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


The Parliamentary Labour Party joins PM Asquith's coalition Government in 1915, 29 May 1915

image from Red Clydeside collection

As seen by this article in Forward, the Parliamentary Labour Party's decision to accept office in the coalition government of Asquith in 1915 caused widespread anger within Labour ranks. Many within the party were opposed to the party assuming a role in the war time government given the strength of opposition amongst many ILP and Labour party members to Britain's involvement in the war.

In addition many Labour activists seen the decision of the party to accept cabinet positions within Asquith's coalition government as a sell out to the principle of Labour independence within Westminister. Many socialists voiced their concern that the parliamentary representatives of Britain's working classes had been silenced, or bought for a seat in government, thus ensuring that the working class would be left without any party protection at Westminster.

In May 1915 Arthur Henderson became the first member of the Labour Party to hold a Cabinet post when Herbert Asquith invited him to join his coalition government. Henderson was President of the Board of Education between May 1915 and October 1916 and Paymaster General in Lloyd-George's war cabinet between October 1916 and August 1917. Henderson resigned as a result of Lloyd-George and the war Cabinet voting against his proposal for an International Conference on the war in Stockholm.

Source: Gallacher Memorial Library, Glasgow Caledonian University Special Collections and Archives