The British Labour Party and twentieth-century Ireland

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.

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‘All of the chapters to this volume are valuable contributions to our knowledge of the Labour Party and Ireland…every chapter was worthy of inclusion.'
John Newsinger
Race and Class Vol 58, No 3

‘Laurence Marley and the contributors have put together an excellent collection of well-edited and well-researched chapters…this book is highly recommended reading for students of political developments in Ireland during this era.'
Neil Pye, SSLH and Independent Researcher
Labour History Review, vol. 81 No. 2
July 2016

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