Chronology, constituencies, impact
in Labour and the politics of Empire
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The ability of workers to influence parliamentary elections, of course, was limited by the nature of the political system. In both Australia and Britain the essential strength of the emergent Labour parties was rooted in the trade unions. Despite the often considerable setbacks of the depressed 1890s, both 'old' and 'new' unionism made considerable headway in Australia and Britain from the later nineteenth century to the immediate post-World War One years. Further evidence that Australia had overtaken Britain as the trade union capital of the world was provided in 1919, when Australia's union density stood at 50 per cent, in contrast to Britain's 43 per cent. Two important differences should be highlighted in terms of the union-party connection in Australia and Britain. First, the system of political parties was far more established in Britain than in Australia. Second, not withstanding the continuing strength of Lib-Labism in Victoria.

Labour and the politics of Empire

Britain and Australia 1900 to the present

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