• 1910

    Copenhagen Congress  Copenhagen Congress of 2nd International called for workers to oppose war
  • 1912

    Don’t Shoot  leaflet (Guy Bowman, Tom Mann, Fred Crowsley –all imprisoned)
  • 1914

    Industrial Peace 1914 (end of Aug) TUC and LP declared ‘industrial truce’, supported by Hyndman
  • 1914 Union of Democratic Control (UDC) formed

    Opposed the war from the start, as did Sylvia Pankhurst whose organisation, the East London
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
Socialist Opposition to World War 1

HERITAGE LOTTERY FUND

MML has been supported by a generous grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund that, thanks to National Lottery players, has enabled us to mount our unique project on the Socialist Opposition to the First World War. This included an exhibition and a special extension to our main site containing much detailed resources material in PDF format, along with digitised and searchable copies from 1916-18 of the Call, the British Socialist Party's newspaper.  Our thanks also to Professor Mary Davis for leading the bid and co-ordinating the project and to Luke Evans for spending time with us in developing this work.

The First World War accentuated the divisions between the left and right in the labour movement. The militancy of labour's rank and file continued unabated, whilst the exigencies of war gave labour's leaders the chance to become fully enmeshed within the State itself. The gulf between the two widened to such an extent that it was difficult for both to co-exist within the same organisations. The 'unofficial' opposition, reflecting the chasm between leaders and led, generated its own structures in the form of the Shop Stewards Movement and Workers' Committees. The shop stewards of today can trace their origins to this wartime period, during which rank and file workers kept effective trade unionism alive in the face of their leaders' preoccupation with the war effort.

Helen Crawfurd had been an enthusiastic member of the Women’s Social & Political Union (WSPU), but had broken with that organisation in 1914 when its leadership abandoned the fight for the vote and enthusiastically supported the war effort – Helen was shocked at this volte face and hence together with her friend Agnes Dollen formed the Women’s Peace Crusade. This body campaigned throughout Scotland to end war and to oppose conscription when it was introduced in 1916. Crawfurd was also active in opposing the rent increases introduced early in the war especially for munitions workers. Together with Mary Barbour and others, they, supported by the Clyde Workers’ Committee, organised rent strikes. These strikes were so successful that the government was forced to intervene and, in 1915, passed the Rent Restriction Act. Mary Barbour was an active member of the ILP and was later adopted by that organisation as a candidate and duly elected for the Fairfield ward. She was later elected onto Glasgow City Council and became a Baillie and a Magistrate.(One of the very few women of her era to achieve such positions. She never forgot working class women and continued to campaign on their behalf.

By this time it was clear that Helen Crawfurd was moving to the left politically. She joined the Independent Labour Party in 1920, but after attending the Congress of the 3rd International she decided that the ILP was reformist and she left it to join the Communist Party.

Page 3 of 4
  • Opening Times
  • Transport
  • Contact Us

Opening Times

We're open from Monday-Thursday 12 noon-4pm. Get in touch for room bookings and guided tours

Underground & Bus

Farringdon station on the Circle, Hammersmith & City and Metropolitan lines.

Rail

Farringdon Station - Thameslink services for connections to London Bridge, St Pancreas, Brighton, East Croydon

Contact Us

If you want more information then contact us by phone on #44(0) 207 253 1485 or visit the contact us page