What were the social and economic forces in England that gave rise to the British Labour Party? How did the party function in its formative years? How does the British labor movement compare with its American counterpart? If American labor enters politics as a separate party, is it likely to adopt a program resembling the socialism of the British Party? Professor Reid’s detailed account of the origins and development of the British Labour Party lays the groundwork for answers to questions like these, questions that are pertinent to the social and political issues of America as well as England. Since the appearance of a body of organized labor is a phenomenon occasioned by the process of industrialization, and since that process began in Great Britain almost a century earlier than on the American continent, the student of labor politics may well ponder whether something similar to the British experience lies ahead for America. Professor Reid describes the conditions that brought about a specifically labor party, tells how it was established, and traces its first 20 years as a parliamentary party. He shows that the party began as an alliance of diverse forces having in common only the conviction that neither the Liberal nor the Conservative party would tackle such issues as housing, minimum wages, or unemployment insurance. He makes clear that, in working to achieve these short-term goals, the varied elements that made up the party finally worked out the peculiar compromise on policy and philosophy that is the basis of the British Labour Party today.
The Origins of the British Labour Party