Studies in Lancashire and the North West of England, 1880s to 1930s
Chapter Four: Manchester and Salford Politics and the Early Development of the Independent Labour Party
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The grass-roots activities of the Independent Labour Party have been the subject of increased scrutiny from historians over the past few years.1 Consequently we can now be a little surer about the contribution of the party to the development of an independent labour movement in Britain at the end of the nineteenth century, though with every fresh case study a different local strategy seems to come to light. The one outstanding profile in this field is the closely observed account of the ILP in Bradford by J. Reynolds and K. Laybourn, who identify several key features in the party’s growth in that city, notably the reformist nature of ILP socialism and the close associations with local trade unionism. ‘From the outset’, they tell us, ‘Bradford trade unionism and the Bradford ILP were seen as two aspects of a single homogeneous labour movement aimed at the emancipation of the working class from poverty and exploitation.’2 But how far this pattern of development was repeated elsewhere is a different matter. David Rubinstein’s account of the ILP’s intervention in the Barnsley ← 73 | 74 → by-election of 1897, for example, reveals that the ILP in this area did not take up a Bradford-style policy of labour alliance until the late 1890s, and suggests that this was the case far the ILP as a whole.3 Yet studies of the party’s activities on the other side of the Pennines indicate a different story still. N. Reid’s short essay on the ILP...
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