Red Clydeside: A history of the labour movement in Glasgow 1910-1932


Socialism or freedom?, 1906

by Conservative and Unionist Party

image thumbnail  image thumbnail  image thumbnail  image thumbnail 

During the two decades preceding World War I, a period which saw the slow but inexorable rise of Labour and socialism, the Conservative party was marked by the establishment of an unprecedented number of anti-socialist pressure groups. These pressure groups included The British Navy League, the Tariff Reform League, the Anti-Socialist Union and the Middle Class Defence League.

These groups, bank rolled and supported by high ranking military personnel, Conservative politicians, church leaders and members of the aristocracy, spread an anti-socialist message amongst both the working classes and the middle classes. Their propaganda emphasised that socialism was a threat to the 'British' way of life. According to groups like the Anti-Socialist Union and the Middle class defence League socialist doctrine was undemocratic, unchristian, anti-monarchy, anti-capitalist and opposed to individual freedoms and individual reward.

In addition to the propaganda war against socialism and trade unionism the established political order in Britain were also involved in an ideological war against trade union, socialist and Marxist political influence. The beginning of the 1st World War in 1914 through to the General Strike in 1926 marked a period of intense government-led resistance to the 'menace of socialism'. During this period different British governments were instrumental in intimidating, harassing and jailing left-wing political opponents, banning left-wing publications and promoting anti-trade union legislation.