John Hill and an independent Labour Party
in The tide of democracy
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At almost every turn of its journey across the terrain of domestic policy in the last year of the war the Labour Party seemed to come up against the issues of food prices, agricultural production, and the role of private ownership of the land. As a result, its overall profile in 1918 was not as a party which stood above all for the nationalisation of industry but rather as a party which had as its top priorities a democratic foreign policy and an ambitious programme of land reform. Far from watching passively from the sidelines until it was time to rubber-stamp the decisions of the party's professional politicians, trade unionists, above all those from the craft sectors, were actively involved in the formulation and promotion of these policies. However, while they may not have derived from a socialist commitment, their familiar characterisation as ‘right-wing trade unionism’ or ‘unthinking labourism’ fails to capture their character. But the nature of these policies is not really mysterious: the Labour Party, even at the moment of its break with the Progressive Alliance, was still consciously and deliberately inscribed with the outlook of radical liberalism.

The tide of democracy

Shipyard workers and social relations in Britain, 1870–1950

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