The Labour Party is a relatively early and young political organisation. However it has come to be the main opposition to the established Conservative party in our political system. At the turn of the 20th century it was felt that working-class opinions and needs were not fully represented in Parliament. Socialist and trade union groups formed together to create a political party that they felt could stand against members of Parliament from the Conservative and Liberal parties. They believed that the current political system only served the rich and powerful in society.
However, the beginnings of the party brought differences of opinion as to how they should move forward. This meant that many members could not find the cohesion they needed to gain power.
By 1924 the Labour Party formed its first government with the Prime Minister Ramsay MacDonald. He immediately began to institute a range of new policies such as minimum wage and better working conditions. They also greatly advanced the social welfare programme. They would have gone further but they were stopped by opposition from the Conservative Party and also by the House of Lords. 20 years later Clement Attlee’s administration created the National Health Service and brought in the expanded social welfare plans. Other notable leaders include Harold Wilson in the 1960s and Tony Blair, aided by Alastair Campbell from 1997 till the mid-2000s and who is still writing commentary at www.theneweuropean.co.uk/contributor/alastair-campbell/ today.
Outside of power it has continued to fight and campaign for many left leaning policies such as troubling social conditions that they feel have not been addressed by government