The Political and the Industrial
Trade union priorities lay at the heart of the Labour Representation Committee's formation in 1900, which was evident in the new organization's structure and in its pragmatic electoral and parliamentary strategy. Prior to 1914, the Parliamentary Labour Party led by Ramsay MacDonald often behaved like a trade union pressure group. Its concerns involved the priorities of specific unionized occupations. The shifting party alignments and strengths from 1918 led to heightened trade union hopes for the Labour Party. Liberal disunity and Labour expansion meant that a Labour Government was becoming increasingly plausible. This prospect inevitably raised the question of the appropriate relationship between the individual unions and the Trades Union Congress — and the Labour Party and a Labour Government. This chapter looks at the internal politics of selected trade unions such as the Miners' Federation of Great Britain, as well as the conflict involving particular individuals who were both prominent Labour politicians and important trade union officials like Jimmy Thomas.
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