Interest in the Labour Party remains high, particularly following the unprecedented election of a third successive Labour government and amidst the on-going controversies that surround the New Labour project. Increasingly, the ideological basis of the Labour Party has come under scrutiny, with some commentators and party members emphasizing progressive traditions within the party, whilst others refer back to the trade union foundation of Labour. This volume brings together a group of scholars working within the field of labour history to consider the various elements that influenced the early Labour Party from its formation into the 1930s. The party's association with the trade union movement is explored through the railwaymen and mineworkers' unions, while further contributions assess the different ways in which the Independent Labour Party, the co-operative movement, liberalism, Christianity and the local party branches helped lay the foundations for Labour's growth from a parliamentary pressure group to a party of government.
Contents: Introduction, Matthew Worley; John Robert Clynes and the making of Labour socialism, 1890-1918, Robert Taylor; Lines of division: railway unions and Labour, 1900-39, Gerald Crompton; Deadweight or bedrock? The mineworkers and Labour, Andrew Taylor; The European context: aspects of British Labour and continental socialism before 1920, Chris Wrigley; Myth, history and the Independent Labour Party, Gidon Cohen; Labour and the intellectuals, David Stack; The distinctiveness of British socialism? Religion and the rise of Labour, c.1900-39, Peter Catterall; Labour's lost soul? Recovering the Labour church, Jacqueline Turner; Women and Labour politics, June Hannam; The fruits on the tree: Labour's constituency parties between the wars, Matthew Worley; 'A union of forces marching in the same direction'? The relationship between the Co-operative and Labour parties, 1918-39, Nicole Robertson; Counter-Toryism: Labour's response to anti-socialist propaganda, 1918-39, Laura Beers; Index.