Temperance & Politics

Labour Party Support

Early Labour policy reflected the view that there was a political as well as a moral and social side to the drink problem. The party had a keen interest in Temperance Reform and in 1897, Keir Hardie, for some time the only Labour MP, stated "There is no greater fallacy than that summed up in the phrase" the drunkard injures no one but himself". The fact is he injures all with whom he is associated, whether in the home circle, the workshop, or the State.

When a man is so lost to moral control and to decency, as to become a slave to decency as to become a slave to a degrading indulgence in liquor, he thereby forfeits his claim to be regraded as a responsible being fit to be trusted with the duties of citizenship.  Socialists cannot afford to overlook the claim to support of any great movement which aims at purifying and straightening the moral life of the nation."

In 1905 the as the Labour Representation Committee it  made its first declaration on the drink issue at its annual conference in Liverpool.

The following resolution was passed "That is Conference, realising the evils existing through the private control and the sale of intoxicating drink calls for the public control and owenership of the same municipalisation, and instructs all representatives of the Labour Representation Committee to bring this question prominenently forward"

In September 1903 The Derby Temperance Society "Temperance Bells" journal welcomed the election of three staunch teetotal LRC MPs - D Shackleton, W. Crooks and A. Henderson

Labour supports Local Veto

The 1906 Labour Party Conference was held at the Memorial Hall, London on 16th February 1906 with Temperance supporter, Arthur Henderson in the chair.

S. Fisher of the Coal Trimers and seconded by F. Welch of the Vellum Binders moved the following:

"It being admitted by judges, magistrates, chief constables, poor law administrators, governors of gaols and lunatic asylums, ministers of religion of all denominations, and social workers generally, that the drink traffic is a fruitful source of poverty, crime and lunacy, this Conference is of the opinion that the time has arrived when the workers of the nation should demand that a law be enacted giving the inhabitants of every locality the right to veto any application for either the renewal of existing licenses or the granting of new ones, seeing that public-houses are generally situated in thickly-populated working class districts."

The card vote resulted in the adoption of the resolution:

For the resolution            666,000 votes

Against the resolution    103,000 votes

The Conservative (Tory) Party Support

Liberal (Whig) Party Support

The most influential, early predecessor of the modern Liberal Party was the Whigs, a clique of right wing, wealthy and  aristocratic landowners.  The Whigs dominated Government and held a monopoly of key positions, at the other end of the spectrum they sat in alliance with Radicals who included great Non-Conformist Manufacturers like Titus Salt and John Bright.

The origin of the modern Liberal Party is generally considered to be a famous meeting held in June 1859 when Whig, Peelite and Reform leaders decided to combine to expel the Tory administration of Derby & Disraeli.  A new 'Liberal' ministry was founded under Lord Palmerston.

With the passing of the second reform bill in 1867 eventually granted the vote to the urban working class - the Liberal Party came of age with a resounding election victory under Gladstone.

In the latter half of the 19th Century the Liberal party nailed its Temperance Colours to the mast and the gained its most strident and vocal support form the towering figure of Sir Wilfrid Lawson!

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