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A Short History of the Labour Party by Henry Pelling (auth.)

By Henry Pelling (auth.)

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The resolution that it passed, and which was then endorsed at a joint meeting with the parliamentary party, was clearly a compromise. z The vagueness of this statement shows that it was designed to hide serious differences. P. leaders were advocating a downright opposition to the war, on the lines of their campaign against the South African War. s felt that they must support the war effort now that hostilities had begun. s voted war credits for the Kaiser's armies. Under these circumstances, Ramsay MacDonald found 36 RendlTson's Party: War and Reconslrucliott (1914-22) it necessary to resign the leadership of the parliamentary party.

Yet at the time, there were few who thought that the war would last as long as a year. Although Henderson had disagreed with MacDonald and had taken his place as party chairman, he did not want to expel the anti-war minority from membership of the party, for he expected an early return to the peace-time condition of politics. The analogy of the Liberal Party's toleration of internal disagreements during the South African War, and its speedy recovery of unity and rise to power afterwards, must have been present in many minds.

George Wardle, into the government. The affair was thus kept on a personal level between Henderson and the Prime Minister; and the government retained the support of the Labour Party while refusing exit vilas for the Stockholm Conference. All the same, the 'doormat incident' proved to be a turning-point in the history of the Labour Party. From that time onwards, Henderson, who was still secretary of 41 A Short History oj the Labour Party the party, began to devote himself largely to its affairs, not only shaping a major reorganisation of its structure, but also devising an alternative foreign policy to that of the government.

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