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Front Page | UK Politics | Labour's centenary
A history of Labour
Click on the arrows to follow the history of the Labour Party.
1900 - 1906
The first steps to Parliament
Keir Hardie: "The demand of the Labour Party is for economic freedom."

The first steps

The Labour Party is born out of a wish to safeguard trade unions rights in the face of hostile court decisions, rather than a desire to spread socialist revolution.

The first modest steps towards the party's formation are taken in 1900 when members of the Independent Labour Party, socialists and trade unionists meet in London to discuss how to get their own men into Parliament. With the Liberal Party no longer considered reliable allies, they form the Labour Representation Committee (LRC) to send working men to Westminster.

Its electioneering is funded by affiliated unions. With a war chest of just 33 it fights its first general election and returns two MPs to the Commons in 1900 - one of whom was the former miner and Independent Labour Party leader Keir Hardie. The LRC fields 50 candidates in 1906, this time winning a creditable 29 MPs. Buoyed up by its success, the LRC changes its name to the Labour Party and votes Hardie its chairman.

1900-1906
1945-1951
1906-1914
1951-1964
1914-1924
/hi/english/static/in_depth/uk_politics/2000/labour_centenary/1964_1970.stm1964-1970
1924-1931
1970-1979
1931-1939
1979-1994
1939-1945
1994-2000
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