The evolution of Labour’s foreign policy, 1900–51

This is the first book in a two-volume set that traces the evolution of the Labour Party's foreign policy throughout the twentieth century and into the early years of the new millennium. It is a comprehensive study of the political ideology and history of the Labour Party's world-view and foreign policy. The set argues that the development of Labour's foreign policy perspective should be seen not as the development of a socialist foreign policy, but as an application of the ideas of liberal internationalism. The first volume outlines and assesses the early development and evolution of Labour's world-view. It then follows the course of the Labour Party's foreign policy during a tumultuous period on the international stage, including the First World War, the Russian Revolution, the Spanish Civil War, the build-up to and violent reality of the Second World War, and the start of the Cold War. The book provides an analysis of Labour's foreign policy during this period, in which Labour experienced power for the first time.

This chapter focuses on the post-war period and the two Labour minority governments of 1924 and 1929–31 in Great Britain. During this period, the Labour Party had some considerable impact on British views of internationalism, the arms trade, and the League of Nations. The post-war years saw a period of remarkable optimism about the ability to banish war and conflict through the rational application of international law and the operation of the League of Nations.

in The Labour Party and the world, volume 1

This chapter examines the history of the Labour Party during the years 1931 to 1938. This period saw significant transformations in the party's foreign policy when the optimism of the 1920s was replaced by the growing pessimism and fear of fascism in the 1930s. During this period, the party's foreign policy shifted from a fairly anti-militaristic and almost pacifist stance in 1933 to support for rearmament and a policy of strength in the face of the threat posed by fascism by 1937. This chapter also discusses the resignation of George Lansbury as party leader and the increase in the influence of the trade union movement over foreign policy.

in The Labour Party and the world, volume 1

This chapter focuses on the Labour Party decision to join forces with Winston Churchill in a coalition government to support Great Britain's war effort. It suggests that World War I marked a decisive break with the past for the Labour Party, pointing to the way that Labour governments in the future would approach foreign and defence policy. During this period the party's vision of a post-war international order was based on the acceptance of the idea of subordinating national sovereignty to world institutions and obligations, and on the need for international economic planning.

in The Labour Party and the world, volume 1
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This chapter examines the foreign policy of the Labour Party during the term of Prime Minster Clement Richard Attlee. It explains that when the party turned to the U.S. to address its financial problems after gaining power in 1945, the Labour government decided to link Britain's national interest to that of the U.S. instead of subordinating national sovereignty to international institutions in any substantial way. This chapter suggests that the Labour government's foreign policy of 1945–51 was Ernest Bevin's foreign policy because Attlee allowed him a remarkable degree of freedom. It also discusses how the division between left and right in the party on foreign policy solidified into a division between Atlanticists and those suspicious of the USA, which continues to this day.

in The Labour Party and the world, volume 1
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This chapter sums up the key findings of this study on the evolution of the Labour Party. It contends that internationalism is the overriding principle upon which Labour's foreign policy has been based. This internationalism emphasised six key issues. These include the possibility of reforming international relations through the establishment of international institutions, the commitment of states to an international community, and the formulation of international policy based on democratic principles and universal moral norms. This chapter suggests that the conflict among these principles and their openness to a range of interpretations in terms of policy solutions to particular problems caused the party severe and recurring intra-party conflict over its foreign policy.

in The Labour Party and the world, volume 1
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This introductory chapter discusses the theme of this volume, which is about the evolution of the Labour Party in Great Britain from the twentieth century to the beginning of the new millennium. This volume aims to construct a framework through which Labour's foreign policy and its outlook on the world can be analysed and interpreted. It also explores the many battles over Labour's foreign policy brought about by the tension between national sovereignty and internationalism.

in The Labour Party and the world, volume 1
Open Access (free)
The emergence of the British Labour Party

This chapter provides a brief introduction to the international context within which the Labour Party emerged in terms of Great Britain's role in the world and examines the historical sociology of the development of the party itself. It explains that the party was formed to represent the working class and this significantly influenced the way that the party thought about foreign policy. This chapter characterises the party as a loose federation of organisations rather than a party with a specified ideology and highlights its commitment to internal democracy in its structure and ethos.

in The Labour Party and the world, volume 1

This chapter analyses the main influences on the Labour Party's attitudes towards international affairs. These influences include the Independent Labour Party (ILP), radical liberals and the Fabian Society. This chapter explains that radical liberals contributed greatly to Labour's liberal internationalism, the Fabians provided in part the rationalist underpinning of Labour's views on international relations, and the ILP provided the impulse towards common fellowship with other states.

in The Labour Party and the world, volume 1

This chapter examines the response of the Labour Party to the outbreak of World War I. It suggests that this was the first major test of Labour's developing world-view and explains that the war widened the gap between the party and the Independent Labour Party (ILP). This chapter discusses how the decline in the ILP's importance within the Labour Party influenced the development of the Labour Party's views on the need for a League of Nations, open diplomacy and arms control, and a renewed optimism in internationalism. In addition to the war, the events in Russia also significantly influenced the party's foreign policy.

in The Labour Party and the world, volume 1