Political advantage and the rise of the Labour Party

The rise of the Labour Party

By the end of the 19th century the trade union movement was gaining pace.

Trade unions recognised that they needed a voice in Parliament if they wanted to change the political nature of Britain.

In 1900 the unions agreed to use some of their funds to set up a new organisation called the Labour Representation Committee: this became the Labour Party in 1906.

Perceived competition for votes

Traditionally, the working class men that had been enfranchised in 1867 and 1884, identified more closely with Liberal policies, rather than those of the Tories.

Hence, the Liberals gained a great deal of support from the lower classes as there was no other party which offered any real representation for their concerns in Parliament. However, this was changing.

In the early 1900s, the Labour Party was winning public support with its campaign for social welfare reform, including old age pensions and unemployment benefits.

It appeared the Liberals would be in direct competition with the Labour Party for votes, especially in working class constituencies. This was a serious concern as Labour’s policies were much more in line with what working class voters wanted.

To counter the threat from the socialist and Labour movements, the Liberals realised that they had to instigate social reforms or risk losing political support from the working classes.

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