To Educate or Persuade?
The early twentieth century saw the formation of a party destined to challenge the Liberal and Conservative hegemony. It also heralded the trade union movement’s most serious attempt to sustain an independent electoral force dedicated to workers’ interests. Such a course of action was encouraged by the work of theorists like Graham Wallas because ‘(the party) represents the most vigorous attempt made to adopt the form of our institutions to the actual facts of human nature’.1 Prior to the parliamentary Labour Representation Committee’s formation in 1900, union involvement in elections had been limited to initiatives such as the Labour Representation League and Labour Electoral Association. The Labour Party was officially launched in 1906. Its ethos informed the democratically agreed manifesto produced for that year’s election. This collective effort contrasted with the personalised statements issued by the Conservative and Liberal leaders.2 By the following two elections of 1910 Labour’s ruling National Executive Committee (NEC) and its Secretary, James Ramsay MacDonald, were co-ordinating the campaigning. An ad hoc NEC propaganda and literature sub-committee dominated by candidates and serviced by a meagre headquarters staff of ten managed to distribute six million items of literature.
KeywordsPolitical Communication Labour Organiser Labour Party Daily Mail Trade Union Movement
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