The origins of the league lay in the split of the Stratford Dialectical and Radical Club around Ambrose Barker from the National Secular Society in 1880. In 1881, the Club was forced to abandon its activities, although it remained in existence as the Homerton Socialist Society.
Barker and Tom Lemon from the Society joined with Joe Lane and Frank Kitz to hold regular public meetings in Mile End. These proved a success, and they formed the Labour Emancipation League to continue this work. The first secretary, Aaron Moseley, soon resigned and was replaced by Lane.
- Equal direct adult suffrage
- Direct legislation by the people
- Abolition of the standing army
- The people to decide on peace or war
- Free secular and industrial education
- Liberty of speech, press and meeting
- Free administration of justice
- The nationalisation of land, mines and transport
- Society to regulate production and wealth to be shared equitably by all
- The monopoly of the capitalist class to be broken and the means of production transformed into collective or public property
The League soon spread across the East End of London. In 1884, it joined H. M. Hyndman's Democratic Federation, which was consequently renamed the Social Democratic Federation and adopted much of the League's programme.