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Britain – Politics, 1918-45

2. The Rise of the Labour Party, 1918-31

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In this module, we think about the rise of the Labour Party between 1918-31, focusing in particular on: (i) the origins of the Labour Party, the trade union movement, and the Fabian society; (ii) the importance of the First World War in destabilising British politics, and the split of the Liberal Party in 1916; (iii) the boost provided to the Labour Party by rising trade union membership, the expansion of the franchise, and its support for the war; (iv) Labour's emergence as the official opposition after the war, and their electoral fortunes in the 1920s; (v) the achievements of the first Labour government (1923); (vi) the challenges faced by the second Labour government (1929-31) and the split in the party over the issue of unemployment benefits; and (vii) the party's crushing defeat in 1931.


In this course, Dr Robert Crowcroft (University of Edinburgh) explores British politics between the years 1918-45. In the first module, we think about the reasons for the political domination of the Conservative Party in this period, focusing in particular on the leadership of Stanley Baldwin and policy-making of Neville Chamberlain. In the second module, we trace the rise of the Labour Party between 1918-31, before turning in the third module to the three major crises of the period – the 1926 General Strike, the 1931 financial crisis, and the 1936 Abdication Crisis. In the fourth module, we think about the interdependence of domestic and foreign policy I this period, particularly in relation to the issue of appeasement, before turning in the fifth module to think about Churchill's leadership of Britain in the Second World War. Finally, in the sixth module, we think about the General Election of 1945 and why it was that the Conservative Party, led by the war hero Winston Churchill, were so comprehensively defeated by Clement Attlee's Labour Party.


Dr Robert Crowcroft is Senior Lecturer in Contemporary History at the University of Edinburgh. His research focuses on moments where political systems have been subjected to acute stresses such as war. His most recent book, The End is Nigh: British Politics, Power, and the Road to the Second World War (2019), focused on British politics in the years prior to the Second World War.

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APA style

Crowcroft, R. (2021, March 04). Britain – Politics, 1918-45 - The Rise of the Labour Party, 1918-31 [Video]. MASSOLIT.

MLA style

Crowcroft, R. "Britain – Politics, 1918-45 – The Rise of the Labour Party, 1918-31." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 04 Mar 2021,

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