Arthur Henderson unofficial labour party history
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From the north-east of England, Henderson grew to prominence in the Ironfounders as an advocate of industrial arbitration. After becoming MP for Barnard Castle in 1903, he was temporary chairman of the PLP from 1908 to 1910 and party secretary in 1911. Although superficially dull, a will of iron and genuine idealism lurked underneath a veneer of sober competency.

"Arthur Henderson will stand out as the strongest and most disinterested of the Labour leaders of 1906-36" Beatrice Webb

A strong advocate of 'independence' beyond his earlier Lib- Labbism, he utilised strong administrative skills to build the organisational structure of the Labour Party. He also lay behind much of the local branch expansion in the years before the First World War. This led to Labour being able to fight a far wider range of seats after the First World War than ever seemed possible before.

It was largely thanks to his skill that the Osborne Judgement was circumnavigated by the trade unions' strong endorsement of the political levy by union after union in 1913.

Henderson worked as secretary of British section of the Second International before 1914. Even as late as July 1914 he and Keir Hardie were making efforts through the International to prevent war. Once Europe ignited and British troops were at stake, the position of the majority of Labour supporters changed, and Henderson reflected this. If nothing else, this helped keep the Labour Party united, as much of the grassroots began the war in a state of nationalistic fervour.
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