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Working class politics in Lancashire 1885-1906: a regional study in the origins of the Labour Party

Hill, Jeffrey

Working class politics in Lancashire 1885-1906: a regional study in the origins of the Labour Party Thumbnail


Jeffrey Hill


Chapter 1: examines the economic, social and religious characteristics of the Lancashire industrial region. Heavy industry and extensive urbanisation favoured the development of large scale trades unionism. Industrial specialisation prevented the segregation of social classes except in the conurbations of Manchester and Merseyside.
Chapter 2: the industrial growth of the cotton unions determined their political outlook and policy. Comparative industrial success produced only an inconsistent programme of political action.
Chapter 3: the mining unions were weaker than the cotton unions in industrial matters, yet achieved strength through co-operation with the Miners' Federation of Great Britain, a national union, and accepted the parliamentary programme of this union.
Chapter 4: the new unions formed during the later 1880s exhibited many of the techniques of the older established unions, though affected a more revolutionary political outlook. Yet their links with socialism were often tenuous.
Chapter 5: examines the issues and events of parliamentary politics, 1885-1906, drawing the conclusion that electoral issues unfavourable to the Liberal party tipped the political balance towards the Conservatives until 1906.
Chapter 6: the religious influences in politics are examined against the background of denominational rivalry. Toryism appears to have been the product of a xenophobic, nationalist reaction to Irish Catholic immigrants. Social leadership was a further important! influence in shaping the political make up of the region.
Chapter 7: looks at the earliest forms of labour representation in local elections, inspired by trades councils. None of these local movements was particularly successful in establishing a significant labour movement.
Chapter 8: traces the development of political policies in general among the cotton and mining federations. The United Textile Factory Workers' Association concentrated on piecemeal factory reform whilst the miners engaged in direct parliamentary campaigning at Wigan and Ince in 1892 and 1895.
Chapter 9: examines the work of the socialist organisations - the S D F and the I L P - in attempting to bring together working class political action under socialist leadership. The S D F success as a working class group at Burnley is contrasted with its lack of success elsewhere. The I L P, until the 1895 General Election, was also largely unsuccessful in winning support for its parliamentary policy.
Chapter 10: continues the discussion of the two socialist parties from 1895 to 1905. During this period socialist unity failed in general, despite its being attempted at local level. The relationship with, and the contribution to, the new Labour Representation Committee is examined.
Chapter 11: the reasons for the increased trade union interest in politics at the turn of the century, with special reference to the cotton and mining unions. The local labour parties that subsequently developed are analysed to assess their political composition and outlook.
Chapter 12: a survey of the 1906 General Election, especially the Labour campaigns, to show the issues on which Labour candidates depended for votes. A brief, explanatory survey of Labour party development after 1906 is included to place the period 1885 to 1906 in perspective.

Publication Date Jan 1, 1971


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