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|Preceded by||British Workers League|
|Merged into||National Liberal Party|
The party's origins lay in a split by the right wing of the British Socialist Party, primarily over issues raised by the First World War. In 1915, Victor Fisher formed the Socialist National Defence Committee along with Alexander M. Thompson and Robert Blatchford. They supported "the eternal idea of nationality" and aimed to promote "socialist measures in the war effort". The Committee was supported by John Hodge, George Henry Roberts, and for a time by Henry Hyndman who subsequently formed his own party, the National Socialist Party.
In 1916, this committee formed the British Workers League. It described itself as a "patriotic labour" group, and focused on support for the war and the British Empire and opposition to Little Englander and Cobdenite laissez-faire economics. The League was subsidised by Lord Milner, who consulted with Fisher during the war. The League was supported by Labour MPs such as James O'Grady, Stephen Walsh and William Abraham.
The League sought to challenge pacificist Parliamentary candidates; this caused a rupture with the Labour Party. Eleven out of thirty-eight of the Labour Parliamentary MPs showed support for the British Workers League; however, many later returned to the Labour Party.
The British Workers League reconstituted itself in 1918 as the National Democratic and Labour Party, with the support of George Barnes, MP for Glasgow Blackfriars and Hutchesontown, when he resigned from the Labour Party. The group gained the support of the Musicians' Union and parts of other unions, including some sections of the Miners' Federation of Great Britain. It was primarily funded by Lloyd George Coalition Liberals.
The party fielded twenty-eight candidates in the 1918 general election—twenty of them on the Coalition Coupon—and won ten seats, including Barnes in the Glasgow Gorbals constituency. Barnes was a member of the coalition government's cabinet until 1920.
Barnes retired from Parliament in 1922, and the group's remaining MPs joined the National Liberal Party. The party was wound up in 1923, but a grouping continued as the Empire Citizen League until the late 1920s. Victor Fisher stood, unsuccessfully, for the Conservative Party.
1918 UK general election
|Birmingham Duddeston||Eldred Hallas||8,796||79.4||1|
|Bradford East||Charles Edgar Loseby||9,390||41.1||1|
|Broxtowe||H. H. Whaite||4,374||21.6||3|
|Derby||Harold M. Smith||13,012||19.6||4|
|Don Valley||James Walton||6,095||46.2||1|
|Dumbarton Burghs||John Taylor||11,734||52.6||1|
|East Ham South||Clement Edwards||7,972||42.8||1|
|Edinburgh East||Alexander E. Balfour||5,136||37.8||2|
|Stoke-on-Trent Hanley||James Seddon||8,032||40.4||1|
|Leicester West||Joseph Frederick Green||20,150||76.0||1|
|Nuneaton||William Henry Dyson||1,101||4.5||4|
|Rochdale||John Joseph Terrett||2,358||7.8||4|
|Rotherham||Edmund Smith Bardsley||564||2.2||4|
|Rother Valley||Ernest George Bearcroft||4,894||27.2||2|
|Tottenham South||Albert Ernest Harvey||1,916||12.3||3|
|Wolverhampton East||James A. Shaw||7,138||48.2||2|
|Walthamstow West||Charles Jesson||7,330||51.6||1|
Some prominent members such as George Barnes were elected as Coalition Labour. Taylor ran as a joint NDP-Liberal candidate, and sat as a Coalition Liberal MP after election.
|1919 Chester-le-Street by-election||David Gilmour||5,313||22.9||2|
|1920 Louth by-election||Christopher Hatton Turnor||7,354||42.7||2|
Turnour ran as a joint NDP-Conservative candidate.
- Martin Crick, The History of the Social-Democratic Federation (Keele University Press, 1994) p. 271.
- John Callaghan, Socialism in Britain (1990), p. 74.
- Martin Pugh, Speak for Britain! A New History of the Labour Party (The Bodley Head, 2010), p. 115.
- Peter Barberis, John McHugh, Mike Tyldesley entry on British Workers League Encyclopedia of British and Irish Political Organizations (Continuum International Publishing Group, 2005), p. 274.
- J. Lee Thompson, Forgotten Patriot: A Life of Alfred, Viscount Milner of St. James's and Cape Town (Fairleigh Dickinson University Press), p. 320.
- Pugh, p. 115.
- Pugh, p. 116.
- Barberis, McHugh and Tyldesley, p. 274.
- Crick, p. 304.
- Craig, F. W. S. (1975). Minor Parties in British By-elections, 1885-1974. London: Macmillan Press. pp. 53–54.
- David Butler and Gareth Butler, British Political Facts 7th Ed, 1900-1994