Labour History

The Annihilation of the ILP: The Third Industrial Labor Party and the Sturt Vacancy

Labour History (2013), 105, (1), 79–92.


The Australian Labor Party has long been drawn between the socialist ambitions of some trade unions and parliamentary real-politics. During World War I and the years that followed, the will to political change within the political Left was dominated by the “industrialists,” many of whom were drawn to the American internationalist syndicalism of the Industrial Workers of the World and/or the Russian soviet model. In New South Wales, three different but related manifestations of this leftist direction titled themselves the “Industrial Labor Party” (ILP). All three ILPs were short lived. Two were breakaways from the ALP but ultimately the existing party prevailed. This paper charts the creation and the dissolution of these three parties, concentrating on the final ILP which was defeated through a combination of the death of its only parliamentary representative, the cynical filling of his vacant seat, insufficient electoral support, and the foibles of NSW’s experiment with multi-seat electorates.

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*The author would like to thank the two anonymous referees ofLabour Historyfor their comments and suggestions. Google Scholar

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Author details

Adams, Paul