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    Labourism is an ideology based off the Labour Party in the United Kingdom. Generally, it is a mixture of socialist policies with a welfare state and syndicalist characteristics. However, sometimes it can reflect centrist and rightist characteristics as well, as is it has done under the rule of Tony Blair. Other features of Labourism is that it supports a free market meaning that it could technically be considered market socialist.

    Factions and Affiliates

    New Labour

    Inspired by Anthony Gidden of a social democracy, New Labour was a rebranding of the party in the 90s. Under the leadership of Tony Blair the party moved to the right, adopting several Neoliberal policies. While the New Labour branding is defunct by this point, Blairites still hold a strong influence on the party, being the main ideological influence for current Labour leader Kier Starmer.


    Blairites are followers of former UK prime minister and labour leader, Tony Blair. Blair was characterised by his staunch Europhilic stance, hawkish foreign policy and acceptance of neoliberal economics. Blair supported the Iraq war and this is a clear split between the sub factions of New Labour as many opposed the war and denounced it as imperialism and dubious, while Blairites supported it to bring democracy to the middle east and prevent Weapons of Mass Destruction falling into the hands of terrorists.


    Brownites are followers of Blair's former ally and later rival, Gordon Brown, Brown was supportive of Blair's transformation of the Labour party to support neoliberal economics however still retained a socialist flair to his words and deeds. Brown took power after ousting Tony Blair in 2007 over criticisms over the war in Iraq (as the chief concern) he was defined by how he kept the UK of the Euro as chancellor, resisting calls from Tony Blair to join the Euro. And how he dealt with the financial crisis by nationalising failing banks and preventing their collapse.

    One Nation Labour

    One Nation Labour was an attempt by Labour leader Ed Miliband to bring back the blue collar workers who are generally more socially conservative and anti immigrant than Labour was as well as trying to assure voters that Labour was capable of managing the economy. This led to Miliband adopting the politics of both Blue Labour and New Labour though Miliband was and is more socially progressive than Blue Labour and more economically left wing than New Labour.

    Soft Left

    The Soft Left is a faction of members who are to the left of Blairites but are still more moderate/pragmatic compared to Corbynites. It was founded after the election of Micheal Foot in 1983 and was considered as the "Mainstream Left" as opposed to the hard, radical or loony left of Tony Benn. It is generally assess to come close to traditional Social Democracy though proclaim themselves as supporters of Democratic Socialism . Notable members included Michael Foot, Neil Kinnock and more recently, Andy Burnham.

    Hard Left

    The Hard Left is a faction that is more traditionally socialist and uncompromisingly left-wing than the rest of the party. It was founded by Tony Benn after the election of Michael Foot in 1983 as a radical faction that supported mass nationalisations, and renationalising all that Thatcher privatised. It's most notable members being former leader Jeremy Corbyn and long time MP Dennis Skinner.


    Corbynites are followers of Hard Left Labour politician Jeremy Corbyn, Corbynites were fierce populists who often had many disputes and grievances with other members of Labour. Corbynites were massively opposed to Zionism and supportive of Palestine even going as far to meet with Palestinian terrorist leaders to show solidarity with the Arab people. However this faction has been removed from Labour following the election of Keir Starmer who, adhering to a report from the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC), expelled most Corbynites for Anti Semitism a charge denied by nearly all.

    Co-Operative Party

    The Co-Operative party is/was a party created by co-operative societies to campaign politically for the fairer treatment of co-operative enterprises and to elect co-operative members into Parliament. Since 1927, the Co-Operative Party has made a pact with the Labour Party agreeing to not pit candidates against each other.

    Social Democratic and Labour Party

    The Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) is a political party within Northern Ireland. It advocates for a welfare state as well as Irish Reunification and is allied to the Labour Party. It is technically not a part of the UK Labour party however most of its members are politically similar to UK Labour members economically and socially with the main difference being that UK Labour is unionist while SDLP is nationalist. Though UK Labour has had several Irish republicans in its ranks up until the 2010s when the issue had lost its toxicity due to terrorists, Labour figures such as Tony Benn and Harold Wilson were supportive of Irish republicanism. Despite its support of Irish republicanism the SDLP has had no relation with the IRA or other terrorist groups and was incredibly important in negotiating peace in Northern Ireland.

    Blue Labour

    Blue Labour is a political group that is affiliated with the Labour Party. They advocate for rejecting neoliberal economics in favour of guild socialism and corporatism. It also holds many conservative stances on social issues and advocates for local and democratic management and provision of services instead of relying on a welfare state.

    Militant Tendency

    Militant Tendency was a Trotskyist group in British Labour founded in the 1960s to radicalise and change labour to be a communist party. Harold Wilson was reasonable tolerant of the party and by the 1980s it surged to its highest extent controlling multiple local councils leading to South Yorkshire being referred to as "The People's Republic of South Yorkshire" due to the amount of Militant councils in the area. Militant would fall apart due to the bad press it generated for Labour leading to Neil Kinnock wishing to expel them, and eventually carrying it out but also due to their refusal to pay the controversial poll tax led to many members being arrested, fined and even jailed for tax evasion.


    The Bevanite wing of Labour was comprised of the followers of NHS founder Aneurin Bevan who supported mass nationalisations in order to bring about socialism. This became unpopular in the party due to the high British debt incurred over the two world wars, depression, construction of a welfare state and the current nationalisations. The Hard left could be said to be the modern, albeit generally more moderate because of the times, version of this faction.


    The Gaitskellite wing of the Labour party was the followers of former chancellor of the exchequer, Hugh Gaitskell who favoured moving away from socialism by changing the party constitution to oppose socialism and "strategic" privatisations of "unnecessary" industries in order to reduce the national debt and better fund more important services such as the NHS and benefit schemes.


    Rise of Socialism in Britain

    In the late 19th century, the political franchise was expanded to encompass the lower and working classes. Some members of the trade union movement started to gain interest in going onto the political stage. In 1867 and 1885, the Liberal Party of Britain sponsored some trade-union based candidates. Also around this time, several socialist and trade-union groups began forming and emerging. Some of these included, Independent Labour Party, the Fabian Society, the Social Democratic Federation and the Scottish Labour Party.

    In 1888, the Progressive Party was founded by Fabians and Liberals and in 1889, they took control of the London County Council at the first elections held there. During this period, the Progressive Party constructed the first social housing in England, spended more on public services like the Fire Brigade and increased the number of baths in London.

    In 1892, a member of the Independent Labour Party named Fred Jowett was elected to the Bradford City Council and became the first socialist to be elected there, he also made his own branch of the Independent Labour Party in that town. He passed several reforms that would later be adapted by neighbouring authorities, such as giving out free school meals and improving the quality of the food given to the children at the Bradford Workhouse.

    In 1898, West Ham Borough became the first ever Labour council in Britain. Under the administration of this new council, the municipal workforce was enlarged and brang it directly under public control, to improve pay, public security and conditions for all workers.

    In 1900 and 1905 the newly formed Labour party won several seats at the national level this scared the Liberal party as it had traditionally taken the working class vote and was now losing votes to a new party. The rise of Labour was a major reason for the Liberal governments of 1905-1916 introducing social reforms such as free school meals, old age pensions and an income tax in an attempt to prevent working class voters defecting to Labour. However this was unsuccessful due to the Liberals failing to implement all of their reforms because of the Conservative controlled house of lords and world war one as well as the Liberals falling into civil war between supporters of Lloyd George and Herbert Asquith.

    The Liberal civil war allowed Labour to become the second largest party in the house of commons and then largest in the mid 1920s however they lacked a majority and were forced into a national government due to the recession following the end of the war, the great depression and world war two so they accomplished little (and by the 1930s the Conservatives had already displaced Labour as the largest party once again).

    Zenith of Socialism in Britain

    When world war two was coming to a close in 1945, the UK held its first election since 1935 which Labour won with a full majority of its own. Clement Attlee became prime minister and established a much more comprehensive welfare state than the liberals had 40 years prior as well as replacing slums with "New Towns" and nationalising several industrial sectors to ensure full employment.

    During Attlee's premiership (and especially during Labour's time in opposition following it) Labour split in two different factions; the Keynesian right wing of Labour led by Hugh Gaitskell who wanted to remove clause IV in the Labour constitution which defined it as a socialist party, and the Marxist left wing led by Aneurin Bevan who wished to continue the nationalisations of British industry and have the government direct the entire economy to bring about democratic socialism. Gaitskell's faction was winning but was unable to change Labour's constitution. In the end, by the early 1960s, both factions had lost and fizzled out with the death of Aneurin Bevan and Hugh Gaitskell.

    Harold Macmillan became prime minister after Eden's resignation following the Suez crisis, he represented the start of a new socialist age in British politics as he agreed with Labour party policy on several matters and formed a political consensus known as the post war Keynesian consensus with Hugh Gaitskell. This was a clear sign of the power and victory of the Labour party in their brief 6 years alone in government as they had entirely changed British politics forever. Macmillan supported nationalised companies, comprehensive welfare and increased taxes while still clinging to the conservative label.

    Harold Wilson became prime minister after Macmillan in what was widely seen as a victory for the Labour left as Wilson was a Bevanite however Wilson choose not to nationalise additional industries due to concerns over the national debt. Harold Wilson did however pass several important social reforms such as legalising no fault divorce, decriminalising homosexuality and easing the abortion law. Wilson was also very Eurosceptic and opposed the European Economic Community (EEC) a fact that earned him the endorsement of Enoch Powell in 1974.

    In 1976 after Barbara Castle attempted to reform Labour unions to be more democratic in order to prevent constant strikes, her lifetime political rival James Callaghan overthrew Harold Wilson to prevent union reform. This meant that in 1979, as a response to stagflation decreasing real wages, the unions went on strike and caused what became known as the Winter of Discontent and in the election of 1979 Margaret Thatcher won and would sound the death tolls of British socialism.

    Death of Socialism in Britain

    After Thatcher was elected her government was characterised by privatising several large airlines, decreasing inflation with drastic measures such as austerity and high interest rates. This culminated in a very poorly preforming economy by 1983 and several conservatives became sure that Thatcher would lose the next election so attempted to rebel but Thatcher silenced her detractors by embracing her party and a stunning military victory in the Falklands following Argentina's invasion. Thatcher would call a general election the same year, and would win in a massive landslide against Michael Foot's far left manifesto. Thatcher would then wage war on the incredibly unionised and politically powerful coal mines and continue applying her free market principles to government, tax cuts, reforming the NHS, and opening trade.

    Meanwhile Labour's old left, socialist, policies were proving more and more unpopular with the electorate resulting in Neil Kinnock expelling all communists and hardline Marxists from the party and taking a more right wing approach to the election of 1992, although he lost his ideas were still popular and John Smith took over leadership of the party he had a philosophy of one more heave in an attempt to modernise the party and transform it back into a party of governance.

    However in 1995 John Smith died and the more radical reformists led by Tony Blair and Gordon Brown took over the Labour party with their idea of "New Labour" which was near total acceptance of a new, Thatcherite, consensus and total rejection of the far left faction of Militant Tendency (which Kinnock had already expelled except in Scotland), decentralisation, Eurointergration and regaining the trust of the British people.

    New Labour proved popular and was able to win the endorsements of several traditionally conservative newspapers such as The Sun and in 1997 won the largest majority Labour had ever won and swiftly achieved a peace settlement in Northern Ireland, formation and entry in the European Union and waging war on child poverty. After the terrorist attacks on the Twin Towers. Blair, joined NATO in invading Afghanistan to catch Bin Laden and passing anti terrorist laws which some argue restricted civil liberties. Blair also invaded Iraq with George Bush which would later be the cataclysm to topple his government when Gordon Brown overthrow him in 2007.

    Brown would deal with the great recession by using stimulus measures to save banks and big businesses from collapse however it was fully meant to be temporay as both Brown and the Chancellor Darling pledged to "cut deeper than Thatcher" in order to reduce national debt.

    Lost Decade of Socialism in Britain

    After Gordon Brown lost the 2010 election he resigned, the following election was divisive and close between the two brothers; Ed and David Miliband. Miliband was said to be Tony Blair's favourite candidate after he resigned in 2007, while Ed was supported by the powerful Unite union.

    Ed won the election on the fourth ballot and would as leader try to parrot some conservative talking points notably about the debt and immigration while placing less emphasis on social issues and progressive economics. This led to him being perceived by many left of centre voters as being a continuation of New Labour and being attacked by the media for being weak and soft on several issues. He resigned after losing the 2015 election to David Cameron.

    In the Labour election of 2015, Jeremy Corbyn won on an ambitious and radical platform and as a total rejection of New Labour and their lingering influence. Corbyn would move Labour significantly to the left but was challenged by Owen Smith over a disagreement on how to handle the Brexit referendum with Smith accusing Corbyn of being too soft. Corbyn defeated Smith in the ensuing election but adopted his policy of being strongly pro EU to great effect as in the general election of 2017 May fell flat and got a hung parliament losing Cameron's majority.

    Corbyn retained his belief in a second referendum on Brexit throughout his remaining years as Labour leader which was until Boris Johnson called and won a massive landslide in 2019. Corbyn resigned shortly after and following a damning report alleging Anti-Semitism in the Labour party.

    In the 2020 leadership election, a clear distinction could be seen between this election and the one 10 years earlier as all three candidates praised Corbyn for his economic policies and viciously condemned austerity policies. Sir Keir Starmer won the election on the back of his popular policies and his commitment to rooting out Anti-Semitism from within the party.

    Elections in Labour

    Winners are marked in bold.

    Labour Leadership Elections

    Labour Deputy Elections




    • One Nation Labour - Tried to merge me with my rival, but it didn't work so I ousted you.
    • Corbynism - Tried to bring me back to the old days, but that didn't work either so I ousted you and your entire faction.


    Further Information


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