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The cause of Ireland, the cause of Labour
Editor: Laurence Marley

This collection of essays explores a largely neglected aspect of the history of Anglo-Irish relations: British Labour Party policy on Ireland during the twentieth century. Much of the literature on the relationship between ‘these islands’ concentrates on the present or the recent past, but by viewing an important dimension of that relationship through a wider lens, this work makes a significant contribution to the field British-Irish studies, one that will inform future research and debate. At the beginning of the twentieth century, the Labour Party was broadly supportive of Irish self-government, as reflected in its espousal of a home rule settlement. However, from the end of the First World War, Labour anticipated a place in government. As a modern, maturing party that was intent on proving its ability to govern, it developed a more calculated and measured set of responses to Irish nationalism and to the ‘Irish question’. With contributions from a range of distinguished Irish and British scholars, this collection provides the first full treatment of the historical relationship between the Labour Party and Ireland in the last century, from Keir Hardie to Tony Blair. By examining the party’s responses to crises and debates around home rule, partition, Irish neutrality during WWII, Ireland’s departure from the Commonwealth, and the Northern ‘Troubles’, it offers an original perspective on longer-term dispositions in Labour mentalities towards Ireland.

John Cunningham

13 Anglo-Irish diplomatic relations and the British Labour Party, 1981–94 Melinda Sutton ‘The Opposition have put forward proposals for advancing towards a united Ireland. We believe that that is the right course that we should travel.’1 With these words, the Labour Party leader, Michael Foot, heralded his party’s commitment to the pursuit of Irish unification by consent, a policy that was welcomed by the Irish government in 1981.2 In the absence of majority consent to unification, Labour sought improvements in Anglo-Irish relations and the expansion of the Irish

in The British Labour Party and twentieth-century Ireland
Aaron Edwards

7 The British Labour Party and the tragedy of Northern Ireland Labour Aaron Edwards Labour politics is regarded as a minority pursuit in Northern Ireland. Indeed, the recent ‘Troubles’ all but destroyed the electoral prospects of non-sectarian democratic socialism in that deeply divided part of the United Kingdom. However, there is much more to the story than conventional wisdom would care to admit. For instance, the British Labour Party enjoyed long-standing structural ties with the Northern Ireland Labour Party (NILP) from the 1920s until the 1970s. This

in The British Labour Party and twentieth-century Ireland
Andrew Thorpe

5 The trade union contribution to the British Labour Party A ndrew Thorpe The debate about the relationship between the trade unions and Labour politics in Britain is older than the Labour Party itself. It has been the stuff of great controversy, arousing considerable comment as well as important academic work. Lewis Minkin, in particular, has offered a series of detailed analyses of the relationship.1 Essay and article-length works look at various aspects the relationship, particularly for the period since 1945.2 The fifteen years or so after the Second World

in Labour and working-class lives
The British Labour Party and Derry, 1942–62
Máirtín Ó Catháin

8 ‘That link must be preserved, but there are other problems’1: the British Labour Party and Derry, 1942–62 Máirtín Ó Catháin As a prism through which to examine the British Labour Party’s relationship with Ireland in the mid twentieth century, and as a way of highlighting factors that contributed to civil unrest in Northern Ireland in the late 1960s, this chapter will focus on local politics, especially local Labour party politics, in Derry during the Second World War and in the immediate decades that followed. Although the British Labour Party had been

in The British Labour Party and twentieth-century Ireland
Emmet O’Connor

3 British Labour, Belfast and home rule, 1900–14 Emmet O’Connor When the Union Jack stands for Home Rule, as it shortly will do, no part of the United Kingdom will be more proud of it than Ireland. Reynold’s Newspaper, 11 June 19111 The British Labour Party (BLP) was the most successful left-wing party in Ireland until its Irish career was terminated by the third home rule crisis, an experience so bruising that, a century on, the party was still debating whether it should again become active in Ireland. During the 1970s, the fortunes of the party in Belfast, and

in The British Labour Party and twentieth-century Ireland
Abstract only
Laurence Marley

Introduction Laurence Marley Shortly after the 1906 general election, the British Labour Party leader, Keir Hardie, set out on a week-long tour of Ireland. Accompanied by newly elected MP George Barnes, he started his tour in Belfast where he was met by William Walker, the labour leader in the city. Belfast, the main centre of industry in Ireland, had expanded rapidly over the previous two decades and its industrial and commercial success was reflected in the confident decision by the city’s leaders to commission the building of a city hall at the cost of £360

in The British Labour Party and twentieth-century Ireland
Peter Collins

5 British Labour and developments in Ireland in the immediate post-war years Peter Collins In 1920 the British Labour Party resolutely opposed the Government of Ireland bill, first by boycotting it during the Committee and Report stages in parliament, and then by returning during its third reading to make a principled statement of opposition against its main provision:  partition.1 In the same year, a party fact-finding delegation to Ireland, led by Arthur Henderson, Labour’s chief whip, produced a damning indictment of the government’s security policy

in The British Labour Party and twentieth-century Ireland
Geoffrey Bing MP and partition
Bob Purdie

sovereignty. All the traditions and instincts of the British Labour Party inclined it towards intervening. As Geoffrey Foote put it: ‘Both Left and Right held fast to the belief that the British state, parliamentary and representative, could be used to change British society … The class tensions within British society were to be resolved by peaceful and gradual change which would respect British institutions while emptying them of ‘Where the Tories rule’ 105 their class nature.’2 And he quoted from Ralph Miliband’s Parliamentary socialism: ‘of political parties claiming

in The British Labour Party and twentieth-century Ireland
Abstract only
The Irish ‘inheritance’ of British Labour
Gearóid Ó Tuathaigh

1 A tangled legacy: the Irish ‘inheritance’ of British Labour Gearóid Ó Tuathaigh The period from the founding of the British Labour Party to its emergence, by the later 1920s, as a credible alternative party of government, coincided with the decisive phase of the long-standing Irish nationalist demand for self-government. The solutions to Britain’s ‘Irish question’ arrived at during 1918–22 resulted in a controversial partition settlement: a twenty-six-county Irish Free State, with substantial autonomy, and a six-county enclave in the north-east, with a local

in The British Labour Party and twentieth-century Ireland