Why did Keir Hardie found the Labour Party?
On this day in 1856 Keir Hardie, the founder of the Labour Party, was born.
Standing up for working people, a commitment to equality and fairness were his founding principles. These principles are still the lifeblood of our Party today.
Keir understood how hard life was for working people. He was born in a time without a minimum wage when families struggled and many people lived in poverty. There was no NHS and there were few protections for workers.
From age ten until 23 Keir worked in mines. He put himself through night school during those years and joined the Evangelical Union. He quickly became trusted by his fellow workers to speak up for them. Because he stood up for working people, Keir and his two brothers were outcast by mine owners and couldn’t get work.
Keir Hardie as Trade Union Organiser
Despite this presenting huge challenges, it led to Keir finding his real talent: speaking up for people and championing change. By August 1879 he had proven his skills in organising miners and became a trade union organiser.
In the next two decades, he helped create a powerful union of Scottish miners. He helped miners get better pay and started his own newspaper. Keir also became more involved in politics and started fighting for working people in Parliament. He originally supported the Liberal Party. But, he realised they wouldn’t stand up for the desperately needed reforms to help workers.
Creating a party for working people
In 1900, Keir organised a meeting of various trade unions and socialist groups, it was called the Labour Representation Committee – and so the Labour Party was born. In the 1906 general election, the Labour Party won 29 seats. While it took many years for the Labour Party to win power, Keir Hardie’s values are at the heart of every victory we’ve achieved for working people.
From founding the NHS, introducing laws to stop discrimination based on race, age, gender or sexuality, bringing in the minimum wage, the first Climate Change Act the world had ever seen, introducing maternity pay, and more, Labour has always stood up for working people. And we always will.
The Labour Party today
Today, our Party is led by another Keir – Keir Starmer.
Our leader today shares our founders’ passion and determination for justice and making life better for working people.
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