The Anti-Socialist Union, 1908–49

  • Kenneth D. Brown


The general election of 1906 was remarkable for the size of the swing that took place against the recently resigned conservative government, the liberals turning a substantial deficit into an overwhelming and overall majority of 130. Almost as noteworthy for contemporaries, however, was the first appearance in parliament of the Labour Representation Committee (soon renamed the Labour Party) as an independent and readily identifiable group. Even the usually imperturbable Arthur Balfour, prime minister in the late unionist administration, was moved to declare that ‘we are face to face (no doubt in a milder form) with the socialistic difficulties which loom so large on the continent’.1 Despite the fact that the new party held only twenty-nine seats of the 670 in the House of Commons, fears were widely expressed that it would exert considerable influence on the course and nature of parliamentary legislation. The editor of the Daily Express, Ralph D. Blumenfeld, predicted for example that there would ensue ‘a long list of labour legislation dictated by a powerful party whose voice the liberal leaders will not be able to ignore’.2 By the end of the 1906 parliamentary session he must have been impressed by his own powers of prophecy.


Labour Movement Social Reform Labour Party Socialist Threat Conservative Party 
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© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited 1974

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  • Kenneth D. Brown

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