unofficial labour party history
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January 1906Observing the LRC's by-election successes and the calibre of some of those in the LRC, the Liberals panic into an electoral pact with Ramsay MacDonald, the secretary of the LRC. With the LRC reluctant to advocate Socialist policies, for fear of alienating the unions, there is actually little to choose between the two parties. However, in many industrial areas, the Liberals often fail to find working-class candidates, and it is here that the Liberals allow Labour to run against the Conservatives unopposed. Labour are therefore able to focus upon their heartlands, leaving much of rural England as a contest between Liberals and Conservatives.
February 1906The LRC puts up 50 candidates in the 1906 election, out of which 29 are returned as MPs. Having shocked Britain and genuinely frightened many in the upper-class, they elect Hardie as their first chairman and MacDonald as secretary, this time of the parliamentary party. Shortly afterwards the LRC conference adopt the name 'The Labour Party.' Radical thunder is stolen by Liberal Prime Ministers Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman and Lloyd George who enact legislation to introduce pensions, unemployment benefits and free school meals. In addition to this, Keir Hardie's leadership of the PLP looks shaky.
January 1907The Independent Labour Party select talented maverick Victor Grayson as their candidate in the Colne Valley byelection, an area where Labour voters were asked to support the Liberal candidate. The Labour Executive refuses to endorse Grayson as a candidate.
July 1907Victor Grayson, standing unofficially for the ILP, wins the Colne Valley by-election in defiance of the leadership. This appeared to back his view of the timidity of Labour MPs and the futility of Parliament. Rejecting the Labour whip, Grayson has a brief spell of fame for drawing attention to Liberal disregard and contempt for the unemployed; as reflected in the benefits system. In this period branches are being formed across the country, membership rockets and a central organisation evolves. Various forms of socialism are gaining strength. Syndicalism is in its hey-day. Tom Mann scorns parliamentary politics in favour of direct industrial action to gain control of the economy.
January 1910The end of the Lib-Lab coalition is confirmed - but neither the Conservatives or the Liberals gain an overall majority.
August 1910The Osborne Judgement bans the use of union funds for political purposes, weakening Labour's ability to fight the two elections of 1910.
October 1910A new, reduced pay offer to the workers at Cambrian Colliery is rejected and 12,000 workers strike. Pickets try to prevent workers entering the mines and violence erupts. Riots occur in Tonypandy as a result. The Tonypandy riots see troops on the streets for many weeks in 1910 and 1911. The actions of Winston Churchill in sending in the troops lead Hardie to complain that the Parliamentary Labour Party, had almost 'ceased to count.' You can see his response to the voters here.(216Kb)
December 1910A second general election results in a Liberal minority government, backed by the Irish Nationalists. The campaign is marked by extra-parliamentary pressures. Suffragettes were also becoming militant, posing a difficulty for Labour, as not all working class men yet had the vote. As individuals, many Party members, such as George Lansbury and Keir Hardie tried to help Sylvia Pankhurst, but collectively, the Labour Party had trouble in supporting a cause that was widely ridiculed in the press at that time.

March 1913The Osborne Judgement is reversed - with the proviso that political funds had to be kept seperate and not used for anything else. This was to have the effect of multiplying Labour's income overnight.

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