Tony Cliff & Donny Gluckstein

The Labour Party

3. War and Reconstruction –
Labour adopts Socialism

SINCE LABOUR is concerned with winning reforms through the ‘ordinary’ channels and in ‘normal’ circumstances, great serial crises such as war seem to have no relevance to a party concerned with the humdrum business of legislative change. The contrary is true. Firstly it is only during crisis that capitalism is weakened and large-scale change in workers’ consciousness is possible. Secondly, just as a heart condition may remain hidden until sudden stress brings it out, so periods of crisis test political parties and reveal their inner nature. The 1914–18 war was one such test for Labour.

When the First World War began Labour was a sickly infant. When it ended an extraordinary transformation had recurred. The party was relaunched as the chief opposition force with prospects of office. Most remarkable of all, on its masthead was inscribed Clause Four, the commitment to socialism:

To secure for the producers by hand or by brain the full fruits of their industry, and the most equitable distribution thereof that may be possible, upon the basis of the common ownership of the means of production and the best obtainable system of popular administration and control of each industry and service.

An early casualty of the fighting

At the outbreak of war the national element in the reformist class/nation mix brutally asserted itself. When MacDonald, as party leader, voiced doubts about the conflict he was deposed by the patriotic trade union bureaucracy and replaced by Arthur Henderson. On 19 May 1915, the party joined Asquith’s coalition government.

The ILP leaders who had fought for a separate Labour Party now watched it crumble. MacDonald recorded that Hardie was: ‘a crushed man [following] the complete mergence of the labour Party in the war-lusty crowd. [1] MacDonald himself believed that coalition ‘jeopardised the existence of the Labour Party’ and concluded ‘that our Labour Party is finally burst.’ [2]

The Labour Party, along with countless workers’ lives, had been sacrificed. The figure of one in every ten British men aged under 45 killed or wounded was more than a statistic. [3] Rosa Luxemburg, writing six weeks after the outbreak, counted the cost of abandoning internationalism:

the cannon fodder that was loaded upon the trains in August and September is rotting on the battlefields of Belgium and the Vosges, while profits are springing like weeds, from the fields of the dead ... Shamed, dishonoured, wading in blood and dripping with filth, thus capitalist society stands ... as a roaring beast, as an orgy of anarchy, as a pestilential breath devastating culture and humanity. [4]

By the end of four years the beast had devoured some 15 million lives.

In this situation, did labour movement leaders call for workers to die for profits, or did they call on them to destroy the system that made such carnage inevitable? Speaking for the union bureaucrats who now controlled the party, Tillett said: ‘In a strike I am for my class, right or wrong; in a war I am for my country, right or wrong.’ [5]

The attitude of workers’ leaders at this juncture was of tremendous importance. Twentieth century wars have, unlike previous ones, mobilised the entire capitalist economy in their prosecution. Workers were therefore not only required to sacrifice themselves on the battlefields, production at home was central to keeping the conflict going.

Lloyd George, soon to be prime minister and ‘architect of victory’, well understood the situation:

Of all the problems which governments had to handle during the Great War, the most delicate and probably the most perilous were those arising on the home front ... industrial unrest spelt a graver menace to our endurance and ultimate victory than even the military strength of Germany. [6]

The dubious credit for keeping our ruling class secure must go to the Labour Party and union leaders. But it was a close thing. Thus during a rationing crisis the Food Controller told J.R. Clynes, the ILP member of parliament then attached to his office: ‘It might well be, Clynes, that you and I, at this moment, are all that stand between this country and revolution!’ [7]

Moralism and Labour politics

War forced Labour to clarify its ideas. Before that, wrote Desmond: ‘We were never very clear about anything. We did not say we were for or against country – we simply sidestepped it.’ [8]

This was not the full story. The pre-war Labour Party had a position; or rather, the ILP, whose task was to define general reformist politics, had a position. This derived from two sources. The first was traditional ‘little Englandism’ or the Gladstonian idea that Britain should not become embroiled in foreign wars because this disrupted free trade. [1*] The second source was the International [2*], whose famous resolution of 1907 called for ‘the working classes and their parliamentary representatives to exert every effort in order to prevent [the outbreak of war] ... In case war should break out anyway ... to intervene for its speedy termination.’ Keir Hardie even contributed to discussions with the suggestion of a general strike to prevent war. [3*]

Thus there was a strong element of tokenism, of mouthing a slogan rather than intending to carry it out.

Secondly, because the notion of a strike touched the unions directly, their leaders made a rare foray into foreign policy, and defeated the suggestion of a general strike against war.

However when labour MPs and the Second International leaders referred to internationalism they were not talking as Marxists. The former never had been Marxists, the latter had ceased to be. Marxists see the world unity of the working class as a fundamental principle without which the socialist goal cannot be reached. Reformists, however, believe that it is possible to attain socialism within one country by the control of parliament. They do not see an indissoluble link between internationalism and workers’ power.

For reformists, internationalism was an ptional extra, welcome on moral grounds but expendable. This political moralism had been the norm in Britain with its ‘ethical socialist’ tradition. In war-time it enabled the ILP pacifists to remain within the Labour Party and to turn the other cheek to the chauvinists knowing that after the war differences would be forgotten in the common scramble for office.

In August 1914 this type of internationalism was tested. On 2 August, as the war clouds gathered, Hardie and Henderson presented this manifesto to a Trafalgar Square demonstration:

Compel those of the governing class ... to respect the decision of the overwhelming majority of the people who will have neither part nor lot in such infamy ... Down with class rule! Down with the rule of brute force! Down with war! Up with the peaceful rule of the people! [13]

Resolve crumbled at the first challenge. By 5 August MacDonald had resigned and the Party had repudiated the manifesto. Only the ILP stood its ground to the end. It said:

Out of the darkness and the depth we hail our working-class comrades of every land. Across the roar of guns, we send sympathy and greeting to the German Socialists. They have laboured unceasingly to promote good relations with Britain, as we with Germany. They are no enemies of ours but faithful friends. [14]

The meaning of the split

The party split. On the one side were the trade union leaders (many of whom were MPs) and on the other five ILP MPs who supported the initial anti-war position. The minority included MacDonald – the former party leader, Hardie – its revered elder statesman and Snowden – its financial expert. The trade union bureaucracy had not only split the Labour Alliance, but overthrown the old PLP leadership.

What did this signify? Until 1914 do-it-yourself reformism from below had pushed the union bureaucrats to the left. The ILP leaders, mesmerised by parliament, were on the right. However in war union sectionalism was incapable of withstanding patriotic hysteria. Only the ILP which specialised in general reformist politics, stuck to its ground, and this now placed it on the left. So today, the local Labour MP may oppose strikes, but be more progressive on general questions such as hanging or racism. Trade unionists can often be militant when it comes to their own workplace, but hold backward ideas in general.

Finally, the fact that the union bureaucracy had ousted the professional politicians showed the complexity of Party/labour movement relations. The PLP does not always dictate.

As Drucker argues, the Labour Party is not ‘a parliamentary grouping united by interest or disposition to which a mass party base was added – as is the case in the Tory Party ... It was formed to defend in Parliament the interests of already existing institutions.’ [15] Thus the trade union bureaucracy can at certain times impose its wishes, and Labour conferences, unlike Tory Party conferences, are not purely rubber stamps for the leadership, although they never control the leadership.

The Tory Party is run entirely from the top downwards. Questions of policy, of who is the leader and so on, are made behind closed doors. It has been described as an ‘oligarchy tempered by assassination’. [16] Labour is tied to an extra-parliamentary movement. The war crisis showed that the PLP is, in a sense, a superstructure erected on a base, which is the trade union bureaucracy. [4*]

The diverse attitudes to war

Labour gave considerable assistance to the war effort. For example, Henderson arranged the 1915 ‘Treasury Agreement’, by which the unions abandoned many of their defences, including the right to strike. Labour MPs and union officials took an active part in recruiting drives and efforts to raise production. One enthusiast was Lieutenant-Colonel Will Thorne of the West Ham Volunteer Force – a sad contrast to the new unionist fighter of 1889.

Furthermore the bureaucracy took an active part in hounding the pacifist ILP. For the first, but not the last time, members of the Labour Party sent other members to prison for their political views. Arthur Hayday, former SDF councillor, now president of the Nottingham Trades Council and shortly to be a Labour MP, was described by the local press in glowing terms: ‘On the [Military] Tribunals no one was more prompt in unmasking any shirker who masqueraded as a “conchie”’ (a pejorative term for conscientious objector). [18] When Tillett met anti-war protesters ‘he goaded them, he lashed and slashed and gashed them with flaying scorn, he mocked them, he reviled them, he laughed at them.’ [19] Havelock Wilson, the Seamen’s leader, was moved to tears at the ILP’s call for a negotiated peace: ‘some of you would be content to meet these men! You would take the bloodstained hands of murderers within your own.’ [20]

So strong was Havelock Wilson’s hatred of pacifism that at the 1916 Trades Union Congress the transport workers’ delegation moved a motion which would have dissolved the Labour Alliance: ‘This Congress ... should take the necessary steps to effectively control and concentrate Trade Union political action through the Trades Union Congress only.’ [21] The proposal fell, but other steps were taken.

The 1917 Labour Party conference changed election procedures for its national executive. Instead of the socialist societies chasing their representatives on their own, block votes would elect the entire executive as one body. In other words the unions could dictate which socialist society representatives would get on. Also no affiliated body with a membership less than 50,000 could nominate to the executive. ILP membership was less than this. [22]

The ILP was also attacked elsewhere. Out of 1,191 trials, of objectors, 805 were ILP members [23] and 70 died in detention through mistreatment. [24]

Deep though the division was, the Labour Party did not break up. The German SPD, by contrast, split three ways, forming the ‘Majority’ Socialists, the Independents and the Spartakists. The majority of Continental ‘Socialist’ parties went the same way so that after the war there emerged the Second, Third and for a short period the ‘Two-and-a Half’ Internationals.

The British Labour Party survived partly because the vast bulk of its support came via the trade unions. This gave it a stability based not on political considerations but on economic ones since trade unions encompass a range of opinions from reactionary to revolutionary. Another factor was, despite all the furore, the remarkably narrow gulf separating the ILP from the majority.

Only the British Socialist Party [5*], which affiliated to Labour 1916 and included John Maclean, protested against the war on clear internationalist grounds. But even the BSP did not approach Lenin’s extreme position of ‘revolutionary defeatism’:

Present-day socialism will remain true to itself only if it joins neither one nor the other imperialist bourgeoisie, only if it says that the two sides are ‘both worse’, and if it wishes the defeat of the imperialist bourgeoisie in every country. Any other decision will, in reality, be national-liberal and have nothing in common with genuine internationalism.

This attitude had no trace of moralism, the idea that war or peace was somehow above the class divisions of capitalist society. Lenin therefore never considered the ILP’s idea of conscientious objection. This was an individual not a collective act and therefore ineffective. But more important, Lenin was very much in favour of war – the war of workers against the system:

Not ‘peace without annexations’, but peace to the cottages, war on the palaces, peace to the proletariat and working people, war on the bourgeoisie. Socialists cannot, without ceasing to be socialists, be opposed to all war ... civil war is just as much a war as any other. [25]

The limits of the ILP position

There were four main currents in the Independent Labour Party. The first was unashamedly pro-war. J.R. Clynes and James Parker actually took office in the wartime coalition government. [6*] The most important group was centred on the Union of Democratic Control (UDC) which represented a coalition of ILP members and Liberals such as E.D. Morel and Arthur Ponsonby. Next came the No Conscription Fellowship of Fenner Brockway and Clifford Allen. Finally, there was the Clyde ILP.

The UDC was led by Ramsay MacDonald, whose opposition to war was strangely phrased:

Victory must therefore be ours. England is not played out, her mission is not accomplished ... Well, we cannot go back, nor can we turn to the right or to the left. We must go straight through ... the young men of the country must, for the moment settle the immediate issue of victory, let them do it in the spirit of the brave men who have crowned our country with honour in times that have gone. Whoever may be in the wrong, men so inspired will be in the right. [27]

Where, you might ask, is the anti-war position in that? The answer is that MacDonald believed the interests of the British state were ill-served by the war. Diplomatic intrigues and imperial ambitions had created unnecessary conflict. Where Lenin saw the war as the inevitable result of capitalist competition. MacDonald saw only ‘a diplomatist’s war ... A dozen men brought Europe to the brink of a precipice and Europe fell over it.’ [28] As MacDonald told the Commons On 3 August 1914, in his last speech as party leader, if the foreign secretary had proved ‘that our country is in danger ... we would be with him and behind him. If this is so we will vote him what money he wants. Yes, and we will go further. We will offer him ourselves if the country is in danger. But he has not persuaded me that it is.’ [29]

The pacifist and Christian socialist wing of the ILP took a more militantly anti-war position, but their approach had no coherent politics behind it. The No Conscription Fellowship ‘was based on the principle of the “sacredness of human life” ... In its branches, scattered throughout the country, were Socialists, Anarchists and Quakers, and Other religious objectors.’ [30]

Clydeside The legend and the reality

The most fantastic mythology has grown up around the Clyde ILP, suggesting some connection between the Labour MPs elected in 1922 and wartime militancy associated with John Maclean and the Clyde Workers’ Committee. Is the claim justified?

The mouthpiece of the Glasgow ILP was Forward, which gained notoriety when one issue was banned for alleged ‘incitement to strike’. The editors were perplexed:

Looking through the files of Forward we can find no hint of any incitement ... The only big industrial strike on the Clyde since war began was the Engineers’ Strike in February 1915. Neither before nor during the strike did we publish a single line about it, nor did we even mention that it was taking place ... we declared in our issue of 20th March that we should not touch the subject of strikes during the war.’ [31]

The police raid on Forward caused some embarrassment when civil servants discovered that it ‘does not appear anywhere as an anti-war paper.’ [32]

What of the ILP’s leading individuals? Jimmy Maxton was sentenced to 12 months for incitement. In his case, the charge was more appropriate. On hearing of the arrest of leading stewards, Maxton told a meeting: ‘It is now time to take action and that action is to strike, to go home and forget to wind up your alarm clocks, and down tools.’ [33] To ensure that plain-clothes policemen took down every word, he repeated this. A sympathetic commentator has explained Maxton’s motives:

Maxton had done nothing wilder in the war than voice his militant pacifism, but as a conscientious objector he had already been dismissed by the Glasgow School Board, and, being due shortly to be interned, he felt it better to go down fighting ... than to be meekly shut away. [34]

Maxton, like Hardie, had a flair for spectacular gestures, believing in their political efficacy, but even so, he deserves credit as the most daring of all the Clydesiders.

Remarkably, the rest either adopted Forward’s approach, or actively worked to prevent strikes. At first sight this is surprising, since Davie Kirkwood of the ILP was a well-known Clyde Workers’ Committee activist. His position was ambiguous. Kirkwood’s autobiography tells that at the outbreak of war:

a terrific struggle tore my breast. I could not hate the Germans. They loved their land as I loved mine ... Yet I was working in an arsenal making guns and shells for one purpose – to kill men in order to keep them from killing men. What a confusion! What was I to do. I was not a conscientious objector. I was a political objector. I believed that financial and commercial rivalry had led to war.

I resolved that my skill as an engineer must be devoted to my counter. I was too proud of the battles of the past to stand aside and see Scotland conquered. [35]

The Clyde Workers’ Committee was a rank and file revolt against the dismantling of trade union defences by Henderson and the officials. When in late 1915 the government wanted to ‘dilute’ skilled labour by introducing the unskilled to their work, the committee decided to make this a political issue. They would only accept dilution in return for nationalisation and workers’ control.

Kirkwood ignored the committee and turned to John Wheatley, an ILP councillor. These two sabotaged the strategy. On the day government commissioners arrived to impose dilution, writes Kirkwood:

the War news was terrible ... We were all scared as the thundering masses of Germans tramped their way towards the coasts ... That night I went to John Wheatley ... In thirty minutes he drafted the scheme ... which became the basis for the whole of Great Britain and worked perfectly until the end of the War ... [But] the extremists attacked us for having agreed to increased production. John Mac made me the theme of innumerable speeches. [36]

The scheme worked perfectly for reformism. It accepted dilution as long as the overall wages bill was not reduced, thus detaching the economic agitation from the political issue of war. [7*]

Finally we come to Manny Shinwell who rose to being a Minister in the Attlee administration. He angrily repudiated the suggestion that he was anti-war: ‘Nothing could be further from the truth. I was engaged on work of national importance on behalf of shipping.’ [37]

None of the Clydeside ILP believed in striking against the war or even using the crisis to challenge the system at home, simply that union organisation should not suffer unduly because of the fighting. This was the limit of their radicalism. [8*]

Lenin discerned three trends in the working class movement, and all three were reproduced in Britain. There were the ‘social chauvinists’ (represented by the majority of the PLP and the trade union bureaucracy); the ‘Centre’ (the ILP); and the revolutionaries (Maclean):

The social chauvinists i.e., socialists in words and chauvinists in deed ... are our class enemies. They have gone over to the bourgeoisie ...

The ‘Centre’ is a realm of honeyed petty-bourgeois phrases, of internationalism in word and cowardly opportunism and fawning on the social chauvinists in deed.

The crux of the matter is that the ‘Centre’ is not convinced of the necessity for a revolution against one’s own Government. [38]

MacDonald illustrated just how far ‘the Centre’ was prepared to go. Referring to himself and Henderson, he told a Labour Conference that: ‘The differences between them were infinitesimal when they came to realities and facts.’ [39] A practical illustration of this was the issue of whether there should be a negotiated settlement or ‘the knock-out blow’ – ‘the fight to the finish’. MacDonald said in the Commons:

A fight to the finish! If that is inevitable, it must be done, there need by no quibble about that. I am not trying to evade that issue. If the fight to a military finish is absolutely necessary ... then we cannot help it. It must be done. But I do not believe it is. [40]

Many were understandably confused. One delegate explained to the 1916 Labour Conference: ‘In Scotland they had a national dance where they laid down two swords and danced all round them. Mr MacDonald had done that to absolute perfection ... He was at a loss to know where Mr MacDonald was. He had been at a loss to know, from the very beginning of the war, where the ILP stood.’ [41]

Overtures were also made from the other side. The trade unions re-elected MacDonald as Labour Party treasurer throughout the war. Disagreements could not stand in the way of sinecures. As Jimmy Thomas put it: ‘after all, the war is but the question of the moment.’ [42] Thomas was an astute reformist. Take his refusal to enter the wartime coalition cabinet. As he wrote, this was

a mystery to many of my friends. My views were best summarised in the answer I gave to King George V ... I told him that when the war was over I was certain that the only people who would have any real influence with the masses during the inevitable chaos and difficulties that must arise after the armistice, would be those in a position to say ‘I at least made nothing out of the war’. [43]

The political skills of Thomas and Co. were soon in great demand; the long patriotic bacchanalia was coming to an end.

The triumph of statism

Reformists believe that the state is above the ‘haggling’ of classes; it is a means of resolving class division. This attitude is not accidental but reflects the views of the labour bureaucracy and its search for class compromise. The bureaucrat’s role is to negotiate and this naturally leads to a view of the state as the institution through which such class collaboration can be organised on the broadest scale.

Given this attitude it was inevitable that Labour politics should be profoundly influenced by the ‘national crisis’ of war and the development of the wartime state. We have already seen that from the 1800s the Fabians made the state practically their religion. During the war this reached paroxysms of enthusiasm. The result was terrifying. Sidney Webb wrote: ‘If I were in power ... I should decree Universal Submission to the national need – not young men for the trenches only, but everyone for what he was fitted; and not persons only, but also property and possessions – everything to be placed at the disposal of the Government.’ [44]

Only the trade union bureaucracy, with their experience of legal and police attacks on strikers and union rights, had any reservations and these were swept away. For the war brought a revolution in the officials’ status. The Treasury Agreement was an example. Led by Arthur Henderson, the union leaders agreed to suspend all rules and customs impeding maximum output. Job demarcation, strikes, refusal of overtime, restrictions on night and Sunday working and a good deal of health and safety legislation went the same way. In return for this paltry sacrifice (after all it was their members not themselves who had to work the new conditions) they received a magnificent prize: ‘the capitalist employers were ignored, and the principal Ministers of the Crown negotiated directly with the authorized representatives of the whole trade Union world.’ [45] Positions in the government and on official bodies now began to absorb great numbers of officials, making the trade unions and Labour Party virtually organs of state. In his presidential address to the 1917 TUC John Hill of the Boilermakers put it thus: ‘the prejudice of trade unionists against politicians has hitherto held us back ... but the events of the last three years have taken the scales from our eyes.’ ‘The man,’ he said, ‘in our ranks today who is neither a Government official nor a member of some Government Committee is unknown to the movement.’ [46]

Principles whose renunciation had previously been inconceivable were freely dispensed with. Conscription was universally abhorred as an infringement of a sacred British freedom. On 6 January 1915 a conference of the chief labour movement bodies not only voted by a majority of 2 to 1 against conscription, but called on Labour to leave the wartime coalition. Henderson was not one to be put off by such things. He told delegates to their faces: ‘If this conference considers I must oppose this Bill [for conscription] I shall refuse to accept their decision.’ [47] So just two weeks after the conference rejecting conscription a further Labour Conference was induced to swallow it.

The fascination that the state exercised over the bureaucracy was not necessarily the result of cynical personal ambition. It reflected a powerful sentiment that has cropped up every time Labour enters government – that the aim of representatives is to penetrate the ‘corridors of power’ and stay there, whatever the cost in principle. As Beatrice Webb explained when Labour joined Lloyd George’s administration:

A thorough beating of the Germans may have passed through their minds. But their main motive ... is the illusion that the mere presence of labour men in the Government, apart from anything they may do or prevent being done, is in itself a sign of democratic process. [48]

The corridors of power were made much broader and far-reaching by the war. In 1914 the civil service numbered 57,706 people; after the war 116,241. [49] By 1918 90 per cent of the country’s imports were purchased directly by the state, while 240 National Factories were established and millions more workers were on government contracts. Two-thirds of all workers and a vast range of social and economic activity, from the food on your table to hours and conditions of work, were now under state regulation. [50] This was clearly a form of centralised state capitalism – the most brutal expression of ruling class war – since everything was subordinated to defend British capital against enemies abroad and at home. The complete absorption of the upper reaches of the labour movement into the bourgeois state was clearly a lurch to the right.

However, once more we must remember the fundamental difference between reaction and reform. To the capitalist the state was a valuable adjunct to the process of capital accumulation. In war the most enthusiastic supporters of this concept were the ‘social imperialists’ around Lord Milner. They even tried to make inroads into the labour movement with a British Workers’ league but this failed dismally. As Marwick points out there is a basic ‘distinction between the militarist who desires happy and healthy cannon fodder, and the collectivist who desires a better and humane society.’ [51]

Reconstructing the party

At the beginning of 1917 the Labour Party was still deep in the mire of class collaboration. Yet by the end of the year Labour had broken free and was poised to bid for power on a socialist programme.

Leopards do not usually change their spots, so what happened 1917 to bring about the change? It was the revival of working class confidence symbolised by two Russian Revolutions and class struggle at home. Although five million workers were away in the army, Britain’s trade union membership rose from four to six and a half a million between 1914 and 1918. The immediate shock of war had reduced strike days per year to almost nil, but by the end of the war the annual figure was six million working days lost through strikes, double what it had been when the Labour Party was founded. This was at a time when strikers risked taking on the bosses, the police, army, trade union officials and Labour Party; The militants who led activity, as in all previous struggles, rejected Labour’s passive electoral approach. Many indeed were revolutionaries.

Mining and engineering stood out. In July 1915 two hundred thousand South Wales colliers stopped work over pay. In five days they won. South Wales was influenced by syndicalists who published the famous Miners’ Next Step. The engineering shop stewards’ movement was even more important. It began on Clydeside but soon fanned out into a national network which in May 1917 led a three-week strike of 200,000 – the largest of the war. The central figures in the national stewards’ movement were revolutionaries such as Willie Gallacher, Arthur McManus and J.T. Murphy, who joined the Communist Party when it was later established. Behind the revolutionary leaders and the militant industries a growing volume of discontent was piling up.

Labour’s reaction to rising struggle was a combination of resistance and adaptation. It did its level best to prevent stoppages but also sought to channel workers’ anger. Preventing stoppages had priority even for those supposedly on the left. Thus MacDonald reassured the House of Commons: ‘believe me when I say that, rather than [be] an agent to bring men out on strike just now, I would ... destroy every particle of influence that ever I had with the working men. [52] Labour Leader wrote: ‘Whatever may be one’s view about the war ... one cannot but regret there should be strikes.’ [53] Labour’s adaptation to rising struggle, and its own organisational renewal, first showed in the work of the War Emergency Workers’ National Committee.

While the Labour Party was riven by internal strife this little committee brought together the diverse elements from Webb to Hyndman, from MacDonald to the trade union leaders. Indeed, ‘aside from its sponsorship of [the War Emergency Workers National Committee] the Labour Party hardly existed as a national organisation until late in the war.’ [54] The committee was a sort of reformist think-tank, launching initiatives which, by ignoring the war and concentrating on conditions at home, established landmarks for the post-war programme.

One suggestion was the ‘conscription of riches’. Since workers could be conscripted to fight for their country, why not take over personal wealth too? When first proposed at the War Emergency Workers National Committee 1916 the suggestion was lost. It was only adopted there in October 1917 and by the Labour Party Executive in November 1917. Surely the fact that it was agreed in the very shadow of the Russian revolution was no coincidence.

Another sign of a political thaw was the Leeds Convention. Held on 3 June 1917 it brought together 1,150 delegates representing all organisations critical of the war. MacDonald described the game played at Leeds in an article written shortly afterwards: ‘Before the war I felt that what was called “the spirit of the rebel” was to a great extent a stagey pose. It is now required to save us.’ [55]

MacDonald’s first gambit was to pay tribute to Russia’s February revolution. Addressing the Convention he said: ‘When this war broke out organised Labour in this country lost the initiative. It became a mere echo of the old governing classes’ opinions. Now the Russian Revolution has once again given you the chance to take the initiative yourselves.’ [56]

But the most elaborate ‘stagey pose’ was struck by W.C. Anderson, the ILP MP who called for no less than the establishment of ‘Councils of Workmen and Soldiers’ Delegates for ... the complete political and economic emancipation of international labour.’ [57] This was stirring stuff! Alas, those present had not heard Anderson expressing his true feelings just before this in the Commons: ‘the best way if you wish to deal with extremists is to remove discontent and try to get a better relationship established between the Government and organized labour ... unless you are very careful you will bring the country to the very verge of revolution.’ [58]

‘Uncle Arthur’ – apostle of Labour’s socialist conversion

The War Emergency Workers National Committee and Leeds Convention heralded great things to come, but produced no lasting results themselves. Labour was eventually led to the promised land of socialism by the most unlikely of prophets – Arthur Henderson. He is a familiar figure in these pp. as a Liberal election agent denouncing socialism, as the trade union voice in the Labour Alliance, as sponsor to Will Crooks’s anti-union Bill and finally as the first Labour Minister valiantly putting ‘country before party’ (or rather capitalist state before class).

Yet in 1917 Henderson not only resigned from the coalition [9*], but went on, with Webb’s assistance, to reorganise the Labour Party, giving it a socialist programme. Henderson’s ‘conversion’ was fascinating, not for biographical reasons, but because it sharply summarised changes in the bureaucracy as a whole. The saga began on 30 May 1917 when Lloyd George sent him on a mission to Russia, his task to bolster Russia’s flagging military enthusiasm in the wake of the Tsar’s downfall.

According to The Times Henderson made quite a splash in Petrograd:

His reference to the unanimous determination of all classes in the British empire to continue the struggle till a victorious peace had been assured evoked tremendous cheering ... Men and women, moved to tears, demanded a general mobilization, amid cries of: ‘We all are ready to march against the foe.’ [59]

The truth was a bit different, for by then the Bolsheviks were rapidly growing in influence. Russian workers must have been bewildered by this man who claimed to speak for labour but was so obviously a tool of the bosses. Indeed, Henderson’s apartment was ransacked by ‘Leninists [who] stole his papers to ascertain whether he was really a Socialist leader or merely an agent of the British Government.’ [60]

Russia both excited and frightened Henderson. He saw reformist socialists lifted into government, but he also saw workers who, he said, wished ‘to place Directors and Managers in a subordinate position and the supreme control in the hands of the workpeople themselves ... it can only have results that will be disaster.’ [61] Returning to Britain in the late summer Henderson was quick to apply the lessons of Russia. A horror of revolution and belief in the need for pre-emptive reformist measures shines out of every p. of his January 1918 booklet The Aims of Labour. The Chapter on Revolution or Compromise? begins: ‘Revolution is a word of evil omen. It calls up a vision of barricades in the streets and blood in the gutters [and] is alien to the British character.’ [62] His public confidence in the non-revolutionary nature of British workers was contradicted by a later statement:

Never before have we had such vast numbers of the population skilled in the use of arms, disciplined, inured to danger ... When the war ends this country and every other will be flooded with hardy veterans ... if barricades are indeed likely to be erected in our streets they will be manned by men who have learned how to fight ... [It] will be veritable civil war. [63]

What conclusion did he draw? ‘One good reason for beginning now to build up a strong democratic party in Parliament, with a programme of social and economic reforms carefully thought out [is] to prove that political methods are effective ... The Labour Party can rehabilitate Parliament in the eyes of the people.[64]

To assist him in this rehabilitation Henderson dared not turn to the unpopular ILP. Instead he relied on the guru of the religion of state socialism – Sidney Webb. Webb fully shared Henderson’s fears and willingly embraced his reformist project. In November 1918 Webb published a letter proclaiming: ‘The best safeguard against “Bolshevism” is a strong Labour Party in Parliament, voicing the discontent ... If you want a Bolshevik revolution in this country, the surest way to get it is to succeed in eliminating or discrediting the Labour Party!’ [65] How true!

The 1918 constitution: A quest for the ‘people’s party’

The reorganisation of the Labour Party proposed by Webb and Henderson involved advance on both fronts of class and nation. Union growth and the marginalisation of the ILP endowed the full-time officials with an even greater weight in the party than before. But it was the logic of reformist beliefs that they should deny its class roots and strive to make the party speak for ‘the national interest’. Yet there was a difficulty. With 98 per cent of the party made up of affiliated trade unionists it was not easy to portray this as a ‘classless’ organisation. The problem was given added urgency by the 1918 Representation of the People Act which brought many non-unionised women into the electorate.

The party’s 1918 Constitution solved this by creating local Labour Parties and a system of individual membership. One victim of the change was the ILP which had in effect been Labour’s chief constituency organisation. The union bureaucrats had not forgiven the ILP’s pacifism. Trades Councils, which also acted as Labour’s local organisation and provided a focus for militants, were cut out too.

At first the idea of calling the reorganised body the ‘People’s Party’ was seriously canvassed. [66] The 1918 Labour Conference made it clear who these ‘people’ were – middle class non socialists – those without ‘the opportunity of joining trade unions on the one hand, or on the other, who are not prepared to associate with the socialist organisations.’ [67] This fitted with another motive. The Labour Party had set its sights on government and the social planners who refashioned the party were convinced that ‘Labour was not yet intellectually and administratively equal to the responsibility.’ [68] Henderson put it less elegantly: ‘The Labour Party had been too short of brains.’ [69] Individual membership should remedy this.

The Party chairman explained the political consequences. ‘We aim in the years to come to be the People’s Party – a Party not parochial in its conceptions, but national in its character.’ [70] For ‘not parochial’ read untainted by a trade union orientation.

Socialism at last

Clause Four of the 1918 Constitution – ‘To secure for the producers by hand or by brain the full fruits of their industry, and the most equitable distribution thereof that may be possible, upon the basis of the common ownership of the means of production’ – is perhaps the most intriguing aspect of Labour’s history. In a body where symbolism frequently outweighs reality, this is the holy of holies. It is the most pious of Labour’s many pious resolutions, yet its words are important. They mark the conversion of the Labour Party into a ‘socialist’ organisation, or, to be more exact, a mass reformist party distinct from the two openly capitalist parties.

So how is Clause Four to be understood? Firstly, it was drafted by Webb and championed by Henderson as a conscious means of staving off revolution. It was the fear of mass action which forced them to take this step. Thus the 1922 manifesto finished with the headline ‘AGAINST REVOLUTION’ and claimed: ‘Labour’s programme is the best bulwark against violent upheaval and class wars.’ [71] There is an important difference between Clause Four in 1918 and Clause Four today. Seventy years ago it registered the high water mark of workers’ pressure on the Labour Party. Since then the imminence of revolution has never been so great. But Clause Four remains in the party constitution – a relic of days gone by. In this sense it must now he defended as a sign of Labour’s commitment to a minimal anti-capitalist position which some leaders would like to forget.

While its symbolic value is its most important feature, other points should be noticed. The clause talks about ‘producers by hand or brain’, the latter being a clear reference the social planners, intellectuals and the middle-class baggage of Fabianism so beloved of Webb. ‘Common ownership’ is clearly intended to come through constitutional means. This is no revolutionary document. But Its final call for ‘the best obtainable system of popular administration control of each industry and service’ is a concession to the mass demand for workers’ control.

Previous attempts to write socialism into the constitution had met a strange fate. The foundation conference rejected the SDF’s ‘class war’ motion. Yet the 1900 LRC manifesto demanded ‘the Socialisation of the Means of Production, Distribution and Exchange’. [72] The following year a socialist resolution from Bruce Glasier was defeated. In 1903 another was lost without a debate. Two years later the very same wording was passed, again without a debate! In 1907 things became even more bizarre. The previous endorsement of socialism was overturned, at the request of Bruce Glasier and Keir Hardie, by a massive 835,000 to 98,000. In 1908 socialism lost even more heavily. But, strange to recount, the same conference voted to set ‘as a definite object the socialisation of the means of production, distribution and exchange’, and the 1914 conference ‘again reaffirmed’ this. [73]

There was method in this madness. Conference supported pious declarations of socialism but refused to put them in the constitution. In other words, although the majority of delegates regarded themselves as socialists they thought it would lose votes if socialism was too prominent. The aim of the Labour Party was not to fight for advanced ideas in the working class, but to collect the most votes. As the ILP’s Labour Leader said in 1908:

‘We want Socialism’ cry the impatients. So did every member of the ILP. [But] we have to make the electors of this county want it, and to persuade the average unimaginative, overworked, and underpaid working-man, the small shopkeeper, and the struggling ratepayer, with all their various religious, political and social prejudices to vote for it. There’s the rub! [74]

The radicalisation brought by war made it possible for Labour to accept Clause Four without it being an electoral liability. Labour has a definite view of the relationship between ends and means. To a Marxist they cannot be separate. The goal of socialism dictates the means – the mass overthrow of capitalism led by a revolutionary party. But as the Labour Party debates on socialism demonstrated, for reformists the means are more important than the goal. Success in elections came first.

Labour leaders treated Clause Four more as a useful slogan than a definite plan of action. The distinction has revealed in an interesting exchange at the 1918 Conference. A British Socialist Party delegate pointed out that the resolutions on the order paper were ‘not in conformity with the Party objects as set out in the Constitution. The latter was explicitly in favour of the social ownership of the means of production.’ [75] But Webb, the author, thought that one mention somewhere in the Constitution was sufficient: ‘they did not want repeatedly, over and over again, to ring the changes on the old shibboleths. [Shibboleths are ‘party catch-words’.] The resolutions were not an appeal to the converted but the basis of an appeal to the twenty million electors’. [76]

The ILP was unsure about co-operating with the new Constitution [77] but eventually decided there was no alternative. [78] But the new regime had its compensations, for the ILP leadership at least. ‘Brains’ were now a valued commodity, and through the UDC, the No Conscription Fellowship and the like, the ILP had acquired a lot of grey matter. As a visiting German Social Democrat, Wertheimer, put it:

The party which before the war had been a definite proletarian organisation in spite of intellectual leadership, became overrun by ex-Liberals, young-men-just-down-from-Oxford guiltless of any socialist tradition, ideologists and typical monomaniacs full of their own projects. [79]

Indeed the notion of the ILP as the left and the union bureaucracy as the right, or vice versa ceased to make sense – they became different parts of a technical division of labour. The difficulties of the ILP did illustrate one important fact however. The commitment to socialism was not achieved by the burrowing away of the ‘Labour left’. In 1918 the ILP was still despised for its pacifism and treated with contempt. The mass shift to the left came from struggles outside reformist electoral politics and in spite of such politics.

Labour’s new social order

The idea of Labour as a ‘People’s Party’ and Clause Four were the right and left faces of the 1918 reconstruction, but the programme Labour and the New Social Order was its centrepiece, the place where class and nation met.

This document was written by Sidney Webb and was passed in avenged form by the 1918 Labour Conference. Its key points can be divided into those that dealt with social reforms and those that concerned restructuring of the economy. We shall discuss each in turn.

The Labour Party has always raised the cause of the victims of capitalist society. One early example was an article Keir Hardie wrote in 1894 after a mining disaster. It caused a sensation:

The Welsh holocaust puts everything into the shade this week. Two hundred and fifty human beings full of strong life in the morning, reduced to charred and blackened heaps of clay in the evening. The air rent with the wail of the childless mother, the widowed wife and the orphaned child. Woe, woe unutterable everywhere, all through that fair Welsh valley ... Only those who know, as I know, that these things are preventable and solely due to man’s cupidity, can understand the bitterness of feeling which they awaken ... society places more value on property than it does on human life. [80]

Though the Liberal Party discussed social reform, Labour made protest against poverty its hallmark. Labour and the New Social Order called for the ‘Maintenance and Protection of the Standard of Life’ through a legal minimum wage, for employment or decent welfare provision for discharged soldiers and improvements in education, housing and poor relief.

In 1918 the situation appeared favourable for such a programme. The war economy had temporarily eliminated unemployment. Labour and the New Social Order concluded that this could easily be rendered permanent ‘by nothing more difficult or more revolutionary than a sensible distribution of public orders for workers and services’. [81]

Even the most radical members of the party always pose human suffering as an unnecessary side effect of capitalist society which can be remedied without uprooting the system as a whole. The solution to the problem of poverty is always put within the framework of the nation state and is justified by its beneficial effect on the nation as a whole.

Nevertheless, Labour’s protest against poverty and unemployment expresses the heartfelt aspirations of millions of workers and is not an electoral gimmick. It is foolish to picture the party as a cunning plot to dupe workers by condemning suffering simply to gain a parliamentary salary. Workers are not stupid, and if such had been the case the party would have been seen through long ago. As we know, it still retains the loyalty of the vast majority of the conscious working class.

This loyalty is not dictated by the union bureaucracy either. The bureaucracy cannot determine how citizens vote. As long as workers wish to create a better world, but lack the confidence to do it themselves, Labour will retain a decisive influence. Reformism may cease to make sense of reality, just as religion did when Galileo showed that the earth moved or Darwin wrote The Origin of Species. But as Marx said of religion, so we can say of reformism: it expresses ‘the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world.’ [82] On a mass scale reformism will never be undermined by appealing for workers to cast out their illusions, it can only be done by helping to raise the confidence of the working class through their own experience of struggle. As Marx put it in relation to religion:

To call on them to give up their illusions about their condition is to call on them to give up a condition that requires illusions. [83]

However, to say that Labour genuinely channels workers’ hopes for a better life does not mean that it is capable of delivering its promises. Seven Labour governments are ample proof of that. Labour’s potential is fatally limited by a reformist outlook that prevents it from harnessing the only force capable of changing conditions radically – the collective power of the working class.

Social reconstruction and nationalisation

The most important aspect of Labour and the New Social Order was its treatment of the capitalist economy, the health of which was seen as the foundation for reforms. Labour had its own distinctive method of maintaining the economy – nationalisation. Historically this has been the most important plank of Labour Party policy, and for good reason – it appears simultaneously to meet the needs of natural interest, working-class aspiration and of the trade union and political bureaucracy! Thus in 1911 Snowden proposed mines nationalisation because: ‘It will be a good thing for the miners; it will benefit the general trade of the country; and the nation as a whole will gain much advantage ... being free from the turmoil and inconvenience so often caused now by labour troubles.’ [84]

Nationalisation and the ‘national interest’

Labour’s ‘new social order’ was to be based on the extension of the wartime state capitalist economy. Jimmy Thomas underlined the point:

The taking over of railways, mines, munitions factories, and other controlled establishments during the war, really meant that in the considered judgement of the government ... a capitalist Government – the private ownership of these things in time of war was a danger to the State. Why? Because they believed that unrestricted competition ... was a menace to the State. [85]

State capitalism (though never given that name) was held to be a more efficient system than private ownership. As MacDonald told the conference in the debate on ‘Increased Production’:

They could not afford to have any antagonism, or friction in production. They could not afford to have managers who could not manage ... They must introduce a conception of coloration, and regard society from top to bottom – the brain workers, the manual worker, the organiser, the direct producer – regard them all as Co-operative factors in one great common life. [86]

In other words, the Labour Party consciously set at the head of its reformist programme the management of capitalism. No other solution was possible for a party wishing to run a capitalist state.

Nationalisation and the struggle for workers’ control

However we would seriously underestimate the importance of nationalisation if it were regarded as simply a blueprint for capitalist development. In 1918 millions saw it as a means towards controlling their lives and, like the campaign for a statutory eight-hour day in 1889, a way of forcing concessions through collective pressure on the state.

There was nothing specifically socialist about nationalisation itself. The most die-hard Lib-Lab Union had been the Miners’ Federation, yet it was the first to adopt nationalisation, long before it joined the Labour Party. The miners and railwaymen were in the forefront of the movement because, unlike the craft unions which enjoyed sectional strength, they depended on centralised bargaining to establish effective negotiating rights. The 1907 rail strike and the 1912 coal strike succeeded by forcing the government to intervene to impose negotiated settlements on obdurate employers. Furthermore both industries were exceptionally dangerous to work in and under national control might be exacted to have fewer accidents.

Nationalisation and the union bureaucracy

Nationalisation fitted the trade union bureaucracy like a glove because it was a method of mediation. As the Labour Leader wrote just after the 1919 national rail strike: ‘To put an end to strikes we must reconcile the interests of Capital and Labour by making the community of workers the owners and directors.’ [87] Emil Davies of the Nationalisation Society declared that ‘Some sections of the world of labour may at times demand more than conditions justify. This very circumstance is a strong argument in favour of the participation of the workers in the management.’ [88] [10*]

Nationalisation and reformist politics

The principle of nationalisation also suited the reformist aim of the piecemeal take-over of industries rather than their revolutionary expropriation. Change was constitutional, in parliament, and from the top. The rank and file were to do nothing themselves.

Labour’s nationalisation proposals fully accorded with Marx’s comments on nineteenth century petty bourgeois democrats who seek:

a means of softening the antagonism between the two extremes of capital and wage labour and transforming it into harmony, not of superseding both of them. However varied the measures for achieving this goal, however much it may be edged with more or less revolutionary conceptions, its content remains the same. This content is the reformation of society by democratic means, but a reformation within the boundaries set by the petty bourgeoisie. [89]

The Labour Party that emerged at the end of the First World War was very different to its pre-war form. While we have concentrated on the party itself, it must be remembered that it was pressure from the working class that pushed the labour bureaucracy into a new approach.


1*. The strength of this feeling in the Liberal Party should not be forgotten. John Morley led the anti-war faction in the cabinet. Until put to the test with the actual outbreak of hostilities he believed he had a Cabinet majority of eight or nine, although at the time of his resignation only John Burns joined him. [9]

2*. When Labour applied for admission to the Second International in 1908 it caused much debate. In the end the party was accepted as an exceptional case. The problem was that there was nothing specifically socialist in the Party programme. Indeed it had no agreed programme! The wording of the resolution was prepared by Kautsky and ran as follows: ‘Whereas by previous resolutions of the International Congresses, all organisations adopting the standpoint of the proletarian class struggle and revising the necessity for political action have been accepted for membership, the International Bureau declares that the British Labour Party is admitted to International Socialist Congresses, because, while not expressly accepting the proletarian class struggle, in practice the Labour Party conducts this struggle and adopts its standpoint, inasmuch as the Party is organised independently of the bourgeois parties.’ [10]

In 1912 the International choked upon the Labour Party’s pursuance of the class struggle ‘in practice’ and asked Arthur Henderson to provide it with ‘all Socialist Bills [proposed] in the House of Commons.’ Henderson did not, nor indeed could not reply. [11]

3*. Two qualifications must be made. Firstly Hardie clearly thought that the threat of a general strike would be quite sufficient and never envisioned, or actually prepared for, a real strike: ‘I hold the opinion that the organised Labour movement has it in its power to prevent war by simply threatening to strike ... Even the threat ... would necessitate the keeping of the army at home ... Suppose then, an agreement on the part of the workers in all civilised countries to make war upon war by means of the strike, the knowledge that such would take place would make war impossible.’ [12]

4*. A further complication arises because the trade union bureaucracy are themselves a superstructure built upon the collective organisation of the working class in the factories and offices. [17]

5*. The British Socialist Party actually split in two when Hyndman broke away with his pro-war minority.

6*. In the ILP heartland of Bradford in 1918 the ILP had 429 members in the armed services, nineteen in jail and twenty-nine conscientious objectors who had opted for alternative service. [26]

7*. Despite his efforts at moderation, Kirkwood was deported with Gallacher, MacManus and others when the government moved in to smash the Clyde Workers Committee. He was too prominent a figurehead to leave alone, and in any case, the government was in the business of breaking reformist trade union resistance to the war economy not just the revolutionaries. Later on, however, to show was bad feeling, MacDonald convinced Winston Churchill, a government minister, that Kirkwood should be ‘put in charge’ of a munitions factory. He duly obliged.

8*. Their chief contribution to Glasgow’s labour movement lay not in the industrial field but in the fight against rent increases. Wheatley and the ILP were prominent in the rent strike that eventually forced the government to control increases. As we shall see in the of Poplar, local government can occasionally provide an area for agitation which escapes the crippling logic of the reformism that outlaws industrial action for fear of damaging parliament.

9*. He resigned over the government’s refusal to allow participation in the Stockholm conference called by various socialist parties. Labour still continued as a member of the coalition, however.

10*. The movement for workers’ control found expression in different ways, the most influential being G.D.H. Cole’s Guild Socialism. This attempted to produce a sanitised reformist syndicalism and blunt the edge of workers’ activity. It institutionalised the struggle for workers’ control putting the official machinery at the centre. This ensured that agitation could not spill over into politics.

Guilds were unions organised to run industry for themselves. Rather than nationalise from the centre they would gradually supplant foremen and then managers by a creeping process of ‘encroaching control’, taking over management functions one by one.

This was petty bourgeois fantasy par excellence. Guild Socialism could not endure, its one practical experiment being a builders’ guild which lasted for a brief and unhappy moment. However, because of its stress on powerful (but official) union organisation, it exercised a fascination for left-wing bureaucrats and even the ILP, which incorporated Guild Socialist ideas in its 1922 constitution, at the very moment the movement had dropped stone dead. The same illusion in gradually reforming capitalism at factory level reappeared fifty years later in the ill-fated workers’ cooperatives of the Bennite era.


1. Quoted in H. Tiltman, James Ramsay MacDonald (London, no date) p. 104.

2. Quoted in Winter, pp. 236 and 235.

3. A. Marwick, The Deluge (Harmondsworth 1965) p. 313.

4. M.A. Waters (ed.), Rosa Luxemburg Speaks (New York 1970) pp. 261–2.

5. Quoted to Schneer, p. 192.

6. D. Lloyd George, War Memoirs (London 1938) Vol. 2, p. 1141 (emphasis added).

7. Quoted in Clynes, p. 234.

8. Desmond, p. 68.

9. See Williams, p. 217.

10. Quoted in Lenin, On Britain, p. 96.

11. See Winter, p. 17.

12. E. Hughes (ed.) Keir Hardie: Speeches and Writings (Glasgow 1927), p. 155.

13. Quoted in J. McNair, James Maxton – the Beloved Rebel (London 1955), pp. 43–4.

14. Quoted in McNair, p. 47.

15. Drucker, p. 18.

16. Drucker, p. 14.

17. Quoted in Clynes, p. 234.

18. Quoted in P. Wyncoll, The Nottingham Labour Movement (London 1985), p. 182.

19. Schneer, p. 194.

20. Schneer, p. 194.

21. TUC 1916, p. 386.

22. R. Dowse, Left in the Centre (London 1966), p. 30.

23. Dowse, p. 64.

24. Marwick, p. 86.

25. Quoted in T. Cliff, Lenin: All Power to the Soviets (London 1976), pp. 45.

26. Warwick, p. 227.

27. Quoted in Marquand, p. 175.

28. Quoted in F. Brockway, Inside the Left (London 1942) p. 45.

29. Hansard, 3 August 1914.

30. Brockway, p. 69.

31. Forward, 5 February.

32. Beveridge, quoted in I. McLean, The Legend of Red Clydeside (Edinburgh 1983), p. 56.

33. Quoted in McNair, p. 61.

34. K. Middlemas, The Clydesiders (London 1965), p. 68.

35. Kirkwood, p. 82.

36. Kirkwood, pp. 116–118.

37. E. Shinwell, Lead with the Left (London 1981), p. 55.

38. Lenin, On Britain, pp. 282–3.

39. Quoted in P. Stansky (ed.) The left and War: The British Labour Party and World War I (New York 1969), pp. 162–3.

40. Quoted in Tiltman, p. 110.

41. Left and War, p. 164.

42. TUC 1916, p. 389.

43. Thomas, p. 45.

44. Quoted in Winter, p. 210.

45. Webbs, History of Trade Unionism, pp. 637–8.

46. Quoted in McKibbin, p. 105.

47. Quoted in Snowden, Autobiography, Vol. 1, p. 392.

48. B. Webb, Diaries, p. 271 (entry for 8 December 1916).

49. The latter figure is for 1923; details in C.L. Mowat, Britain between the Wars (London 1968), p. 15.

50. R.H. Tawney, The Abolition of Economic Controls, in Economic History Review (1940), p. 273.

51. Marwick, p. 167.

52. Hansard, 30 March 1916.

53. Labour Leader, 27 May 1915.

54. Winter, p. 18.

55. Quoted in Winter, p. 239.

56. British Labour and the Russian Revolution, The Leeds Convention: a report from the Daily Herald (reprinted Nottingham no date), p. 22.

57. British Labour and the Russian Revolution, p. 29.

58. Quoted in K. Coates, introduction to British Labour and the Russian Revolution, pp. 12–13.

59. Quoted in J.M. Winter, Arthur Henderson, the Russian Revolution and the Reconstruction of the Labour Party, in The Historical Journal, Vol. 15, No. 4 (1972), p. 762.

60. Historical Journal, Vol. 15, No. 4, p. 763.

61. Henderson, quoted in McKibbin, p. 6.

62. A. Henderson, The Aims of Labour (London 1918), p. 57.

63. Henderson, p. 59.

64. Henderson, pp. 61–2 (emphasis added).

65. N. Mackenzie (ed.), The Letters of Beatrice and SidneyWebb, Vol. 3 (Cambridge 1978), p. 113.

66. See for example the entry in Tom Jones’s diary from 10 September 1917, in T. Jones, Whitehall Diary (London 1965), p. 36.

67. Labour Party Conference Report 1918, p. 15.

68. Jones, p. 45 (entry for 12 January 1918).

69. Quoted in Scott, p. 316 (entry for 11–12 December 1917).

70. Labour Conference 1918, p. 26.

71. F.W.S. Craig (ed.) British General Election Manifestos 1900–1974 (London 1975), p. 41.

72. Manifestoes, pp. 34.

73. A summary of these debates can be found in McKenzie, pp. 465–71.

74. Labour Leader, 25 September 1908.

75. Labour Conference 1918, p. 44.

76. Labour Conference 1918, p. 44.

77. See Labour Leader, 31 January 1918.

78. Labour Leader, 4 April 1918.

79. E. Wertheimer, Portrait of the Labour Party (London 1929), p. 14.

80. Hardie, Speeches and Writings, p. 33.

81. Quoted in G.D.H. Cole, A History of the Labour Party since 1914 (London 1948), p. 66.

82. K. Marx, Early Writings (Harmondsworth 1974), p. 244.

83. Marx, Early Writings, p. 244.

84. P. Snowden, How to Nationalise the Mines (Manchester no date), pp. 1 and 8.

85. Labour Conference 1918, p. 43.

86. Labour Conference 1918, p. 45.

87. Labour Leader, 9 October 1919.

88. Labour Leader, 27 March 1919.

89. Marx, Surveys from Exile, p. 176.

Last updated on 7 January 2017