Labour history

The legacy of 1931

Nick Thomas-Symonds MP  |  19 May 2014

Eighty-five years ago this month, on 30 May 1929, the Labour party became the largest single party at a general election for the first time in its history. Labour won 288 seats to the Conservatives’ 260, and the Liberals trailed in with 59. Stanley Baldwin’s uninspiring ‘safety first’ election slogan had fallen flat, and Ramsay …

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Foundations for victory

Hilary Armstrong  |  12 May 2014

John Smith’s legacy 20 years after his death —Being leader of the Labour party is never an easy task. But it is harder still for those who history has dealt a hand that confronts them with the challenge of radically changing the party. John Smith became leader just after we had lost our fourth election …

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Time’s arrow and the pre-election polls

Lewis Baston  |  25 April 2014

Imagine, for a moment, that there was no Fixed Term Parliaments Act. How would we be assessing the political situation in the late spring of 2014? By past standards, we are very late in the parliament, and everything would be seen in the light of election timing. Would the prime minister go for it in …

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22 years on: remembering 1992

Paul Richards  |  9 April 2014

For those of us who lived through it, the election held on 9 April 1992 had a profound impact on our politics. Labour entered the campaign ahead in the polls. At the very least, a Lib-Lab coalition was on the cards. In 13 Tory years we had been through two major recessions, the poll tax …

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Remembering Margaret Bondfield

Nick Thomas-Symonds MP  |  11 March 2014

Following International Women’s Day, there is no better time to remember Labour’s Margaret Bondfield, the first female cabinet minister and privy councillor. Labour won 288 seats in the general election of 30 May 1929, making it the largest party, but short of an outright majority. Bondfield had actually been on holiday when she returned to …

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A party machine in every constituency

Nick Thomas-Symonds MP  |  20 February 2014

On 1 March 2014, the Labour party will hold a special conference on proposed internal reforms. This is an ideal time to reflect on previous organisational changes, and the one that perhaps made the greatest difference to British history was that undertaken by Arthur Henderson during the first world war. Henderson was born into a …

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Lions led by donkeys

The Progressive  |  10 February 2014

There are lessons for today in the defeat of the miners’ strike which began 30 years ago next month This year marks the 30th anniversary of the start of the miners’ strike. Most people aged 40 or younger will have little or no personal recollection of that dramatic industrial dispute. For those over 40, however, …

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Election ’74: the birth of modern British politics

Robert Philpot  |  30 January 2014

It was the year Abba’s Waterloo won the Eurovision song contest; Suzi Quatro, Alvin Stardust and the Osmonds topped the charts; and Jon Pertwee made his final appearance as Doctor Who. If the popular culture of 40 years ago seems somewhat alien, the politics appears at first positively archaic. The monochrome images of February 1974 …

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The Pact: coalition and the path to power

Stephen Bush  |  14 January 2014

The original agreement was ‘a document designed to please the Liberal party, rather than the Liberal voter’. The larger party didn’t even take the time to put the agreement to its backbenchers, let alone the party membership. The hope was that the alliance would lead to a government of national renewal, while for the Liberals …

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Crisis? What Crisis?

Greg Rosen  |  7 January 2014

John Shepherd’s new account of the winter of discontent is a labour of love, exploring in detail the myriad strikes and disputes in both private and public sectors of that fateful winter of 1978-79. Shepherd explains James Callaghan’s decision not to call a general election in autumn 1978 – believing that Labour would not in …

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