Conclusions to Part III

Alastair J. Reid

in The Tide of Democracy

Published by Manchester University Press

Published in print May 2010 | ISBN: 9780719081033
Published online July 2012 | e-ISBN: 9781781702949 | DOI:
Conclusions to Part III

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This chapter presents conclusions to Part III, covering Chapters 11–14. It has long been evident that few late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century British trade unionists were state socialists let alone Marxists, but it is no longer adequate to account for this with reference to some sort of ignorance, confusion or apathy. Following the reconstruction of the political theory of two key craft union leaders it becomes clear that this cannot adequately be defined in terms of a mere absence; while following the careful tracing of their political practice it becomes clear that they were far from being passive observers of the actions of professional politicians. On the contrary, these trade unionists had a distinctive, positive, and active political identity, and they were closely involved in all the turning points in national labour politics. A full account of the behaviour of craft union leaders at key moments, and the pattern of thinking which lay behind it, therefore becomes vital for a proper understanding of the development of the early Labour Party.

Keywords: craft union leaders; trade unionists; political theory; Labour Party; labour politics

Chapter.  4187 words. 

Subjects: Social and Cultural History

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