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Labour Party (UK)

Labour Party
Leader Harriet Harman MP (Acting)
Deputy Leader Harriet Harman MP
Founded 1900 (1900) (as the Labour Representation Committee)[1][2]
Headquarters One Brewer's Green, London
Student wing Labour Students
Youth wing Young Labour
Membership  (2015) 11px 221,247 [3]
Ideology Social democracy
Democratic socialism
Political position Centre-left
International affiliation Progressive Alliance,
Socialist International (observer)
European affiliation Party of European Socialists
European Parliament group Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats
Colours      Red
House of Commons
232 / 650
House of Lords
212 / 780
European Parliament
20 / 73
Scottish Parliament
38 / 129
Welsh Assembly
30 / 60
London Assembly
12 / 25
Local government
6,885 / 20,565
Police & Crime Commissioners
13 / 41
Politics of the United Kingdom
Political parties

The Labour Party is a centre-left political party in the United Kingdom.[4][5][6][7][8] It grew out of the trade union movement and socialist political parties of the nineteenth century and has been described as a broad church; the party contains a diversity of ideological trends from strongly socialist, to more moderately social democratic.

Founded in 1900, the Labour Party overtook the Liberal Party in general elections during the early 1920s and formed minority governments under Ramsay MacDonald in 1924 and 1929–31. 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 landslide majority of 179, reduced to 167 in 2001 and 66 in 2005. Having won 258 seats in the 2010 general election and 232 seats in 2015, 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 20 MEPs in the European Parliament, sitting in the Socialists and Democrats group. The Labour Party is a full member of the Party of European Socialists and Progressive Alliance, and continues to hold observer status in the Socialist International. The most recent leader of the party was Ed Miliband, who resigned on 8 May 2015.


The Labour Party is considered to be left of centre.[4][9][5][6][7][8] It was initially formed as a means for the trade union movement to establish political representation for itself at Westminster. It only gained a 'socialist' commitment with the original party constitution of 1918. That 'socialist' element, the original Clause IV, was seen by its strongest advocates as a straightforward commitment to the "common ownership", or nationalisation, of the "means of production, distribution and exchange". Although about a third of British industry was taken into public ownership after the Second World War, and remained so until the 1980s, the right of the party were questioning the validity of expanding on this objective by the late 1950s. Influenced by Anthony Crosland's book, The Future of Socialism (1956), the circle around party leader Hugh Gaitskell felt that the commitment was no longer necessary. While an attempt to remove Clause IV from the party constitution in 1959 failed, Tony Blair, and the 'modernisers' saw the issue as putting off potential voters,[10] and were successful thirty-five years later,[11] with only limited opposition from senior figures in the party.[12]

Party electoral manifestos have not contained the term socialism since 1992. The new version of Clause IV, although still affirming a commitment to democratic socialism,[13][14] no longer mentions the public ownership of industry: in its place it advocates "the enterprise of the market and the rigour of competition" with "high quality public services" not necessarily themselves in the public sector.[15]

Historically, influenced by Keynesian economics, the party favoured government intervention in the economy, and the redistribution of wealth. Taxation was seen as a means to achieve a "major redistribution of wealth and income" in the October 1974 election manifesto.[16] The party also desired increased rights for workers, and a welfare state including publicly funded healthcare.

From the late-1980s onwards, the party adopted free market policies,[17] leading many observers to describe the Labour Party as social democratic[18][19][20][21] or the Third Way, rather than democratic socialist.[19][20][22][23][24] 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 that it is no longer possible to describe them ideologically as 'social democratic',[25] and claim that this ideological shift has put new strains on the party's traditional relationship with the trade unions.[26][27][28][29]

Historically within the party, differentiation was made between the "soft left" and the "hard left", with the former embracing more moderately social democratic views while the hard left subscribed to a strongly socialist, even Marxist, ideology.[30][31] Members on the hard left were often disparaged as the "loony left," particularly in the popular media.[32] In more recent times, Members of Parliament in the Socialist Campaign Group and the Labour Representation Committee are seen as constituting a hard left in contrast to a soft left represented by organisations such as Progress.[33]


File:Red flag.svg
The red flag, originally the official flag and symbol of the Labour party

Labour has long been identified with red, a political colour traditionally affiliated with socialism and the labour movement. The party conference in 1931 passed a motion "That this conference adopts Party Colours, which should be uniform throughout the country, colours to be red and gold".[34] Since the party's inception, the red flag has been Labour's official symbol; the flag has been associated with socialism and revolution ever since the 1789 French Revolution and the revolutions of 1848. The red rose, a symbol of social democracy, was adopted as the party symbol in 1986 as part of a rebranding exercise and is now incorporated into the party logo.[35]

The red flag became an inspiration which resulted in the composition of "The Red Flag", the official party anthem since its inception, being sung at the end of party conferences and on various occasions such as in parliament on February 2006 to mark the centenary of the Labour Party’s founding. During New Labour attempts were made to play down the role of the song,[36][37] however it still remains to be used.[38]

Constitution and structure

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.[39] 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.

Executive Board

On 9 March 2012 the Labour Party announced its new senior management team[40]

  • Board Chairman: Lord Allen of Kensington[41]
  • General Secretary: Iain McNicol
  • Chief of Staff: Tim Livesey
  • Deputy Chief of Staff: Lucy Powell (campaigns, party and political relations)
  • Director of Strategy and Planning: Greg Beales
  • Director of Policy and Rebuttal: Torsten Bell
  • Director of Members and Supporters: Oliver Buston
  • Director of Field Operations: Patrick Heneghan
  • Director of Governance and Party Services: Emilie Oldknow
  • Director of Communications: Bob Roberts
  • Director of Fundraising: John McCaffrey

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:

  • Alicia Kennedy, becomes "Strategic Advisor (Campaigns and Elections)" to Tom Watson, the National Election Campaign Coordinator;
  • Chris Lennie, continues his role in assisting the development of external relations and fundraising.


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.[42]

For many years Labour held to a policy of not allowing residents of Northern Ireland to apply for membership,[43] instead supporting the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) which informally takes the Labour whip in the House of Commons.[44] The 2003 Labour Party Conference accepted legal advice that the party could not continue to prohibit residents of the province joining,[45] and whilst the National Executive has established a regional constituency party it has not yet agreed to contest elections there.

Trade union link

File:Unite the Union decked out for the 2015 General Election on Call Lane, Leeds (3rd May 2015) 001.JPG
Unite the Union showing their support for the Labour party on their Leeds offices during the 2015 general election.

TULO (The Trade Union & Labour Party Liaison Organisation) is the coordinating structure that supports the policy and campaign activities of affiliated union members within the Labour Party at the national, regional and local level.[46]

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.[47] Other unions have also faced calls from members to reduce financial support for the Party[48] and seek more effective political representation for their views on privatisation, public spending cuts and the anti-trade union laws.[49] 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".[50] Union funding was redesigned in 2013 after the Falkirk candidate-selection controversy.[51]

European and international affiliation

The Labour Party is a founder member of the Party of European Socialists (PES). The European Parliamentary Labour Party's 20 MEPs are part of the Socialists and Democrats (S&D), the second largest group in the European Parliament. The Labour Party is represented by Emma Reynolds MP in the PES Presidency.[52]

The party was a member of the Labour and Socialist International between 1923 and 1940.[53] Since 1951 the party has been a member of the Socialist International, which was founded thanks to the efforts of the Clement Attlee leadership. However, in February 2013, the Labour Party NES decided to downgrade participation to observer membership status, "in view of ethical concerns, and to develop international co-operation through new networks".[54] Labour was a founding member of the Progressive Alliance international founded in co-operation with the Social Democratic Party of Germany on 22 May 2013.[55][56][57][58]

Ed Miliband has also said that the party is opposed to a referendum on the membership of the United Kingdom within the European Union, claiming that it will damage businesses throughout the UK.[59]



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.[60] 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. The first Lib–Lab candidate to stand was George Odger in the Southwark by-election of 1870. 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[61] 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 lay preacher contributed to an ethos in the party which led to the comment by 1950s General Secretary Morgan Phillips that "Socialism in Britain owed more to Methodism than Marx".[62]

Labour Representation Committee

Keir Hardie, one of the Labour Party's founders and its first leader

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.[63]

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."[64] 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.[2] 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.[65] Only 15 candidatures were sponsored, but two were successful; Keir Hardie in Merthyr Tydfil and Richard Bell in Derby.[66]

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.[66]

Labour Party Plaque from Caroone House, 14 Farringdon Street

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.[66]

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.[66]

The People's History Museum in Manchester holds the minutes of the first Labour Party meeting in 1906 and has them on display in the Main Galleries.[67] Also within the museum is the Labour History Archive and Study Centre, which holds the collection of the Labour Party, with material ranging from 1900 to the present day.[68]

Early years and rise

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.[citation needed]

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.

With the Representation of the People Act 1918, almost all adult men (excepting only peers, criminals and lunatics) and most women over the age of thirty were given the right to vote, almost tripling the British electorate at a stroke, from 7.7 million in 1912 to 21.4 million in 1918. This set the scene for a surge in Labour representation in parliament.[69]

The Communist Party of Great Britain was refused affiliation to the Labour Party between 1921 and 1923.[70] Meanwhile, the Liberal Party declined rapidly, and the party also suffered a catastrophic split which allowed the Labour Party to gain much of the Liberals' support. With the Liberals thus 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.

First Labour government, 1924

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Ramsay MacDonald: First Labour Prime Minister, 1924 and 1929–31

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.

While there were no major labour strikes during his term, MacDonald acted swiftly to end those that did erupt. When the Labour Party executive criticized the government, he replied that, "public doles, Poplarism [local defiance of the national government], strikes for increased wages, limitation of output, not only are not Socialism, but may mislead the spirit and policy of the Socialist movement."[71]

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 1924 general election saw the publication, four days before polling day, of the Zinoviev letter, in which Moscow talked about a Communist revolution in Britain. The letter had little impact on the Labour vote—which held up. It was the collapse of the Liberal party that led to the Conservative landslide. 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. However many Labourites for years blamed their defeat on foul play (the Zinoviev Letter), thereby according to A. J. P. Taylor misunderstanding the political forces at work and delaying needed reforms in the party.[72][73]

In opposition MacDonald continued his policy of presenting the Labour Party as a moderate force. During the General Strike of 1926 the party opposed the general strike, arguing that the best way to achieve social reforms was through the ballot box. The leaders were also fearful of Communist influence orchestrated from Moscow.[74]

Second Labour government, 1929–31

The original "Liberty" logo, in use until 1983

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.[75] 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 and formed a separate National Labour Organisation. The remaining Labour Party MPs (led again by Arthur Henderson) and a few Liberals went into opposition. The ensuing 1931 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.

In opposition, 1930s

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 late 1930s the Labour Party gradually abandoned its 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.[75]

Wartime coalition, 1940–45

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.

Post-war victory under Attlee and major reforms, 1945–51

Main article: Attlee ministry
File:Clement Attlee.png
Clement Attlee: Labour Prime Minister, 1945–51

At the end of the war in Europe, in May 1945, Labour resolved not to repeat the Liberals' error of 1918, and promptly withdrew from government, on trade union insistence, to contest the 1945 general election in opposition to Churchill's Conservatives. Surprising many observers,[76] Labour won a formidable victory, winning just under 50% of the vote with a majority of 159 seats.[77]

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, and 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.[78] 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,[75] 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),[79] 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 Churchill's 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 and clothing rationing, however, still in place since the war, were swiftly relaxed, then abandoned from about 1953.

In opposition, 1950s

Following the defeat of 1951the party spent 13 years in opposition. The party suffered an ideological split, while the postwar economic recovery and 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, 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.

Labour in government under Wilson, 1964–70

Main article: First Wilson ministry

A downturn in the economy and a series of scandals in the early 1960s (the most notorious being the Profumo affair) had engulfed the Conservative government by 1963. The Labour Party returned to government with a 4-seat majority under Wilson in the 1964 general election but increased its majority to 96 in the 1966 general election.

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Harold Wilson: Labour Prime Minister, 1964–70 and 1974–76

Wilson's government was responsible for a number of sweeping social and educational reforms under the leadership of Home Secretary Roy Jenkins such as the abolishment of the death penalty in 1964, the legalisation of abortion and homosexuality (initially only for men aged 21 or over, and only in England and Wales) in 1967 and the abolition of theatre censorship in 1968. Comprehensive education was expanded and the Open University created. However Wilson's government had inherited a large trade deficit that led to a currency crisis and ultimately a doomed attempt to stave off devaluation of the pound. Labour went on to lose the 1970 general election to the Conservatives under Edward Heath.

In opposition, 1970–74

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 alone 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 majority, a second election was soon called for October 1974 in which Labour, still with Harold Wilson as leader, won a majority of three, gaining just 18 seats taking its total to 319.

Return to government, 1974–79

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[80]) by a policy of wage restraint. This was fairly successful, reducing inflation to 7.4% by 1978.[66][80] However it led to increasingly strained relations between the government and the trade unions.

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James Callaghan: Labour Prime Minister, 1976–79

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'.[81] 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. Deals were then forged with various small parties including the Scottish National Party and the Welsh nationalist Plaid Cymru, prolonging the life of the government.

The nationalist parties, in turn, demanded devolution to their respective constituent countries in return for their supporting the government. When referendums 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.[66] 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 general election Labour was heavily defeated by the Conservatives now led by Margaret Thatcher. The number of people voting Labour hardly changed between February 1974 and 1979 but 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.

"Wilderness Years", 1979–97

After its defeat in the 1979 election the Labour Party underwent a period of internal rivalry between the left-wing, represented by Tony Benn, and the right-wing represented by Denis Healey. The election of Michael Foot as leader in 1980, and the left policies they opposed, 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. Benn was only narrowly defeated by Healey in a subsequent deputy leadership election after the introduction of an electoral college intended to widen the voting franchise to elect the leader and their deputy. By 1982, the National Executive Committee had concluded that the entryist Militant tendency group were in contravention of the party's constitution. The Militant newspaper's five member editorial board were expelled on 22 February 1983.

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 greatly increase their majority of parliamentary seats.[82]

File:Kinnock, Neil.jpg
Neil Kinnock, leader of the party in opposition, 1983–92.

Foot resigned and was replaced as leader by Neil Kinnock, with Roy Hattersley as his deputy. The new leadership progressively dropped unpopular policies. The miners strike of 1984–85 over coal mine closures, for which miners' leader Arthur Scargill was blamed, and the Wapping dispute led to clashes with the left of the party, and negative coverage in most of the press. Tabloid vilification of the so-called loony left continued to taint the parliamentary party by association from the activities of 'extra-parliamentary' militants in local government.

The alliances which campaigns such as Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners forged between lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) and labour groups, as well as the Labour Party itself, also proved to be an important turning point in the progression of LGBT issues in the UK.[83] At the 1985 Labour Party conference in Bournemouth, a resolution committing the party to support LGBT equality rights passed for the first time due to block voting support from the National Union of Mineworkers.[83]

Labour improved its performance in 1987, gaining 20 seats and so reducing the Conservative majority from 143 to 102. They were now firmly re-established as the second political party in Britain as the Alliance had once again failed to make a breakthrough with seats. A merger of the SDP and Liberals formed the Liberal Democrats. Following the 1987 election, the National Executive Committee resumed disciplinary action against members of Militant, who remained in the party, leading to further expulsions of their activists and the two MPs who supported the group.

In November 1990 following a contested leadership election, Margaret Thatcher resigned as leader of the Conservative Party and was succeeded as leader and Prime Minister 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 her introduction of the unpopular poll tax, combined with the fact that the economy was sliding into recession at the time.

File:Old Logo Labour Party.svg
Labour Party logo under Kinnock, Smith and Blair's leaderships

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 Thatcher to 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 1992 general election 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.[84] Despite the increased number of seats and votes, it was still an incredibly disappointing result for supporters of the Labour party. 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.

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.[85]

"New Labour" – in government, 1997–2010

Tony Blair: Labour Prime Minister, 1997–2007
Gordon Brown: Labour Prime Minister, 2007–2010

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".

New Labour is a party of ideas and ideals but not of outdated ideology. What counts is what works. The objectives are radical. The means will be modern.[86]

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,[87][88] with millions lifted out of poverty during Labour's time in office largely as a result of various tax and benefit reforms.[89][90][91]

Among the early acts of 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. [92] In 2003 Labour introduced tax credits, government top-ups to the pay of low-wage workers.

A perceived turning point was when 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.[93] The UN Secretary-General, among many, considered the war illegal.[94] The Iraq War was deeply unpopular in most western countries, with Western governments divided in their support[95] and under pressure from worldwide popular protests. The decisions that led up to the Iraq war and its subsequent conduct are currently the subject of Sir John Chilcot's Iraq Inquiry.

In the 2005 general election, Labour was re-elected for a third term, but with a reduced majority of 66.

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.[96] 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, 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.[97] 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.[98][99][100]

Finance proved a major problem for the Labour Party during this period; a "cash for peerages" scandal under 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 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.[101]

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.[102] 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.[103] On 10 May 2010, after talks to form a coalition with the Liberal Democrats broke down, 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.[104]

In opposition, 2010–present

File:Ed Miliband 2.jpg
Labour leader 2010-2015, Ed Miliband.

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[105] 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. 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.

The party's performance also held up in local elections in 2012 with Labour consolidating its position in the North and Midlands, while also regaining some ground in Southern England. The party took overall control of several high profile English councils including Birmingham, Southampton, Plymouth, Norwich and Carlisle.[106] In Wales the party enjoyed good successes, regaining control of most Welsh Councils lost in 2008 including the cities of Cardiff and Swansea.[107] In Scotland, Labour's held overall control of Glasgow City Council despite some predictions to the contrary,[108] and also enjoyed a +3.26 swing across Scotland. In London, results were mixed for the party; Ken Livingstone lost the election for Mayor of London, but the party gained its highest ever representation in the Greater London Authority in the concurrent assembly election.[106]

On 15 November 2012, Labour won the previously Conservative held seat of Corby in a by-election following the resignation of the previous MP Louise Mensch. This was the first seat gained by Labour in a by-election since the Wirral South by-election in 1997.[109] It also held its seat in the South Shields by-election, 2013 on a slightly reduced majority.[110]

In September 2010 the party reported a surge of 32,000 new members since the general election;[111] at the end of 2011 this figure had reached 65,000 new members.[112][113]

The party edged out the Conservatives in the May 2014 European parliamentary elections winning 20 seats versus the Conservatives 19. However the UK Independence Party won 24 seats.[114] Labour also won a majority of seats in the local council elections of 2014, gaining 324 more councillors than they had before the election. [115]

Blue Labour

The new leadership of the party has been seeking a coherent ideological position to answer Cameron's "Big Society" rhetoric, and also mark a sea-change from the neoliberal ideology of Blair and "New Labour".

Blue Labour is a recent, and somewhat influential[116] 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,[117] a rejection of neoliberal economics[118] in favour of ideas from guild socialism and continental corporatism,[119] and a switch to local and democratic community management and provision of services,[36] rather than relying on a traditional welfare state that is seen as excessively "bureaucratic".[120] These ideas have been given an endorsement by Ed Miliband who in 2011 wrote the preface to a book expounding Blue Labour's positions.[121] However, it lost some influence after comments by Labour peer Maurice Glasman to The Daily Telegraph.[122]

Ed Miliband has himself emphasised "responsible capitalism" and greater state intervention to change the balance of the UK economy away from financial services.[123] Tackling vested interests[124] and opening up closed circles in British society[125] have also been themes that he has returned to a number of times. Miliband has stated that he will increase regulation on banks and the energy companies.[126] Indeed, Miliband, in 2013, stated that he will reform the energy market and use an energy price freeze to give a future Labour government time to do so. Miliband has also suggested policies to ensure that workers are paid a living wage (an amount higher than the current minimum wage), such as offer tax breaks to persuade the private sector to pay the wage as a way to boost productivity and cut welfare bills.[127]

In June 2013, the party's shadow chancellor, Ed Balls, accepted that Labour would use cuts scheduled for 2015–16 by the Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition as the basis for its own cuts programme.[128] He has also been accused of planning to cut the state pension.[129] These policies have been referred to as the party "abandoning [its] economic case about austerity for what they seem to think is a short-term political advantage".[130]


In September 2014, Ed Balls outlined his plans to cut the government's current account deficit. Whereas Conservatives campaigned for a surplus on all government spending, including investment, by 2018/19, Labour wants to balance the current budget, excluding investment, by 2020.[131]

2013 Labour Party Falkirk candidate selection

Eric Joyce, Labour MP for Falkirk, chose to resign from the party after pleading guilty to charges of assault. Though he had already been suspended because of the charge, the resignation forced Labour to begin looking for a new parliamentary candidate for the constituency ahead of the United Kingdom general election, 2015. The process of selecting a candidate was deferred to the party's National Executive Committee in February 2013 due to a suspicion that Unite, a major trade union and a significant financial backer of the party, was registering union members as party members in order to push its favoured candidate.[132]

In June 2013, the party announced that its NEC would be taking direct control of the candidate selection process for Falkirk because of "concern about the legitimacy of members qualifying to participate in the selection of a Westminster candidate".[133] The resultant row has so far caused the suspension of two local party members, the resignation of Deputy Leader Tom Watson MP as Labour's 2015 election strategist, and the forwarding by Ed Miliband of the NEC internal report into the situation to Police Scotland.[134]

The Guardian has reported that the row has led to a former cabinet minister and other "senior party figures" calling for Labour to break its formal links with the trade union movement.[135]

2015 general election

Labour's decline in Scotland's parliamentary election in 2011 presaged greater losses in 2015. With the party bidding to return to government in Westminster under the leadership of Ed Miliband, Labour gained more than 20 seats in England and Wales, mostly from the Liberal Democrats but also from the Conservative Party,[136][137] although several of its MPs lost reelection to Conservative challengers, including Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls.[138] However, the fall of what was popularly dubbed Labour's "Scottish fortress"[139] to the Scottish National Party turned out 40 Labour MPs from their seats, including Scottish Labour leader Jim Murphy.[140] Discounting pickups, the party lost 48 seats in total throughout Great Britain, falling to 232 seats in the House of Commons.[141]

The day after the 7 May election, Miliband resigned as party leader.[138]

Labour Campaign for Electoral Reform

The Labour Campaign for Electoral Reform (LCER) is a movement within the Labour Party for electoral reform particularly of the first past the post system in House of Commons constituencies and the unelected House of Lords.

Originally founded as the Labour Study Group for Electoral Reform, it took its current name after the United Kingdom general election, 1979.[142]

Its membership has included Stephen Twigg and Robin Cook.[143]

Electoral performance

Devolved Seats
London Assembly
12 / 25
Scottish Parliament
38 / 129
Welsh Assembly
30 / 60
File:Popular vote.jpg
A graph showing the percentage of the popular vote received by major parties in general elections, 1832–2005.
Election Number of votes for Labour Share of votes Seats Outcome of election
1900 62,698 1.8%
2 / 670
Conservative victory
1906 321,663 5.7%
29 / 670
Liberal victory
1910 (Jan.) 505,657 7.6%
40 / 670
Hung parliament (Lib. minority government)
1910 (Dec.) 371,802 7.1%
42 / 670
Hung parliament (Lib. minority government)
1918 2,245,777 21.5%
57 / 707
Coalition victory
1922 4,076,665 29.7%
142 / 615
Conservative victory
1923 4,267,831 30.7%
191 / 625
Hung parliament (Lab. minority government)
1924 5,281,626 33.3%
151 / 615
Conservative victory
1929 8,048,968 37.1%
287 / 615
Hung parliament (Lab. minority government)
1931 6,339,306 30.8%
52 / 615
National Government victory
1935 7,984,988 38.0%
154 / 615
National Government victory
1945 11,967,746 49.7%
393 / 640
Labour victory
1950 13,266,176 46.1%
315 / 625
Labour victory
1951 13,948,883 48.8%
295 / 625
Conservative victory
1955 12,405,254 46.4%
277 / 630
Conservative victory
1959 12,216,172 43.8%
258 / 630
Conservative victory
1964 12,205,808 44.1%
317 / 630
Labour victory
1966 13,096,629 48.0%
364 / 630
Labour victory
1970# 12,208,758 43.1%
288 / 630
Conservative victory
1974 (Feb.) 11,645,616 37.2%
301 / 635
Hung parliament (Lab. minority government)
1974 (Oct.) 11,457,079 39.2%
319 / 635
Labour victory
1979 11,532,218 36.9%
269 / 635
Conservative victory
1983 8,456,934 27.6%
209 / 650
Conservative victory
1987 10,029,807 30.8%
229 / 650
Conservative victory
1992 11,560,484 34.4%
271 / 651
Conservative victory
1997 13,518,167 43.2%
419 / 659
Labour victory
2001 10,724,953 40.7%
413 / 659
Labour victory
2005 9,562,122 35.3%
356 / 646
Labour victory
2010 8,601,441 29.1%
258 / 650
Hung parliament (Con./Lib Dem coalition)
2015 9,339,818 30.5%
232 / 650
Conservative victory

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

#Franchise extended to all 18 to 20 year-olds under the Representation of the People Act 1969


Leaders of the Labour Party since 1906

Deputy Leaders of the Labour Party since 1922

Leaders of the Labour Party in the House of Lords since 1924

Labour Prime Ministers

Name Portrait Country of birth Periods in office
Ramsay MacDonald 65px Scotland 1924; 19291931
(First and Second MacDonald Ministry)
Clement Attlee 65px England 19451950; 19501951
(Attlee Ministry)
Harold Wilson 65px England 19641966; 19661970; 1974; 19741976
(First and Second Wilson Ministry)
James Callaghan 65px England 19761979
(Callaghan Ministry)
Tony Blair 65px Scotland 19972001; 20012005; 20052007
(Blair Ministry)
Gordon Brown 65px Scotland 20072010
(Brown Ministry)

Current elected MPs

258 Labour MPs were elected at the 2010 election. The MPs as of January 2015 are:

Member of Parliament Constituency First elected Notes
Diane Abbott Hackney North and Stoke Newington 1987
Debbie Abrahams Oldham East and Saddleworth 2011
Andy Sawford Corby 2012 Gained seat for Labour in the 2012 by-election, resulting from the resignation of Conservative MP Louise Mensch. First Labour by-election gain from Conservatives since 1997.
Bob Ainsworth Coventry North East 1992
Heidi Alexander Lewisham East 2010
Rushanara Ali Bethnal Green and Bow 2010 First person of Bangladeshi origin to be elected to the House of Commons,[145] and one of first three Muslim women to be elected as an Member of Parliament.[146]
Graham Allen Nottingham North 1987
David Anderson Blaydon 2005
Jon Ashworth Leicester South 2011
Ian Austin Dudley North 2005
Adrian Bailey West Bromwich West 2000
William Bain Glasgow North East 2009
Gordon Banks Ochil and South Perthshire 2005
Kevin Barron Rother Valley 1983
Hugh Bayley York Central 1992 Member for York 1992–97, City of York 1997–2010, York Central 2010–
Margaret Beckett Derby South 1974 Member for Lincoln 1974–79, Derby South 1983–2010
Anne Begg Aberdeen South 1997
Andy McDonald Middlesbrough 2012
Hilary Benn Leeds Central 1999
Joe Benton Bootle 1990
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–
Ben Bradshaw Exeter 1997
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 1983–97, 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–
Chris Bryant Rhondda 2001
Karen Buck Westminster North 1997 Member for Regent’s Park and Kensington North 1997–2010, Westminster North 2010–
Richard Burden Birmingham Northfield 1992
Andy Burnham Leigh 2001
Liam Byrne Birmingham Hodge Hill 2004
Alan Campbell Tynemouth 1997
Ronnie Campbell Blyth Valley 1987
Martin Caton Gower 1997
Sarah Champion Rotherham 2012
Jenny Chapman Darlington 2010
Katy Clark Ayrshire North and Arran 2005
Tom Clarke Coatbridge, Chryston and Bellshill 1982 Member for Coatbridge and Airdrie 1982–83, Monklands West 1983–97, Coatbridge and Chryston 1997–2005, Coatbridge, Chryston and Bellshill 2005–
Ann Clwyd Cynon Valley 1984
Vernon Coaker Gedling 1997
Ann Coffey Stockport 1987
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
Mary Creagh Wakefield 2005
Stella Creasy Walthamstow 2010
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 1992–97, Coventry South 1997–
Tony Cunningham Workington 2001
Margaret Curran Glasgow East 2010 Member of the Scottish Parliament for Glasgow Baillieston 1999–2011
Nic Dakin Scunthorpe 2010
Simon Danczuk Rochdale 2010
Alistair Darling Edinburgh South West 1987 Member for Edinburgh Central 1987–2005, Edinburgh South West 2005–
Wayne David Caerphilly 2001
Geraint Davies Swansea West 1997 Member for Croydon Central 1997–2005, Swansea West 2010–
Ian Davidson Glasgow South West 1992 Member for Glasgow Govan 1992–97, Glasgow Pollok 1997–2005, Glasgow South Wes 2005–
John Denham Southampton Itchen 1992
Gloria De Piero Ashfield 2010
Liz McInnes Heywood and Middleton 2014
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 1987–92, 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
Angela Eagle Wallasey 1992
Maria Eagle Garston and Halewood 1997 Member for Liverpool Garston 1997–2010, Garston and Halewood 2010–
Clive Efford Eltham 1997
Julie Elliott Sunderland Central 2010
Louise Ellman Liverpool Riverside 1997
Natascha Engel North East Derbyshire 2005
Bill Esterson Sefton Central 2010
Chris Evans Islwyn 2010
Paul Farrelly Newcastle-under-Lyme 2001
Frank Field Birkenhead 1979
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
Yvonne Fovargue Makerfield 2010
Hywel Francis Aberavon 2001
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 1992–97, Birmingham Sparkbrook and Small Heath 1997–2010, Birmingham Hall Green 2010–
Mike Kane Wythenshawe and Sale East 2014
Helen Goodman Bishop Auckland 2005
Tom Greatrex Rutherglen and Hamilton West 2010
Kate Green Stretford and Urmston 2010
Lilian Greenwood Nottingham South 2010
Nia Griffith Llanelli 2005
Andrew Gwynne Denton and Reddish 2005
Peter Hain Neath 1991
David Hamilton Midlothian 2001
Fabian Hamilton Leeds North East 1997
David Hanson Delyn 1992
Harriet Harman Camberwell and Peckham 1982 Member for Peckham 1982–97, 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–
Mark Hendrick Preston 2000
Stephen Hepburn Jarrow 1997
David Heyes Ashton-under-Lyne 2001
Meg Hillier Hackney South and Shoreditch 2005
Julie Hilling Bolton West 2010
Margaret Hodge Barking 1994
Sharon Hodgson Washington and Sunderland West 2005 Member for Gateshead East and Washington West 2005–2010, Washington and Sunderland West 2010–
Kate Hoey Vauxhall 1989
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 1986–97, Knowsley North and Sefton East 1997–2010, Knowsley 2010–
Lindsay Hoyle Chorley 1997
Tristram Hunt Stoke-on-Trent Central 2010
Huw Irranca-Davies Ogmore 2002
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–
Graham Jones Hyndburn 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 1992–97, Dulwich and West Norwood 1997–
Gerald Kaufman Manchester Gorton 1970 Member for Ardwick 1970–83, 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
Sadiq Khan Tooting 2005
David Lammy Tottenham 2000
Ian Lavery Wansbeck 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
Lucy Powell Manchester Central 2012
Andy Love Edmonton 1997
Ian Lucas Wrexham 2001
Fiona Mactaggart Slough 1997
Khalid Mahmood Birmingham Perry Barr 2001
Shabana Mahmood Birmingham Ladywood 2010
Seema Malhotra Feltham and Heston 2011
John Mann Bassetlaw 2001
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
Anne McGuire Stirling 1997
Ann McKechin Glasgow North 2001 Member for Glasgow Maryhill 2001–2005, Glasgow North 2005–
Iain McKenzie Inverclyde 2011
Catherine McKinnell Newcastle upon Tyne North 2010
Michael Meacher Oldham West and Royton 1970 Member for Oldham West 1970–97, Oldham West and Royton 1997–
Alan Meale Mansfield 1987
Ian Mearns Gateshead 2010
Stephen Doughty Cardiff South and Penarth 2012
Emma Lewell-Buck South Shields 2013
Ed Miliband Doncaster North 2005
Andrew Miller Ellesmere Port and Neston 1992
Austin Mitchell Great Grimsby 1977 Member for Grimsby 1977–83, Great Grimsby 1983–
Madeleine Moon Bridgend 2005
Jessica Morden Newport East 2005
Graeme Morrice Livingston 2010
Grahame Morris Easington 2010
George Mudie Leeds East 1992
Meg Munn Sheffield Heeley 2001
Jim Murphy East Renfrewshire 1997 Member for Eastwood 1997–2005, East Renfrewshire 2005–
Paul Murphy Torfaen 1987
Ian Murray Edinburgh South 2010
Lisa Nandy Wigan 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
Toby Perkins Chesterfield 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 1992–97, Greenwich and Woolwich 1997–
Jamie Reed Copeland 2005
Rachel Reeves Leeds West 2010
Emma Reynolds Wolverhampton North East 2010
Jonathan Reynolds Stalybridge and Hyde 2010
Linda Riordan Halifax 2005
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
Lindsay Roy Glenrothes 2008
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 1979–83, 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
Dennis Skinner Bolsover 1970
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
Owen Smith Pontypridd 2010
John Spellar Warley 1982 Member for Birmingham Northfield 1982–83, Warley West 1992–97, Warley 1997–
Jack Straw Blackburn 1979
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 1994–97, East Ham 1997–
Jon Trickett Hemsworth 1996
Karl Turner Kingston upon Hull East 2010
Derek Twigg Halton 1997
Stephen Twigg Liverpool West Derby 1997 Member for Enfield Southgate 1997–2005, Liverpool West Derby 2010–
Chuka Umunna Streatham 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
Steve Reed Croydon North 2012
Chris Williamson Derby North 2010
Phil Wilson Sedgefield 2007
David Winnick Walsall North 1966 Member for Croydon South 1966–70, 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 1997–99, Labour 1999–)
David Wright Telford 2001
Iain Wright Hartlepool 2004


  1. Phil Woolas was removed as MP for Oldham East and Saddleworth on 5 November 2010 following a decision that he had breached electoral law. Debbie Abrahams won the subsequent by-election on 13 January 2011.
  2. Eric Illsley resigned as MP for Barnsley Central on 8 February 2011 after he was convicted for expenses fraud. Dan Jarvis won the by-election on 3 March 2011.
  3. Peter Soulsby resigned as MP for Leicester South on 1 April 2011 in order to contest the election for the newly created position of directly elected Mayor of Leicester. Jon Ashworth won the following by-election on 5 May 2011.
  4. Following the death of the MP for Inverclyde, David Cairns, on 9 May 2011, Iain McKenzie won the by-election held on 30 June 2011.
  5. Following the death of the MP for Feltham and Heston, Alan Keen, on 10 November 2011, the seat was won by Seema Malhotra at the by-election on 15 December 2011.
  6. Eric Joyce was suspended from the Parliamentary Labour Party after he assaulted two Conservative and one Labour MP in Strangers Bar.[147] On 12 March 2012 he resigned from the Labour Party.[148]
  7. Marsha Singh resigned as MP for Bradford West on 28 February 2012 due to ill-health. On 29 March 2012, the seat was won by George Galloway of the Respect Party.[149]
  8. Alun Michael resigned the Cardiff South and Penarth seat on 22 October 2012 after being selected as the Labour Party candidate in the Police and Crime Commissioner Elections which were held on 15 November 2012. Michael's candidacy required him to relinquish his Westminster seat.[150] Stephen Doughty won the by-election, also held on 15 November 2012.
  9. Tony Lloyd resigned the Manchester Central seat on 22 October 2012 after being selected as the Labour Party candidate in the Police and Crime Commissioner Elections which were held on 15 November 2012. Lloyd's candidacy required him to relinquish his Westminster seat.[150] Lucy Powell won the by-election, also held on 15 November 2012.
  10. Andy Sawford gained the Corby seat for Labour at the Corby by-election, 2012 also held on 15 November 2012, following resignation of Louise Mensch. First Labour by-election gain from the Conservatives since 1997.
  11. Following the death of the MP for Middlesbrough, Stuart Bell, on 13 October 2012, the seat was won by Andy McDonald at the by-election on 29 November 2012.[151]
  12. Following the death of Croydon North MP Malcolm Wicks on 29 September 2012, Steve Reed won the by-election, also held on 29 November 2012.
  13. Denis MacShane resigned his Rotherham seat after the House of Commons Standards and Privileges Committee found that he had submitted 19 false invoices "plainly intended to deceive" the parliamentary expenses authority,[152][153][154] an issue dating back to 2009 and a wider parliamentary expenses scandal in the UK. MacShane accepted the office of Steward and Bailiff of the Chiltern Hundreds on 5 November 2012,[155] formally vacating his seat. Sarah Champion won the by-election which was also held on 29 November 2012.
  14. David Miliband, the MP for South Shields and former Foreign Secretary, announced on 27 March 2013 that he intended to resign from Parliament, in order to take up a position as head of the International Rescue Committee in New York City.[156] Emma Lewell-Buck won the by-election on 2 May 2013.
  15. Following the death of the MP for Wythenshawe and Sale East, Paul Goggins, on 7 January 2014, the seat was won by Mike Kane at the by-election on 13 February 2014.
  16. Following the death of the MP for Heywood and Middleton, Jim Dobbin, on 6 September 2014, the seat was won by Liz McInnes at the by-election on 9 October 2014.

See also


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Further reading

  • Davies, A.J, To Build A New Jerusalem (1996) ISBN
  • Better or Worse?: Has Labour Delivered? By Polly Toynbee and David Walker
  • Did Things Get Better? An Audit of Labour's Successes and Failures
  • Stephen Driver and Luke Martell, New Labour: Politics after Thatcherism, Polity Press, 1998 and 2006
  • Foote, Geoffrey. The Labour Party's Political Thought: A History, Macmillan, 1997 ed.
  • Francis, Martin. Ideas and Policies under Labour 1945–51, Manchester University Press, 1997. ISBN
  • Roy Hattersley, New Statesman, 10 May 2004, 'We should have made it clear that we too were modernisers'
  • Howell, David.British Social Democracy, Croom Helm, 1976
  • Howell, David. MacDonald's Party, Oxford University Press, 2002
  • Matthew, H. C. G., R. I. McKibbin, J. A. Kay. "The Franchise Factor in the Rise of the Labour Party," English Historical review Vol. 91, No. 361 (Oct. 1976), pp. 723–752 in JSTOR
  • Miliband, Ralph. Parliamentary Socialism, Merlin, 1960, 1972, ISBN
  • Morgan, Kenneth O. Labour in Power, 1945–51, OUP, 1984
  • Morgan, Kenneth O. Labour People: Leaders and Lieutenants, Hardie to Kinnock OUP, 1992, ISBN
  • Pelling, Henry, and Alastair J. Reid, A Short History of the Labour Party, Palgrave Macmillan, 2005 ed. ISBN
  • Ben Pimlott, Labour and the Left in the 1930s, Cambridge University Press, 1977.
  • Plant, Raymond, Matt Beech and Kevin Hickson (2004), The Struggle for Labour's Soul: understanding Labour's political thought since 1945, Routledge, ISBN
  • Clive Ponting, Breach of Promise, 1964–70, Penguin, 1990, ISBN
  • Pugh, Martin. Speak for Britain!: A New History of the Labour Party (2011) excerpt and text search
  • Rosen, Greg. Dictionary of Labour Biography. Politicos Publishing, 2001, ISBN
  • Rosen, Greg. Old Labour to New, Politicos Publishing, 2005, ISBN
  • Shaw, Eric. The Labour Party since 1979: Crisis and Transformation, Routledge, 1994
  • Thorpe, Andrew. A History of the British Labour Party, Palgrave Macmillan, 2008, ISBN
  • Whitehead, Phillip. The Writing on the Wall, Michael Joseph, 1985
  • Wintour, Patrick, and Colin Hughes, Labour Rebuilt, Fourth Estate, 1990
  • John Pilger, Freedom Next Time, Bantam Press, 2006, ISBN
  • Scholes-Fogg, Tom. What next for Labour?, Queensferry Publishing, 2011, ISBN 1-908570-00-8

External links

Official party sites