Labour Movement and Party


Position of Labour and Trade Union Leaders

  • Little concept of a separate Labour Party at this time
  • Few working class men to enter parliament did so as Gladstonian Liberals
  • Regional trade councils encouraged the setting up of a national organisation for unions
  • A Trade Union Congress (TUC) met for the first time in 1868 in Manchester
  • Bring pressure on the government to give trade unions legal recognition 
  • Union leaders were keen to cooperate with the Liberals and promote their members as hard working and respectable
  • The TUC became an annual event after its London meeting in 1871
  • It represented the trade union movement as a whole
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The Development of the Labour Movement

  • Latter half of the 19th century = Labour movement gained in strength
  • Movement grew out of the enormous political, social and economic changes as well as from the development of Trade Unionism
  • Signified the struggle of working people to achieve a common objective in creating a fairer, more just and more equal society
  • The Process of industrialisation brought many working men and women together for the first time
  • Factory floor was where opinions were exchanged and discusions took place on unacceptable working conditions, long hours and poor financial reward
  • Realised they could start to change and improve their conditions if they were well organised enough to negotiate with their employers
  • From the factory floor that working-class organisations started to emerge
  • Particularly in the form of trade unions 
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Political Reform and Labour Movement

  • Extension of the franchise to include the working classes = main focus of the trade union movement during 1860s and 1870s
  • Trade Union Political Activists helped to set up the Reform League in 1865
  • Put pressure on the governent for franchise reform
  • Reform Act of 1867 was a huge step towards the Labour movement gaining influence
  • Election that followed = still no working class candidates
  • No longer property qualification for MPs
  • This should have made it easier for working class to stand in parliament
  • Impossible in terms of time and money
  • Ballot Act had increase confidence 
  • Extension of the Franchise in 1884 to unskilled workers
  • Strengthened the political status of the working classes
  • Became more important for Cons and Libs to seek support 
  • No longer afford to displease the large working class electorate 
  • Stimulated the development of the Labour movement to form a political party 
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