The Rise Of The Labour Party Had — страница 3

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Representation Act of 1918 increased the franchise directly finally letting all men over 21 vote as well as women over 30. A considerable majority of these new voters were from the working class, and thus increased the Labour vote. The Liberals were also in disarray, due to a significant split between Lloyd George and Asquith. This gave the Labour Party an perfect opportunity to attempt to become the principle opposition party. A new constitution and policy programme called Labour and the New Social Order was drawn up and even though these were far from perfect they gave the party a more comprehensive image as a national party. It also marked the formal acceptance by the Labour Party of a socialist ideology which promised nationalisation in many areas. However there were many

problems, many people were still sceptical of socialism and the exact details of how socialist policies could be applied in a market economy were glossed over. The Labour Party did form two minority governments before the Second World War in 1924 winning 151 seats and in1929 winning 288 seats, but in both cases their hands were tied to carry out anything radical or groundbreaking by the lack of a real majority. The Labour Party did make considerable progress in the inter war years, developing respect and influence and socialism as an ideology did become more popular, but it was really the ever decreasing influence of the Liberals which left the door open for increased support. The real widespread acceptance of the ideals of socialism was only to come after the second world war in

1945 when Labour formed their first majority government, though they were rejected by the electorate only five years later. It seems clear then that the rise of the Labour Party did have a great deal more to do with representation of the working classes as a class than idealistic socialism. The first tangible progress in the rise of the party was implemented by a Trade Union movement whose main parliamentary ambition was labour reform, and though many of the LRC s members were socialists it was not a purely socialist movement. Factors such as the increasing number of disputes with employers, the clear divide between their living standards and those of the upper and middle classes all made the working classes more conscious that they needed proper representation. Socialist ideas

were important. They had an influence on significant numbers of people and the trade union movement and were certainly a part of the rise of the Labour party but they were less significant as the Labour Party never until after the First World War possessed a proper socialist agenda, and even then they could do little to act on it. It was only after the Second World War that they were truly able to convince people to vote for socialism, it was never really a definite factor in their rise to power. The Labour Party became popular because they defined themselves as the party of Labour and therefore of the working class, though they may have developed a socialist ideology it was never the primary cause, class consciousness was much more important.