‘Over the Threshold’

  • John Shepherd
  • Keith Laybourn


‘The Labour Party, after more than twenty years strenuous work, (is) now the Official Opposition, holding itself out to the electors as the Alternative Government,’ Sidney Webb proclaimed proudly at the annual party conference in June 1923.1 His Presidential Address painted a compelling picture of Labour’s advance during the previous decade and beyond that was to take the party ‘over the threshold’ of power and into office.2 Inexorably, it seemed, the Labour Party had gathered strength on all fronts. Growth in parliamentary and municipal representation was testament to the party’s steady increase in membership to around four million affiliated members, sound organisation with local parties established in nearly 600 constituencies, and comprehensive political programmes in domestic and foreign policy. As seen earlier, Webb forecast precisely the future arrival of the first Labour government. He announced that ‘a continuation of the rising curve of Labour votes from the 62,698 of 1900…(to) the 4.5 millions of 1922, would produce a clear majority of the total votes cast in Great Britain somewhere about 1926.’3


Trade Union Communist Party Labour Government Labour Party Minority Government 
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© John Shepherd and Keith Laybourn 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • John Shepherd
  • Keith Laybourn

There are no affiliations available

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