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To what extent was the socialist revival of the 1880's responsible for the emergence of the labour party?

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To what extent was the socialist revival of the 1880's responsible for the emergence of the labour party? It can be said that the labour party which came into existence in the early years of the 20th century was in fact a combination of three different socialist groups, the social democratic federation, the Fabian society and the independent labour party. The fact that there were actually three socialist movement groups during this time; though their numbers were small their influence was considerable, shows to us that there was a need for independent working class representation in parliament. However if this was the case then clearly how could John Saville bring himself to say that "the central and dominating components of the new organisation were the trade unions...but almost non of whom were socialists." There are many factors which enable us to pinpoint the socialist revival of the early 80's. There was a growing disillusionment of many radicals with the record of official liberalism. This was Gladstone's tenderness to the Whigs and his reluctance to embark on a programme of further social reform and his continuation of Disraeli's imperialistic policies in Egypt and South Africa and above all the government's support for coercion in Ireland, which seemed to contradict true liberal principles. ...read more.


The strike was successful and gave the strikers virtually all of their demands and gave a fresh impetus to their movement. Between previous Gladstonian politicians and trade unionists it can be said that the socialist revival during the 1880's did indeed contribute towards the emergence and the need for representation of the working class in parliament. This is supported in Pellings 2nd edition book "the early components of the labour party formed a curious mixture of political idealists and hard headed trade unionists of convinced socialists and loyal but disheartened Gladstonians" However the rise of the labour party was not as inevitable as some my think. It wasn't just the emergence of three separate constituents coming together, but there were a number of general factors in the late 19th century which had an important bearing on its formation Some historians question as to why it took so long as there had been an articulate radical working-class presence in British politics in one form or another since 1815, but when this is taken into account little has been done in terms of working class representation in parliament by the end of the 19th century, by the end of the 19th century neither popular conservatism and popular liberalism could really deliver the goods which was needed to satisfy the working classes. ...read more.


With the upsurge of trade union activity among formally poorly organised groups of unskilled workers suggests that socialism appealed to these new unions. Socialist leaders within these organisations would have a strong voice at meetings condemning the older trade unions. New machinery and new technology was undermining the position of many skilled craftsmen, skill didn't offer the security it once had, putting people out of work and making profit costs increases for business owners. All this contributed to unrest within the country and the need some sort of reform. In comparison as to whether the emergence of the labour party was a direct result of socialist revival, can be argued from both ways which I have shown. There are numerous factors which lean towards the notion that without the amalgamation of three separate constituent groups, and the new unions backing the formation of the party just wouldn't have been there, however without the social factors taking place, Gladstone's over emphasis on Ireland, neglecting social reform and new machinery, then there wouldn't have been unrest within the country, and there wouldn't be a need to seek for an alternative government for the working class. ...read more.

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