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The War Emergency Workers’ National Committee, 1914–1920

  • Royden Harrison

Abstract

The War Emergency Workers’ National Committee is generally remembered only for the ironic circumstances associated with its formation. It arose from a conference summoned by Arthur Henderson, who hoped to supply a united proletarian response to the threat of war. Acting on behalf of the Labour Party, Henderson sent out invitations to the principal institutions of organised labour and to a large number of prominent personalities in the trade-union and socialist world. When the conference met on 5 August 1914, the United Kingdom had already declared war on Germany. The meeting wasted no time reflecting upon its original purpose: it spared no thought for the implications of the Stuttgart Resolution of the Second International. It rather addressed itself to the matter in hand, resolving to establish a committee which would be responsible for safeguarding working-class interests during the ‘Emergency’. And it stuck to its last.

Keywords

Trade Union National Committee Labour Movement Labour Party Socialist Party 
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Notes

  1. 4.
    J. S. Middleton, ‘Webb and the Labour Party’, in M. Cole (ed.), The Webbs and Their Work (1949), p. 171. Middleton might simply have been rising to the occasion for this memorial volume, but Mrs. Lucy Middleton confirms that he always held that Webb was the architect of the Committee’s main proposals. Max Beer’s estimate of Webb’s leading position on the Committee, in his History of British Socialism (1940 edn.), p. 384 derived — according to Mrs Middleton — from information supplied by her husband.Google Scholar
  2. 50.
    F. H. Coller, A State Trading Adventure (Oxford, 1925), p. 14.Google Scholar
  3. 68.
    M. B. Hammond, British Labour Conditions and Legislation During the War (Oxford, 1919), p. 264.Google Scholar
  4. 106.
    H. M. Hyndman to J. S. Middleton, 22 July 1917, enclosing duplicated sheet headed ‘The Conscription of Riches: The means for creating and distributing wealth’ (‘Conferences (Food)-Consumers’ Council’ box). Despite references to the Committee’s printed minutes, C. Tsuzuki, H. M. Hyndman and British Socialism (Oxford, 1961), p. 223, fails to identify Hyndman’s position, or to recognize the distinction between a tax on capital and a tax on income.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Royden Harrison 1971

Authors and Affiliations

  • Royden Harrison
    • 1
  1. 1.University of WarwickUK

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