David Howell

in MacDonald's Party

Published in print September 2002 | ISBN: 9780198203049
Published online January 2010 | e-ISBN: 9780191719530 | DOI:

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In March 1923, Philip Snowden rose in the Commons to propose a motion whose terms demonstrated that, in the complex political arguments and alignments of the 1920s in Britain, socialism and the supercession of capitalism was a major theme. Snowden was supported by other senior figures within the Parliamentary Labour Party: Ramsay MacDonald, J. C. Clynes, and Arthur Henderson. Their presentations offered a significant statement of Labour's political identity as perceived by its most authoritative figures. Snowden's lengthy and characteristically lucid indictment of capitalism was in terms of efficiency and morality. The cumulative consequence was an unintended shift from pure capitalism towards socialism. The belief in evolutionary change was complemented by a confidence in the moral superiority of socialist politics. Those who became socialists were not just perceptive; they had made an ethical choice. Commendations of ethical and evolutionary socialism were supported frequently by claims of British exceptionalism.

Keywords: Britain; politics; Labour Party; Philip Snowden; Ramsay MacDonald; capitalism; socialism; political identity

Chapter.  3939 words. 

Subjects: Modern History (1700 to 1945)

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