The British Labor Party: Prospects and Portents

James Keir Hardie, one of the founders of the Labor Party.

IN the long run, as well as in the short, the prospects of the British Labor Party will be determined by the war. What has the effect of the war on the Party been, and what will its consequences be?

One can already see that this war's effect will be different from that of the last one, just as the rôle of the Party in this war is in some contrast to the part it played last time. The war of 1914-1918 made the political fortune of the Labor Party. In the "khaki" election of 1918, Labor scored more than a million votes -- to everybody's surprise and to the alarm of the older parties. Five years after the Armistice, with the election of 1923, it became the second largest party in the state, displaced the famous (and altogether abler) Liberal Party as the official opposition, and for the first time took office as a government.

Lloyd George in his "War Memoirs" makes the point that it would have been quite impossible to conduct the war against the will, and without the coöperation, of the labor movement; and indeed it was directly represented in his Coalition Government. All the same, the labor movement was never happy in its participation in government in the last war. It was very much a junior partner; its Ministers -- it had only a couple of them -- were on sufferance; and its leading political figures, MacDonald and Snowden, remained outside altogether and were partly opposed to the war.

What a contrast with the situation this time! The Churchill Government which was formed in 1940 -- right in the midst of the disasters brought upon the country by the inept conduct of British affairs since 1931 by the so-called National Government -- was based on the principle of equal participation in the Government between the Conservative and Labor Parties. And in the marvellous record of work and achievement to the credit of this Government -- which simply saved

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