27 February 1900: Founding of the British Labour Party

Labour Party Headquarters

Labour Party Headquarters, Victoria Street, London

At the end of the 19th century left-wing political representation in the United Kingdom was spread across a large number of small organisations. The Independent Labour Party failed to make any headway in the 1895 general election despite fielding 28 candidates.

In order to have any influence over British politics the left-wing groups realised that they would need to work together. The Trades Union Congress (TUC) organised the Conference on Labour Representation at Memorial Hall in London on 26 and 27 February 1900 to discuss co-operation between the groups. The conference was attended by representatives of various unions, the Fabians, the Social Democratic Federation and the Independent Labour Party.

A vote at the end of the conference created the Labour Representation Committee (LRC). At this stage the LRC was not a political party but an affiliation of left-wing organisations committed to supporting a small number of parliamentary candidates. The first secretary of the LRC was Ramsay MacDonald who would become Labour’s first Prime Minister in 1924.

At the general election in October 1900 two LRC sponsored candidates won seats at Westminster, including the leader of the Independent Labour Party, Keir Hardie. In the 1906 election the number of seats won rose to 29. The parliamentary group changed its name to The Labour Party on 15 February 1906 and elected Hardie as its chairman.

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