National Democratic and Labour Party

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For the far right party, see National Democratic Party (UK, 1966). For similarly named groups, see National Democrats.

The National Democratic and Labour Party, usually abbreviated to National Democratic Party (NDP), was a short-lived political party in the United Kingdom.

The party's origins lay in a split by the right wing of the British Socialist Party, primarily over issues raised by the First World War. In 1915 Victor Fisher formed the Socialist National Defence Committee[1] along with Alexander M. Thompson and Robert Blatchford. They supported "the eternal idea of nationality" and aimed to promote "socialist measures in the war effort".[2] The Committee was supported by John Hodge, George Henry Roberts, and for a time by Henry Hyndman who subsequently formed his own party, the National Socialist Party.

In 1916, this committee formed the British Workers League. It described itself as a "patriotic labour" group and focused on support for the war and the British Empire and opposition to Little Englander and Cobdenite laissez-faire economics.[3] The League was by subsidised by Lord Milner,[4] and Milner would consult with Fisher during the war.[5] The League was supported by Labour MPs such as James O'Grady, Stephen Walsh and William Abraham.[6]

The League sought to challenge pacificist Parliamentary candidates which caused a rupture with the Labour Party. Eleven out of thirty eight of the Labour Parliamentary MPs showed support for the British Workers League, however many later returned to the Labour Party.[7]

In 1918 the British Workers League re-constituted itself as the National Democratic and Labour Party with the support of George Barnes, MP for Glasgow Blackfriars and Hutchesontown, when he resigned from the Labour Party. The group gained the support of the Musicians' Union and parts of other unions, including some sections of the Miners' Federation of Great Britain. It was primarily funded by Lloyd George Coalition Liberals.

In the 1918 general election, the party fielded twenty eight candidates, twenty on the Coalition Coupon, and won ten seats,[8][9] including Barnes in the Glasgow Gorbals seat. Barnes took a seat in the coalition government's cabinet until 1920.

In 1922, Barnes retired from Parliament, and the group's remaining MPs joined the National Liberal Party. The party was wound up in 1923, but a grouping continued as the Empire Citizen League,[10] until the late 1920s. Victor Fisher stood, unsuccessfully, for the Conservative Party.[11]

Members of Parliament[edit]

Aberdare - Charles Stanton

Birmingham Duddeston - Eldred Hallas

Bradford East - Charles Edgar Loseby

Don Valley - James Walton

East Ham South - Clement Edwards

Leicester West - Joseph Frederick Green

Stoke-on-Trent Hanley - James Andrew Seddon

Wallsend - Matthew Turnbull Simm

Walthamstow West - Charles Jesson

Some prominent members such as George Barnes were elected as Coalition Labour.

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Martin Crick, The History of the Social-Democratic Federation (Keele University Press, 1994) p. 271.
  2. ^ John Callaghan, Socialism in Britain (1990), p. 74.
  3. ^ Martin Pugh, Speak for Britain! A new history of the Labour Party (The Bodley Head, 2010), p. 115.
  4. ^ Peter Barberis, John McHugh, Mike Tyldesley entry on British Workers League Encyclopedia of British and Irish Political Organizations (Continuum International Publishing Group, 2005), p. 274.
  5. ^ J. Lee Thompson, Forgotten Patriot: A Life of Alfred, Viscount Milner of St. James's and Cape Town (Fairleigh Dickinson University Press), p. 320.
  6. ^ Pugh, p. 115.
  7. ^ Pugh, p. 116.
  8. ^ Pugh, p. 116.
  9. ^ Barberis, McHugh and Tyldesley, p. 274.
  10. ^ Barberis, McHugh and Tyldesley, p. 274.
  11. ^ Crick, p. 304.

References[edit]

  • David Butler and Gareth Butler, British Political Facts 7th Ed, 1900-1994