The founding and history of the Labour Party began in the early 1900s. From its beginnings it has emerged to become one of the leading political parties in the UK. Although it originally represented laborers and the working class, it has gone to adopt and modify its stance to what they call a “Third Way”.
The idea for a political party for the working class was hatched in the late 1860s. The trade union in the UK entered into coalitions with some political groups like the Liberal Party and the Scottish Labour Party. The party only won a few seats.
After World War I however, its fortunes turned. The Liberal Party crumbled and was in disarray. In the years following the First World War, the group was able to increase in size and strength. For the time in the history of the Labour Party, it won over 140 seats. This happened in the 1922 General Election. They assumed power for the first time in 1924.
During and After World War II
The party was unable to hold on to power in the 1930s due to internal dissent and splits. However, the war years saw it play a role in the government. This was due to Churchill’s belief that the major parties in the UK had to come together to face the threat from Hitler.
After the war, the party left the coalition and won in the election. They were able to gather just half the votes. The government was led by Clement Attlee. Among his policies were the nationalization of telephone companies, the Bank of England and several basic services. In one of the most important events in the history of the Labour Party, Attlee presided over the creation of the National Health Service.
It was also under Attlee that the British Empire allowed for the independence of Pakistan, India, Burma and Sri Lanka in 1947 and 1948.
The 1970s and 1980s
The oil crisis and the resulting economic crisis affected the party. The party was also affected by internal dissent. In addition, their rival the Conservatives gained power during the late 1970s. Margaret Thatcher was able to lead Britain to success in the Falklands War in 1982. In addition, Thatcher and her party were able to revive the economy.
From 1979 to 1997, the history of the Labour Party was marked by frictions within the party and conflicts. However in 1997 under Tony Blair, the party was able to revive itself.
In 1997, the group won and Tony Blair assumed power. It established new policies. These included passing into law the minimum wage. The party also established a body for overseeing the capital city. The foreign affairs policy also included strong support for the US invasion of Iraq.
This policy would prove unpopular and cost the party in the local elections. It would also lose seats in the local election but still hold the majority in the national level. After Blair stepped down in 2007, he was replaced by Gordon Brown.
The history of the Labour Party is in many ways similar to those of other political groups in that they have gone in and out of power. However, it has shown in recent years an ability to adapt to ever changing political situations.