ABSTRACT

In the years after the Home Rule split in the Liberal party, its managers adopted a policy of showing sympathy towards Labour canditates and Labour aspirations. They encouraged the new progress-ivism in London County Council politics. The progressives were a broad coalition of radical business and professional men, municipal reformers, Fabian socialists and labour leaders. Their policies were collectivist rather than socialist and they treated organised labour very much as the junior partner in the alliance. They played an important part in the shaping of the famous ‘Newcastle Programme’, in which, in 1891, the Liberal party wooed labour support by promising state payment of MPs and limitation of the working hours of miners at the end of a long list of traditional radical reforms. It was a far cry from the kind of programme that would have allayed the opposition of labour dissidents like Hardie, yet, until 1892, it must have seemed that the progressive formula would work in constituencies like West Ham South.