National Democratic and Labour Party

For the far right party, see National Democratic Party (UK, 1966). For similarly named groups, see National Democrats.
National Democratic and Labour Party
Leader George Nicoll Barnes
Founded 1918
Dissolved 1922
Preceded by British Workers League
Merged into National Liberal Party
Ideology British nationalism
Right-wing socialism

The National Democratic and Labour Party, usually abbreviated to National Democratic Party (NDP), was a short-lived political party in the United Kingdom.

The party's origins lay in a split by the right wing of the British Socialist Party, primarily over issues raised by the First World War. In 1915 Victor Fisher formed the Socialist National Defence Committee[1] along with Alexander M. Thompson and Robert Blatchford. They supported "the eternal idea of nationality" and aimed to promote "socialist measures in the war effort".[2] The Committee was supported by John Hodge, George Henry Roberts, and for a time by Henry Hyndman who subsequently formed his own party, the National Socialist Party.

In 1916, this committee formed the British Workers League. It described itself as a "patriotic labour" group and focused on support for the war and the British Empire and opposition to Little Englander and Cobdenite laissez-faire economics.[3] The League was by subsidised by Lord Milner,[4] and Milner would consult with Fisher during the war.[5] The League was supported by Labour MPs such as James O'Grady, Stephen Walsh and William Abraham.[6]

The League sought to challenge pacificist Parliamentary candidates which caused a rupture with the Labour Party. Eleven out of thirty eight of the Labour Parliamentary MPs showed support for the British Workers League, however many later returned to the Labour Party.[7]

In 1918 the British Workers League re-constituted itself as the National Democratic and Labour Party with the support of George Barnes, MP for Glasgow Blackfriars and Hutchesontown, when he resigned from the Labour Party. The group gained the support of the Musicians' Union and parts of other unions, including some sections of the Miners' Federation of Great Britain. It was primarily funded by Lloyd George Coalition Liberals.

In the 1918 general election, the party fielded twenty eight candidates, twenty on the Coalition Coupon, and won ten seats,[8][9] including Barnes in the Glasgow Gorbals seat. Barnes took a seat in the coalition government's cabinet until 1920.

In 1922, Barnes retired from Parliament, and the group's remaining MPs joined the National Liberal Party. The party was wound up in 1923, but a grouping continued as the Empire Citizen League,[10] until the late 1920s. Victor Fisher stood, unsuccessfully, for the Conservative Party.[11]

Election results

1918 UK general election

Constituency Candidate Votes Percentage Position[12]
Aberdare Stanton, CharlesCharles Stanton 22,824 78.6 1
Accrington Hammond, WilliamWilliam Hammond 738 2.5 4
Birmingham Duddeston Hallas, EldredEldred Hallas 8,796 79.4 1
Bradford East Loseby, Charles EdgarCharles Edgar Loseby 9,390 41.1 1
Broxtowe Whaite, H. H.H. H. Whaite 4,374 21.6
Consett Gee, RobertRobert Gee 7,283 32.9 2
Derby Smith, Harold M.Harold M. Smith 13,012 19.6 4
Don Valley Walton, JamesJames Walton 6,095 46.2 1
Dumbarton Burghs Taylor, JohnJohn Taylor 11,734 52.6 1
East Ham South Edwards, ClementClement Edwards 7,972 42.8 1
Edinburgh East Balfour, Alexander E.Alexander E. Balfour 5,136 37.8 2
Hamilton Gilmour, DavidDavid Gilmour 4,297 25.9 3
Stoke-on-Trent Hanley Seddon, James AndrewJames Andrew Seddon 8,032 40.4 1
Houghton-le-Spring Lindsley, JohnJohn Lindsley 6,185 30.7 3
Leicester West Green, Joseph FrederickJoseph Frederick Green 20,150 76.0 1
Mansfield Jarrett, George William SymondsGeorge William Symonds Jarrett 6,678 32.6 2
Nuneaton Dyson, William HenryWilliam Henry Dyson 1,101 4.5 4
Paisley Taylor, JohnJohn Taylor 7,201 32.5 3
Rochdale Terrett, John JosephJohn Joseph Terrett 2,358 7.8 4
Rotherham Bardsley, E. S.E. S. Bardsley 564 2.2 4
Rother Valley Bearcroft, Ernest GeorgeErnest George Bearcroft 4,894 27.2 2
Stourbridge Fisher, VictorVictor Fisher 6,690 28.8 3
Tottenham South Harvey, Albert ErnestAlbert Ernest Harvey 1,916 12.3 3
Wallsend Simm, Matthew TurnbullMatthew Turnbull Simm 10,246 50.9 1
Wolverhampton East Shaw, James A.James A. Shaw 7,138 48.2 2
Walthamstow West Jesson, CharlesCharles Jesson 7,330 51.6 1

Some prominent members such as George Barnes were elected as Coalition Labour. Taylor ran as a joint NDP-Liberal candidate, and sat as a Coalition Liberal MP after election.

By-elections, 1918-1922

Election Candidate Votes Percentage Position[12]
Chester-le-Street by-election, 1919 Gilmour, DavidDavid Gilmour 5,313 22.9
Louth by-election, 1920 Turnour, C. H.C. H. Turnour 7,354 42.7 2

Turnour ran as a joint NDP-Conservative candidate.


  1. Martin Crick, The History of the Social-Democratic Federation (Keele University Press, 1994) p. 271.
  2. John Callaghan, Socialism in Britain (1990), p. 74.
  3. Martin Pugh, Speak for Britain! A new history of the Labour Party (The Bodley Head, 2010), p. 115.
  4. Peter Barberis, John McHugh, Mike Tyldesley entry on British Workers League Encyclopedia of British and Irish Political Organizations (Continuum International Publishing Group, 2005), p. 274.
  5. J. Lee Thompson, Forgotten Patriot: A Life of Alfred, Viscount Milner of St. James's and Cape Town (Fairleigh Dickinson University Press), p. 320.
  6. Pugh, p. 115.
  7. Pugh, p. 116.
  8. Pugh, p. 116.
  9. Barberis, McHugh and Tyldesley, p. 274.
  10. Barberis, McHugh and Tyldesley, p. 274.
  11. Crick, p. 304.
  12. 1 2 Craig, F. W. S. (1975). Minor Parties in British By-elections, 1885-1974. London: Macmillan Press. pp. 53 54.


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