Labour Party (UK)

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Labour Party

Party LeaderKeir Starmer
Founded27 February, 1900
Youth wingYoung Labour
Political orientationSocial Democracy
Social Liberalism
Democratic Socialism

The Labour Party is a bourgeois and social fascist political party[1][2] in the United Kingdom. First established in 1900, it grew out of the labour aristocracy of the 18th century.[3][4][5][6] It supported the imperialist First World War, betrayed both the 1926 general strike[7][8] and the 1984 miners' strike,[9] and has launched major imperialist wars; most principally, the Iraq War, under the leadership of the war criminal Tony Blair. While it can be credited with the nationalization of major industries following the Second World War, including the central bank, coal, steel, railways, gas, and electricity,[10] it should be noted that nationalization is not necessarily the characteristic of a socialist government.

The Labour Party is a "broad-church" party meaning that it accepts members from many different regions of the political spectrum, both left and right. This leads to a clash of views with the right, which has the backing of the bourgeois, usually winning out.[11]



The Labour Representative Committee won 29 seats in the 1906 election and changed its name to the Labour Party. Its early members were trade unionists, most of which were highly religious. It was part of the Second International, but supported the First World War and broke strikes during the war.[12]

First world war

The Labour Party, along with other social democratic and labour parties, supported the ruling class in their imperialist war against other imperialist powers at the cost of the working classes. In May 1915 Asquith, the Liberal Party prime minister, invited Arthur Henderson, leader of the Labour Party, to join the cabinet in a coalition government. In return for power the Labour party supported the conscription of the working class and the deskilling of industry.

In 1918, Labour adopted what they claimed to be a 'socialist' constitution inspired by the Russian revolution. This constitution proposed radical sounding policies whilst in reality it enshrined the control of the party to the unions bureaucrats. The constitution also allowed individual membership of the party for the first time. [12]

Interwar period

Government of 1924

The Labour Party was the second largest party in the UK after the December 1923 election allowing Ramsay Macdonald to become the first Labour Party Prime Minister, the first Prime Minister from a working class background. However this government only lasted from January to November 1924 before being replaced by the Conservative Party, in this time the Labour Party achieved almost nothing.

Labour opposed the dockers strike in February 1924 and the tramway workers strike in March. Macdonald's response to the latter, after railway workers attempted to come out in solidarity, was to invoke the 1920 Emergency powers act declaring a state of emergency if the strikes were not called off. In this time the Labour government also continued with rearmament, the bombing of indigenous people in Iraq and shooting strikers in India.[12]

Government of 1929-1931

Labour was re-elected in 1929 in a second minority government. Labour promised to reduce unemployment, but unemployment increased by 750,000 in the first year and in two years it had almost doubled. Faced with drain of gold from London in 1931 the government discussed ways to solve this problem. Macdonald's solution was to make cuts in civil service pay and unemployment benefits which other cabinet members disagreed with. Unable to find the support in Labour, MacDonald split with the party creating the National Labour Organisation (NLO) and formed a coalition with the Liberal and Conservative Parties to force the measures through. The majority of the party went into opposition, in the two years it had been in power, 4 million workers wages had been reduced.[12]

Second world war

When war broke out the Labour party, under leader Clement Atlee, supported the British ruling classes. In 1940 Labour entered into coalition with the Conservatives and Attlee joined the war Cabinet. Atlee introduced the Emergency Powers Bill which gave the government the power to control every aspect of life with Ernest Bevin, Labour Minister of Labour to direct provision of services.

Throughout the war there was many strikes in protest of the decrease in living standards the war had brought. Labour supported the capitalists against the strikers, refusing to fight for workers rights because the war effort was seen as more important.[12]

Postwar Period

Government of 1945-1951

In July 1945 a general election was called with the war in Europe coming to a close, resulting in Atlee's Labour winning a large majority of 393 MPs out of 640. This government is credited with the nationalization of several industries such as coal, rail, gas, electricity, iron and steel and the Bank of England as well as the creation of the National Health Service (NHS), and other features of the Welfare state. This period is where Labour claims its socialist credentials from despite nationalization not necessarily having anything to do with socialism. When the Conservatives won the next election in 1951 curiously enough they undid few of Labour's changes, allowing the welfare state to thrive, there was little tangible difference in this new government.[12]

Domestic Policy

The industries nationalized were not making a profit for their bosses because of the decline of British capitalism due to the war and the Great Depression, so Labour bought the ownership of these industries and gave the capitalists lavish compensation. This nationalization allowed the expansion of private industry in other sectors due to the state releasing them from running the industries which required heavy investment.[13] Labour's nationalization did not change the lives of workers in any meaningful way as it had just replaced one set of bosses with another.

The Atlee's government's commitment to the NHS was also shaky given that they began allowing prescription charges in 1949 and introduced charges on glasses and false teeth in 1951. The NHS was not even the idea of Labour given it was a result of a Liberal MP's wartime report known as the Beveridge Report that was aimed at building a healthier and more compliant workforce that would make the bosses more money. The plan had cross party support but was still forced to be watered down to a less socialistic version by opposition from the British Medical Association (BMA).[13]

In October 1945 Labour had to deal with another dockers strike and just as before they sided with the bosses over the workers. Throughout the Labour government there were frequent strikes from workers struggling with the ruin of the war and the rising cost of living and Labour's response was usually to send in the army to break the strike.[12]

Foreign Policy

Imperialism continued under Labour with the Atlee government making every effort to hold the crumbling British empire together; their foreign policy in office was near identical to that of the Conservatives despite their election campaign being for a socialist foreign policy.[13] Remarkably, the Conservative shadow foreign secretary at the time, Anthony Eden, found that he agreed with almost all the decisions of his counterpart, Ernest Bevin, going as far as to say they met quite frequently to discuss matters informally.[14]

Massive spending on armaments was made by the Labour government which was only continued by the Conservatives and in March 1946, Atlee became the first British prime minister to ever introduce conscription in peacetime. The mandatory service time of eighteen months was increased to two years in 1950 when the Korean War broke out. Cabinet unanimously agreed to support US imperialism in Korea and sent troops to aid the invasion immediately, as for when the decision reached the House of Commons; only three Labour MPs voted against it.[13]

Labour politicians had long claimed they supported the independence of India and yet it took until the February 1946 revolt of the Indian Navy alongside other military and civilian protests in the British Raj to force them to take action. Practicality was at the forefront of the decision on India and the practicality of the situation was that Britain no longer had the troops to hold their most prized colony, so naturally the Labour government chose to curb their losses and preserve what they could of their investments. The settlement of 1947 led to the partition of India into two separate states, Hindu India and Muslim Pakistan, with extremely artificial boundaries that led to a bloodbath in which hundreds of thousands died, but yet through all of this British Capitalist investments were safe.[13]

Ernest Bevin, Labour foreign secretary from 1945-1951, played a central role in the creation of NATO. [15]

Cold war

Government of 1964-1970

In 1964 Labour returned to power under Harold Wilson which saw an almost continuous balance of payments crisis which Labour responded to by freezing wages whilst doing nothing to curb rising inflation.[12]

The Wilson government supported US imperialism in the Vietnam war and continued sales of arms to Apartheid South Africa.[16]

Government of 1974-1979

Following a short stint in opposition Labour returned to power under James Callaghan.

Period of Opposition (1979-1997)

Miners' strike

In 1984 the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) called for a strike to protest the planned closure of 95 pits at a cost of 100,000 jobs by the government of Conservative Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher. The Labour Party under leader Neil Kinnock opposed the strike and sided with the bourgeois. Kinnock, accused the miners of using violence at a time when the police were staging cavalry charges against peaceful, unarmed, picketing miners.[9]

21st century

Government of 1997-2010

Tony Blair became Prime Minister in 1997 bringing hope to the workers that a new day had dawned but they would quickly learn that their hope was misplaced when Blair set about reinforcing the neoliberal policies of his predecessors. Blair is most memorably remembered for his war crimes during the Iraq War undertaken on the false premise that the state was a threat to Britain, but yet Blair still walks free surrounded by a vast fortune unpunished for his crimes.[17]

Period of Opposition (2010-Present)

2022 Russo-Ukrainian conflict

See main article: 2022 Russo-Ukrainian conflict

David Lammy, Labour's current shadow foreign secretary, continues support for NATO and has called for higher European defence spending.[15] Eleven Labour MPs were threatened with expulsion for signing a statement drawn up by the Stop the War Coalition which refuted the idea that NATO is a defensive alliance and which recognized Russia's security concerns.[18]


  1. “Of course, most of the Labour Party’s members are working men. However, whether or not a party is really a political party of the workers does not depend solely upon a membership of workers but also upon the men that lead it, and the content of its actions and its political tactics. Only that determines whether we really have before us a political party of the proletariat. Regarded from this, the only correct point of view, the Labour Party is a thoroughly bourgeois party, because, although made up of workers, it is led by reactionaries, and the worst kind of reactionaries at that, who act quite in the spirit of the bourgeoisie. It is an organisation of the bourgeoisie, which exists to systematically dupe the workers with the aid of the British Noses and Scheidemanns.”

    Vladimir Lenin. V. I. Lenin: Collected Works-Volume 31: April-December 1920: 'Speech On Affiliation To The British Labour Party'. [LG] [MIA]
  2. “[On the Labour Representation Committee's rejection of the resolution that its "ultimate object [be] the socialisation of the means of production, distribution, and exchange"] At any rate the 53 to 39 was accepted as a final and decisive vote, and the non-Socialist political Labour Party was duly constituted.”

    Henry Mayers Hyndman (1912). Further Reminiscences: 'The Dependent Labour Party'. [MIA]
  3. “I couldn't remain on the staff of a paper which lends itself to writing up these German Trade Unions, comparable only to those very worst English ones which allow themselves to be led by men sold to, or at least paid by the middle class.”

    Karl Marx, Frederick Engels (1993). Collected Works, Vol. 46: Marx and Engels: 1880-1883: 'Engels to Marx. 11 August' (p. 121). ISBN 9780717805464 [LG]
  4. “The old Unions with the textile workers at their head, together with the entire reactionary party that exists among the workers, had mustered all their forces in order to overturn the eight hours resolution of 1890. [...] There is still much confusion, but there's no stopping things now and the bourgeois papers fully recognise the defeat of the bourgeois labour party [the Independent Labour Party].”

    Karl Marx, Frederick Engels (2002). Collected Works, Vol. 49: Engels: 1890-1892: 'Engels to Friedrich Adolph Sorge. 14 September' (p. 238). International Publishers. ISBN 9780717805495 [LG]
  5. “Formerly a “bourgeois labour party”, to use Engels’s remarkably profound expression, could arise only in one country, because it alone enjoyed a monopoly, but, on the other hand, it could exist for a long time. Now a “bourgeois labour party” is inevitable and typical in all imperialist countries”

    Vladimir Lenin (1916). Imperialism and the Split in Socialism. [MIA]
  6. “The trade union movement as it was in 1900 was not one of the entire working class: It was in fact an organisation formed from and working on behalf of a privileged layer of workers who created modern trade unions through the merger of ‘craft unions’”

    Jason Turvey (2022-05-31). "Affiliate to Labour? Not us…" Workers Party of Britain.
  7. “the general staff of the labour movement—the T.U.C. General Council and its “political committee,” the Labour Party—proved to be internally demoralised and corrupted. As we know, the heads of this general staff proved to be either downright traitors to the miners and the British working class in general (Thomas, Henderson, MacDonald and Co.), or spineless fellow-travellers of these traitors who feared a struggle and still more a victory of the working class (Purcell, Hicks and others).”

    Joseph Stalin (1926). The British Strike and the Events in Poland.
  8. “They [the trade unions] had a difficult relationship with Ramsay MacDonald [then Labour leader] who had disapproved of that strike.”

    "Lessons from Labour's first economic crisis" (2009-06-04). BBC.
  9. 9.0 9.1
    “Just as during the strike, so now, 25 years later, bourgeois journalists, despicable Labour party bigwigs, contemptible members of the labour aristocracy – all of whom weighed in on the side of the ruling class to defeat the miners, supporting every government, police and judicial outrage against the strikers – instead of blaming the latter’s enemies, continue to blame the miners for the rundown of the industry.”

    Harpal Brar (2009-02-01). "History: The 1984/85 miners’ strike" Proletarian.
  10. Various authors (2018). Public ownership of industries and services: 'A brief history of public ownership in the UK; Post-War nationalisations' (p. 6). [PDF] London: House of Commons Library.
  11. “Pious references to the Labour Party being a ‘broad church’ which has always incorporated many different strands of thought fail to take account of a crucial fact, namely that the ‘broad church’ of Labour only functioned effectively in the past because one side — the right and centre — determined the nature of the services that were to be held, and excluded or threatened with exclusion any clergy too deviant in its dissent”

    Ralph Miliband (2015). Class War Conservatism: And Other Essays date of writing. Verso. ISBN 9781781687703
  12. 12.0 12.1 12.2 12.3 12.4 12.5 12.6 12.7 Subversion (2009-12-08). "Labouring in vain: a critical history of the Labour Party" Archived from the original on 2022-07-15. Retrieved 2022-08-07.
  13. 13.0 13.1 13.2 13.3 13.4 Donny Gluckstein, Tony Cliff (1988). The Labour Party - A Marxist History: 'The Attlee government: Zenith of reformism'. [MIA]
  14. “I was in agreement with the aims of [Bevin’s] foreign policy and with most that he did, and we met quite frequently. He would invite me to his room in the House of Commons where we discussed events informally. In Parliament I usually followed him in debate and I would have agreed with him more, if I had not been anxious to embarrass him less.”

    Anthony Eden (1960). Full Circle: The Memoirs of Anthony Eden (p. 6). Houghton Mifflin.
  15. 15.0 15.1 "Labour is the party of Nato, the party of war" (2022-05-19). Proletarian.
  16. Donny Gluckstein (1988). The Labour Party - A Marxist History: 'The Wilson Governments 1964–69'. [MIA]
  17. Harpal Brar (2023). Britain’s Perfidious Labour Party. ISBN 978-1-913286-11-8
  18. "Yes, Russia should pull out — but Nato's warlike manoeuvres must end too". Morning Star. Archived from the original on 2022-02-22.