chapter  5
6 Pages

Elections and party support, 1906–14

In pursuing its second goal, of gaining new members and new seats, the party was again most successful in the years immediately following 1906. In addition to the by-election victories already mentioned, it won an adherent of vast importance when, in 1908, the Miners’ Federation of Great Britain (MFEB) voted to affiliate to it. This gave the party an additional 12 MPs, bringing its total strength in 1909 to 45. It also placed behind it (though not at its own bidding) the resources of the largest union organization in the country, which was to boast over 900,000 members by 1914. It gave a promise of further advances in mining areas, where a strongly working-class electorate formed tightly-knit, independentlyminded and sometimes militant communities. With the miners on its side, moreover, the Labour party had no longer anything to fear from the development of a rival organization, exclusively trade unionist in composition and leadership, which hitherto the Lib-Labs (and perhaps the Liberal party) had hoped to institute. It was now certain that any union which sought political representation would do so under the banner of Labour.