Posts Tagged ‘Will Crooks’

Labour history uncut: It’s war!

15/01/2013, 06:54:22 PM

by Pete Goddard and Atul Hatwal

By 1914, Labour’s internal politics were in a well-worn rut. The routine was familiar: socialists complained about the party’s moderation, moderates complained that the socialists were making the party unelectable and strikers up and down the nation didn’t care what either of them had to say, they had a nationwide wave of industrial unrest to organise.

Then, in summer 1914, Germany’s Kaiser did his holiday planning. France looked nice, but he didn’t want to go abroad. So what better solution than to make France part of Germany? He was a problem solver, that Kaiser.

Kaiser’s top tip – recycle those leftover Christmas baubles into a stylish and practical outfit

So he gathered a few hundred thousand of his closest friends and began stockpiling sun cream, beach towels and heavy artillery.

On 29th July, alarmed by the accumulation of passports and spiky hats in Germany, Keir Hardie represented British labour at a meeting of the International Socialist Bureau (contrary to the title, not a dispensary for people looking to hire or purchase a continental socialist). They “resolved unanimously that it shall be the duty of the workers of all nations concerned not only to continue but to further intensify their demonstrations against the war, for peace, and for the settlement of the Austro-Serbian conflict by international arbitration…”

The problem was that, for many working class Brits, workers sticking up for workers was all very well, but these guys were foreigners, so surely they didn’t count. There was much enthusiasm for nipping over to Germany to stick it to the sausage munchers.


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Labour history uncut: By-elections beckon and the fixers get fixing for the LRC

29/11/2012, 07:37:20 PM

by Pete Goddard and Atul Hatwal

It was early 1902 and times were tough for the Labour representation committee. They had a worryingly low bank balance, only 2 MPs and not enough members to deliver leaflets.

The parliamentary Labour party couldn’t even descend into proper factionalism as Keir Hardie and Richard Bell got on quite well.  This wasn’t what the left was about at all.

The Taff Vale ruling by the Lords had thrown the LRC a much needed lifeline, forcing more unions into the arms of the party, but support wasn’t growing quickly enough. Although more were affiliated by 1902 than 1901, numbers were still down on the founding conference in 1900.

Something needed to be done.

Fortunately, Ramsay Macdonald was on hand. He was a sharp operator and he had a cunning plan.

As party secretary, Macdonald had a key role in developing the party machine and fixing things about which the saintly Keir Hardie didn’t have to ask too many questions.

Secondary duties included taking minutes, making the tea and, eventually removing his glasses, shaking his hair out and waiting for Keir Hardie to say “why Mr Macdonald, you’re beautiful.”

Movember was a way of life for Ramsay Macdonald


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