13th January 1893. Organized Labour.
Today the socialist Independent Labour Party (ILP) was founded resulting from the 1893 Conference at Bradford, Yorkshire.
One of the founding fathers of the Labour movement was Keir Hardie a miner from the age of ten who had graduated via the temperance movement, trade-unionism and journalism.
Concerned with the gap between rich and poor, Hardy was first elected as an Independent MP for West-Ham in 1892 arriving at Westminster, along with three other newly-elected ILPs, wearing a cloth cap and tweed jacket-not the traditional frock coat- escorted by constituents in a charabanc (open coach) complete with a trumpeter.
However the momentum wasn’t sustained as in the 1895 election, when the ILP fielded 28 candidates, not one was elected and Hardie lost his seat.(1)
In the 19th century it was the Liberals and growing Labour movement which offered a parliamentary route for the aspirant workers: the stonemasons, bricklayers, builders, glass-workers and miners who sat as Lib-Lab MPs sitting either side of the Commons Chamber.
In 1874 two Lib-Lab miners’ leaders, Thomas Burt (Morpeth) and Alexander Macdonald (Stafford) were elected, and in 1880 Henry Broadhurst (Stoke) and Joseph Arch (Wilton), both workers, along with William ‘Mabon’ Abraham, a staunch supporter of the miners.(2)
There was a national Labour Party revival in 1889, after the Liberal Party split after 1886, bringing in the militant Welsh miners into the mainstream of British politics with their brand of militancy.
The Trades Union Conference (TUC), finally sanctioned a distinct Labour group in Parliament, formed of the Fabians, ILP and TUC which now formed the Labour Representation Committee (LRC), which ran fifteen candidates in the 1900 election, though only two, Hardie and Richard Bell, were returned.
Although affiliated to the Labour Party, the ILP held its own conferences, sponsored its own candidates and policies even after the 1918 revision of the Labour Party Constitution.
In 1903 MPs elected with LRC support, were to be paid a maximum of £200 p.a and the Miners’ Federation of Great Britain began co-operation (affiliated in 1908) with the LRC.
By 1906 the LRC now the Labour Party, saw twenty-nine members returned recognising Hardie’s leadership of a party whose members included J. R. Clynes, Will Crooks, Arthur Henderson, Ramsay MacDonald and Philip Snowden.
Reforms on the agenda included a 48-hour week, full employment, state pension at 50 and nationalisation, and Trades Unions at that time were to contribute over three-quarters of the Party’s funds.
It was the reforming Liberal 1906 Parliament, which saw for first time, a majority of Members representing the majority of people.
In the two elections of 1910, forty Labour members were returned in January and two more in December. Eventually after the decline of the Liberals in the early 1920s, the Labour Party was to become a major force in British politics with the Tories.
Not until 1947 did the remaining three ILPs become part of the Labour Party, and in 1975 it was wound up to become a pressure group.
(1) Hardie at the age of ten in 1867, was sacked as a delivery boy for arriving late twice despite being deprived of sleep owing to a dying brother. His dad was unemployed and like the commonalty then, penury and starvation was just round the corner.
On June 27th 1914 Hardie was in Burton-on Trent, speaking on behalf of local pacifist Vale Rawlings, an ILP member, who had been doubtfully convicted of assaulting a policeman, showing how he kept the common touch.
(2) Abraham was an MP from 1885 until 1920.
Ref: Katherine Glasier Diary 1893, 13 January.
Ref: wikipedia.org/keir_hardie/Pic Image.