• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Why the Labour Party overtook the Liberal Party

Extracts from this document...

Introduction

When they first emerged in 1900, the Labour Representation Committee was a relatively small political group pressuring for the labour cause. There seemed to be no inevitability, at the time, for their rise, as the eventual Labour party, to become Britain's second biggest party over the Liberals, and providing competition for the dominant Conservatives. This essay shall determine the factors that caused change in Labour's increasing successes within 1914 and 1924. These factors include economic and social determinants in the country, contribution from key individuals, measures taken by the Labour Party themselves and the effects of the war that also, significantly, was a cause of one of the most important factors: the increasing divisions and disintegration of the Liberal Party. When war broke out in 1914, the Liberals governed Britain and held 261 seats in Parliament. Yet, by 1918, it was clear that the Liberal Party's position was dispelled and had been, according to Trevor Wilson, "reduced to ruins". The outbreak of war had jeopardised the existence of a party whose apparent principles were international conciliation, personal liberty and social reform. For a Liberal government to lead Britain into war, and to direct a wartime administration, was almost a contradiction of terms. War appeared to be, for the Party, one of the biggest threats of eliminating liberalism as a coherent political force. It alienated groups who were previously linked to the party, e.g. the religious dynamic of Nonconformity, the National Brotherhood Movement. ...read more.

Middle

The effects on the nation's economy had expanded the importance of the trade unions, and thus stimulated their political consciousness. This of course correspondingly enhanced the position of the Labour Party - who had always gained much of its limited importance from its links with organised labour. A significant constituent that is also connected to this is the case of parliamentary reform in the form of the Representation of the People Act. This raised the electorate from 8 million to 21 million, including males over 21, many of whom were poorer working-class males in industrial regions, and (for the first time) women over 30. This increases the representation of industrial areas, and was now no longer just applicable to householders and landlords. One can see that support for the Liberal party in industrial areas collapsed. Mining districts provided 39 of the 86 London gains for Labour in the 1922 General Election, while 28 more came from Glasgow, Greater London, Tyneside, the Clyde and Sheffield. Glasgow returns provided the most remarkable result, with labour taking ten of the seats it contested, usually on large swings. Mining areas certainly helped the overall growth of the party's popularity in the polls - the Labour vote rose from 22.2 per cent in the 1918 'coupon' election to 29.4 per cent in 1922. Yet, the seats where Labour lost heavily in 1922 came in two main categories: agricultural seats, especially in the South Midlands, together with the textile districts of East Lancashire and West Yorkshire. ...read more.

Conclusion

Labour was larger than both factions of the Liberal Party combined. In 1924, Labour held 191 seats, and 30.5 per cent of the total vote. This is where they formed their first administration, albeit a minority one which lasted less than a year. Throughout the 1920s, the Labour party's electoral strength increased while that of the Liberals' waned. In 1929, labour became the largest single party, and it was in 1945 when they finally held the top position as a majority government. In conclusion, it is clear that there are many reasons that contribute to the overtaking of the Liberals by the Labour Party within this decade. In my opinion, the most important factor would be the outbreak of war, due to the repercussions it held for both Labour and the Liberal Party. The Liberals suffered from deep divisions within its own ranks, and this gave Labour an opportunity to benefit in political power. War also meant that the economic situation of Britain was changing, and this led to a social turnaround, with the increasing importance of trade unions. The effects of the war on the population were also significant, as it led many to believe that Labour was a better alternative to the wartime governments, which disillusioned many across the different social classes. Electoral success for Labour was also due to the changing policies of the party, and the efforts made by Ramsay MacDonald, which resulted in their transition from being a party of protest to a party of power. ?? ?? ?? ?? Why was Labour able to replace the Liberals as the major non-Conservative party in Britain, between 1914 and 1924? 1 1 ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE Politics section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related GCSE Politics essays

  1. Explain the Formation of the Liberal Party

    they had a firm electoral base in boroughs, their diversity of opinions and Radical members made them an appealing party in contemporary society. They represented businessmen, aristocrats, lawyers and philosophers, and thus were seen by voters as a party of business mentality, moral integrity, and administrative efficiency, this public opinion

  2. How far do you agree that the role of the Trade Unions was the ...

    This put the Parties number of politicians up from 42 too 60, the trend of Labour replacing the Liberals is gradually becoming clearer. It could be said that this growth of the Labour party was due to the failing during the war of the Liberals however Martin Pugh suggests that

  1. To what extent has the Labour party completely abandoned its' traditional Principles?

    This fact is shown when in the general election manifesto of 1987, it stated that "Public investment will modernise services, help business and industry and stimulate private investment." However, under the New Labour manifesto of 1997, we are told that the party believes that "The level of public spending is

  2. The Constitution Party

    Impressively, his name on the ballot went from 21 states in the 1992 election to 48 states in 2000.

  1. Free essay

    Women's contribution to the war

    Britain has thousands of nurseries and day support groups for children to help mother's go off to work. The government and employees noticed the drastic improvement in work productivity and attentiveness of the women in comparison to previous years, because of these new child care facilities.

  2. Free essay

    Consider the view that the liberal government reforms 1906-1914 were more concerned with the ...

    This is all well and good, but the reasoning behind the bill is again one of heading off a socialist advance rather than of moral concern for the elderly9. "As late as 1906 the Liberals, as a party were not committed to old age pensions" J R Hay quotes 10 This is most certainly the case.

  1. New Liberalism and the Rise of the Labour Party

    When the workers went on strike the company sued the union and won. After this point the unions could no longer use the strike weapon to withdraw labour. The unions needed to have this decision overturned so turned to the Labour Representation Committee (LRC).

  2. Was the most important reason for the collapse of the coalition government in 1922 ...

    He gained public support a lot in the beginning and without this they would not have been in power. So he actually helped the public and with out making these improvements they would not have been such a thing a Geddes axe as they would have been much expenditures to be cut as he created them.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work