War and reconstitution
Four years of total war wrought great changes in British politics. Ultimately, these developments played a critical role in expanding the Labour party, and establishing it as a potential party of government. The effects of the war, however, took some time to crystallize. They were not simply the unavoidable result of military conflict and economic upheaval, but of the choices and responses of politicians. The statesmen of the old parties were confused and uncertain about the long-run significance of the struggles of 1914-18, and spent the next few years attempting to assess and readjust to a new world. Thus we need to take this post-war period, until about 1922, into account in judging the consequences of war. It was only in these post-war years that the Labour party’s new-found strength became apparent.