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Social Democratic Federation

Social Democratic Federation. Founded in June 1881, but did not add the ‘Social’ to its name until 1884. By then it had also become socialist, in a Marxist sense, under the influence of H. M. Hyndman. Unfortunately neither Marx himself nor Engels supported it. It also suffered other early blows: by the defection of William Morris's anarcho-socialists to form the rival Socialist League in December 1884, for example; and when it was discovered in 1885 to have accepted ‘Tory gold’. It was never a mass party, but it did exert considerable influence, especially initially, and assisted in the birth of the Labour Party in 1900. It soon denounced Labour, however, as being insufficiently dedicated to the class war; and thereafter continued as the voice of militant socialism and trade unionism, until it came to be upstaged by the Moscow-inspired Communist Party of Great Britain after 1920.

Bernard Porter

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