definition of Wikipedia
|Leader||Ed Miliband MP|
|Deputy Leader||Harriet Harman MP|
|Headquarters||One Brewer's Green, London|
|Student wing||Labour Students|
|Youth wing||Young Labour|
|International affiliation||Socialist International|
|European affiliation||Party of European Socialists|
|European Parliament group||Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats|
|House of Commons|
|House of Lords|
|Politics of the United Kingdom
The Labour Party is a centre-left political party in the United Kingdom, and one of the two main British political parties along with the Conservative Party. The Labour Party was founded in 1900 and overtook the Liberal Party in general elections during the early 1920s, forming minority governments under Ramsay MacDonald in 1924 and 1929–1931. The party was in a wartime coalition from 1940 to 1945, after which it formed a majority government under Clement Attlee. Labour was also in government from 1964 to 1970 under Harold Wilson and from 1974 to 1979, first under Wilson and then James Callaghan.
The Labour Party was last in national government between 1997 and 2010 under Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, beginning with a majority of 179, reduced to 167 in 2001 and 66 in 2005. Having won 258 seats in the 2010 general election, the party currently forms the Official Opposition in the Parliament of the United Kingdom. Labour has a minority government in the Welsh Assembly, is the main opposition party in the Scottish Parliament and has 13 MEPs in the European Parliament, sitting in the Socialists and Democrats (S&D) group. The Labour Party is a member of the Socialist International and Party of European Socialists. The current leader of the party is Ed Miliband MP.
Throughout its history, the Labour Party has usually been thought of as being left-wing or, more recently, centre-left in its political position. Officially, it has maintained the stance of being a socialist party ever since its inception, part of the social democratic ideological trend that rose among sections of the working classes across Europe at the end of the 19th Century. The party currently describes itself as a "democratic socialist party". The most influential branch of socialism within the Labour Party, other than democratic socialism, has been ethical socialism, promoted most recently by Tony Blair. The party has been described as a broad church, containing a diversity of ideological trends from strongly socialist, to more moderately social democratic.
Historically the party was broadly in favour of democratic socialism, as set out in Clause Four of the original party constitution, and advocated socialist policies such as public ownership of key industries, government intervention in the economy, redistribution of wealth, increased rights for workers, the welfare state, publicly funded healthcare and education. Throughout its early history, from the participation of the Social Democratic Federation in its founding to the expulsion of Militant Tendency in the 1980s, there were radical Marxist trends in the Party. In 1947, the Labour Party published a reprint of the Communist Manifesto with an introduction by Harold Laski. Beginning in the late-1980s continuing to the current day, the party has adopted free market policies, leading many observers to describe the Labour Party as social democratic or Third Way, rather than democratic socialist. Other commentators go further and argue that traditional social democratic parties across Europe, including the British Labour Party, have been so deeply transformed in recent years by prevailing economic and social neoliberalism that it is no longer possible to describe them ideologically as 'social democratic', and claim that this ideological shift has put new strains on the party's traditional relationship with the trade unions.
Party electoral manifestos have not contained the term socialism since 1992, and in 1995 the original Clause Four was abolished. The new version states:
The Labour Party is a democratic socialist party. It believes that by the strength of our common endeavour we achieve more than we achieve alone, so as to create for each of us the means to realise our true potential and for all of us a community in which power, wealth and opportunity are in the hands of the many, not the few, where the rights we enjoy reflect the duties we owe, and where we live together, freely, in a spirit of solidarity, tolerance and respect.
The Labour Party is a membership organisation consisting of Constituency Labour Parties, affiliated trade unions, socialist societies and the Co-operative Party, with which it has an electoral agreement. Members who are elected to parliamentary positions take part in the Parliamentary Labour Party (PLP) and European Parliamentary Labour Party (EPLP).
The party's decision-making bodies on a national level formally include the National Executive Committee (NEC), Labour Party Conference and National Policy Forum (NPF)—although in practice the Parliamentary leadership has the final say on policy. The 2008 Labour Party Conference was the first at which affiliated trade unions and Constituency Labour Parties did not have the right to submit motions on contemporary issues that would previously have been debated. Labour Party conferences now include more "keynote" addresses, guest speakers and question-and-answer sessions, while specific discussion of policy now takes place in the National Policy Forum.
On 9 March 2012 the Labour Party announced its new senior management team
As part of the reorganisation, Tom Baldwin, previously Director of Strategy and Communications, becomes "Senior Advisor (Communications and Strategy)".
The two outgoing Deputy General Secretaries:
The party had 193,961 members on 31 December 2010 according to accounts filed with the Electoral Commission, which was up from 156,205 the previous year. In that year it had an income of about £36 million (£4.9 million from membership fees) and expenditure of about £34 million, high due to that year's general election.
For many years Labour held to a policy of not allowing residents of Northern Ireland to apply for membership, instead supporting the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) which informally takes the Labour whip in the House of Commons. The 2003 Labour Party Conference accepted legal advice that the party could not continue to prohibit residents of the province joining, and whilst the National Executive has established a regional constituency party it has not yet agreed to contest elections there.
||The neutrality of this section is disputed. (June 2012)|
As it was founded by the unions to represent the interests of working-class people, Labour's link with the unions has always been a defining characteristic of the party. In recent years this link has come under increasing strain, with the RMT being expelled from the party in 2004 for allowing its branches in Scotland to affiliate to the left-wing Scottish Socialist Party. Other unions have also faced calls from members to reduce financial support for the Party and seek more effective political representation for their views on privatisation, public spending cuts and the anti-trade union laws. Unison and GMB have both threatened to withdraw funding from constituency MPs and Dave Prentis of UNISON has warned that the union will write "no more blank cheques" and is dissatisfied with "feeding the hand that bites us".
The party was a member of the Labour and Socialist International between 1923 and 1940. Since 1951 the party has been a member of the Socialist International, which was founded thanks to the efforts of the Clement Attlee leadership. Labour is also a member of the Party of European Socialists, while the party's MEPs sit in the Socialists & Democrats group.
The Labour Party's origins lie in the late 19th century, around which time it became apparent that there was a need for a new political party to represent the interests and needs of the urban proletariat, a demographic which had increased in number and had recently been given franchise. Some members of the trades union movement became interested in moving into the political field, and after further extensions of the voting franchise in 1867 and 1885, the Liberal Party endorsed some trade-union sponsored candidates. In addition, several small socialist groups had formed around this time, with the intention of linking the movement to political policies. Among these were the Independent Labour Party, the intellectual and largely middle-class Fabian Society, the marxist Social Democratic Federation and the Scottish Labour Party.
In the 1895 general election, the Independent Labour Party put up 28 candidates but won only 44,325 votes. Keir Hardie, the leader of the party, believed that to obtain success in parliamentary elections, it would be necessary to join with other left-wing groups. Hardie's roots as a Methodist lay preacher contributed to an ethos in the party which led to the comment by 1950's General Secretary Morgan Phillips that "Socialism in Britain owed more to Methodism than Marx".
In 1899, a Doncaster member of the Amalgamated Society of Railway Servants, Thomas R. Steels, proposed in his union branch that the Trade Union Congress call a special conference to bring together all left-wing organisations and form them into a single body that would sponsor Parliamentary candidates. The motion was passed at all stages by the TUC, and the proposed conference was held at the Memorial Hall on Farringdon Street on 26 and 27 February 1900. The meeting was attended by a broad spectrum of working-class and left-wing organisations — trades unions represented about one third of the membership of the TUC delegates.
After a debate, the 129 delegates passed Hardie's motion to establish "a distinct Labour group in Parliament, who shall have their own whips, and agree upon their policy, which must embrace a readiness to cooperate with any party which for the time being may be engaged in promoting legislation in the direct interests of labour." This created an association called the Labour Representation Committee (LRC), meant to coordinate attempts to support MPs sponsored by trade unions and represent the working-class population. It had no single leader, and in the absence of one, the Independent Labour Party nominee Ramsay MacDonald was elected as Secretary. He had the difficult task of keeping the various strands of opinions in the LRC united. The October 1900 "Khaki election" came too soon for the new party to campaign effectively; total expenses for the election only came to £33. Only 15 candidatures were sponsored, but two were successful; Keir Hardie in Merthyr Tydfil and Richard Bell in Derby.
Support for the LRC was boosted by the 1901 Taff Vale Case, a dispute between strikers and a railway company that ended with the union being ordered to pay £23,000 damages for a strike. The judgement effectively made strikes illegal since employers could recoup the cost of lost business from the unions. The apparent acquiescence of the Conservative Government of Arthur Balfour to industrial and business interests (traditionally the allies of the Liberal Party in opposition to the Conservative's landed interests) intensified support for the LRC against a government that appeared to have little concern for the industrial proletariat and its problems.
In the 1906 election, the LRC won 29 seats—helped by a secret 1903 pact between Ramsay MacDonald and Liberal Chief Whip Herbert Gladstone that aimed to avoid splitting the opposition vote between Labour and Liberal candidates in the interest of removing the Conservatives from office.
In their first meeting after the election the group's Members of Parliament decided to adopt the name "The Labour Party" formally (15 February 1906). Keir Hardie, who had taken a leading role in getting the party established, was elected as Chairman of the Parliamentary Labour Party (in effect, the Leader), although only by one vote over David Shackleton after several ballots. In the party's early years the Independent Labour Party (ILP) provided much of its activist base as the party did not have individual membership until 1918 but operated as a conglomerate of affiliated bodies. The Fabian Society provided much of the intellectual stimulus for the party. One of the first acts of the new Liberal Government was to reverse the Taff Vale judgement.
The 1910 election saw 42 Labour MPs elected to the House of Commons, a significant victory since, a year before the election, the House of Lords had passed the Osborne judgment ruling that Trades Unions in the United Kingdom could no longer donate money to fund the election campaigns and wages of Labour MPs. The governing Liberals were unwilling to repeal this judicial decision with primary legislation. The height of Liberal compromise was to introduce a wage for Members of Parliament to remove the need to involve the Trade Unions. By 1913, faced with the opposition of the largest Trades Unions, the Liberal government passed the Trade Disputes Act to allow Trade Unions to fund Labour MPs once more.
During the First World War the Labour Party split between supporters and opponents of the conflict but opposition to the war grew within the party as time went on. Ramsay MacDonald, a notable anti-war campaigner, resigned as leader of the Parliamentary Labour Party and Arthur Henderson became the main figure of authority within the party. He was soon accepted into Prime Minister Asquith's war cabinet, becoming the first Labour Party member to serve in government.
Despite mainstream Labour Party's support for the coalition the Independent Labour Party was instrumental in opposing conscription through organisations such as the Non-Conscription Fellowship while a Labour Party affiliate, the British Socialist Party, organised a number of unofficial strikes.
Arthur Henderson resigned from the Cabinet in 1917 amid calls for party unity to be replaced by George Barnes. The growth in Labour's local activist base and organisation was reflected in the elections following the war, the co-operative movement now providing its own resources to the Co-operative Party after the armistice. The Co-operative Party later reached an electoral agreement with the Labour Party. The Communist Party of Great Britain was refused affiliation between 1921 and 1923. Meanwhile the Liberal Party declined rapidly and the party suffered a catastrophic split that allowed the Labour Party to co-opt much of the Liberals' support.
With the Liberals in disarray Labour won 142 seats in 1922, making it the second largest political group in the House of Commons and the official opposition to the Conservative government. After the election the now-rehabilitated Ramsay MacDonald was voted the first official leader of the Labour Party.
The 1923 general election was fought on the Conservatives' protectionist proposals but, although they got the most votes and remained the largest party, they lost their majority in parliament, necessitating the formation of a government supporting free trade. Thus, with the acquiescence of Asquith's Liberals, Ramsay MacDonald became the first ever Labour Prime Minister in January 1924, forming the first Labour government, despite Labour only having 191 MPs (less than a third of the House of Commons).
Because the government had to rely on the support of the Liberals it was unable to get any socialist legislation passed by the House of Commons. The only significant measure was the Wheatley Housing Act, which began a building programme of 500,000 homes for rental to working-class families. Legislation on education, unemployment and social insurance were also passed.
The government collapsed after only nine months when the Liberals voted for a Select Committee inquiry into the Campbell Case, a vote which MacDonald had declared to be a vote of confidence. The ensuing general election saw the publication, four days before polling day, of the notorious Zinoviev letter, which implicated Labour in a plot for a Communist revolution in Britain. The Conservatives were returned to power although Labour increased its vote from 30.7% to a third of the popular vote, most Conservative gains being at the expense of the Liberals. The Zinoviev letter is now known to have been a forgery.
In opposition Ramsay MacDonald continued his policy of presenting the Labour Party as a moderate force. During the General Strike of 1926 he opposed strike action, arguing that the best way to achieve social reforms was through the ballot box.
In the 1929 general election, the Labour Party became the largest in the House of Commons for the first time, with 287 seats and 37.1% of the popular vote. However MacDonald was still reliant on Liberal support to form a minority government. MacDonald went on to appoint Britain's first female cabinet minister, Margaret Bondfield, who was appointed Minister of Labour.
The government, however, soon found itself engulfed in crisis: the Wall Street Crash of 1929 and eventual Great Depression occurred soon after the government came to power, and the crisis hit Britain hard. By the end of 1930 unemployment had doubled to over two and a half million. The government had no effective answers to the crisis. By the summer of 1931 a dispute over whether or not to reduce public spending had split the government. As the economic situation worsened MacDonald agreed to form a "National Government" with the Conservatives and the Liberals.
On 24 August 1931 MacDonald submitted the resignation of his ministers and led a small number of his senior colleagues in forming the National Government together with the other parties. This caused great anger among those within the Labour Party who felt betrayed by MacDonald's actions: he and his supporters were promptly expelled from the Labour Party but went on to form a separate National Labour Organisation, the remaining Labour Party (again led by Arthur Henderson) and a few Liberals going into opposition. The ensuing general election resulted in overwhelming victory for the National Government and disaster for the Labour Party which won only 52 seats, 225 fewer than in 1929.
Arthur Henderson, elected in 1931 to succeed MacDonald, lost his seat in the 1931 general election. The only former Labour cabinet member who had retained his seat, the pacifist George Lansbury, accordingly became party leader.
The party experienced another split in 1932 when the Independent Labour Party, which for some years had been increasingly at odds with the Labour leadership, opted to disaffiliate from the Labour Party and embarked on a long, drawn-out decline.
Lansbury resigned as leader in 1935 after public disagreements over foreign policy. He was promptly replaced as leader by his deputy, Clement Attlee, who would lead the party for two decades. The party experienced a revival in the 1935 general election, winning 154 seats and 38% of the popular vote, the highest that Labour had achieved.
As the threat from Nazi Germany increased in the 1930s the Labour Party gradually abandoned its earlier pacifist stance and supported re-armament, largely due to the efforts of Ernest Bevin and Hugh Dalton who by 1937 had also persuaded the party to oppose Neville Chamberlain's policy of appeasement.
The party returned to government in 1940 as part of the wartime coalition. When Neville Chamberlain resigned in the spring of 1940, incoming-Prime Minister Winston Churchill decided to bring the other main parties into a coalition similar to that of the First World War. Clement Attlee was appointed Lord Privy Seal and a member of the war cabinet, eventually becoming the United Kingdom's first Deputy Prime Minister.
A number of other senior Labour figures also took up senior positions; the trade union leader Ernest Bevin, as Minister of Labour, directed Britain's wartime economy and allocation of manpower, the veteran Labour statesman Herbert Morrison became Home Secretary, Hugh Dalton was Minister of Economic Warfare and later President of the Board of Trade, while A. V. Alexander resumed the role he had held in the previous Labour Government as First Lord of the Admiralty.
At the end of the war in Europe, in May 1945, Labour resolved not to repeat the Liberals' error of 1918, and so promptly withdrew from government, on trade's union isistence, to contest the 1945 general election in opposition to Churchill's Conservatives. Surprising many observers, Labour won a formidable victory, winning just under 50% of the vote with a majority of 159 seats.
Clement Attlee's proved one of the most radical British governments of the 20th century, enacting Keynesian economic policies, presiding over a policy of nationalising major industries and utilities including the Bank of England, coal mining, the steel industry, electricity, gas, inland transport (including railways, road haulage and canals). It developed and implemented the "cradle to grave" welfare state conceived by the economist William Beveridge. To this day, the party considers the 1948 creation of Britain's publicly funded National Health Service (NHS) under health minister Aneurin Bevan its proudest achievement. Attlee's government also began the process of dismantling the British Empire when it granted independence to India and Pakistan in 1947, followed by Burma (Myanmar) and Ceylon (Sri Lanka) the following year. At a secret meeting in January 1947, Attlee and six cabinet ministers, including Foreign Secretary Ernest Bevin, decided to proceed with the development of Britain's nuclear weapons programme, in opposition to the pacifist and anti-nuclear stances of a large element inside the Labour Party.
Labour went on to win the 1950 general election, but with a much reduced majority of five seats. Soon afterwards, defence became a divisive issue within the party, especially defence spending (which reached a peak of 14% of GDP in 1951 during the Korean War), straining public finances and forcing savings elsewhere. The Chancellor of the Exchequer, Hugh Gaitskell, introduced charges for NHS dentures and spectacles, causing Bevan, along with Harold Wilson (then President of the Board of Trade), to resign over the dilution of the principle of free treatment on which the NHS had been established.
In the 1951 general election, Labour narrowly lost to the Conservatives despite receiving the larger share of the popular vote, its highest ever vote numerically. Most of the changes introduced by the 1945–51 Labour government were accepted by the Conservatives and became part of the "post-war consensus" that lasted until the late 1970s. Food/Clothing rationing, however, still in place from the war, were swiftly relaxed, then abandoned from about 1953.
Following the defeat of 1951, the party underwent a long period of thirteen years in opposition. The party suffered an ideological split during the 1950s, while the postwar economic recovery, given the social effects of Attlee's reforms, made the public broadly content with the Conservative governments of the time. Attlee remained as leader until his retirement, in 1955.
His replacement, Hugh Gaitskell, a man associated with the right-wing of the party, struggled in dealing with internal party divisions in the late 1950s and early 1960s and Labour lost the 1959 general election. In 1963, Gaitskell's sudden death from a heart-attack made way for Harold Wilson to lead the party.
A down-turn in the economy along with a series of scandals in the early 1960s (the most notorious being the Profumo affair) engulfed the Conservative government by 1963. The Labour Party returned to government with a 4-seat majority under Wilson in the 1964 election but increased its majority to 96 in the 1966 election.
Wilson's government was responsible for a number of sweeping social and educational reforms such as the legalisation of abortion and homosexuality (initially only for men aged 21 or over). The 1960s Labour government also expanded comprehensive education and created the Open University. But Wilson's government had inherited a large trade deficit that led to a currency crisis and an ultimately doomed attempt to stave off devaluation of the pound. Labour went on to lose the 1970 election to the Conservatives under Edward Heath.
After losing the 1970 general election, Labour returned to opposition, but retained Harold Wilson as Leader. Heath's government soon ran into trouble over Northern Ireland and a dispute with miners in 1973 which led to the "three-day week". The 1970s proved a difficult time to be in government for both the Conservatives and Labour due to the 1973 oil crisis which caused high inflation and a global recession. The Labour Party was returned to power again under Wilson a few weeks after the February 1974 general election, forming a minority government with the support of the Ulster Unionists. The Conservatives were unable to form a government as they had fewer seats despite receiving more votes numerically. It was the first general election since 1924 in which both main parties had received less than 40% of the popular vote and the first of six successive general elections in which Labour failed to reach 40% of the popular vote. In a bid to gain a proper majority, a second election was soon called for October 1974 in which Labour, still with Harold Wilson as leader, managed a majority of three, gaining just 18 seats and taking its total to 319.
For much of its time in office the Labour government struggled with serious economic problems and a precarious majority in the Commons, while the party's internal dissent over Britain's membership of the European Economic Community (EEC), which Britain had entered under Edward Heath in 1972, led in 1975 to a national referendum on the issue in which two thirds of the public supported continued membership.
Harold Wilson's personal popularity remained reasonably high but he unexpectedly resigned as Prime Minister in 1976, citing health reasons and was replaced by James Callaghan. The Wilson and Callaghan governments of the 1970s tried to control inflation (which reached 23.7% in 1975) by a policy of wage restraint. This was fairly successful, reducing inflation to 7.4% by 1978. However it led to increasingly strained relations between the government and the trade unions.
Fear of advances by the nationalist parties, particularly in Scotland, led to the suppression of a report from Scottish Office economist Gavin McCrone that suggested that an independent Scotland would be 'chronically in surplus'. By 1977 by-election losses and defections to the breakaway Scottish Labour Party left Callaghan heading a minority government, forced to trade with smaller parties in order to govern. An arrangement negotiated in 1977 with Liberal leader David Steel, known as the Lib-Lab Pact, ended after one year. After this deals were forged with various small parties including the Scottish National Party and the Welsh nationalist Plaid Cymru, prolonging the life of the government slightly.
The nationalist parties, in turn, demanded devolution to their respective constituent countries in return for their supporting the government. When referenda for Scottish and Welsh devolution were held in March 1979 Welsh devolution was rejected outright while the Scottish referendum returned a narrow majority in favour without reaching the required threshold of 40% support. When the Labour government duly refused to push ahead with setting up the proposed Scottish Assembly, the SNP withdrew its support for the government: this finally brought the government down as it triggered a vote of confidence in Callaghan's government that was lost by a single vote on 28 March 1979, necessitating a general election.
Callaghan had been widely expected to call a general election in the autumn of 1978 when most opinion polls showed Labour to have a narrow lead. However he decided to extend his wage restraint policy for another year hoping that the economy would be in a better shape for a 1979 election. But during the winter of 1978-79 there were widespread strikes among lorry drivers, railway workers, car workers and local government and hospital workers in favour of higher pay-rises that caused significant disruption to everyday life. These events came to be dubbed the "Winter of Discontent".
In the 1979 election Labour suffered electoral defeat by the Conservatives, now led by Margaret Thatcher. The number of people voting Labour hardly changed between February 1974 and 1979 but in 1979 the Conservative Party achieved big increases in support in the Midlands and South of England, benefiting from both a surge in turnout and votes lost by the ailing Liberals.
After its defeat in the 1979 election the Labour Party underwent a period of internal rivalry between the left-wing, represented by Michael Foot and Tony Benn, and the right-wing represented by Denis Healey. The election of Michael Foot as leader in 1980 led in 1981 to four former cabinet ministers from the right of the Labour Party (Shirley Williams, William Rodgers, Roy Jenkins and David Owen) forming the Social Democratic Party.
The Labour Party was defeated heavily in the 1983 general election, winning only 27.6% of the vote, its lowest share since 1918, and receiving only half a million votes more than the SDP-Liberal Alliance who leader Michael Foot condemned for "siphoning" Labour support and enabling the Conservatives to win more seats.
Michael Foot resigned and was replaced as leader by Neil Kinnock who was elected on 2 October 1983 and progressively moved the party towards the centre. Labour improved its performance in 1987, gaining 20 seats and so reducing the Conservative majority from 143 to 102. They were now firmly established as the second political party in Britain as the Alliance had once again failed to make a breakthrough with seats and it subsequently collapsed, prompting a merger of the SDP and Liberals to form the Liberal Democrats.
Following the 1987 election, Kinnock began expelling Militant Tendency members from the party. They would later form the Socialist Party of England and Wales and the Scottish Socialist Party although a remnant of Militant continues to operate within the Labour Party through the newspaper Socialist Appeal.
In November 1990, Margaret Thatcher resigned as prime minister and was succeeded by John Major. Most opinion polls had shown Labour comfortably ahead of the Tories for more than a year before Mrs Thatcher's resignation, with the fall in Tory support blamed largely on the introduction of the unpopular poll tax, combined with the fact that the economy was sliding into recession at the time. One of the reasons Mrs Thatcher gave for her resignation was that she felt the Tories would stand a better chance of re-election with a new leader at the helm.
The change of leader in the Tory government saw a turnaround in support for the Tories, who regularly topped the opinion polls throughout 1991 although Labour regained the lead more than once.
The "yo yo" in the opinion polls continued into 1992, though after November 1990 any Labour lead in the polls was rarely sufficient for a majority. Major resisted Kinnock's calls for a general election throughout 1991. Kinnock campaigned on the theme "It's Time for a Change", urging voters to elect a new government after more than a decade of unbroken Conservative rule. However, the Conservatives themselves had undergone a dramatic change in the change of leader from Margaret Thatcher to John Major, at least in terms of style if not substance. From the outset, it was clearly a well-received change, as Labour's 14-point lead in the November 1990 "Poll of Polls" was replaced by an 8% Tory lead a month later.
The election on 9 April 1992 was widely tipped to result in a hung parliament or a narrow Labour majority, but in the event the Conservatives were returned to power, though with a much reduced majority of 21 in 1992. Despite the increased number of seats and votes, it was still an incredibly disappointing result for members and supporters of the Labour party, and for the first time in over 30 years there was serious doubt among the public and the media as to whether Labour could ever return to government.
Even before the country went to the polls, it seemed doubtful as to whether Labour could form a majority as an 8% electoral swing was needed across the country for this to be achieved.
Kinnock then resigned as leader and was replaced by John Smith. Smith's leadership once again saw the re-emergence of tension between those on the party's left and those identified as "modernisers", both of whom advocated radical revisions of the party's stance albeit in different ways. At the 1993 conference, Smith successfully changed the party rules and lessened the influence of the trade unions on the selection of candidates to stand for Parliament by introducing a one member, one vote system called OMOV — but only barely, after a barnstorming speech by John Prescott which required Smith to compromise on other individual negotiations.
The Black Wednesday economic disaster in September 1992 left the Conservative government's reputation for monetary excellence in tatters, and by the end of that year Labour had a comfortable lead over the Tories in the opinion polls. Although the recession was declared over in April 1993 and a period of strong and sustained economic growth followed, coupled with a relatively swift fall in unemployment, the Labour lead in the opinion polls remained strong.
However, Smith died from a heart attack in May 1994.
Tony Blair continued to move the party further to the centre, abandoning the largely symbolic Clause Four at the 1995 mini-conference in a strategy to increase the party's appeal to "middle England". More than a simple re-branding, however, the project would draw upon the Third Way strategy, informed by the thoughts of the British sociologist Anthony Giddens.
"New Labour" was first termed as an alternative branding for the Labour Party, dating from a conference slogan first used by the Labour Party in 1994, which was later seen in a draft manifesto published by the party in 1996, called New Labour, New Life For Britain. It was a continuation of the trend that had begun under the leadership of Neil Kinnock. "New Labour" as a name has no official status, but remains in common use to distinguish modernisers from those holding to more traditional positions, normally referred to as "Old Labour".
The Labour Party won the 1997 general election with a landslide majority of 179; it was the largest Labour majority ever, and the largest swing to a political party achieved since 1945. Over the next decade, a wide range of progressive social reforms were enacted, with millions lifted out of poverty during Labour's time in office largely as a result of various tax and benefit reforms.
Among the early acts of Tony Blair's government were the establishment of the national minimum wage, the devolution of power to Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, and the re-creation of a city-wide government body for London, the Greater London Authority, with its own elected-Mayor. Combined with a Conservative opposition that had yet to organise effectively under William Hague, and the continuing popularity of Blair, Labour went on to win the 2001 election with a similar majority, dubbed the "quiet landslide" by the media.
A perceived turning point was when Tony Blair controversially allied himself with US President George W. Bush in supporting the Iraq War, which caused him to lose much of his political support. The UN Secretary-General, among many, considered the war illegal. The Iraq War was deeply unpopular in most western countries, with Western governments divided in their support and under pressure from worldwide popular protests. At the 2005 election, Labour was re-elected for a third term, but with a reduced majority of 66. The decisions that led up to the Iraq war and its subsequent conduct are currently the subject of Sir John Chilcot's Iraq Inquiry.
Tony Blair announced in September 2006 that he would quit as leader within the year, though he had been under pressure to quit earlier than May 2007 in order to get a new leader in place before the May elections which were expected to be disastrous for Labour. In the event, the party did lose power in Scotland to a minority Scottish National Party government at the 2007 elections and, shortly after this, Tony Blair resigned as Prime Minister and was replaced by his Chancellor, Gordon Brown. Although the party experienced a brief rise in the polls after this, its popularity soon slumped to its lowest level since the days of Michael Foot. During May 2008, Labour suffered heavy defeats in the London mayoral election, local elections and the loss in the Crewe and Nantwich by-election, culminating in the party registering its worst ever opinion poll result since records began in 1943, of 23%, with many citing Brown's leadership as a key factor. Membership of the party also reached a low ebb, falling to 156,205 by the end of 2009: over 40 per cent of the 405,000 peak reached in 1997 and thought to be the lowest total since the party was founded.
Finance proved a major problem for the Labour Party during this period; a "cash for peerages" scandal under Tony Blair resulted in the drying up of many major sources of donations. Declining party membership, partially due to the reduction of activists' influence upon policy-making under the reforms of Neil Kinnock and Tony Blair, also contributed to financial problems. Between January and March 2008, the Labour Party received just over £3 million in donations and were £17 million in debt; compared to the Conservatives' £6 million in donations and £12 million in debt.
In the 2010 general election on 6 May that year, Labour with 29.0% of the vote won the second largest number of seats (258). The Conservatives with 36.5% of the vote won the largest number of seats (307), but no party had an overall majority, meaning that Labour could still remain in power if they managed to form a coalition with at least one smaller party. However, the Labour Party would have had to form a coalition with more than one other smaller party to gain an overall majority; anything less would result in a minority government. On 10 May 2010, after talks to form a coalition with the Liberal Democrats broke down, Gordon Brown announced his intention to stand down as Leader before the Labour Party Conference but a day later resigned as both Prime Minister and party leader.
Harriet Harman became the Leader of the Opposition and acting Leader of the Labour Party following the resignation of Gordon Brown on 11 May 2010, pending a leadership election subsequently won by Ed Miliband. This period has to date witnessed some revival in fortunes for the party with Labour gaining a large number of council seats in both the 2011 and 2012 local elections. The party also improved its position in Wales, forming a single party minority Government in the Welsh Assembly. However at the same time, Labour lost a number of MSPs moving backwards in the 2011 Scottish Parliament election and the party's candidate for London Mayor Ken Livingstone failed to re-gain the London Mayoralty in 2012.
The new leadership of the party has been seeking a coherent ideological position to answer Cameron's 'Big Society' rhetoric, and also mark a seachange from the neoliberal ideology of Blair and 'New Labour'.
Blue Labour is a recent, and somewhat influential ideological tendency in the party that advocates the belief that working class voters will be won back to Labour through more conservative policies on certain social and international issues, such as immigration and crime, a rejection of neoliberal economics in favour of ideas from guild socialism and continental corporatism, and a switch to local and democratic community management and provision of services, rather than relying on a traditional welfare state that is seen as excessively 'bureaucratic'. These ideas have been given an endorsement by Ed Miliband who in 2011 wrote the preface to a book expounding Blue Labour's positions. However, it lost some influence after comments by Maurice Glasman in the Telegraph newspaper.
Ed Miliband has himself emphasised responsible capitalism and greater state intervention to change the balance of the UK economy away from financial services. Tackling vested interests and opening up closed circles in British society have also been themes that he has returned to a number of times.
|Election||Number of votes for Labour||Share of votes||Seats||Outcome of election|
|1910 (January)||505,657||7.6%||40||Hung parliament (Liberal minority government)|
|1910 (December)||371,802||7.1%||42||Hung parliament (Liberal minority government)|
|1923||4,267,831||30.7%||191||Hung parliament (Labour minority government)|
|1929‡||8,048,968||37.1%||287||Hung parliament (Labour minority government)|
|1931||6,339,306||30.8%||52||National Government victory|
|1935||7,984,988||38.0%||154||National Government victory|
|1974 (February)||11,645,616||37.2%||301||Hung parliament (Labour minority government)|
|1974 (October)||11,457,079||39.2%||319||Labour victory|
|2010||8,601,441||29.1%||258||Hung parliament (Conservative/Lib Dem coalition)|
†The first election held under the Representation of the People Act 1918 in which all men over 21, and most women over the age of 30 could vote, and therefore a much larger electorate
‡The first election under universal suffrage in which all women aged over 21 could vote
|Name||Portrait||Country of birth||Periods in Office|
|Ramsay MacDonald||Scotland||1924; 1929–1931
(First and Second MacDonald ministry)
|Clement Attlee||England||1945–1950; 1950–1951
|Harold Wilson||England||1964–1966; 1966–1970; 1974; 1974–1976
(First and Second Wilson ministry)
|Tony Blair||Scotland||1997–2001; 2001–2005; 2005–2007
258 Labour MPs were elected at the 2010 election. The MPs as of February 2012 are:
|Member of Parliament||Constituency||First elected||Notes|
|Diane Abbott||Hackney North and Stoke Newington||1987|
|Debbie Abrahams||Oldham East and Saddleworth||2011|
|Bob Ainsworth||Coventry North East||1992|
|Douglas Alexander||Paisley and Renfrewshire South||1997||Member for Paisley South 1997–2005, Paisley and Renfrewshire South 2005–|
|Heidi Alexander||Lewisham East||2010|
|Rushanara Ali||Bethnal Green and Bow||2010|
|Graham Allen||Nottingham North||1987|
|Jon Ashworth||Leicester South||2011|
|Ian Austin||Dudley North||2005|
|Adrian Bailey||West Bromwich West||2000|
|William Bain||Glasgow North East||2009|
|Ed Balls||Morley and Outwood||2005||Member for Normanton 2005–2010, Morley and Outwood 2010–|
|Gordon Banks||Ochil and South Perthshire||2005|
|Kevin Barron||Rother Valley||1983|
|Hugh Bayley||York Central||1992||Member for York 1992–1997, City of York 1997–2010, York Central 2010–|
|Margaret Beckett||Derby South||1974||Member for Lincoln 1974–1979, Derby South 1983–2010|
|Anne Begg||Aberdeen South||1997|
|Hilary Benn||Leeds Central||1999|
|Luciana Berger||Liverpool Wavertree||2010|
|Clive Betts||Sheffield South East||1992||Member for Sheffield Attercliffe 1992–2010, Sheffield South East 2010–|
|Roberta Blackman-Woods||City of Durham||2005|
|Hazel Blears||Salford and Eccles||1997||Member for Salford 1997–2010, Salford and Eccles 2010–|
|Tom Blenkinsop||Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland||2010|
|Paul Blomfield||Sheffield Central||2010|
|David Blunkett||Sheffield Brightside and Hillsborough||1987||Member for Sheffield Brightside 1987–2010, Sheffield Brightside and Hillsborough 2010–|
|Kevin Brennan||Cardiff West||2001|
|Gordon Brown||Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath||1983||Member for Dunfermline East 1983–2005, Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath 2005–|
|Lyn Brown||West Ham||2005|
|Nick Brown||Newcastle upon Tyne East||1983||Member for Newcastle upon Tyne East 1983–1997, Newcastle upon Tyne East and Wallsend 1997–2010, Newcastle upon Tyne East 2010–|
|Russell Brown||Dumfries and Galloway||1997||Member for Dumfries 1997–2005, Dumfries and Galloway 2005–|
|Karen Buck||Westminster North||1997||Member for Regent’s Park and Kensington North 1997–2010, Westminster North 2010–|
|Richard Burden||Birmingham Northfield||1992|
|Liam Byrne||Birmingham Hodge Hill||2004|
|Ronnie Campbell||Blyth Valley||1987|
|Katy Clark||Ayrshire North and Arran||2005|
|Tom Clarke||Coatbridge, Chryston and Bellshill||1982||Member for Coatbridge and Airdrie 1982–1983, Monklands West 1983–1997, Coatbridge and Chryston 1997–2005, Coatbridge, Chryston and Bellshill 2005–|
|Ann Clwyd||Cynon Valley||1984|
|Michael Connarty||Linlithgow and East Falkirk||1992||Member for Falkirk East 1992–2005, Linlithgow and East Falkirk 2005–|
|Rosie Cooper||West Lancashire||2005|
|Yvette Cooper||Normanton, Pontefract and Castleford||1997||Member for Pontefract and Castleford 1997–2010, Normanton, Pontefract and Castleford 2010–|
|Jeremy Corbyn||Islington North||1983|
|David Crausby||Bolton North East||1997|
|Jon Cruddas||Dagenham and Rainham||2001||Member for Dagenham 2001–2010, Dagenham and Rainham 2010–|
|John Cryer||Leyton and Wanstead||1997||Member for Hornchurch 1997–2005, Leyton and Wanstead 2010–|
|Alex Cunningham||Stockton North||2010|
|Jim Cunningham||Coventry South||1992||Member for Coventry South East 1992–1997, Coventry South 1997–|
|Margaret Curran||Glasgow East||2010||Member of the Scottish Parliament for Glasgow Baillieston 1999–2011|
|Alistair Darling||Edinburgh South West||1987||Member for Edinburgh Central 1987–2005, Edinburgh South West 2005–|
|Geraint Davies||Swansea West||1997||Member for Croydon Central 1997–2005, Swansea West 2010–|
|Ian Davidson||Glasgow South West||1992||Member for Glasgow Govan 1992–1997, Glasgow Pollok 1997–2005, Glasgow South Wes 2005–|
|John Denham||Southampton Itchen||1992|
|Gloria De Piero||Ashfield||2010|
|Jim Dobbin||Heywood and Middleton||1997|
|Frank Dobson||Holborn and St Pancras||1979|
|Thomas Docherty||Dunfermline and West Fife||2010|
|Brian Donohoe||Central Ayrshire||1992||Member for Cunninghame South 1992–2005, Central Ayrshire 2005–|
|Frank Doran||Aberdeen North||1987||Member for Aberdeen South 1987–1992, Aberdeen Central 1997–2005, Aberdeen North 2005–|
|Jim Dowd||Lewisham West and Penge||1992||Member for Lewisham West 1992–2010, Lewisham West and Penge 2010–|
|Gemma Doyle||West Dunbartonshire||2010|
|Jack Dromey||Birmingham Erdington||2010|
|Michael Dugher||Barnsley East||2010|
|Maria Eagle||Garston and Halewood||1997||Member for Liverpool Garston 1997–2010, Garston and Halewood 2010–|
|Julie Elliott||Sunderland Central||2010|
|Louise Ellman||Liverpool Riverside||1997|
|Natascha Engel||North East Derbyshire||2005|
|Bill Esterson||Sefton Central||2010|
|Jim Fitzpatrick||Poplar and Limehouse||1997||Member for Poplar and Canning Town 1997–2010, Poplar and Limehouse 2010–|
|Robert Flello||Stoke-on-Trent South||2005|
|Caroline Flint||Don Valley||1997|
|Paul Flynn||Newport West||1987|
|Mike Gapes||Ilford South||1992|
|Barry Gardiner||Brent North||1997|
|Sheila Gilmore||Edinburgh East||2010|
|Pat Glass||North West Durham||2010|
|Mary Glindon||North Tyneside||2010|
|Roger Godsiff||Birmingham Hall Green||1992||Member for Birmingham Small Heath 1992–1997, Birmingham Sparkbrook and Small Heath 1997–2010, Birmingham Hall Green 2010–|
|Paul Goggins||Wythenshawe and Sale East||1997|
|Helen Goodman||Bishop Auckland||2005|
|Tom Greatrex||Rutherglen and Hamilton West||2010|
|Kate Green||Stretford and Urmston||2010|
|Lilian Greenwood||Nottingham South||2010|
|Andrew Gwynne||Denton and Reddish||2005|
|Fabian Hamilton||Leeds North East||1997|
|Harriet Harman||Camberwell and Peckham||1982||Member for Peckham 1982–1997, Camberwell and Peckham 1997–|
|Tom Harris||Glasgow South||2001||Member for Glasgow Cathcart 2001–2005, Glasgow South 2005–|
|Dai Havard||Merthyr Tydfil and Rhymney||2001|
|John Healey||Wentworth and Dearne||1997||Member for Wentworth 1997–2010, Wentworth and Dearne 2010–|
|Meg Hillier||Hackney South and Shoreditch||2005|
|Julie Hilling||Bolton West||2010|
|Sharon Hodgson||Washington and Sunderland West||2005||Member for Gateshead East and Washington West 2005–2010, Washington and Sunderland West 2010–|
|Jim Hood||Lanark and Hamilton East||1987||Member for Clydesdale 1987–2005, Lanark and Hamilton East 2005–|
|Kelvin Hopkins||Luton North||1997|
|George Howarth||Knowsley||1986||Member for Knowsley North 1986–1997, Knowsley North and Sefton East 1997–2010, Knowsley 2010–|
|Tristram Hunt||Stoke-on-Trent Central||2010|
|Glenda Jackson||Hampstead and Kilburn||1992||Member for Hampstead and Highgate 1992–2010, Hampstead and Kilburn 2010–|
|Sian James||Swansea East||2005|
|Cathy Jamieson||Kilmarnock and Loudoun||2010||Member of the Scottish Parliament for Carrick, Cumnock and Doon Valley 1999–2011|
|Dan Jarvis||Barnsley Central||2011|
|Alan Johnson||Kingston upon Hull West and Hessle||1997|
|Diana Johnson||Kingston upon Hull North||2005||Member for Hull North 2005–2010, Kingston upon Hull North 2010–|
|Helen Jones||Warrington North||1997|
|Kevan Jones||North Durham||2001|
|Susan Elan Jones||Clwyd South||2010|
|Tessa Jowell||Dulwich and West Norwood||1992||Member for Dulwich 1992–1997, Dulwich and West Norwood 1997–|
|Gerald Kaufman||Manchester Gorton||1970||Member for Ardwick 1970–1983, Manchester Gorton 1983–|
|Barbara Keeley||Worsley and Eccles South||2005||Member for Worsley 2005–2010, Worsley and Eccles South 2010–|
|Liz Kendall||Leicester West||2010|
|Mark Lazarowicz||Edinburgh North and Leith||2001|
|Christopher Leslie||Nottingham East||1997||Member for Shipley 1997–2005, Nottingham East 2010–|
|Ivan Lewis||Bury South||1997|
|Tony Lloyd||Manchester Central||1983||Member for Stretford 1983–1997, Manchester Central 1997–|
|Khalid Mahmood||Birmingham Perry Barr||2001|
|Shabana Mahmood||Birmingham Ladywood||2010|
|Seema Malhotra||Feltham and Heston||2011|
|Gordon Marsden||Blackpool South||1997|
|Steve McCabe||Birmingham Selly Oak||2010||Member for Birmingham Hall Green 1997–2010, Birmingham Selly Oak 2010–|
|Michael McCann||East Kilbride, Strathaven and Lesmahagow||2010|
|Kerry McCarthy||Bristol East||2005|
|Gregg McClymont||Cumbernauld, Kilsyth and Kirkintilloch East||2010|
|Siobhain McDonagh||Mitcham and Morden||1997|
|John McDonnell||Hayes and Harlington||1997|
|Pat McFadden||Wolverhampton South East||2005|
|Alison McGovern||Wirral South||2010|
|Jim McGovern||Dundee West||2005|
|Ann McKechin||Glasgow North||2001||Member for Glasgow Maryhill 2001–2005, Glasgow North 2005–|
|Catherine McKinnell||Newcastle upon Tyne North||2010|
|Michael Meacher||Oldham West and Royton||1970||Member for Oldham West 1970–1997, Oldham West and Royton 1997–|
|Alun Michael||Cardiff South and Penarth||1987|
|David Miliband||South Shields||2001|
|Ed Miliband||Doncaster North||2005|
|Andrew Miller||Ellesmere Port and Neston||1992|
|Austin Mitchell||Great Grimsby||1977||Member for Grimsby 1977–1983, Great Grimsby 1983–|
|Jessica Morden||Newport East||2005|
|George Mudie||Leeds East||1992|
|Meg Munn||Sheffield Heeley||2001|
|Jim Murphy||East Renfrewshire||1997||Member for Eastwood 1997–2005, East Renfrewshire 2005–|
|Ian Murray||Edinburgh South||2010|
|Pamela Nash||Airdrie and Shotts||2010|
|Fiona O’Donnell||East Lothian||2010|
|Chi Onwurah||Newcastle upon Tyne Central||2010|
|Sandra Osborne||Ayr, Carrick and Cumnock||1997||Member for Ayr 1997–2005, Ayr, Carrick and Cumnock 2005–|
|Albert Owen||Ynys Mon||2001|
|Teresa Pearce||Erith and Thamesmead||2010|
|Bridget Phillipson||Houghton and Sunderland South||2010|
|Stephen Pound||Ealing North||1997|
|Dawn Primarolo||Bristol South||1987|
|Yasmin Qureshi||Bolton South East||2010|
|Nick Raynsford||Greewich and Woolwich||1992||Member for Greenwich 1992–1997, Greenwich and Woolwich 1997–|
|Rachel Reeves||Leeds West||2010|
|Emma Reynolds||Wolverhampton North East||2010|
|Jonathan Reynolds||Stalybridge and Hyde||2010|
|John Robertson||Glasgow North West||2000||Member for Glasgow Anniesland 2000–2005, Glasgow North West 2005–|
|Geoffrey Robinson||Coventry North West||1976|
|Steve Rotherham||Liverpool Walton||2010|
|Frank Roy||Motherwell and Wishaw||1997|
|Chris Ruane||Vale of Clwyd||1997|
|Joan Ruddock||Lewisham Deptford||1987|
|Anas Sarwar||Glasgow Central||2010|
|Alison Seabeck||Plymouth Moor View||2005||Member for Plymouth Devonport 2005–2010, Plymouth Moor View 2010–|
|Virendra Sharma||Ealing Southall||2007|
|Barry Sheerman||Huddersfield||1979||Member for Huddersfield East 1979–1983, Huddersfield 1983–|
|Jim Sheridan||Paisley and Renfrewshire North||2001||Member for West Renfrewshire 2001–2005, Paisley and Renfrewshire North 2005–|
|Gavin Shuker||Luton South||2010|
|Marsha Singh||Bradford West||1997||Resigned due to ill health March 2011. By-election held 29 March, Labour lost to Respect|
|Andy Slaughter||Hammersmith||2005||Member for Ealing, Acton and Shepherd’s Bush 2005–2010, Hammersmith 2010–|
|Andrew Smith||Oxford East||1987|
|Angela Smith||Penistone and Stocksbridge||2005||Member for Sheffield Hillsborough 2005–2010, Penistone and Stocksbridge 2010–|
|Nick Smith||Blaenau Gwent||2010|
|John Spellar||Warley||1982||Member for Birmingham Northfield 1982–1983, Warley West 1992–1997, Warley 1997–|
|Graham Stringer||Blackley and Broughton||1997||Member for Manchester Blackley, Blackley and Broughton 2010–|
|Gisela Stuart||Birmingham Edgbaston||1997|
|Gerry Sutcliffe||Bradford South||1994|
|Mark Tami||Alyn and Deeside||2001|
|Gareth Thomas||Harrow West||1997|
|Emily Thornberry||Islington South and Finsbury||2005|
|Stephen Timms||East Ham||1994||Member for Newham North East 1994–1997, East Ham 1997–|
|Karl Turner||Kingston upon Hull East||2010|
|Stephen Twigg||Liverpool West Derby||1997||Member for Enfield Southgate 1997–2005, Liverpool West Derby 2010–|
|Keith Vaz||Leicester East||1987|
|Valerie Vaz||Walsall South||2010|
|Joan Walley||Stoke-on-Trent North||1987|
|Tom Watson||West Bromwich East||2001|
|David Watts||St Helens North||1997|
|Alan Whitehead||Southampton Test||1997|
|Malcolm Wicks||Croydon North||1992||Member for Croydon North West 1992–1997, Croydon North 1997–|
|Chris Williamson||Derby North||2010|
|David Winnick||Walsall North||1966||Member for Croydon South 1966–1970, Walsall North 1979–|
|Rosie Winterton||Doncaster Central||1997|
|Mike Wood||Batley and Spen||1997|
|John Woodcock||Barrow and Furness||2010|
|Shaun Woodward||St Helens South and Whiston||1997||Member for Witney 1997–2001, St Helens South 2001–2010, St Helens South and Whiston 2010– (Conservative 1997–1999, Labour 1999–)|
3. Peter Soulsby resigned as MP for Leicester South in order to contest the election for the newly created position of directly elected Mayor of Leicester. Jon Ashworth won the following by-election for Labour.
||Constructs such as ibid., loc. cit. and idem are discouraged by Wikipedia's style guide for footnotes, as they are easily broken. Please improve this article by replacing them with named references (quick guide), or an abbreviated title. (June 2011)|
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