Labour 1900-2017: some historical points

In Uncategorized on May 5, 2017 by kmflett

Keir Hardie

Few would disagree that with a General Election on June 8th Labour’s polling in the local elections on 4th May shows urgent room for improvement.

There is some historical context which suggests Labour, as sometimes, is at a crossroads. The first was after the foundation of the LRC in 1900 and Keir Hardie’s leadership of the PLP from 1906. A process was underway to break organised Labour from the Liberal Party and give it an independent political presence. It took a while and not all Lib-Lab MPs made the break.

The next moment was in August 1931 when Ramsay Macdonald resigned as a Labour PM and headed up a National Government committed to austerity and cutting benefits. By the 1935 Election Labour in Parliament was a rump. It went on though, after a war to win in 1945 and deliver the NHS.

The Corbyn leadership is another defining moment. To an extent as in 1931 he is trying to break from a politics of austerity that has wrecked social democratic parties in Greece and France and to a degree Spain. Numbers of Labour MPs prefer the ‘old politics’ of, shall we say, cuts with compassion.

An historical thought is that parties of reform need to show they can deliver real if limited change. If they cant the tide of history may sweep them out to sea.


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