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History

Rise of the Labour Party

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In 1924 Ramsey MacDonald became the first Labour party Prime Minister. How did a movement, which was started less than three decades earlier to support working-class people and values, evolve into a mainstream political party?

Labour Party chronology - the basics

Ramsey MacDonald

The first Labour Prime Minister - Ramsey MacDonald.

1893 - Keir Hardie, a Scottish miner who had been elected MP for West Ham, set up the Independent Labour Party - a socialist propaganda society.

1900 - the Trades Union Congress set up the Labour Representation Committee (LRC) - with Ramsey MacDonald as secretary - to support working-class candidates in elections.

1903 - the LRC agreed with the Liberal Party that only one candidate (Liberal or Labour) should stand in each seat against the Conservatives in the next election.

1906 - 29 LRC-sponsored candidates won seats in the election and set up as a separate party in Parliament. They called themselves The Labour Party. One Labour MP - John Burns - was invited by the Liberal government to join the Cabinet the first Labour minister.

1910 - 42 Labour MPs were elected, and the Liberal government needed the Labour Party to support it.

1914-1918 - during the war, the Party struggled, because Labour members disagreed about whether to oppose or support the war.

1918 - the Party reorganised itself, adopted a new constitution and published a manifesto - Labour and the New Social Order - which advocated nationalisation of industry and the redistribution of wealth. The Labour Party won 63 seats in the 1918 election.

1922 - the Labour Party won 142 seats in the election.

1924 - in the election the Conservatives won 258 seats, Labour 191 and the Liberals 158. Labour and the Liberals formed a coalition government with Ramsey MacDonald as the first Labour prime minister.

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Back to Britain 1905 - 1951 index

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