called the LRC. This was a factor that leads to the first success of the LRC. Taff Vale judgement caused the Labour membership to increase by 350,000. LRC campaigned to reverse the decision, but most of the new voters they had recruited could not vote at this time. ...read more.

Middle

The most important factor of pre war Labour was with the Osbourne Judgement being annulled the party was now able to add 3 more senior staff to bring the total to 7 by 1914. The start of the war did cause disarray in Labour ranks and caused splits in the party, but by 1918 the party was organized and was on a new footing. The main period where growth occurred was during 1914-1918. Most historians argue that Labour's strength was growing before the war, but most argue that the war made the Labour party. The problem was that the war also brought the worst out of Labour. The war caused a division in the party. The party was seriously divided over the war and its leader Ramsey MacDonald held the minority position and in the end resigned in favour of a more patriotic trade unionist Arthur Henderson. In the event, however, the Labour Party avoided a lasting split. The split was also avoided because those opposed to the war, did not campaign against the war in public. In 1917 Henderson resigned when the Labour leaders where refused permission to attend an international socialist conference. ...read more.

Conclusion

For many, socialism was the appeal; for others, Labour seemed the most likely party to push and appeal to the women suffrage'. The fact that they had been campaigning was that most of the women that got the vote would vote labour. The most important factor, which leads to the growth of the Labour, was the fact they were not directly involved with the government during the war. It is best summed up by Trevor Wilson 'But in the long run it was to prove to be an advantage that unlike the Liberals, Labour was not directly responsible for errors or misdeed of the past'. This is the most important factor because the fact that during the war they did not get involved directly with the government meant that after the war when all the errors came out the Labour Party could capitalise on it and this is why by 1922 there were to be in power. However persuasive there are many factors, but it is inescapable that the war acted as a catalyst for the these many factors and a destructive bolt for the Liberal Party without which there might not have been a Labour Party in office in 1922. ...read more.

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