(1) Classical liberalism of the 19th century was a left-wing movement, when placed on the political spectrum of that era. It follows that a major strand of the left was strongly in favour of laissez faire capitalism in the 19th century.In our time, things have reversed:
(2) 19th century Conservatism had a strong protectionist and anti-laissez faire capitalist strand: think of the British Tory Paternalists, Tory Radicals and High Tories, some of whom led the Parliamentary reforms that regulated working conditions and child labour. (Admittedly, they had no coherent economic program to put in place of laissez faire capitalism, and often had naively Romantic views of the medieval and rural world of orders, hierarchy, monarchy and aristocracy.) Some of the more substantive, early attempts to implement welfare state measures were taken by Conservatives (even if supported by progressive liberals): think of Otto von Bismarck and Benjamin Disraeli. As the 19th century progressed, conservatives were gradually taken over by economic liberalism, until by the early 20th century the process was complete as many pro-free trade Classical liberals defected to conservativism, as the Left was increasing taken over by socialist, social democratic and labour-based political movements. There was a reversal from about 1945 to the early 1970s, as even most mainstream Conservatives accepted the Keynesian, mixed economy consensus. (For a fine discussion of British Victorian political movements, see Jones 2000.)
(3) The Old Left of the early and mid-20th century was, more or less, socially conservative (with a Bohemian fringe) and strongly opposed to mass immigration. In fact, outside of Europe, in Canada, America, Australia and New Zealand, the trade unions and labour-based parties were easily the most vocal and hostile to mass immigration precisely because it undermined labour rights, working conditions, and wages in the colonies.
(1) old-style, laissez-faire capitalism is associated with the Right and what used to be called Classical liberalism is essentially a form of libertarianism, which is generally grouped with the political Right.BIBLIOGRAPHY
(2) Conservatism has been largely taken over by the neoliberal or Thatcherite vision of capitalism since the 1970s, and the left-wing political parties have been converted to neoliberal-lite economic policies since the 1970s.
(3) The Left is now extremely liberal or even quasi-libertarian on cultural and social issues and, at least amongst the elite and middle class representatives of it, strongly in favour of mass immigration.
Jones, H. S. 2000. Victorian Political Thought. Macmillan, Basingstoke.