Freda Bedi Cont'd (#2)

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Henry George
by Wikipedia
Accessed: 4/10/20

Henry George
Born: September 2, 1839, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, US
Died: October 29, 1897 (aged 58), New York City, US
Spouse(s): Annie Corsina Fox
Children: Henry George Jr.; Anna George de Mille
Philosophy career
Education: Primary
School: Georgism
Main interests: Classical economics, ethics, political and economic philosophy, socialism, capitalism, laissez-faire, history, free trade, land economics
Notable ideas: Unearned income, land value tax, municipalization, free public goods from land value capture, single-tax, intellectual property reform, citizen's dividend, monetary sovereignty, the role of monopoly/privilege/land in effecting economic inequality and the business cycle
Influences: John Locke John Stuart Mil lThomas Paine[1] David Ricardo Adam Smith
Influenced: Grant Allen[2] Peter Barnes[3] Gary Becker[4] Arthur Brisbane[5] Paul Douglas[6][circular reference] Lloyd George [7] Jiang Kanghu Helen Keller Christopher Lasch Lizzie Magie[8] José Martí[9] Bill Moyers Scott Nearing[10] George W. Norris[11] Walter Rauschenbusch[12][13][14] Franklin D. Roosevelt Teddy Roosevelt George Bernard Shaw Joseph Stiglitz Milton Friedman Leo Tolstoy Sun Yat-sen

Henry George (September 2, 1839 – October 29, 1897) was an American political economist and journalist. He promoted the "single tax" on land, though he avoided that term. His writing was immensely popular in the 19th century America, and sparked several reform movements of the Progressive Era. He inspired the economic philosophy known as Georgism, based on the belief that people should own the value they produce themselves, but that the economic value derived from land (including natural resources) should belong equally to all members of society. He argued that a single tax on land would itself reform society and economy.

His most famous work, Progress and Poverty (1879), sold millions of copies worldwide, probably more than any other American book before that time. The treatise investigates the paradox of increasing inequality and poverty amid economic and technological progress, the cyclic nature of industrialized economies, and the use of rent capture such as land value tax and other anti-monopoly reforms as a remedy for these and other social problems.

The mid-20th century labor economist and journalist George Soule wrote that George was "By far the most famous American economic writer," and "author of a book which probably had a larger world-wide circulation than any other work on economics ever written."[15]

Personal life

Birthplace in Philadelphia

George was born in Philadelphia to a lower-middle-class family, the second of ten children of Richard S. H. George and Catharine Pratt George (née Vallance). His father was a publisher of religious texts and a devout Episcopalian, and sent George to the Episcopal Academy in Philadelphia. George chafed at his religious upbringing and left the academy without graduating.[16][17] Instead he convinced his father to hire a tutor and supplemented this with avid reading and attending lectures at the Franklin Institute.[18] His formal education ended at age 14 and he went to sea as a foremast boy at age 15 in April 1855 on the Hindoo, bound for Melbourne and Calcutta. He ended up in the American West in 1858 and briefly considered prospecting for gold but instead started work the same year in San Francisco as a type setter.[18]

In California, George fell in love with Annie Corsina Fox, an eighteen-year-old girl from Sydney who had been orphaned and was living with an uncle. The uncle, a prosperous, strong-minded man, was opposed to his niece's impoverished suitor. But the couple, defying him, eloped and married in late 1861, with Henry dressed in a borrowed suit and Annie bringing only a packet of books.

The marriage was a happy one and four children were born to them. On November 3, 1862 Annie gave birth to future United States Representative from New York, Henry George Jr. (1862–1916). Early on, even with the birth of future sculptor Richard F. George (1865 – September 28, 1912),[19][20] the family was near starvation. George's other two children were both daughters. The first was Jennie George, (c. 1867–1897), later to become Jennie George Atkinson.[21] George's other daughter was Anna Angela George (b. 1878), who would become mother of both future dancer and choreographer, Agnes de Mille and future actress Peggy George, who was born Margaret George de Mille.[22]

Following the birth of his second child George had no work and no money and had to beg for food. As he approached the first well-dressed stranger he saw in the street, George, normally a lawful man, decided to rob him if he was unwilling to help. Fortunately, the man took pity on him and gave him five dollars.[23]

George was raised as an Episcopalian, but he believed in "deistic humanitarianism". His wife Annie was Irish Catholic, but Henry George Jr. wrote that the children were mainly influenced by Henry George's deism and humanism.[24]

Career in journalism

George in 1865, age 26

After deciding against gold mining in British Columbia, George was hired as a printer for the newly created San Francisco Times,[25] and was able to immediately submit editorials for publication, including the popular What the Railroads Will Bring Us.,[26] which remained required reading in California schools for decades. George climbed the ranks of the Times, eventually becoming managing editor in the summer of 1867.[27][28] George worked for several papers, including four years (1871–1875) as editor of his own newspaper San Francisco Daily Evening Post and for a time running the Reporter, a Democratic anti-monopoly publication.[29][30][31] The George family struggled but George's increasing reputation and involvement in the newspaper industry lifted them from poverty.

Political and economic philosophy

George began as a Lincoln Republican, but then became a Democrat. He was a strong critic of railroad and mining interests, corrupt politicians, land speculators, and labor contractors. He first articulated his views in an 1868 article entitled "What the Railroad Will Bring Us." George argued that the boom in railroad construction would benefit only the lucky few who owned interests in the railroads and other related enterprises, while throwing the greater part of the population into abject poverty. This had led to him earning the enmity of the Central Pacific Railroad's executives, who helped defeat his bid for election to the California State Assembly.[31][32][33]

One day in 1871 George went for a horseback ride and stopped to rest while overlooking San Francisco Bay. He later wrote of the revelation that he had:

I asked a passing teamster, for want of something better to say, what land was worth there. He pointed to some cows grazing so far off that they looked like mice, and said, "I don't know exactly, but there is a man over there who will sell some land for a thousand dollars an acre." Like a flash it came over me that there was the reason of advancing poverty with advancing wealth. With the growth of population, land grows in value, and the men who work it must pay more for the privilege.[34]

Iconic portrait, taken shortly after writing Progress and Poverty

Furthermore, on a visit to New York City, he was struck by the apparent paradox that the poor in that long-established city were much worse off than the poor in less developed California. These observations supplied the theme and title for his 1879 book Progress and Poverty, which was a great success, selling over 3 million copies. In it George made the argument that a sizeable portion of the wealth created by social and technological advances in a free market economy is possessed by land owners and monopolists via economic rents, and that this concentration of unearned wealth is the main cause of poverty. George considered it a great injustice that private profit was being earned from restricting access to natural resources while productive activity was burdened with heavy taxes, and indicated that such a system was equivalent to slavery—a concept somewhat similar to wage slavery. This is also the work in which he made the case for a land value tax in which governments would tax the value of the land itself, thus preventing private interests from profiting upon its mere possession, but allowing the value of all improvements made to that land to remain with investors.[35][36]

George was in a position to discover this pattern, having experienced poverty himself, knowing many different societies from his travels, and living in California at a time of rapid growth. In particular he had noticed that the construction of railroads in California was increasing land values and rents as fast as or faster than wages were rising.[32][37]

Political career

In 1880, now a popular writer and speaker,[38] George moved to New York City, becoming closely allied with the Irish nationalist community despite being of English ancestry. From there he made several speaking journeys abroad to places such as Ireland and Scotland where access to land was (and still is) a major political issue.

Campaigning for mayor in 1897, just before his death

In 1886, George campaigned for mayor of New York City as the candidate of the United Labor Party, the short-lived political society of the Central Labor Union. He polled second, more than the Republican candidate Theodore Roosevelt. The election was won by Tammany Hall candidate Abram Stevens Hewitt by what many of George's supporters believed was fraud. In the 1887 New York state elections, George came in a distant third in the election for Secretary of State of New York.[31][39] The United Labor Party was soon weakened by internal divisions: the management was essentially Georgist, but as a party of organized labor it also included some Marxist members who did not want to distinguish between land and capital, many Catholic members who were discouraged by the excommunication of Father Edward McGlynn, and many who disagreed with George's free trade policy. George had particular trouble with Terrence V. Powderly, president of the Knights of Labor, a key member of the United Labor coalition. While initially friendly with Powderly, George vigorously opposed the tariff policies which Powderly and many other labor leaders thought vital to the protection of American workers. George's strident criticism of the tariff set him against Powderly and others in the labor movement.[40] During George’s life, communities in Delaware and Alabama were developed based on his single tax on land and this legacy continued through applications in a number of areas around the world, including Australia, New Zealand and Taiwan.[41]

Death and funeral

George's first stroke occurred in 1890, after a global speaking tour concerning land rights and the relationship between rent and poverty. This stroke greatly weakened him, and he never truly recovered. Despite this, George tried to remain active in politics. Against the advice of his doctors, George campaigned for New York City mayor again in 1897, this time as an Independent Democrat, saying, "I will make the race if I die for it." The strain of the campaign precipitated a second stroke, leading to his death four days before the election.[42][43][44][45]

An estimated 100,000 people visited Grand Central Palace during the day to see Henry George's face, with an estimated equal number[46] crowding outside, unable to enter, and held back by police. After the Palace doors closed, the Reverend Lyman Abbott, Father Edward McGlynn, Rabbi Gustav Gottheil, R. Heber Newton (Episcopalian), and John Sherwin Crosby delivered addresses.[47] Separate memorial services were held elsewhere. In Chicago, five thousand people waited in line to hear memorial addresses by the former governor of Illinois, John Peter Altgeld, and John Lancaster Spalding.[48] Mayor Strong broke down and cried at a meeting, calling George a martyr.[45]

George's funeral procession on Madison Avenue

The New York Times reported that later in the evening, an organized funeral procession of about 2,000 people left from the Grand Central Palace and made its way through Manhattan to the Brooklyn Bridge. This procession was "all the way ... thronged on either side by crowds of silent watchers."

The procession then went on to Brooklyn, where the crowd at Brooklyn City Hall "was the densest ever seen there." There were "thousands on thousands" at City Hall who were so far back that they could not see the funeral procession pass. It was impossible to move on any of the nearby streets. The Times wrote, "Rarely has such an enormous crowd turned out in Brooklyn on any occasion," but that nonetheless, "[t]he slow tolling of the City Hall bell and the regular beating of drums were the only sounds that broke the stillness. ... Anything more impressive ... could not be imagined."[49] At Court Street, the casket was transferred to a hearse and taken to a private funeral at Fort Hamilton.

Commentators disagreed on whether it was the largest funeral in New York history or the largest since the death of Abraham Lincoln. The New York Times reported, "Not even Lincoln had a more glorious death."[50] Even the more conservative New York Sun wrote that "Since the Civil War, few announcements have been more startling than that of the sudden death of Henry George."[51] Flags were placed at half-mast, even at Tammany Hall, which cancelled its rally for the day.[45]

Views and policy proposals

Socialization of land and natural resource rents

Everybody works but the vacant lot.

Henry George is best known for his argument that the economic rent of land (location) should be shared by society. The clearest statement of this view is found in Progress and Poverty: "We must make land common property."[52][53] By taxing land values, society could recapture the value of its common inheritance, raise wages, improve land use, and eliminate the need for taxes on productive activity. George believed it would remove existing incentives toward land speculation and encourage development, as landlords would not suffer tax penalties for any industry or edifice constructed on their land and could not profit by holding valuable sites vacant.[54]

Broadly applying this principle is now commonly known as "Georgism." In George's time, it was known as the "single-tax" movement and sometimes associated with movements for land nationalization, especially in Ireland.[55][56][57] However, in Progress and Poverty, George did not favor the idea of nationalization.

I do not propose either to purchase or to confiscate private property in land. The first would be unjust; the second, needless. Let the individuals who now hold it still retain, if they want to, possession of what they are pleased to call their land. Let them continue to call it their land. Let them buy and sell, and bequeath and devise it. We may safely leave them the shell, if we take the kernel. It is not necessary to confiscate land; it is only necessary to confiscate rent.[58]

Municipalization of utilities and free public transit

George considered businesses relying on exclusive right-of-way land privilege to be "natural" monopolies. Examples of these services included the transportation of utilities (water, electricity, sewage), information (telecommunications), goods, and travelers. George advocated that these systems of transport along "public ways" should usually be managed as public utilities and provided for free or at marginal cost. In some cases, it might be possible to allow competition between private service providers along public "rights of way," such as parcel shipping companies that operate on public roads, but wherever competition would be impossible, George supported complete municipalization. George said that these services would be provided for free because investments in beneficial public goods always tend to increase land values by more than the total cost of those investments. George used the example of urban buildings that provide free vertical transit, paid out of some of the increased value that residents derive from the addition of elevators.[59][60]

Intellectual property reform

George was opposed to or suspicious of all intellectual property privilege, because his classical definition of "land" included "all natural forces and opportunities." Therefore, George proposed to abolish or greatly limit intellectual property privilege. In George's view, owning a monopoly over specific arrangements and interactions of materials, governed by the forces of nature, allowed title-holders to extract royalty-rents from producers, in a way similar to owners of ordinary land titles. George later supported limited copyright, on the ground that temporary property over a unique arrangement of words or colors did not in any way prevent others from laboring to make other works of art. George apparently ranked patent rents as a less significant form of monopoly than the owners of land title deeds, partly because he viewed the owners of locations as "the robber that takes all that is left." People could choose not to buy a specific new product, but they cannot choose to lack a place upon which to stand, so benefits gained for labor through lesser reforms would tend to eventually be captured by owners and financers of location monopoly.

Free trade

George was opposed to tariffs, which were at the time both the major method of protectionist trade policy and an important source of federal revenue, the federal income tax having not yet been introduced. He argued that tariffs kept prices high for consumers, while failing to produce any increase in overall wages. He also believed that tariffs protected monopolistic companies from competition, thus augmenting their power. Free trade became a major issue in federal politics and his book Protection or Free Trade was the first book to be read entirely into the Congressional Record.[61] It was read by five Democratic congressmen.[62][63]

In 1997, Spencer MacCallum wrote that Henry George was "undeniably the greatest writer and orator on free trade who ever lived."[64]

In 2009, Tyler Cowen wrote that George's 1886 book Protection or Free Trade "remains perhaps the best-argued tract on free trade to this day."[65]

Jim Powell said that Protection or Free Trade was probably the best book on trade written by anyone in the Americas, comparing it Adam Smith's Wealth of Nations. Milton Friedman said it was the most rhetorically brilliant work ever written on trade.[66] Friedman also paraphrased one of George's arguments in favor of free trade: "It's a very interesting thing that in times of war, we blockade our enemies in order to prevent them from getting goods from us. In time of peace we do to ourselves by tariffs what we do to our enemy in time of war."[67]

Secret ballot

Artist: George de Forest Brush, Sitter: Henry George, Date: 1888

George was one of the earliest and most prominent advocates for adoption of the secret ballot in the United States.[68] Harvard historian Jill Lepore asserts that Henry George's advocacy is the reason Americans vote with secret ballots today.[50] George's first article in support of the secret ballot was entitled "Bribery in Elections" and was published in the Overland Review of December 1871. His second article was "Money in Elections," published in the North American Review of March 1883. The first secret ballot reform approved by a state legislature was brought about by reformers who said they were influenced by George.[69] The first state to adopt the secret ballot, also called The Australian Ballot, was Massachusetts in 1888 under the leadership of Richard Henry Dana III. By 1891, more than half the states had adopted it too.[70]

Money creation, banking, and national deficit reform

George supported the use of "debt free" (sovereign money) currency, such as the greenback, which governments would spend into circulation to help finance public spending through the capture of seigniorage rents. He opposed the use of metallic currency, such as gold or silver, and fiat money created by private commercial banks.[71]

Citizen's dividend and universal pension

George proposed to create a pension and disability system, and an unconditional basic income from surplus land rents. It would be distributed to residents "as a right" instead of as charity. Georgists often refer to this policy as a citizen's dividend in reference to a similar proposal by Thomas Paine.

Bankruptcy protection and an abolition of debtors' prisons

George noted that most debt, though bearing the appearance of genuine capital interest, was not issued for the purpose of creating true capital, but instead as an obligation against rental flows from existing economic privilege. George therefore reasoned that the state should not provide aid to creditors in the form of sheriffs, constables, courts, and prisons to enforce collection on these illegitimate obligations. George did not provide any data to support this view, but in today's developed economies, much of the supply of credit is created to purchase claims on future land rents, rather than to finance the creation of true capital. Michael Hudson and Adair Turner estimate that about 80 percent of credit finances real estate purchases, mostly land.[72][73]

George acknowledged that this policy would limit the banking system but believed that would actually be an economic boon, since the financial sector, in its existing form, was mostly augmenting rent extraction, as opposed to productive investment. "The curse of credit," George wrote, was "... that it expands when there is a tendency to speculation, and sharply contracts just when most needed to assure confidence and prevent industrial waste." George even said that a debt jubilee could remove the accumulation of burdensome obligations without reducing aggregate wealth.[74]

Women's suffrage

George was an important and vocal advocate for women's political rights. He argued for extending suffrage to women and even suggested filling one house of Congress entirely with women: "If we must have two houses of Congress, then by all means let us fill one with women and the other with men."[75]

Other proposals

Henry George also proposed and advocated for the following reforms:

• Dramatic reductions in the size of the military.
• Replacement of contract patronage with the direct employment of government workers, with civil-service protections.
• Building and maintenance of free mass transportation and libraries.[76]
• Campaign finance reform and political spending restrictions.
• Careful regulation of all monopolies. George advocated regulations to eliminate monopolies when possible and government ownership of monopolies as a policy of last resort.
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Re: Freda Bedi Cont'd (#2)

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See also: Georgism

Henry George's ideas on politics and economics had enormous influence in his time. His ideas gave rise to the economic philosophy now known as Georgism. However, his influence slowly waned through the 20th century. Nonetheless, it would be difficult to overstate George's impact on turn-of-the-century reform movements and intellectual culture. George's self-published Progress and Poverty was the first popular economics text and one of the most widely printed books ever written. The book's explosive worldwide popularity is often marked as the beginning of the Progressive Era and various political parties, clubs, and charitable organizations around the world were founded on George's ideas. George's message attracts support widely across the political spectrum, including labor union activists, socialists, anarchists, libertarians, reformers, conservatives, and wealthy investors. As a result, Henry George is still claimed as a primary intellectual influence by both classical liberals and socialists. Edwin Markham expressed a common sentiment when he said, "Henry George has always been to me one of the supreme heroes of humanity."[77]

A large number of famous individuals, particularly Progressive Era figures, claim inspiration from Henry George's ideas. John Peter Altgeld wrote that George "made almost as great an impression on the economic thought of the age as Darwin did on the world of science."[78] Jose Marti wrote, "Only Darwin in the natural sciences has made a mark comparable to George's on social science."[79] In 1892, Alfred Russel Wallace stated that George's Progress and Poverty was "undoubtedly the most remarkable and important book of the present century," implicitly placing it above even The Origin of Species, which he had earlier helped develop and publicize.[80]

Franklin D. Roosevelt praised George as "one of the really great thinkers produced by our country" and bemoaned the fact that George's writings were not better known and understood.[81] Yet even several decades earlier, William Jennings Bryan wrote that George's genius had reached the global reading public and that he "was one of the foremost thinkers of the world."[82]

John Dewey wrote, "It would require less than the fingers of the two hands to enumerate those who from Plato down rank with him," and that "No man, no graduate of a higher educational institution, has a right to regard himself as an educated man in social thought unless he has some first-hand acquaintance with the theoretical contribution of this great American thinker."[83] Albert Jay Nock wrote that anyone who rediscovers Henry George will find that "George was one of the first half-dozen [greatest] minds of the nineteenth century, in all the world."[84] The anti-war activist John Haynes Holmes echoed that sentiment by commenting that George was "one of the half-dozen great Americans of the nineteenth century, and one of the outstanding social reformers of all time." [85] Edward McGlynn said, "[George] is one of the greatest geniuses that the world has ever seen, and ... the qualities of his heart fully equal the magnificent gifts of his intellect. ... He is a man who could have towered above all his equals in almost any line of literary or scientific pursuit."[86] Likewise, Leo Tolstoy wrote that George was "one of the greatest men of the 19th century."[87]

The social scientist and economist John A. Hobson observed in 1897 that "Henry George may be considered to have exercised a more directly powerful formative and educative influence over English radicalism of the last fifteen years than any other man,"[88] and that George "was able to drive an abstract notion, that of economic rent, into the minds of a large number of 'practical' men, and so generate therefrom a social movement. George had all the popular gifts of the American orator and journalist, with something more. Sincerity rang out of every utterance."[89] Many others agree with Hobson. George Bernard Shaw claims that Henry George was responsible for inspiring 5 out of 6 socialist reformers in Britain during the 1880s, who created socialist organizations such as the Fabian Society.[90] The controversial People's Budget and the Land Values (Scotland) Bill were inspired by Henry George and resulted in a constitutional crisis and the Parliament Act 1911 to reform of the House of Lords, which had blocked the land reform. In Denmark, the Danmarks Retsforbund, known in English as the Justice Party or Single-Tax Party, was founded in 1919. The party's platform is based upon the land tax principles of Henry George. The party was elected to parliament for the first time in 1926, and they were moderately successful in the post-war period and managed to join a governing coalition with the Social Democrats and the Social Liberal Party from the years 1957–60, with diminishing success afterwards.

Non-political means have also been attempted to further the cause. A number of "Single Tax Colonies" were started, such as Arden, Delaware and Fairhope, Alabama. In 1904, Lizzie Magie created a board game called The Landlord's Game to demonstrate George's theories. This was later turned into the popular board game Monopoly.

Landlords Game board, based on Magie's 1924 US patent (no. 1,509,312).

Joseph Jay "J.J." Pastoriza led a successful Georgist movement in Houston. Though the Georgist club, the Houston Single Tax League, started there in 1890, Pastoriza lent use of his property to the league in 1903. He retired from the printing business in 1906 in order to dedicate his life to public service, then traveled the United States and Europe while studying various systems of taxing property. He returned to Houston and served as Houston Tax Commissioner from 1911 through 1917. He introduced his "Houston Plan of Taxation" in 1912: improvements to land and merchants' inventories were taxed at 25 percent of appraised value, unimproved land was taxed at 70 percent of appraisal, and personal property was exempt. However, in 1915, two courts ruled that the Houston Plan violated the Texas Constitution.[91]

Before reading Progress and Poverty, Helen Keller was a socialist who believed that Georgism was a good step in the right direction.[92] She later wrote of finding "in Henry George's philosophy a rare beauty and power of inspiration, and a splendid faith in the essential nobility of human nature."[93] Some speculate that the passion, sincerity, clear explanations evident in Henry George's writing account for the almost religious passion that many believers in George's theories exhibit, and that the promised possibility of creating heaven on Earth filled a spiritual void during an era of secularization.[94] Josiah Wedgwood, the Liberal and later Labour Party politician wrote that ever since reading Henry George's work, "I have known 'that there was a man from God, and his name was Henry George.' I had no need hence-forth for any other faith."[95]

Although both advocated worker's rights, Henry George and Karl Marx were antagonists. Marx saw the Single Tax platform as a step backwards from the transition to communism.[96] On his part, Henry George predicted that if Marx's ideas were tried, the likely result would be a dictatorship.[citation needed] Leo Tolstoy deplored that a silence had fallen around George, for he viewed Georgism as reasonable and realistic, as opposed to other utopian movements,[97] and as a "contribution to the enlightenment of the consciousness of mankind, placed on a practical footing,"[98][99] and that it could help do away with what he called the Slavery of Our Times."[100]

Henry George's popularity waned gradually during the 20th century. However, there are still Georgist organizations. Many influential people who remain famous, such as George Bernard Shaw, were inspired by George or identify as Georgists. In his last book, Where do we go from here: Chaos or Community?, Martin Luther King, Jr referred to Henry George in support of a guaranteed minimum income. Bill Moyers quoted Henry George in a speech and identified George as a "great personal hero."[101] Albert Einstein wrote that "Men like Henry George are rare unfortunately. One cannot imagine a more beautiful combination of intellectual keenness, artistic form and fervent love of justice. Every line is written as if for our generation. The spreading of these works is a really deserving cause, for our generation especially has many and important things to learn from Henry George."[102] FILE NOT FOUND (ERROR 404)

Mason Gaffney, an American economist and a major Georgist critic of neoclassical economics, argued that neoclassical economics was designed and promoted by landowners and their hired economists to divert attention from George's extremely popular philosophy that since land and resources are provided by nature, and their value is given by society, land value—rather than labor or capital—should provide the tax base to fund government and its expenditures.[103]

British MP, Andrew MacLaren believed George's ideas of land taxation would bring about economic justice and argued in favour of them in the House of Commons. Together with his son Leon MacLaren he founded the School of Economic Science, a global organisation teaching Georgist principles.[104]

Joseph Stiglitz wrote that "One of the most important but underappreciated ideas in economics is the Henry George principle of taxing the economic rent of land, and more generally, natural resources."[105] Stiglitz also claims that we now know land value tax "is even better than Henry George thought."

The Robert Schalkenbach Foundation publishes copies of George's works and related texts on economic reform and sponsors academic research into his policy proposals. The Lincoln Institute of Land Policy was founded to promote the ideas of Henry George but now focuses more generally on land economics and policy. The Henry George School of Social Science of New York and its satellite schools teach classes and conduct outreach.

Henry George theorem

Main article: Henry George theorem

In 1977, Joseph Stiglitz showed that under certain conditions, spending by the government on public goods will increase aggregate land rents by at least an equal amount. This result has been dubbed by economists the Henry George theorem, as it characterizes a situation where Henry George's "single tax" is not only efficient, it is also the only tax necessary to finance public expenditures.[106]

Economic contributions

George reconciled the issues of efficiency and equity, showing that both could be satisfied under a system in harmony with natural law.[107] He showed that Ricardo's Law of Rent applied not just to an agricultural economy, but even more so to urban economics. And he showed that there is no inherent conflict between labor and capital provided one maintained a clear distinction between classical factors of production, capital and land.

George developed what he saw as a crucial feature of his own theory of economics in a critique of an illustration used by Frédéric Bastiat in order to explain the nature of interest and profit. Bastiat had asked his readers to consider James and William, both carpenters. James has built himself a plane, and has lent it to William for a year. Would James be satisfied with the return of an equally good plane a year later? Surely not! He'd expect a board along with it, as interest. The basic idea of a theory of interest is to understand why. Bastiat said that James had given William over that year "the power, inherent in the instrument, to increase the productivity of his labor," and wants compensation for that increased productivity.[108]

George did not accept this explanation. He wrote, "I am inclined to think that if all wealth consisted of such things as planes, and all production was such as that of carpenters – that is to say, if wealth consisted but of the inert matter of the universe, and production of working up this inert matter into different shapes – that interest would be but the robbery of industry, and could not long exist."[109] But some wealth is inherently fruitful, like a pair of breeding cattle, or a vat of grape juice soon to ferment into wine. Planes and other sorts of inert matter (and the most lent item of all – money itself) earn interest indirectly, by being part of the same "circle of exchange" with fruitful forms of wealth such as those, so that tying up these forms of wealth over time incurs an opportunity cost.[citation needed]

George's theory had its share of critiques. Austrian school economist Eugen von Böhm-Bawerk, for example, expressed a negative judgment of George's discussion of the carpenter's plane. In his treatise, Capital and Interest, he wrote:

(T)he separation of production into two groups, in one of which the vital forces of nature form a distinct element in addition to labour, while in the other they do not, is entirely untenable... The natural sciences have long ago told us that the cooperation of nature is universal. ... The muscular movement of the man who planes would be of very little use, if the natural powers and properties of the steel edge of the plane did not come to his assistance.[110]

Later, George argued that the role of time in production is pervasive. In The Science of Political Economy, he writes:

[I]f I go to a builder and say to him, "In what time and at what price will you build me such and such a house?" he would, after thinking, name a time, and a price based on it. This specification of time would be essential. ... This I would soon find if, not quarreling with the price, I ask him largely to lessen the time. ... I might get the builder somewhat to lessen the time ... ; but only by greatly increasing the price, until finally a point would be reached where he would not consent to build the house in less time no matter at what price. He would say [that the house just could not be built any faster]. ... The importance ... of this principle – that all production of wealth requires time as well as labor – we shall see later on; but the principle that time is a necessary element in all production we must take into account from the very first.[111]

According to Oscar B. Johannsen, "Since the very basis of the Austrian concept of value is subjective, it is apparent that George's understanding of value paralleled theirs. However, he either did not understand or did not appreciate the importance of marginal utility."[112] On the contrary, George explicitly used marginal utility in his analyses of both the 'margin of production' in macroeconomics and microeconomic decision theory.[113]

Another spirited response came from British biologist T.H. Huxley in his article "Capital – the Mother of Labour," published in 1890 in the journal The Nineteenth Century. Huxley used the scientific principles of energy to undermine George's theory, arguing that, energetically speaking, labor is unproductive.[114]


• Our Land and Land Policy 1871
• Progress and Poverty 1879 unabridged text (1912)
• The Land Question 1881 (The Irish Land Question)
• Social Problems 1883
• Protection or Free Trade 1886
• "The New Party". The North American Review. 145 (368): 1–8. July 1887. ISBN 0-85315-726-X.
• Protection or Free Trade 1886 unabridged text (1905)
• The Standard, New York 1887 to 1890 A weekly periodical started and usually edited by Henry George.
• The Condition of Labor 1891
• A Perplexed Philosopher 1892
• The Science of Political Economy (unfinished) 1898

See also

• Georgism
• Charles Hall – An early precursor to Henry George
• Henry George Birthplace
• Henry George Theorem
• History of the board game Monopoly
• Land Value Tax
• New York City mayoral elections
• Spaceship Earth
• Tammany Hall#1870-1900


1. Kaye, Harvey J. "Founding Father of the American Left." The New York Times, The New York Times, 31 July 2005,
2. Greenslade, William (2005). Grant Allen : literature and cultural politics at the Fin de Siècle. Aldershot, Hants, England Burlington, VT: Ashgate. ISBN 0754608654.
3. Barnes, Peter (2006). Capitalism 3.0 : a guide to reclaiming the commons. San Francisco Berkeley: Berrett-Koehler U.S. trade Bookstores and wholesalers, Publishers Group West. ISBN 1576753611.
4. Becker, Gary. "Gary Becker Interview". Archived from the original on October 6, 2015. Retrieved October 5, 2015.
5. Drewry, John E. (2010). Post Biographies Of Famous Journalists. Kessinger Publishing, LLC.
7. Contemporary Europe since 1870. Carlton J. H. Hayes. 1953. Quote: "A young Welsh Liberal, David Lloyd George, was especially impressed by Henry George."
8. Stone, Tanya Lee (2018). Pass go and collect $200: the real story of how Monopoly was invented (1st ed.). New York: Henry Holt and Company. ISBN 9781627791687.
9. Mace, Elisabeth. "The economic thinking of Jose Marti: Legacy foundation for the integration of America". Archived from the original on September 8, 2015. Retrieved August 5, 2015.
10. Nearing, The Making of a Radical, pg. 29.
11. Putz, Paul Emory (July 2, 2015). "Summer Book List: Henry George (and George Norris) and the Crisis of Inequality". Retrieved July 2, 2015.
12. McNab, John (1972). Towards a Theology of Social Concern: A Comparative Study of the Elements for Social Concern in the Writings of Frederick D. Maurice and Walter Rauschenbusch (PhD thesis). Montreal: McGill University. p. 201. Retrieved February 6, 2019.
13. Evans, Christopher H. (2005). "Rauschenbusch, Walter (1861–1918)". In Shook, John R. (ed.). The Dictionary of Modern American Philosophers. 4. Bristol, England: Thoemmes Continuum. p. 2010. ISBN 978-1-84371-037-0.
14. Piott, Steven L. (2006). American Reformers, 1870–1920: Progressives in Word and Deed. Lanham, Maryland: Rowman & Litlefield Publishers. p. 78. ISBN 978-0-7425-2763-8.
15. Soule, George. Ideas of the Great Economists (1955) p. 81.
16. Dictionary of American Biography, 1st. ed., s.v. "George, Henry," edited by Allen Johnson and Dumas Malone, Vol. VII (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1931), pp. 211–212.
17. David Montgomery, American National Biography Online, s.v. "George, Henry," Feb. 2000, Accessed September 3, 2011
18. "American National Biography Online."
19. Obituaries, New York Times, September 30, 1912,
20. "SINGLE TAXERS DINE JOHNSON; Medallion Made by Son of Henry George Presented to Cleveland's Former Mayor", The New York Times – May 31, 1910
21. "Obituary – The New York Times, May 4, 1897" (PDF).
22. De Mille, Agnes. "Finding aid to the Agnes De Mille papers SSC.MS.00046".
23. Hill, Malcolm, 1943- (1999). Enemy of injustice : the life of Andrew MacLaren, Member of Parliament. London: Othila Press. ISBN 1901647196. OCLC 42137055.
24. "How Henry George, Jr., Got into the Catholic "Who's Who"". The Fortnightly Review. 18: 704. 1911. Retrieved March 9,2018.
25. Formaini, Robert L. "Henry George Antiprotectionist Giant of American Economics" (PDF). Economic Insights of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas. 10 (2). Retrieved October 28, 2014.
26. George, Henry (October 1868). "What the Railroad Will Bring Us". Overland Monthly and Out West Magazine. 1 (4): 297–306.
27. Henry, George, Jr. The Life of Henry George. New York: Doubleday & McClure, 1900, chap. 11.
28. "George, Henry". International Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences. Retrieved October 28, 2014.
29. Charles A. Barker, "Henry George and the California Background of Progress and Poverty," California Historical Society Quartery 24, no. 2 (Jun. 1945), 103–104.
30. Dictionary of American Biography, s.v. "George, Henry," pp. 211–212.
31. Montgomery, American National Biography Online, s.v. "George, Henry," September 3, 2011.
32. Henry George, "What the Railroad Will Bring Us," Overland Monthly 1, no. 4 (Oct. 1868), Archived April 26, 2012, at the Wayback Machine Accessed September 3, 2011.
33. Dictionary of American Biography, s.v. "George, Henry," 213.
34. Nock, Albert Jay. Henry George: Unorthodox American, Part IV[permanent dead link]
35. Jurgen G. Backhaus, "Henry George's Ingenious Tax: A Contemporary Restatement," American Journal of Economics and Sociology 56, no. 4 (Oct. 1997), 453–458
36. Henry George, Progress and Poverty, (1879; reprinted, London: Kegan Paul, Tench & Co., 1886), 283–284.
37. Charles A. Barker, "Henry George and the California Background of Progress and Poverty," California Historical Society Quartery 24, no. 2 (Jun. 1945), 97–115.
38. According to his granddaughter Agnes de Mille, Progress and Poverty and its successors made Henry George the third most famous man in the US, behind only Mark Twain and Thomas Edison. [1] Archived February 3, 2006, at the Wayback Machine
39. Dictionary of American Biography, s.v. "George, Henry," 214–215.
40. Robert E. Weir, "A Fragile Alliance: Henry George and the Knights of Labor," American Journal of Economics and Sociology56, no. 4 (Oct. 1997), 423–426.
41. Caves, R. W. (2004). Encyclopedia of the City. Routledge. p. 301.
42. Dictionary of American Biography, s. V. "George, Henry," 215.
43. Montgomery, American National Biography, s.v. "George, Henry,"
44. "Henry George's Death Abroad. London Papers Publish Long Sketches and Comment on His Career". New York Times. October 30, 1897. Retrieved March 7, 2010. The newspapers today are devoting much attention to the death of Henry George, the candidate of the Jeffersonian Democracy for the office of Mayor of Greater New York, publishing long sketches of his career and philosophical and economical theories.
45. New York Times October 30, 1897 ... 956699.pdf
46. Gabriel, Ralph (1946). Course of American democratic thought. p. 204.
47. Yardley, Edmund (1905). Addresses at the funeral of Henry George, Sunday, October 31, 1897. Chicago: The Public publishing company. hdl:2027/loc.ark:/13960/t39z9vd7k.
48. University of Chicago. Office of the President. Harper, Judson and Burton Administrations. Records, [Box 37, Folder 3], Special Collections Research Center, University of Chicago Library
49. "The Funeral Procession" (PDF). The New York Times. November 1, 1897. Retrieved July 16, 2015.
50. Lepore, Jill. "Forget 9-9-9. Here's a Simple Plan: 1". The New York Times. Retrieved September 7, 2015.
51. Henry George, Citizen of the World. By Anna George de Mille. Edited by Don C. Shoemaker. With an Introduction by Agnes de Mille. Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina Press, 1950.
52. George, Henry (1879). "The True Remedy". Progress and Poverty: An Inquiry into the Cause of Industrial Depressions and of Increase of Want with Increase of Wealth. VI. New York: Robert Schalkenbach Foundation. ISBN 0-914016-60-1. Retrieved May 12, 2008.
53. Lough, Alexandra. "The Last Tax: Henry George and the Social Politics of Land Reform in the Gilded Age and Progressive Era". George only sought to make land common property through the socialization of land rent, or what many have called the "unearned increment" of land value.
54. Backhaus, "Henry George's Ingenious Tax," 453–458.
55. "Supplement to Encyclopædia Britannica". 1889. The labor vote in the election was trifling until Henry George had commenced an agitation for the nationalization of land.
56. Thompson, Robert Ellis; Barker, Wharton (1888). "The American: A National Journal, Volumes 15-16".
57. "A RECEPTION TO MR.GEORGE". The New York Times. October 21, 1882. Mr. George expressed his thanks for the reception and predicted that soon the movement in favor of land nationalization would be felt all over the civilized world.
58. George, Henry (1879). "How Equal Rights to the Land May Be Asserted and Secured". Progress and Poverty: An Inquiry into the Cause of Industrial Depressions and of Increase of Want with Increase of Wealth. VIII. New York: Robert Schalkenbach Foundation. ISBN 0-914016-60-1. Retrieved November 27, 2016.
59. Armstrong, K. L. (1895). The Little Statesman: A Middle-of-the-road Manual for American Voters. Schulte Publishing Company. pp. 125–127. Retrieved January 15, 2016.
60. George, Henry (October 6, 1886). "Throwing His Hat in the Ring: Henry George Runs for Mayor (Acceptance Speech)". New York World, New York Tribune, New York Star, and New York Times. Retrieved February 1, 2016.
61. George, Henry (2016). The annotated works of Henry George. Madison New Jersey Lanham, Maryland New York, NY: Fairleigh Dickinson University Press The Rowman & Littlefield Publishing Group, Inc., Robert Schalkenbach Foundation. ISBN 978-1611477016.
62. Weir, "A Fragile Alliance," 425–425
63. Henry George, Protection or Free Trade: An Examination of the Tariff Question, with Especial Regard to the Interests of Labor(New York: 1887).
64. MacCallum, Spencer H. (Summer–Fall 1997). "The Alternative Georgist Tradition" (PDF). Fragments. 35. Archived from the original (PDF) on March 4, 2016. Retrieved October 30, 2014.
65. Cowen, Tyler (May 1, 2009). "Anti-Capitalist Rerun". The American Interest. 4 (5). Retrieved November 15, 2014.
66. Powell, Jim (June 11, 2016). "Milton Friedman's Favorite Book on Trade". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved March 17, 2018.
67. Obenhaus, Matthew (March 7, 2016). "Free Trade Lessons for the Economically Challenged". The Gymnasium. Retrieved March 17, 2018.
68. Lepore, Jill (October 13, 2008). "Rock, Paper, Scissors: How we used to vote". New Yorker. New Yorker.
69. Saltman, Roy (2008). The history and politics of voting technology : chads and other scandals. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan. p. 97. ISBN 978-0230605985.
70. For a more complete discussion of the adoption of the Australian Ballot, see Saltman, Roy G., (2006), The History and Politics of Voting Technology, Palgrave Macmillan, NY, pp. 96–103.
71. "To illustrate: It is not the business of government to interfere with the views which any one may hold of the Creator or with the worship he may choose to pay him, so long as the exercise of these individual rights does not conflict with the equal liberty of others; and the result of governmental interference in this domain has been hypocrisy, corruption, persecution and religious war. It is not the business of government to direct the employment of labor and capital, and to foster certain industries at the expense of other industries; and the attempt to do so leads to all the waste, loss and corruption due to protective tariffs." "On the other hand it is the business of government to issue money. This is perceived as soon as the great labor saving invention of money supplants barter. To leave it to every one who chose to do so to issue money would be to entail general inconvenience and loss, to offer many temptations to roguery, and to put the poorer classes of society at a great disadvantage. These obvious considerations have everywhere, as society became well organized, led to the recognition of the coinage of money as an exclusive function of government. When in the progress of society, a further labor-saving improvement becomes possible by the substitution of paper for the precious metals as the material for money, the reasons why the issuance of this money should be made a government function become still stronger. The evils entailed by wildcat banking in the United States are too well remembered to need reference. The loss and inconvenience, the swindling and corruption that flowed from the assumption by each State of the Union of the power to license banks of issue ended with the war, and no one would now go back to them. Yet instead of doing what every public consideration impels us to, and assuming wholly and fully as the exclusive function of the General Government the power to issue money, the private interests of bankers have, up to this, compelled us to the use of a hybrid currency, of which a large part, though guaranteed by the General Government, is issued and made profitable to corporations. The legitimate business of banking—the safekeeping and loaning of money, and the making and exchange of credits—is properly left to individuals and associations; but by leaving to them, even in part and under restrictions and guarantees, the issuance of money, the people of the United States suffer an annual loss of millions of dollars, and sensibly increase the influences which exert a corrupting effect upon their government." The Complete Works of Henry George. "Social Problems," p. 178, Doubleday Page & Co, New York, 1904
72. Turner, Adair (April 13, 2012). "A new era for monetary policy". Berlin: INET. Retrieved January 15, 2016.
73. Hudson, Michael. "Scenarios for Recovery: How to Write Down the Debts and Restructure the Financial System" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on March 4, 2016. Retrieved January 15, 2016.
74. George, Henry. "Consequences of a Growing National Debt". Retrieved January 15, 2016.
75. George, Henry, and Kenneth C. Wenzer. An Anthology of Henry George's Thought. Rochester, N.Y., USA: University of Rochester Press, 1997.
76. Brechin, Gray (2003). Indestructable By Reason of Beauty: The Beaumanance of a Public Library Building (PDF). Greenwood Press. Retrieved December 23, 2014.
77. The Single Tax Review Volume 15. New York: Publ. Off., 1915
78. Altgeld, John (1899). Live Questions (PDF). Geo. S Bowen & Son. Archived from the original (PDF) on September 24, 2014. Retrieved February 3, 2015.
79. Martí, José (2002). José Martí : selected writings. New York: Penguin Books. ISBN 0142437042.
80. Buder, Stanley. Visionaries and Planners: The Garden City Movement and the Modern Community. New York: Oxford UP, 1990.
81. Fox, Stephen R. "The Amateur Tradition: People and Politics." The American Conservation Movement: John Muir and His Legacy. Madison, WI: U of Wisconsin, 1985. 353.
82. Bryan, William Jennings (October 30, 1897). "William Jennings Bryan: Henry George One of the World's Foremost Thinkers" (PDF). The New York Times. The New York Times. Retrieved December 23, 2014.
83. "John Dewey: An Appreciation of Henry George".
84. "Albert Jay Nock -- Henry George: Unorthodox American".
85. A sermon that first appeared as No. VIII, Series 1944–45 of the Community Pulpit, published by The Community Church, New York, New York. Reprinted as a pamphlet by the Robert Schalkenbach Foundation <"Archived copy". Archived from the original on December 22, 2015. Retrieved September 16, 2015.>
86. Louis F. Post and Fred C. Leubusher, Henry George's 1886 Campaign: An Account of the George-Hewitt Campaign in the New York Municipal Election of 1886 (New York: John W. Lovell Company, 1887)
87. Sekirin, Peter (2006). Americans in conversation with Tolstoy : selected accounts, 1887–1923. Jefferson, N.C: McFarland. ISBN 078642253X.
88. "Henry George |".
89. Hobson, John A. (1897). "The Influence of Henry George in England". The Fortnightly. 68. Retrieved August 15, 2015.
90. Henderson, Archibald. George Bernard Shaw, His Life and Works. London: Hurst and Blackett, 1911.
91. Davis, Stephen (1986). "Joseph Jay Pastoriza and the Single Tax in Houston, 1911–1917" (PDF). 8 (2). Houston Review: history and culture of the Gulf Coast.[permanent dead link]
92. "Wonder Woman at Massey Hall: Helen Keller Spoke to Large Audience Who Were Spellbound". Toronto Star Weekly. January 1914. Retrieved October 31, 2014.
93. "Progress & Poverty". Robert Schalkenbach Fdn..
94. Mulvey, Paul (2002). "The Single-Taxers and the Future of Liberalism, 1906–1914". Journal of Liberal Democrat (34/35 Spring/Summer). Retrieved August 15, 2015.
95. Mulvey, Paul (2010). The Political Life of Josiah C. Wedgwood: Land, Liberty and Empire, 1872–1943. Woodbridge, Suffolk, UK Rochester, NY: Boydell Press. ISBN 978-0861933082.
96. "Letters: Marx-Engels Correspondence 1881".
97. L. Tolstoï. Où est l'issu? (1899) In Les Rayons de l'aube (Dernières études philosophiques). (Tr. J-W Bienstock) Paris; P.-V. Stock Éditeur, 1901, chap. xxiii, pp. 393-411.
98. Wikisource:Letter on Henry George (I)
99. Wikisource:Letter on Henry George (II)
100. Wikisource:The Slavery of Our Times
101. "Bill Moyers at the Howard Zinn Lecture". YouTube. November 12, 2010. Retrieved July 26, 2012.
102. http://www.cooperative-individualism.or ... -1934.html[permanent dead link]
103. Gaffney, Mason and Harrison, Fred. The Corruption of Economics. (London: Shepheard-Walwyn (Publishers) Ltd., 1994) ISBN 978-0-85683-244-4 (paperback).
104. Stewart, John, 1931- (2001). Standing for justice : a biography of Andrew MacLaren, MP. London: Shepheard-Walwyn. ISBN 0856831948. OCLC 49362105.
105. "The Mason Gaffney Reader".
106. Arnott, Richard J.; Joseph E. Stiglitz (November 1979). "Aggregate Land Rents, Expenditure on Public Goods, and Optimal City Size" (PDF). Quarterly Journal of Economics. 93 (4): 471–500. doi:10.2307/1884466. JSTOR 1884466.
107. "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on March 3, 2012. Retrieved January 27, 2014.
108. Frédéric Bastiat, That Which is Seen, and That Which is Not Seen," 1850.
109. Henry George, Progress and Poverty,, 161.
110. Eugen von Böhm-Bawerk, Capital and Interest: A Critical History of Economic Theory transl. William Smart (London: Macmillan and Co., 1890), 417.
111. Henry George, The Science of Political Economy (New York: Doubleday & McClure Co., 1898), 369–370.
112. Johannsen, Oscar B. Henry George and the Austrian economists. The American Journal of Economics and Sociology (Am. j. econ. sociol.) ISSN 0002-9246. Abstract.
113. "The Science of Political Economy, Part III, Chapter 5".
114. T.H. Huxley, "Capital – the Mother of Labour: An Economical Problem Discussed from a Physiological Point of View," The Nineteenth Century (Mar. 1890).

Further reading

• Barker, Charles Albro Henry George. Oxford University Press 1955 and Greenwood Press 1974. ISBN 0-8371-7775-8

[b]External links

• Works by Henry George at Project Gutenberg
• The Henry George Foundation (United Kingdom)
• Robert Schalkenbach Foundation
• Land Value Taxation Campaign (UK)
• The Henry George Foundation of Australia
• Henry George (1839–1897). The Concise Encyclopedia of Economics. Library of Economics and Liberty (2nd ed.). Liberty Fund. 2008.
• The Center for the Study of Economics
• The Henry George Institute – Understanding Economics
• The Henry George School, founded 1932.
• Works by or about Henry George at Internet Archive
• Works by Henry George at LibriVox (public domain audiobooks)
• Online Works of Henry George
• Wealth and Want
• Prosper Australia
• Henry George Foundation OnlyMelbourne
• The Complete Works of Henry George. Publisher: New York, Doubleday, Page & company, 1904. Description: 10 v. fronts (v. 1–9) ports. 21 cm. (searchable facsimile at the University of Georgia Libraries; DjVu & layered PDF format)
• The Crime of Poverty by Henry George
• Centro Educativo Internacional Henry George (Managua, Nicaragua), in Spanish
• The Economics of Henry George's "Progress and Poverty", by Edgar H. Johnson, 1910.
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Re: Freda Bedi Cont'd (#2)

Postby admin » Sat Apr 11, 2020 3:01 am

Charles Bradlaugh
by Wikipedia
Accessed: 4/10/20

The Society was now finding its feet. On April 17th it had been resolved to send a delegate "to examine into and report upon the South Yorkshire Miners"! And on the same day it was determined to get up a Soirée. This gathering, held in Gower Street, was memorable because it was attended by Mrs. Annie Besant, then notorious as an advocate of Atheism and Malthusianism, the heroine of several famous law cases, and a friend and colleague of Charles Bradlaugh. Mrs. Besant was elected a member a few weeks later, and she completed the list of the seven who subsequently wrote "Fabian Essays," with the exception of Graham Wallas, who did not join the Society until April, 1886...

Here again a quotation from Bernard Shaw's "Early History of the Fabian Society" is the best description available:...

Before I refreshed my memory on the subject the other day, I had a vague notion that the Conference cost a great deal of money; that it did no good whatever; that Mr. Bradlaugh made a speech; that Mrs. Fenwick Miller, who had nothing on earth to do with us, was in the chair during part of the proceedings; and that the most successful paper was by a strange gentleman whom we had taken on trust as a Socialist, but who turned out to be an enthusiast on the subject of building more harbours....

But an almost contemporary account of the life of Bernard Shaw, probably the most active of the leaders, because the least fettered by his occupation, is given in Tract 41 under the heading ["How to Train for Public Life"]:...

A man's Socialistic acquisitiveness must be keen enough to make him actually prefer spending two or three nights a week in speaking and debating, or in picking up social information even in the most dingy and scrappy way, to going to the theatre, or dancing or drinking, or even sweethearting, if he is to become a really competent propagandist—unless, of course, his daily work is of such a nature as to be in itself a training for political life; and that, we know, is the case with very few of us indeed. It is at such lecturing and debating work, and on squalid little committees and ridiculous little delegations to conferences of the three tailors of Tooley Street, with perhaps a deputation to the Mayor thrown in once in a blue moon or so, that the ordinary Fabian workman or clerk must qualify for his future seat on the Town Council, the School Board, or perhaps in the Cabinet. It was in that way that Bradlaugh, for instance, graduated from being a boy evangelist to being one of the most formidable debaters in the House of Commons....

It must be added that though the tradition that Socialism excludes the established creeds was overthrown by the Fabians, and the claim of the Christian Socialists to rank with the best of us was insisted on faithfully by them, the Fabian leaders did not break the tradition in their own practice. The contention of the Anti-Socialist Union that all Socialists are atheists is no doubt ridiculous in the face of the fact that the intellectual opposition to Socialism has been led exclusively by avowed atheists like Charles Bradlaugh or agnostics like Herbert Spencer, whilst Communism claims Jesus as an exponent...

-- The History of the Fabian Society, by Edward R. Pease

Charles Bradlaugh
Member of Parliament for Northampton
In office: 1880–1891
Preceded by: Charles George Merewether
Succeeded by: Sir Moses Philip Manfield
Personal details
Born: 26 September 1833, Hoxton, England, UK
Died: 30 January 1891 (aged 57), London, England, UK
Nationality: British
Political party: Liberal

Charles Bradlaugh (/ˈbrædlɔː/; 26 September 1833 – 30 January 1891) was an English political activist and atheist. He founded the National Secular Society in 1866.[1]

In 1880, Bradlaugh was elected as the Liberal MP for Northampton. His attempt to affirm as an atheist ultimately led to his temporary imprisonment, fines for voting in the Commons illegally, and a number of by-elections at which Bradlaugh regained his seat on each occasion. He was finally allowed to take an oath in 1886. Eventually, a parliamentary bill which he proposed became law in 1888 which allowed members of both Houses of Parliament to affirm, if they so wished, when being sworn in. The new law resolved the issue for witnesses in civil and criminal court cases.

Early life

Born in Hoxton (an area in the East End of London), Bradlaugh was the son of a solicitor's clerk. He left school at the age of eleven and then worked as an office errand-boy and later as a clerk to a coal merchant. After a brief spell as a Sunday school teacher, he became disturbed by discrepancies between the Thirty-nine Articles of the Anglican Church and the Bible. When he expressed his concerns, the local vicar, John Graham Packer, accused him of atheism and suspended him from teaching.[2] He was thrown out of the family home and was taken in by Eliza Sharples Carlile, the widow of Richard Carlile, who had been imprisoned for printing Thomas Paine's The Age of Reason. Soon Bradlaugh was introduced to George Holyoake, who organised Bradlaugh's first public lecture as an atheist.

At the age of 17, he published his first pamphlet, A Few Words on the Christian Creed. However, refusing financial support from fellow freethinkers, he enlisted as a soldier with the Seventh Dragoon Guards hoping to serve in India and make his fortune. Instead he was stationed in Dublin. In 1853, he was left a legacy by a great-aunt and used it to purchase his discharge from the army.

Activism and journalism


Bradlaugh returned to London in 1853 and took a post as a solicitor's clerk. By this time he was a convinced freethinker and in his free time he became a pamphleteer and writer about "secularist" ideas, adopting the pseudonym "Iconoclast" to protect his employer's reputation.[3] He gradually attained prominence in a number of liberal or radical political groups or societies, including the Reform League, Land Law Reformers, and Secularists.

He was President of the London Secular Society from 1858. In 1860 he became editor of the secularist newspaper, the National Reformer, and in 1866 co-founded the National Secular Society, in which Annie Besant became his close associate. In 1868, the Reformer was prosecuted by the British Government for blasphemy and sedition. Bradlaugh was eventually acquitted on all charges, but fierce controversy continued both in the courts and in the press.

A decade later (1876), Bradlaugh and Besant decided to republish the American Charles Knowlton's pamphlet advocating birth control, The Fruits of Philosophy, or the Private Companion of Young Married People,[4] whose previous British publisher had already been successfully prosecuted for obscenity. The two activists were both tried in 1877, and Charles Darwin refused to give evidence in their defence, pleading ill-health, but at the time writing to Bradlaugh that his testimony would have been of little use to them because he opposed birth control. They were sentenced to heavy fines and six months' imprisonment, but their conviction was overturned by the Court of Appeal on the basis that the prosecution had not set out the precise words which were alleged to be obscene in the indictment. The Malthusian League was founded as a result of the trial to promote birth control. He was a member of a Masonic lodge in Bolton, although he was later to resign due to the nomination of the Prince of Wales as Grand Master.[5]

The Malthusian League was a British organisation which advocated the practice of contraception and the education of the public about the importance of family planning. It was established in 1877 and was dissolved in 1927. The organisation was secular, utilitarian, individualistic, and "above all malthusian." The organisation maintained that it was concerned about the poverty of the British working class and held that over-population was the chief cause of poverty.

The league was initially founded during the "Knowlton trial" of Annie Besant and Charles Bradlaugh in July 1877. They were prosecuted for publishing Charles Knowlton's Fruits of Philosophy which explained various methods of birth control. The League was formed as a permanent body to advocate for the elimination of penalties for promoting birth control as well as to promote public education in matters of contraception. The trial demonstrated that the public was interested in the topic of contraception and sales of the book surged during the trial.

-- Malthusian League, by Wikipedia

On 6 March 1881 he spoke at the opening of Leicester Secular Society's new Secular Hall in Humberstone Gate, Leicester. The other speakers were George Jacob Holyoake, Annie Besant and Harriet Law.[6]


Bradlaugh was an advocate of trade unionism, republicanism, and universal suffrage, and he opposed socialism.[7] His anti-socialism was divisive, and many secularists who became socialists left the secularist movement because of its identification with Bradlaugh's liberal individualism. He was a supporter of Irish Home Rule, and backed France during the Franco-Prussian War. He took a strong interest in India.


Bradlaugh's arrest in Parliament

In 1880 Bradlaugh was elected Member of Parliament for Northampton. To take his seat and become an active Parliamentarian, he needed to signify his allegiance to the Crown and on 3 May Bradlaugh came to the Table of the House of Commons, bearing a letter to the Speaker "begging respectfully to claim to be allowed to affirm" instead of taking the religious Oath of Allegiance, citing the Evidence Amendment Acts of 1869 and 1870. Speaker Brand declared that he had "grave doubts" and asked the House for its judgment. Lord Frederick Cavendish, for the Government, moved that a Select Committee be set up to decide whether persons entitled to make a solemn affirmation in court were also allowed to affirm instead of taking the Parliamentary oath.[8][9]

First Select Committee

Caricature from Punch, 1881 – "Mr. Bradlaugh, M.P., The Northampton Cherub"

Bradlaugh's pamphlet 'A plea for atheism', from the Conway Hall digital collections.

This Select Committee held only one brief meeting on 12 May 1880. The Attorney General, Sir Henry James, moved that anyone entitled to affirm to give evidence in court was also entitled to affirm instead of taking the Oath in Parliament. Sir John Holker, Conservative MP for Preston, moved an amendment to reverse this finding, and the committee split down the middle with eight members (seven Conservatives and Charles Henry Hopwood, Liberal MP for Stockport) supporting the amendment and eight (all Liberals) opposing it; on the casting vote of the chairman Spencer Horatio Walpole the amendment was carried.[10] Bradlaugh was not surprised that the Committee had gone against him, and notified the Speaker that he would attend to take the Oath on 21 May.

Attempts to take the Oath

To explain his actions, Bradlaugh wrote an open letter to The Times which was published on the morning of 21 May. He said it would have been hypocritical to voluntarily take the oath "including words of idle and meaningless character" without protest when another form of words was available, but now that the Select Committee had ruled he must, he would do so and "regard myself as bound not by the letter of its words, but by the spirit which the affirmation would have conveyed had I been permitted to use it."

Bradlaugh's letter was regarded as a direct provocation by his opponents, and when he came to the table, Sir Henry Drummond Wolff rose to object to the administration of the Oath to Bradlaugh. Speaker Brand allowed him to object, and Wolff argued that the Evidence Amendment Acts referred to by Bradlaugh only allowed an affirmation to one who regarded the oath as meaningless, so the House should not allow Bradlaugh to take it. Prime Minister William Gladstone, alerted to the fact that a protest was possible, moved to set up a second Select Committee to examine whether it was possible to interfere with a Member wishing to take the oath. Gladstone's amendment was carried by 289 to 214.[11]

Second Select Committee

Bradlaugh by Spy in Vanity Fair, 1887

The Select Committee began deliberating on 1 June 1880, when it considered a paper put in by Sir Thomas Erskine May, the Clerk of the House. Sir Thomas found several precedents for Members disabled to sit for refusing to take the Oath, together with Quaker MP Joseph Pease who was permitted to affirm, and Jewish MPs Baron Lionel de Rothschild and David Salomons who were eventually allowed to take the Oath while omitting the words "on the true faith of a Christian".[12]

On the following day, Erskine May and Bradlaugh himself were questioned by the Committee, with Bradlaugh arguing that, should the Committee decide he had no right to affirm, he would take the oath and regard it as binding on his conscience.[13] When the Committee decided its report, it agreed by one vote an amendment declaring that the House could "and, in the opinion of your Committee, ought to" prevent Bradlaugh taking the Oath.[14] It also added (by 12 votes to 9) that it would be possible for an action in the High Court of Justice to test whether an affirmation was genuinely legal, and therefore recommended that if Bradlaugh sought to affirm, he should be allowed to do so in order that such an action be brought to clarify the law.[15] The second Select Committee had effectively reversed the outcome of the first.[16]

When it was known that this was the likely outcome of the Select Committee, Bradlaugh's fellow Northampton MP Henry Labouchère initiated a debate on a motion to allow Bradlaugh to affirm. Sir Hardinge Giffard moved an amendment that Bradlaugh be not permitted to take either the Oath or make an affirmation. After two days of debate,[17] Giffard's amendment was carried by 275 to 230, a defeat which surprised Gladstone. The majority comprised 210 Conservatives, 34 Liberals and 31 Irish Home Rulers; supporting Bradlaugh were 218 Liberals, 10 Home Rulers and 2 Conservatives.[18] On the next day, Bradlaugh came to the Table claiming to take the Oath; in consequence of the previous night's vote the Speaker ordered him to withdraw.

Bradlaugh was permitted to address the House from behind the Bar (which was technically outside the Chamber), and treated the occasion as his maiden speech. He based his argument on law, contending that he was not legally disqualified, and asking "as one man against six hundred" for the same justice he would receive in the Courts. Although well received, the speech was too late to reverse the decision, and Henry Labouchère was forced to withdraw a motion to rescind it.[19]


The initial difficulty is in defining the word "God". It is equally impossible to intelligently affirm or deny any proposition unless there is at least an understanding, on the part of the affirmer or denier, of the meaning of every word used in the proposition. To me the word "God" standing alone is a word without meaning. ... So long as the word "God" is undefined I do not deny "God".

—Charles Bradlaugh[20]

A portrait of Charles Bradlaugh in 1890, drawn by artist Walter Sickert, from the first issue of The Whirlwind

At that point Bradlaugh was summoned back to the table to be told the outcome of the debate; having relayed it, the Speaker then ordered him to withdraw. Bradlaugh "respectfully refused" to obey an order of the House which was "against the law". The Conservative leader Sir Stafford Northcote successfully moved a motion that Bradlaugh be required to withdraw (agreed on a division by 326 to 38, Liberal MPs being unwilling to challenge a motion which sustained the House's legal authority) but Bradlaugh "positively refused to obey". The Serjeant-at-arms was sent for and led Bradlaugh out to the Bar of the House, but Bradlaugh then immediately returned to the table claiming to take the Oath. At this Sir Stafford Northcote moved that Bradlaugh be taken into custody. The House agreed, on a division by 274 votes to 7 and Bradlaugh was taken to the small prison cell located under Big Ben in the Clock Tower.[21]

Lord Randolph Churchill roused the Conservatives by leading resistance to Bradlaugh.

Because Members had to take the oath before being allowed to take their seats, he effectively forfeited his seat in Parliament. His seat fell vacant and a by-election was declared. Bradlaugh was re-elected by Northampton four times in succession as the dispute continued. Supporting Bradlaugh were William Ewart Gladstone, T. P. O'Connor and George Bernard Shaw as well as hundreds of thousands of people who signed a public petition. Opposing his right to sit were the Conservative Party, the Archbishop of Canterbury, and other leading figures in the Church of England and Roman Catholic Church.

On at least one occasion, Bradlaugh was escorted from the House by police officers. In 1883 he took his seat and voted three times before being fined £1,500 for voting illegally. A bill allowing him to affirm was defeated in Parliament.

In 1886 Bradlaugh was finally allowed to take the oath, and did so at the risk of prosecution under the Parliamentary Oaths Act. Two years later, in 1888, he secured passage of a new Oaths Act,[22] which enshrined into law the right of affirmation for members of both Houses, as well as extending and clarifying the law as it related to witnesses in civil and criminal trials (the Evidence Amendment Acts of 1869 and 1870 had proved unsatisfactory, though they had given relief to many who would otherwise have been disadvantaged). Bradlaugh spoke in Parliament about the London matchgirls strike of 1888.

Personal life

His daughter, Hypatia Bradlaugh Bonner (1858–1935), was a peace activist, author, atheist and freethinker. She was named for Hypatia, the Ancient Greek pagan philosopher, mathematician, astronomer and teacher, who was murdered by a mob of Coptic monks devoted to the Christian archbishop Cyril of Alexandria.[citation needed]


Bradlaugh's grave in Brookwood Cemetery, Surrey

Bradlaugh's statue at Abington Square, Northampton.

Bradlaugh died on 30 January 1891. His funeral was attended by 3,000 mourners, including a 21-year-old Mohandas Gandhi.[23][24][25] He is buried in Brookwood Cemetery in Surrey.[26]

Photo of the Charles Bradlaugh Statue in Northampton, Abington Square with a large crowd.

In 1898, Bradlaugh's daughter Hypatia Bradlaugh Bonner wrote a pamphlet in answer to the question that was often addressed to her: whether her father "changed his opinions and became a Christian" before he died. Bonner laid out all the evidence and concluded that her father gave no indication that his opinions had changed in the "smallest" way.[27]


A statue of Bradlaugh is located on a traffic island at Abington Square, Northampton. The statue points west towards the centre of Northampton, the accusing finger periodically missing due to vandalism.[citation needed] In 2014 the statue was cleaned and returned to the stonework. New signs are to be installed in 2015 on the roundabout reading "Charles Bradlaugh MP".

Since 2002, an "Annual Commemoration" has taken place beneath the statue at 3 pm on the Sunday closest to his birthday, organised by the Charles Bradlaugh Society.[28] Attendees are invited to speak about Charles Bradlaugh. 2014 saw the addition of the inaugural Bradlaugh Talk with speakers on issues relevant to Bradlaugh. The first speaker was Graham Smith, CEO of Republic.[29]

Bradlaugh Fields, a community wildlife park situated to the north of Northampton, was named after Charles Bradlaugh when it opened in 1998.[30] Other landmarks bearing his name include The Charles Bradlaugh pub, Charles Bradlaugh Hall at the University of Northampton and Bradlaugh Hall in Lahore, Pakistan.

In November 2016 a portrait bust of Charles Bradlaugh entered the Parliamentary Art Collection.[31] Displayed in the Palace of Westminster, the sculpture was designed by Suzie Zamit (who is the fourth female sculptor to have work represented in the Parliamentary Art Collection) and was donated by the National Secular Society as part of its 150th anniversary celebrations.[32]


Works by Charles Bradlaugh: 132 works online.[33]

• Political Essays: A Compilation (1833–1891)[34]
• Half-Hours with the Freethinkers 1857[35]
• The Credibility and Morality of the Four Gospels, 1860[36]
• Who Was Jesus Christ, and What Did He Teach? 1860
• A Few Words About the Devil (includes an autobiographical sketch) 1864[37]
• A Plea for Atheism (included in Theological Essays) 1864[38]
• The Bible: What It Is! 1870[39]
• The Impeachment of the House of Brunswick 1875[40]
• The Freethinker's Text-Book, Vol 1 1876
• Is The Bible Divine? (Debate with Roberts) 1876[41]
• Ancient and Modern Celebrated Freethinkers (rpt Half-Hours with the Freethinkers) 1877[42]
• When Were Our Gospels Written? 1881[43]
• Some Objections to Socialism 1884[44]
• The Atheistic Platform: 12 Lectures by Charles Bradlaugh, Annie Besant [and others] 1884[45]
• Is There a God? 1887[20]
• Humanity's Gain from Unbelief 1889
• Labor and Law 1891
• The True Story of My Parliamentary Struggle 1882[46]
• Heresy: Its Utility And Morality. A Plea And A Justification 1882[47]
• Theological Essays ( includes 20 essays) 1895[48]
• Man, Whence and How? and Religion, What and Why? (rpt of The Freethinker's Text-Book, Vol 1) 1906[49]

See also

• Luis Emilio Recabarren, Chilean communist, was prevented from assuming his position because, as an atheist, he refused to be sworn in on a Bible.


1. "Charles Bradlaugh (1833–1891): Founder". National Secular Society. Archived from the original on 16 April 2008. Retrieved 22 March 2008.
2. See Bradlaugh-Bonner (1908, p.8); Headlingly (1888, pp. 5–6); Tribe (1971, p.18)
3. "Charles Bradlaugh". Retrieved 15 July 2016.
4. Knowlton, Charles (October 1891) [1840]. Besant, Annie; Bradlaugh, Charles (eds.). Fruits of philosophy: a treatise on the population question. San Francisco: Reader's Library. OCLC 626706770. View original copy.
See also: Langer, William L. (Spring 1975). "The origins of the birth control movement in England in the early nineteenth century". Journal of Interdisciplinary History. MIT Press. 5 (4): 669–686. doi:10.2307/202864. JSTOR 202864. PMID 11619426.
5. "Charles Bradlaugh". Retrieved 15 July 2016.
6. "Random Recollections of Leicester Secular Society". Retrieved 23 February 2015.
7. Theresa Notare, A Revolution in Christian Morals: Lambeth 1930-Resolution #15. History and Reception (ProQuest, 2008), 188.
8. Arnstein, p. 34-35
9. "PARLIAMENTARY OATH (MR. BRADLAUGH). (Hansard, 3 May 1880)". Retrieved 27 July 2019.
10. Arnstein, p. 38; "Report from the Select Committee on the Parliamentary Oath" HCP 159 (1880).
11. Arnstein, p. 40-51; Hansard 3ser vol 252 cols 187–221, 333–422.
12. "Report from the Select Committee on Parliamentary Oath (Mr. Bradlaugh)", HCP 226 (1880), Appendix No. 1 (pp. 25–33).
13. Evidence, Q 85.
14. Proceedings of the Select Committee, p. xv–xvi.
15. Proceedings of the Select Committee, p. xvii–xviii.
16. Arnstein, p. 70.
17. Hansard, 3ser, vol 253 cols 443–513, 550–628.
18. Arnstein, p. 73–74.
19. Arnstein, pp. 75–76.
20. "Is There a God? : Bradlaugh, Charles, 1833–1891 : Free Download & Streaming". Retrieved 15 July 2016.
21. Arnstein, p. 76–77.
22. "Random Recollections of Leicester Secular Society". Retrieved 15 July 2016.
23. Chatterjee, Margaret (2005). Gandhi and the challenge of religious diversity: religious pluralism revisited. New Delhi/Chicago:Promilla & Co./Bibliophile South Asia, p.330
24. Payne, Robert (1969). The life and death of Mahatma Gandhi. New York: E.P. Duttonhttp://leicestersecularsociety.or ... tm#%281%29, pp.73.
25. Arnstein (1983), p.322.
26. "Charles Bradlaugh". Necropolis Notables. The Brookwood Cemetery Society. Archived from the original on 25 March 2007. Retrieved 23 February 2007.
27. "Did Charles Bradlaugh die an atheist?". Retrieved 15 July 2016.
28. "About the Charles Bradlaugh Society". Charles Bradlaugh Society. Archived from the original on 23 December 2015. Retrieved 23 February 2015.
29. "Inaugural Annual Charles Bradlaugh Talk". Charles Bradlaugh Society. 27 September 2014.
30. "History of Bradlaugh Fields". Bradlaugh Fields & Barn. Archived from the original on 24 September 2016.
31. Celebrating the first atheist MP Charles Bradlaugh, 14 November 2016, retrieved 17 November 2016
32. "Portrait bust of NSS founder Charles Bradlaugh MP unveiled in Parliament". National Secular Society. 2 November 2016. Retrieved 17 November 2016.
33. "Internet Archive Search: Charles Bradlaugh". Retrieved 15 July 2016.
34. "Political essays : Bradlaugh, Charles, 1833–1891 : Free Download & Streaming". Retrieved 15 July 2016.
35. A. Collins (1857). J. Watts (ed.). "Half-hours with the freethinkers". p. 1. Retrieved 15 July 2016.
36. "The credibility and morality of the four Gospels, report of the discussion between T.D. Matthias". Retrieved 15 July 2016.
37. Charles Bradlaugh (1874). A Few Words about the Devil: And Other Biographical Sketches and Essays. A. K. Butts. Retrieved 15 July 2016. A Few Words About the Devil.
38. "A Plea for Atheism : Bradlaugh, Charles, 1833–1891 : Free Download & Streaming". Retrieved 15 July 2016.
39. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 2015-03-26.
40. "The impeachment of the House of Brunswick : Bradlaugh, Charles, 1833–1891 : Free Download & Streaming". Retrieved 15 July 2016.
41. Charles Bradlaugh (1876). Is the Bible Divine?: A Six Nights' Discussion Between Mr. Charles Bradlaugh ... F. Pitman. p. 90. Retrieved 15 July 2016. The Roberts-Bradlaugh Debate.
42. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 31 March 2015. Retrieved 2015-03-26.
43. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 30 March 2015. Retrieved 2015-03-26.
44. Platform, Atheistic (1884). "The atheistic platform, 12 lectures by C. Bradlaugh [and others]". p. 99. Retrieved 15 July 2016.
45. Platform, Atheistic (1884). "The atheistic platform, 12 lectures by C. Bradlaugh [and others]". Retrieved 15 July 2016.
46. "The True Story of My Parliamentary Struggle : Charles Bradlaugh : Free Download & Streaming". Retrieved 15 July 2016.
47. "Heresy: Its Utility and Morality : Bradlaugh, Charles, 1833–1891 : Free Download & Streaming". Retrieved 15 July 2016.
48. "Theological Essays : Bradlaugh, Charles, 1833–1891 : Free Download & Streaming". Retrieved 15 July 2016.
49. Charles Bradlaugh (1906). "Man: Whence and How?: Religion: what and Why?". Retrieved 15 July 2016.


• Alexander, Nathan G. (2019). Race in a Godless World: Atheism, Race, and Civilization, 1850-1914. New York/Manchester: New York University Press/Manchester University Press. ISBN 978-1526142375
• Alexander, Nathan G. "Atheism and Polygenesis in the Nineteenth Century: Charles Bradlaugh's Racial Anthropology." Modern Intellectual History. (2018)
• Arnstein, Walter L (1962). "Gladstone and the Bradlaugh Case". Victorian Studies. 5 (4): 303–330.
• Arnstein, Walter L. (1965) The Bradlaugh Case: a study in late Victorian opinion and politics. Oxford University Press. (2nd ed. with new postscript chapter published as The Bradlaugh Case: Atheism, Sex and Politics Among the Late Victorians, University of Missouri Press, 1983. ISBN 0-8262-0425-2)
• Besant, Annie. Autobiographical Sketches (1885) in which Bradlaugh plays a major role.
• Besant, Annie. An Autobiography (1893) in which Chap VI is devoted to Charles Bradlaugh.
• Bonner, Hypatia Bradlaugh (1895). Charles Bradlaugh: A Record of His Life and Work, Vol 1. London, T. Fisher Unwin.
• Bonner, Hypatia Bradlaugh (1891), Catalogue of the Library of the Late Charles Bradlaugh. London: Mrs. H. Bradlaugh Bonner
• Champion of Liberty: Charles Bradlaugh (Centenary Volume) (1933). London, Watts & Co and Pioneer Press.
• Diamond, M. (2003) Victorian Sensation, London, Anthem Press. ISBN 1-84331-150-X, pp. 101–110.
• Headingly, Adolphe S. (1888). The biography of Charles Bradlaugh. London: Freethought Publishing Company.
• Manvell, Roger (1976). Trial of Annie Besant and Charles Bradlaugh. London: Elek/Pemberton.
• Niblett, Bryan (2011). Dare to Stand Alone: The Story of Charles Bradlaugh. Oxford: kramedart press. ISBN 978-0-9564743-0-8
• Robertson, J.M. (1920). Charles Bradlaugh. London, Watts & Co.
• Tribe, David (1971) President Charles Bradlaugh MP. London, Elek. ISBN 0-236-17726-5

External links

• Works by Charles Bradlaugh at Project Gutenberg
• Works by or about Charles Bradlaugh at Internet Archive
• Works by Charles Bradlaugh at LibriVox (public domain audiobooks)
• Hansard 1803–2005: contributions in Parliament by Charles Bradlaugh
• NSS Founder, Charles Bradlaugh
• ‘The Cause of Humanity’: Charles Bradlaughnand Freemasonry‘ by Professor Andrew Prescott, PhD, 2003
• Charles Bradlaugh writings (Bank of Wisdom)
• Dare To Stand Alone by Bryan Niblett – book review by Edward Pearce
• Detailed account in page on police in Parliament by Robin Fell
• Browse and search the catalogue of the Charles Bradlaugh Collection and Bradlaugh Papers archive, held at the Bishopsgate Institute, London.
• Charles Bradlaugh Collection, Northamptonshire Central Library, Northampton
• Hackney Plaques and Social History: birthplace of Charles Bradlaugh
• Omnibus: Charles Bradlaugh, BBC World Service radio programme, broadcast 1991
• A bronze bust of Bradlaugh
• Northampton based Charles Bradlaugh Society
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Colonial Office
by Wikipedia
Accessed: 4/10/20

The Whitehall headquarters of the Foreign, India, Home, and Colonial Offices in 1866. It was then occupied by all four government departments, now it serves just the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

The Colonial Office was a government department of the Kingdom of Great Britain and later of the United Kingdom, first created to deal with the colonial affairs of British North America but needed also to oversee the increasing number of colonies of the British Empire. Despite its name, the Colonial Office was never responsible for all Britain's Imperial territories; for example protectorates fell under the purview of the Foreign Office, British India was ruled by the East India Company until 1858 (thereafter being succeeded by the India Office as a result of the Indian Mutiny), whilst the role of the colonial office in the affairs of the Dominions changed as time passed.

It was headed by the Secretary of State for the Colonies, also known more informally as the Colonial Secretary.

First Colonial Office (1768–1782)

Prior to 1768, responsibility for the affairs of the British colonies was part of the duties of the Secretary of State for the Southern Department and a committee of the Privy Council known as the Board of Trade and Plantations.[1]

In 1768 the separate American or Colonial Department was established, in order to deal with colonial affairs in British North America. With the loss of the American colonies, however, the department was abolished in 1782. Responsibility for the remaining colonies was given to the Home Office, and subsequently (1801) transferred to the War Office.

War and Colonies Office (1801-1854) and Second Colonial Office (1854–1966)

The War Office was renamed the War and Colonial Office in 1801, under a new Secretary of State for War and the Colonies, to reflect the increasing importance of the colonies. In 1825 a new post of Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies was created within this office. It was held by Robert William Hay initially. His successors were James Stephen, Herman Merivale, Frederic Rogers, Robert Herbert and Robert Henry Meade.[2]

In 1854, the War and Colonial Office was divided in two, and a new Colonial Office was created to deal specifically with the affairs in the colonies and assigned to the Secretary of State for the Colonies. The Colonial Office did not have responsibility for all British possessions overseas: for example, both the Indian Empire (or Raj) and other British territories near India, were under the authority of the India Office from 1854. Other, more informal protectorates, such as the Khedivate of Egypt, fell under the authority of the Foreign Office.

The increasing independence of the Dominions – Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Newfoundland and South Africa – following the 1907 Imperial Conference, led to the formation of a separate Dominion Division within the Colonial Office. From 1925 onwards the UK ministry included a separate Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs.

On 16 April 1947 the Irgun placed a bomb at the Colonial Office which failed to detonate.[3][4] The plot was linked to the 1946 Embassy bombing.[5]

After the Dominion of India and Dominion of Pakistan gained independence in 1947, the Dominion Office was merged with the India Office to form the Commonwealth Relations Office.

In 1966, the Commonwealth Relations Office was re-merged with the Colonial Office, forming the Commonwealth Office. Two years later, this department was itself merged into the Foreign Office, establishing the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

The Colonial Office had its offices in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office Main Building in Whitehall.

The Colonial Office List

From 1862, the Colonial Office published historical and statistical information concerning the United Kingdom's colonial dependencies in The Colonial Office List,[6] though between 1926 and 1940 it was known as The Dominions Office and Colonial Office List.[7] It later became known as the Commonwealth Relations Office Year Book and Commonwealth Office Year Book. In addition to the official List published by the Colonial Office, an edited version was also produced by Waterlow and Sons.[8] It can be difficult to distinguish between the two versions in library catalogue descriptions. For example, The Sydney Stock and Station Journal of 3 December 1915 commented:[9]

This used to be the "Colonial Office Journal," but it looked – or sounded – too official, so they changed it to "The Colonial Journal." But it is still edited by Sir W. H. Mercer, K.C.M.G., one of the Crown Agents for the Colonies, but it is printed by Waterlow and Sons, London Wall. It comes as near to being an "Official publication" as possible, but we'll assume that it isn't.

See also

• British Empire
• Colonial Service
• List of British Empire-related topics


1. Colonial Office, The Canadian Encyclopedia
2. Roy MacLeod (13 February 2003), Government and Expertise: Specialists, Administrators and Professionals, 1860–1919, Cambridge University Press, p. 168, ISBN 978-0-521-53450-5
3. "Time Bomb Found in London after British hang Gruner as Terrorist in Holy Land". Google News. St. Petersburg Times. 17 April 1947. Retrieved 17 November 2015.
4. "Police Say Woman Bomb "Planter" Now in Custody". The Age. A.A.P. 13 June 1947. The woman, who is a Jewess, claims French nationality. Officers of the special branch of Scotland Yard who have been investigating Jewish terrorist activities are satisfied the man who made the bomb is also under arrest.
5. "EUROPE-WIDE SEARCH FOR MAN WHO MADE BOMB". The Argus (Melbourne). A.A.P. 19 April 1947. Retrieved 26 May 2018. The bomb was of the same type as that used in the explosion at the i British Embassy in Rome last year and in several other outrages by Jewish terrorists.
6. Great Britain. Colonial Office (1862–1925), The Colonial Office List for [year], London: Harrison and Sons; Great Britain. Colonial Office (1946–1966), The Colonial Office List, London: H.M.S.O.
7. Great Britain. Office of Commonwealth Relations (1926–1940), The Dominions Office and Colonial Office List for [year], London: Waterlow & Sons, Ltd..
8. See, for example, "Publications received: The Colonial Office List", The Queenslander, Brisbane, p. 3, 26 June 1915.
9. "The Colonial Journal", The Sydney Stock and Station Journal, p. 4, 3 December 1915.

Further reading

• Beaglehole, J.C. (1941). "The Colonial Office, 1782–1854". Historical Studies: Australia and New Zealand. 1 (3): 170–189. doi:10.1080/10314614108594796.
• Egerton, Hugh Edward. A Short History of British Colonial Policy (1897) 610pp online
• Laidlaw, Zoë. Colonial connections, 1815-45: patronage, the information revolution and colonial government (Oxford UP, 2005).
• McLachlan, N. D. (1969). "Bathurst at the Colonial Office, 1812–27: A reconnaissance∗". Historical Studies. 13 (52): 477–502. doi:10.1080/10314616908595394.
• Manning, Helen Taft (1965). "Who Ran the British Empire 1830-1850?". Journal of British Studies. 5: 88–121. doi:10.1086/385512.
• Shaw, A. G. L. (1969). "British Attitudes to the Colonies, ca. 1820-1850". Journal of British Studies. 9: 71–95. doi:10.1086/385581.

Primary sources

• Bell, Kenneth Norman, and William Parker Morrell, eds. Select documents on British colonial policy, 1830-1860 (1928)
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Roscoe Pound
by Wikipedia
Accessed: 4/10/20

Roscoe Pound
Born: October 27, 1870, Lincoln, Nebraska
Died: June 30, 1964 (aged 93), Cambridge, Massachusetts
Nationality: American
Alma mater: University of Nebraska
Scientific career:
Fields: Botany; Law
Institutions: Harvard Law School; University of Nebraska College of Law; UCLA School of Law
Influences: Louis Brandeis
Influenced: Zechariah Chafee

Nathan Roscoe Pound (October 27, 1870, Lincoln, Nebraska – June 30, 1964, Cambridge, Mass.) was a distinguished American legal scholar and educator. He was Dean of University of Nebraska College of Law from 1903 to 1911 and then Dean of Harvard Law School from 1916 to 1936. He was a member of the faculty at UCLA School of Law in the school's first years, from 1949 to 1952.[1] The Journal of Legal Studies has identified Pound as one of the most cited legal scholars of the 20th century.[2]

Early life

Pound was born in Lincoln, Nebraska, to Stephen Bosworth Pound and Laura Pound. His sister was the noted linguist and folklorist, Louise Pound.

Pound studied botany at the University of Nebraska in Lincoln, where he became a member of the Chi Phi Fraternity. He received his bachelor's degree in 1888 and his master's degree in 1889.[3] In 1889 he began the study of law; he spent one year at Harvard but never received a law degree. Following his year at Harvard he returned to Nebraska where he passed the bar without a law degree. He received the first PhD in botany from the University of Nebraska in 1898. From 1899 to 1907 he taught law on the faculty of the University of Nebraska law school.[4]

The University of Nebraska fielded its first football team the year after Pound graduated. Pound traveled with the teams to their games, including their first one. He also covered the team in the student newspaper and even refereed some. Pound created many chants and songs for the team and helped create a fan base that traveled well, which is something that the Cornhuskers still see to this day.[5]

Law career

In 1903 Pound became dean of the University of Nebraska College of Law. In 1911 Pound began teaching at Harvard and in 1916 became dean of Harvard Law School and served in that role until 1937. He wrote "Spurious Interpretation" in 1907, Outlines of Lectures on Jurisprudence in 1914, The Spirit of the Common Law [6] in 1921, Law and Morals in 1924, and Criminal Justice in America in 1930.

In 1908 he was part of the founding editorial staff of the first comparative law journal in the United States, the Annual Bulletin of the Comparative Law Bureau of the American Bar Association. Although it is not often remembered now, Pound was a Roman law scholar. He taught that subject at Nebraska, Northwestern and Harvard.[7] Pound was sufficiently adept at Latin to translate Roman law into English for a sourcebook he used for those classes, and he was said by Professor Joseph Beal to have "brought the spirit of Roman law to Harvard." [8] (He even taught a course in Harvard's Department of Classics after he ceased to be the dean of the law school.)[9] Pound was also the founder of the movement for "sociological jurisprudence", an influential critic of the U.S. Supreme Court's "liberty of contract" (freedom of contract) line of cases, symbolized by Lochner v. New York (1905), and one of the early leaders of the movement for American Legal Realism, which argued for a more pragmatic and public-interested interpretation of law and a focus on how the legal process actually occurred, as opposed to (in his view) the arid legal formalism which prevailed in American jurisprudence at the time. According to Pound, these jurisprudential movements advocated "the adjustment of principles and doctrines to the human conditions they are to govern rather than to assumed first principles".[10] While Pound was dean, law school registration almost doubled, but his standards were so rigorous that one-third of those matriculated did not receive degrees. Among these were many of the great political innovators of the New Deal years.[11]

In 1929 President Herbert Hoover appointed Pound as one of the eleven primary members of the Wickersham Commission on issues relating to law enforcement, criminal activity, police brutality, and Prohibition.[12]

During Roosevelt's first term, Pound initially supported the New Deal.[11] In 1937, however, Pound turned against the New Deal and the legal realist movement altogether after Roosevelt proposed packing the federal courts and bringing independent agencies into the executive branch.[11][13] Other factors contributing to this "lurking conservatism" within Pound included bitter battles with liberals on the Harvard law faculty, the death of his wife, and a sharp exchange with Karl Llewellyn.[14] Pound, however, had for years been an outspoken advocate of these court and administrative reforms that Roosevelt proposed[11] and it was acknowledged that he only became conservative because he saw an opportunity to gain attention after his Harvard colleagues had turned on his ideas of government reform after Roosevelt had proposed them.[11][15]

In 1937 Pound resigned as Dean of Harvard Law School to become a University Professor[11] and soon became a leading critic of the legal realists.[11][15] He proposed his ideas of government reform to Chinese leader Chiang Kai-shek.[11] In 1934 Pound received an honorary degree from the University of Berlin, presented by the German Ambassador to the United States.[16] Pound was among the famous American jurists to express a liking for Adolf Hitler.[17]

In the 1940s, Pound was apparently favourably disposed to replacing John P. Higgins as a judge on the International Military Tribunal for the Far East, which was conducting a war crimes trial in Tokyo, though an appointment did not eventuate.[18] He joined the faculty of UCLA School of Law in 1949, the year the law school opened, and remained on the faculty until 1952.

Criminal justice in Cleveland

In 1922 Roscoe Pound and Felix Frankfurter undertook a detailed quantitative study of crime reporting in Cleveland newspapers for the month of January 1919, using column inch counts. They found that in the first half of the month, the total amount of space given over to crime was 925 in., but in the second half, it leapt to 6642 in. This was despite the fact that the number of crimes reported had increased only from 345 to 363. They concluded that although the city's much publicized "crime wave" was largely fictitious and manufactured by the press, the coverage had a very real consequence for the administration of criminal justice.

Because the public believed they were in the middle of a crime epidemic, they demanded an immediate response from the police and the city authorities. The agencies, wishing to retain public support, complied, caring "more to satisfy popular demand than to be observant of the tried process of law." The result was a greatly increased likelihood of miscarriages of justice and sentences more severe than the offenses warranted.[19][20]

Contribution to jurisprudence

Roscoe Pound also made a significant contribution to jurisprudence in the tradition of sociological jurisprudence, which emphasized the importance of social relationships in the development of law and vice versa. His best-known theory consists of conceptualising law as social engineering. According to Pound, a lawmaker acts as a social engineer by attempting to solve problems in society using law as a tool.[21]

Personal life

In 1903 Pound, with George Condra, founded the Society of Innocents, the preeminent senior honor society at Nebraska. It is still in existence. Pound is also a member of the Nebraska Hall of Fame. He was a Freemason, and was a member and Past Master of Lancaster Lodge No. 54 AF & AM Lincoln, Nebraska. He also served as Deputy Grand Master for the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts in 1915 and delivered a series of Masonic lectures for the Grand Lodge in March and April 1916. He helped to found The Harvard Lodge A.F. & A.M. along with Kirsopp Lake a Professor of the Divinity School, and others.

In 1946 Pound helped the 22-year-old Charlie Munger, later a successful businessman and investor, to get into Harvard Law school. Munger: "I was admitted over the objection of Dean Warren Abner Seavy through the intervention of family friend Roscoe Pound."[22][23]


1. Dan Gordon, "History of UCLA School of Law: A History of Innovation," UCLA Law Magazine, Spring 2004, 10.
2. Shapiro, Fred R. (2000). "The Most-Cited Legal Scholars". Journal of Legal Studies. 29 (1): 409–26. doi:10.1086/468080.
3. Acacia Fraternity. "Acacia Fraternity: Notable Acacians". Archived from the original on July 5, 2008. Retrieved 2008-10-30.
4. "Dean Roscoe Pound Dies at 93", The Lincoln Star, July 2, 1964, p.1.
5. Nebraska Educational Television. "Roscoe Pound: Nebraska's First Fanatic". Archived from the original on November 25, 2010.
6. Roscoe Pound. ""The Spirit of the Common Law" by Roscoe Pound". Retrieved 2012-09-05.
7. Paul Sayre, "The Life of Roscoe Pound" 143, 155, and 213 (1948).
8. The book is "Readings in Roman Law and the Civil Law and Modern Codes as Developments Thereof" (2nd ed., 1914). See Timothy G. Kearley, "Lost in Translations: Roman Law Scholarship and Translation in Early Twentieth Century America," 74-75 (2018).
9. Id. at 75.
10. Root, Damon (2011-02-11) "Are We All Originalists Now?", Reason
11. "Roscoe Pound Dies at 93, Revitalized Legal System". The Harvard Crimson. 3 July 1964. Retrieved 2012-09-05.
12. Encyclopedia of Crime and Punishment, Volume 1, edited by David Levinson, p. 1708
13. Willrich, Michael (2003). City of Courts: Socializing Justice in Progressive Era Chicago. New York, NY: Cambridge University Press. p. 332. ISBN 9780521794039.
14. [1]
15. Duxbury, Neil (1997). Patterns of American Jurisprudence. New York, NY: Oxford University Press. p. 536. ISBN 978-0198264910.
16. Norwood, Stephen H. (May 2009). The Third Reich in the Ivory Tower: Complicity and Conflict on American Campuses. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0-521-76243-4. chapter 2, "Legitimating Nazism: Harvard University and the Hitler Regime, 1933–1937".
17. James Q. Whitman, ""Hitler's American Model: The United States and the Making of Nazi Race Law," (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2017), p. 15
18. Personal correspondence, Sir William Webb, as President of the International Military Tribunal for the Far East to Dr Evatt, Minister for External Affairs and Attorney General. Letter of 3 July 1946. Available at: ... 494&isAv=N
19. Jensen, Klaus Bruhn (May 10, 2002). A Handbook of Media and Communication Research: Qualitative and Quantitative Methodologies. UK: Routledge. ISBN 0-415-22588-4. pp. 45–46
20. Pound, Roscoe; Felix Frankfurter (1922). Criminal Justice in Cleveland. Cleveland, OH: The Cleveland Foundation., p. 546
21. "Social Engineering Theory Of Roscoe Pound Free Essays 1 – 20". Retrieved 2012-09-05.
22. Lowe, Janet (2000-10-30). Damn Right!: Behind the Scenes with Berkshire Hathaway Billionaire Charlie Munger. John Wiley & Sons. ISBN 978-0-471-24473-8. "I was admitted over the objection of Dean Warren Abner Seavy through the intervention of family friend Roscoe Pound," Munger said.
23. Omiunu, Gamelial (2019-11-26). "Charlie Munger Net Worth 2019, Bio, Height, Awards, and Instagram". USA News Court. Retrieved 2020-04-04.


• Presser, Stephen B. (2008). "Pound, Roscoe (1870–1964)". In Hamowy, Ronald (ed.). The Encyclopedia of Libertarianism. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE; Cato Institute. pp. 386–87. doi:10.4135/9781412965811.n238. ISBN 978-1-4129-6580-4. LCCN 2008009151. OCLC 750831024.
• Pound, Roscoe. American National Biography. 17:760–63. 1999.

External links

• Roscoe Pound papers at Nebraska State Historical Society
• Justice According to Law (1914) essay
• The Spirit of the Common Law (1921) book based on Dartmouth Alumni Lectures
• Works by Roscoe Pound at Project Gutenberg
• "Finding aid for Roscoe Pound, Papers, 1888–1964". Harvard Law School Library. ... deans.html
• Works by Roscoe Pound at Project Gutenberg
• Works by or about Roscoe Pound at Internet Archive
• Roscoe Pound at Find a Grave
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Madison Grant
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Madison Grant
Madison Grant in the early 1920s
Born: November 19, 1865, New York City, U.S.
Died: May 30, 1937 (aged 71), New York City, U.S.
Resting place: Sleepy Hollow Cemetery in Tarrytown, New York
Nationality: American
Alma mater: Columbia University; Yale University
Occupation: Lawyer, writer, zoologist
Known for: Eugenics, Scientific racism, The Passing of the Great Race

Madison Grant (November 19, 1865 – May 30, 1937) was an American lawyer, writer, and zoologist known primarily for his work as a eugenicist and conservationist as one of the leading thinkers and activists of the Progressive Era.

As a eugenicist, Grant was the author of The Passing of the Great Race, a work espousing scientific racism, and played an active role in crafting strong immigration restriction and anti-miscegenation laws in the United States. As a conservationist, Grant is credited with the saving of many different species of animals, founding many different environmental and philanthropic organizations and developing much of the discipline of wildlife management.

Early life

Grant was born in New York City, New York, the son of Gabriel Grant, a physician and American Civil War surgeon, and Caroline Manice. Madison Grant's mother was a descendant of Jessé de Forest, the Walloon Huguenot who in 1623 recruited the first band of colonists to settle in New Netherland, the Dutch Republic's territory on the American East Coast. On his father's side, Madison Grant's first American ancestor was Richard Treat, dean of Pitminster Church in England, who in 1630 was one of the first Puritan settlers of New England. Grant's forebears through Treat's line include Robert Treat (a colonial governor of New Jersey), Robert Treat Paine (a signer of the Declaration of Independence), Charles Grant (Madison Grant's grandfather, who served as an officer in the War of 1812), and Gabriel Grant (father of Madison), a prominent physician and the health commissioner of Newark, New Jersey.[1] Dr. Gabriel Grant was awarded the Medal of Honor while serving as surgeon with the 2nd New Jersey Volunteers in the Civil War.[2] During the Battle of Fair Oaks, he moved the wounded to safety while under heavy fire.[3] Grant was a lifelong resident of New York City.

Grant was the oldest of four siblings. The children's summers, and many of their weekends, were spent at Oatlands, the Long Island country estate built by their grandfather DeForest Manice in the 1830s.[4] As a child, he attended private schools and traveled Europe and the Middle East with his father. He attended Yale University, graduating early and with honors in 1887. He received a law degree from Columbia Law School, and practiced law after graduation; however, his interests were primarily those of a naturalist. He never married and had no children. He first achieved a political reputation when he and his brother, De Forest Grant, took part in the 1894 electoral campaign of New York mayor William Lafayette Strong.

Conservation efforts

Grant was a close friend of several U.S. presidents, including Theodore Roosevelt and Herbert Hoover, and also was an avid conservationist. He is credited with saving many natural species from extinction, and co-founded the Save the Redwoods League with Frederick Russell Burnham, John C. Merriam, and Henry Fairfield Osborn in 1918. He is also credited with helping develop the first deer hunting laws in New York state, legislation which spread to other states as well over time.

He was also the creator of wildlife management,[citation needed] helped to found the Bronx Zoo, build the Bronx River Parkway, save the American bison as an organizer of the American Bison Society, and helped to create Glacier National Park and Denali National Park. In 1906, as Secretary of the New York Zoological Society, he lobbied to put Ota Benga, a Congolese man from the Mbuti people (a tribe of "pygmies" killed by Belgian colonists), on display alongside apes at the Bronx Zoo.[5]

Throughout the 1920s and 1930s, he served on the boards of many eugenic and philanthropic societies, including the board of trustees at the American Museum of Natural History, a director of the American Eugenics Society, vice president of the Immigration Restriction League, a founding member of the Galton Society, and one of the eight members of the International Committee of Eugenics. He was awarded the gold medal of the Society of Arts and Sciences in 1929. In 1931, the world's largest tree (in Dyerville, California) was dedicated to Grant, Merriam, and Osborn by the California State Board of Parks in recognition for their environmental efforts. A species of caribou was named after Grant as well (Rangifer tarandus granti, also known as Grant's Caribou). He was a member of the Boone and Crockett Club (a big game hunting organization) since 1893, where he was friends with president Theodore Roosevelt. He was head of the New York Zoological Society from 1925 until his death.

Historian Jonathan Spiro has argued that Grant's interests in conservationism and eugenics were not unrelated: both are hallmarks of the early 20th-century Progressive movement, and both assume the need for various types of stewardship over their charges.[6] In Grant's mind, natural resources needed to be conserved for the Nordic Race, to the exclusion of other races. Grant viewed the Nordic race lovingly as he did any of his endangered species, and considered the modern industrial society as infringing just as much on its existence as it did on the redwoods. Like many eugenicists, Grant saw modern civilization as a violation of "survival of the fittest", whether it manifested itself in the over-logging of the forests, or the survival of the poor via welfare or charity.[verification needed]

Nordic theory

See also: Nordicism

Title page of Grant's book The Passing of the Great Race (1916).

Grant was the author of the once much read book The Passing of the Great Race[7] (1916), an elaborate work of racial hygiene attempting to explain the racial history of Europe. The most significant of Grant's concerns was with the changing "stock" of American immigration of the early 20th century (characterized by increased numbers of immigrants from Southern and Eastern Europe, as opposed to Western and Northern Europe), Passing of the Great Race was a "racial" interpretation of contemporary anthropology and history, stating race as the basic motor of civilization.

Similar ideas were proposed by Gustav Kossinna in Germany. Grant promoted the idea of the "Nordic race",[8] a loosely defined biological-cultural grouping rooted in Scandinavia, as the key social group responsible for human development; thus the subtitle of the book was The racial basis of European history. As an avid eugenicist, Grant further advocated the separation, quarantine, and eventual collapse of "undesirable" traits and "worthless race types" from the human gene pool and the promotion, spread, and eventual restoration of desirable traits and "worthwhile race types" conducive to Nordic society:

"Maximum Expansion of Alpines"—Map from Passing of the Great Race showing the "essentially peasant" Alpine migrations into Europe.

"Expansion of the Pre-Teutonic Nordics"—Early Nordic influence spreading over the continent.

"Expansion of the Teutonic Nordics and Slavic Alpines"—Further Nordic expansion, as well as the Alpines.

"Present Distribution of the European Races" (1916)—Grant's vision of the status quo, with the Nordics in red, the Alpines in green, and the Mediterraneans in yellow.

A rigid system of selection through the elimination of those who are weak or unfit—in other words social failures—would solve the whole question in one hundred years, as well as enable us to get rid of the undesirables who crowd our jails, hospitals, and insane asylums. The individual himself can be nourished, educated and protected by the community during his lifetime, but the state through sterilization must see to it that his line stops with him, or else future generations will be cursed with an ever increasing load of misguided sentimentalism. This is a practical, merciful, and inevitable solution of the whole problem, and can be applied to an ever widening circle of social discards, beginning always with the criminal, the diseased, and the insane, and extending gradually to types which may be called weaklings rather than defectives, and perhaps ultimately to worthless race types.[9]

In the book, Grant recommends segregating "unfavorable" races in ghettos, by installing civil organizations through the public health system to establish quasi-dictatorships in their particular fields.[10] He states the expansion of non-Nordic race types in the Nordic system of freedom would actually mean a slavery to desires, passions, and base behaviors.

In turn, this corruption of society would lead to the subjection of the Nordic community to "inferior" races, who would in turn long to be dominated and instructed by "superior" ones utilizing authoritarian powers. The result would be the submergence of the indigenous Nordic races under a corrupt and enfeebled system dominated by inferior races, and both in turn would be subjected by a new ruling race class.

Nordic theory, in Grant's formulation, was similar to many 19th-century racial philosophies, which divided the human species into primarily three distinct races: Caucasoids (based in Europe), Negroids (based in Africa), and Mongoloids (based in Asia). Nordic theory, however, further subdivided Caucasoids into three groups: Nordics (who inhabited Northern Europe and other parts of the continent), Alpines (whose territory included central Europe and parts of Asia), and Mediterraneans (who inhabited Southern Europe, North Africa, and the Middle East).

In Grant's view, Nordics probably evolved in a climate that "must have been such as to impose a rigid elimination of defectives through the agency of hard winters and the necessity of industry and foresight in providing the year's food, clothing, and shelter during the short summer. Such demands on energy, if long continued, would produce a strong, virile, and self-contained race which would inevitably overwhelm in battle nations whose weaker elements had not been purged by the conditions of an equally severe environment."[11] The "Proto-Nordic" human, Grant reasoned, probably evolved in eastern Germany, Poland and Russia, before migrating northward to Scandinavia.

The Nordic, in his theory, was Homo europaeus, the white man par excellence. "It is everywhere characterized by certain unique specializations, namely, wavy brown or blond hair and blue, gray or light brown eyes, fair skin, high, narrow and straight nose, which are associated with great stature, and a long skull, as well as with abundant head and body hair."[12] Grant categorized the Alpines as being the lowest of the three European races, with the Nordics as the pinnacle of civilization.

The Nordics are, all over the world, a race of soldiers, sailors, adventurers, and explorers, but above all, of rulers, organizers, and aristocrats in sharp contrast to the essentially peasant character of the Alpines. Chivalry and knighthood, and their still surviving but greatly impaired counterparts, are peculiarly Nordic traits, and feudalism, class distinctions, and race pride among Europeans are traceable for the most part to the north.[13]

Grant, while aware of the "Nordic migration theory" into the Mediterranean, appears to reject this theory as an explanation for the high civilization features of the Greco-Roman world.

The mental characteristics of the Mediterranean race are well known, and this race, while inferior in bodily stamina to both the Nordic and the Alpine, is probably the superior of both, certainly of the Alpines, in intellectual attainments. In the field of art its superiority to both the other European races is unquestioned.[13]

Grant also considered North Africa as part of Mediterranean Europe:

Africa north of the Sahara, from a zoological point of view, is now, and has been since early Tertiary times, a part of Europe. This is true both of animals and of the races of man. The Berbers of north Africa to-day are racially identical with the Spaniards and south Italians.[14]

Yet while Grant recognized Mediterraneans to have abilities in art, as quoted above, later in the text, he pondered if the Mediterranean achievements in civilization were due to Nordic original ideals and structure:

This is the race that gave the world the great civilizations of Egypt, of Crete, of Phoenicia including Carthage, of Etruria and of Mycenaean Greece. It gave us, when mixed and invigorated with Nordic elements, the most splendid of all civilizations, that of ancient Hellas, and the most enduring of political organizations, the Roman State. To what extent the Mediterranean race entered into the blood and civilization of Rome, it is now difficult to say, but the traditions of the Eternal City, its love of organization, of law and military efficiency, as well as the Roman ideals of family life, loyalty, and truth, point clearly to a Nordic rather than to a Mediterranean origin.[15]

According to Grant, Nordics were in a dire state in the modern world, where, because of their abandonment of cultural values, rooted in religious or superstitious proto-racialism, they were close to committing "race suicide" by miscegenation and by being outbred by inferior stock taking advantage of the situation.

The book passed through multiple printings in the United States, and was translated into other languages, including German in 1925. By 1937, the book had sold 16,000 copies in the United States alone. Nordic theory was strongly embraced by the racial hygiene movement in Germany in the early 1920s and 1930s, which, however, they typically used the term "Aryan" instead of "Nordic", but the principal Nazi ideologist, Alfred Rosenberg, preferred "Aryo-Nordic" or "Nordic-Atlantean".

Stephen Jay Gould described The Passing of the Great Race as "the most influential tract of American scientific racism".[16] Grant's work was embraced by proponents of the National Socialist movement in Germany and was the first non-German book ordered to be reprinted by the Nazis when they took power. Adolf Hitler wrote to Grant, "The book is my Bible."[6]

Grant's work is considered one of the most influential and vociferous works of scientific racism and eugenics to come out of the United States. One of his long-time opponents was the anthropologist Franz Boas. Grant disliked Boas and for several years tried to get him fired from his position at Columbia University.[17][18] Boas and Grant were involved in a bitter struggle for control over the discipline of anthropology in the United States, while they both served (along with others) on the National Research Council Committee on Anthropology after the First World War.

Grant represented the "hereditarian" branch of physical anthropology at the time, despite his relatively amateur status, and was staunchly opposed to and by Boas himself (and the latter's students), who advocated cultural anthropology. Boas and his students eventually wrested control of the American Anthropological Association from Grant and his supporters, who had used it as a flagship organization for his brand of anthropology. In response, Grant, along with American eugenicist and biologist Charles B. Davenport, in 1918 founded the Galton Society as an alternative to Boas.[19]

Immigration restriction

Grant in the 1920s.

Grant advocated restricted immigration to the United States through limiting immigration from Eastern Europe and Southern Europe, as well as the complete end of immigration from East Asia. He also advocated efforts to purify the American population through selective breeding. He served as the vice president of the Immigration Restriction League from 1922 to his death. Acting as an expert on world racial data, Grant also provided statistics for the Immigration Act of 1924 to set the quotas on immigrants from certain European countries.[20] Even after passing the statute, Grant continued to be irked that even a smattering of non-Nordics were allowed to immigrate to the country each year. He also assisted in the passing and prosecution of several anti-miscegenation laws, including the Racial Integrity Act of 1924 in the state of Virginia, where he sought to codify his particular version of the "one-drop rule" into law.

Though Grant was extremely influential in legislating his view of racial theory, he began to fall out of favor in the United States in the 1930s. The declining interest in his work has been attributed both to the effects of the Great Depression, which resulted in a general backlash against Social Darwinism and related philosophies, and to the changing dynamics of racial issues in the United States during the interwar period. Rather than subdivide Europe into separate racial groups, the bi-racial (black vs. white) theory of Grant's protege Lothrop Stoddard became more dominant in the aftermath of the Great Migration of African-Americans from Southern States to Northern and Western ones (Guterl 2001).


Grant became a part of popular culture in 1920s America, especially in New York. Grant's conservationism and fascination with zoological natural history made him very influential among the New York elite who agreed with his cause, most notably Theodore Roosevelt. Author F. Scott Fitzgerald featured a reference to Grant in The Great Gatsby. Tom Buchanan, the husband of Daisy Buchanan, the novel's principal female character, was reading a book called The Rise of the Colored Empires by "this man Goddard", a portmanteau of Grant's Passing of the Great Race and his colleague Lothrop Stoddard's The Rising Tide of Color Against White World Supremacy (Grant wrote the introduction to Stoddard's book).

"Civilization's going to pieces," broke out Tom violently. "I've gotten to be a terrible pessimist about things. Have you read 'The Rise of the Colored Empires' by this man Goddard?"

"Why no," I answered, rather surprised by his tone.

"Well, it's a fine book, and everybody ought to read it. The idea is if we don't look out the white race will be — will be utterly submerged. It's all scientific stuff; it's been proved."

"Tom's getting very profound," said Daisy, with an expression of unthoughtful sadness. "He reads deep books with long words in them. What was that word we —"

"Well these books are all scientific," insisted Tom, glancing at her impatiently. "This fellow has worked out the whole thing. It's up to us, who are the dominant race, to watch out or these other races will have control of things."

"We've got to beat them down," whispered Daisy, winking ferociously toward the fervent sun.

"You ought to live in California —" began Miss Baker, but Tom interrupted her by shifting heavily in his chair.

"This idea is that we're Nordics. I am, and you are, and you are, and —" After an infinitesimal hesitation he included Daisy with a slight nod, and she winked at me again. "— And we've produced all the things that go to make civilization —oh, science and art, and all that. Do you see?"

There was something pathetic in his concentration, as if his complacency, more acute than of old, was not enough to him any more.[21]

In May 1921, soon after his unhappy first visit to Europe, Fitzgerald wrote to Edmund Wilson:

God damn the continent of Europe. It is of merely antiquarian interest. Rome is only a few years behind Tyre and Babylon. The negroid streak creeps northward to defile the Nordic race. Already the Italians have the souls of blackamoors. Raise the bars of immigration and permit only Scandinavians, Teutons, Anglo-Saxons and Celts to enter. France made me sick. Its silly pose as the thing the world has to save. I think it's a shame that England and America didn't let Germany conquer Europe. It's the only thing that would have saved the fleet of tottering old wrecks. (Letters 326)

Fitzgerald recognized the racism implicit in these statements and seemed to abhor it. "My reactions," he wrote "were all philistine, anti-socialistic, provincial and racially snobbish." Yet he continued in the same vein as previously: "I believe at last in the white man's burden. We are as far above the modern Frenchman as he is above the Negro. Even in art!" And so on".[22]

Grant left no offspring when he died in 1937 of nephritis. Several hundred people attended Grant's funeral,[6] and he was buried in Sleepy Hollow Cemetery in Tarrytown, New York. He left a bequest of $25,000 to the New York Zoological Society to create "The Grant Endowment Fund for the Protection of Wild Life", left $5,000 to the American Museum of Natural History, and left another $5,000 to the Boone and Crockett Club.

Grant was not only a crusading environmentalist. He opposed war, had doubts about imperialism, and strongly supported birth control.[23]

Passing of the Great Race was lauded by Adolf Hitler, who in the early 1930s wrote a 'fan letter' to Grant in which he called the book "my Bible".[24] At the postwar Nuremberg Trials, Grant's Passing of the Great Race was introduced into evidence by the defense of Karl Brandt, Hitler's personal physician and head of the Nazi euthanasia program, in order to justify the population policies of the Third Reich, or at least indicate that they were not ideologically unique to Nazi Germany.

Grant's works of "scientific racism" have been cited to demonstrate that many of the genocidal and eugenic ideas associated with the Third Reich did not arise specifically in Germany, and in fact that many of them had origins in other countries, including the United States.[25] As such, because of Grant's well-connected and influential friends, he is often used to illustrate the strain of race-based eugenic thinking in the United States, which had some influence until the Second World War. Because of the use made of Grant's eugenics work by the policy-makers of Nazi Germany, his work as a conservationist has been somewhat ignored and obscured, as many organizations with which he was once associated (such as the Sierra Club) wanted to minimize their association with him.[6]

Grant was mentioned in Anders Behring Breivik's 2083: A European Declaration of Independence, in which Breivik argues for the preservation of the Nordic race and criticized miscegenation.[26]


• The Caribou. New York: Office of the New York Zoological Society, 1902.
• "Moose". New York: Report of the Forest, Fish, Game Commission, 1903.
• The Origin and Relationship of the Large Mammals of North America. New York: Office of the New York Zoological Society, 1904.
• The Rocky Mountain Goat. Office of the New York Zoological Society, 1905.
• The Passing of the Great Race; or, The Racial Basis of European History. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1916.
o New ed., rev. and Amplified, with a New Preface by Henry Fairfield Osborn. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1918
o Rev. ed., with a Documentary Supplement, and a Preface by Henry Fairfield Osborn. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1921.
o Fourth rev. ed., with a Documentary Supplement, and a Preface by Henry Fairfield Osborn. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1936.
• Saving the Redwoods; an Account of the Movement During 1919 to Preserve the Redwoods of California. New York: Zoological Society, 1919.[27]
• Early History of Glacier National Park, Montana. Washington: Govt. print. off., 1919.
• The Conquest of a Continent; or, The Expansion of Races in America, Charles Scribner's Sons, 1933.

Selected articles

• "The Depletion of American Forests", Century Magazine, Vol. XLVIII, No. 1, May 1894.
• "The Vanishing Moose, and their Extermination in the Adirondacks", Century Magazine, Vol. XLVII, 1894.
• "A Canadian Moose Hunt". In: Theodore Roosevelt (ed.), Hunting in Many Lands. New York: Forest and Stream Publishing Company, 1895.
• "The Future of Our Fauna", Zoological Society Bulletin, No. 34, June 1909.
• "History of the Zoological Society", Zoological Society Bulletin, Decennial Number, No. 37, January 1910.
• "Condition of Wild Life in Alaska". In: Hunting at High Altitudes. New York: Harper & Brothers, Publishers, 1913.
• "Wild Life Protection", Zoological Society Bulletin, Vol. XIX, No. 1, January 1916.
• "The Passing of the Great Race", Geographical Review, Vol. 2, No. 5, Nov., 1916.
• "The Physical Basis of Race", Journal of the National Institute of Social Sciences, Vol. III, January 1917.
• "Discussion of Article on Democracy and Heredity", The Journal of Heredity, Vol. X, No. 4, April, 1919.
• "Restriction of Immigration: Racial Aspects", Journal of the National Institute of Social Sciences, Vol. VII, August 1921.
• "Racial Transformation of America", The North American Review, March 1924.
• "America for the Americans", The Forum, September 1925.


• Leon Dominian, The Frontiers of Language and Nationality in Europe, with an introduction by Madison Grant. New York: H. Holt and Company, 1916.
• Lothrop Stoddard, The Rising Tide of Color Against White World-Supremacy, with an introduction by Madison Grant. New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1921
• Ed., with Charles Stewart Davidson. The Founders of the Republic on Immigration, Naturalization and Aliens, collected for and edited by Madison Grant and Charles Stewart Davidson. New York: C. Scribner's Sons, 1928.
• Ed., with Charles Stewart Davidson, The Alien in Our Midst; or, "Selling our Birthright for a Mess of Pottage"; the Written Views of a Number of Americans (present and former) on Immigration and its Results. New York: The Galton Publishing Co., 1930.

See also

• Racism
• Institutional racism
• Eugenics in the United States
• Henry Fairfield Osborn


1. Zubrin, Robert (2012). Merchants of Despair: Radical Environmentalists, Criminal Pseudo-scientists, and the Fatal Cult of Antihumanism. Encounter Books, p. 57.
2. Spiro, Jonathan Peter (2009). Defending the Master Race: Conservation, Eugenics, and the Legacy of Madison Grant. University of Vermont Press, pp. 6–7.
3. "Maj. Gabriel Grant (Surgeon)". (the official website of the Military Health System and the Defense Health Agency). Archived from the original on June 27, 2015. Retrieved April 13, 2015.
4. Spiro (2009), p. 7.
5. Frazier, Ian (August 19, 2019). "When W. E. B. Du Bois Made a Laughingstock of a White Supremacist". The New Yorker. ISSN 0028-792X. Retrieved October 29, 2019.
6. Spiro, Jonathan P. (2009). Defending the Master Race: Conservation, Eugenics, and the Legacy of Madison Grant. Univ. of Vermont Press. ISBN 978-1-58465-715-6. Lay summary (29 September 2010).
7. Lindsay, J.A. (1917). "The Passing of the Great Race, or the Racial Basis of European History", The Eugenics Review 9 (2), pp. 139–141.
8. Alexander, Charles C. (1962). "Prophet of American Racism: Madison Grant and the Nordic Myth", Phylon 23 (1), pp. 73–90.
9. The Passing of the Great Race (1916), p. 46.
10. "The Passing of the Great Race" (PDF).
11. The Passing of the Great Race (1916), pp. 152–153.
12. The Passing of the Great Race (1916), p. 150.
13. The Passing of the Great Race (1916), p. 198.
14. The Passing of the Great Race (1916), pp. 137-138.
15. The Passing of the Great Race (1916), p. 139.
17. Petit, Jeanne D. (2010). The Men and Women We Want: Gender, Race, and the Progressive Era Literary Test Debate. University of Rochester. p. 165. ISBN 978-1-58046-348-5. Retrieved 26 June 2011.
18. Winfield, Ann Gibson (2007). Eugenics and Education in America: Institutionalized Racism and the Implications of History, Ideology, and Memory. Peter Lang. p. 74. ISBN 978-0-8204-8146-3.
19. Spiro 2002
20. Tucker, William H. (2007). The Funding of Scientific Racism: Wickliffe Draper and the Pioneer Fund. University of Illinois Press. ISBN 978-0-252-07463-9. Lay summary (4 September 2010).
21. The Great Gatsby, Chap. 1.
22. Margolies, Alan (1997). "The Maturing of F. Scott Fitzgerald". Twentieth Century Literature, 43 (1), pp. 75–93. Also see Slater, Peter Gregg (1973). "Ethnicity in The Great Gatsby", Twentieth Century Literature, 19 (1), pp. 53–62; Dekker, Jeffrey Louis (1994). "Gatsby's Pristine Dream: The Diminishment of the Self-Made Man in the Tribal Twenties", Novel: A Forum on Fiction, 28 (1), pp. 52–71; Bender, Bert (1998). "'His Mind Aglow': The Biological Undercurrent in Fitzgerald's Gatsby and Other Works", Journal of American Studies, 32 (3), Part 1, Cambridge University Press, pp. 399–420.
23. Leonard, Thomas C. Illiberal Reformers Princeton University Press 2016 p. 116
24. Arnold, Kathleen R. (2011). Anti-Immigration in the United States: A Historical Encyclopedia. ABC-CLIO. p. 227. ISBN 0313375224.
25. Black, Edwin (2003). War Against the Weak. Eugenics and America's Campaign to Create a Master Race. New York: Four Walls Eight Windows, pp. 259, 273, 274–275, 296.
26. 2083: A European Declaration of Independence.
27. Reprinted in The National Geographic, Vol. XXXVII, January/June, 1920.

Further reading

• "Madison Grant, 71, Zoologist, Is Dead", The New York Times (May 31, 1937), p. 15.
• Allen, Garland E. (2013). "'Culling the Herd': Eugenics and the Conservation Movement in the United States, 1900-1940," Journal of the History of Biology 46, pp. 31-72.
• Barkan, Elazar (1992). The Retreat of Scientific Racism: Changing Concepts of Race in Britain and the United States between the World Wars. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.
• Cooke, Kathy J. (2000). "Grant, Madison". American National Biography. Online.
• Degler, Carl N. (1991). In Search of Human Nature: The Decline and Revival of Darwinism in American Social Thought. Oxford University Press.
• Field, Geoffrey G. (1977). "Nordic Racism", Journal of the History of Ideas 38 (3), pp. 523–540.
• Guterl, Matthew Press (2001). The Color of Race in America, 1900–1940. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
• Serwer, Adam (April 2019). "White Nationalism's Deep American Roots". The Atlantic.
• Spiro, Jonathan P. (2000). Patrician Racist: The Evolution of Madison Grant. Ph.D. diss., Dept. of History, University of California, Berkeley.
• Spiro, Jonathan P. "Nordic vs. Anti-Nordic: The Galton Society and the American Anthropological Association", Patterns of Prejudice 36:1 (2002): 35–48.
• Spiro, Jonathan P. "The Alien in Our Midst".[full citation needed]
• Regal, Brian (2002). Henry Fairfield Osborn: Race and the Search for the Origins of Man. Aldershot, UK: Ashgate.
• Regal, Brian (2004). "Maxwell Perkins and Madison Grant: Eugenics Publishing at Scribners", Princeton University Library Chronicle 65 (2), pp. 317–341.

External links

• Environmentalisms Racist History
• Madison Grant at Find a Grave
• Excerpts from Passing of the Great Race used at the Nuremberg Trials
• Works by Madison Grant at LibriVox (public domain audiobooks)
• Works by Madison Grant at Project Gutenberg
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Re: Freda Bedi Cont'd (#2)

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Part 1 of 3

Labour Party (UK)
by Wikipedia
Accessed: 4/10/20

Thomas Davidson was the occasion rather than the cause of the founding of the Fabian Society. His socialism was ethical and individual rather than economic and political. He was spiritually a descendant of the Utopians of Brook Farm and the Phalanstery, and what he yearned for was something in the nature of a community of superior people withdrawn from the world because of its wickedness, and showing by example how a higher life might be led. Probably his Scotch common sense recoiled from definitely taking the plunge: I am not aware that he ever actually proposed that his disciples should form a self-contained community. In a lecture to the New York Fellowship of the New Life, he said, "I shall set out with two assumptions, first, that human life does not consist in material possession; and second, that it does consist in free spiritual activity, of which in this life at least material possession is an essential condition." There is nothing new in this: it is the common basis of all religions and ethical systems. But it needs to be re-stated for each generation, and so stated as to suit each environment. At the time that I am describing Davidson's re-statement appealed to the small circle of his adherents, though the movement which he started had results that he neither expected nor approved....

In the autumn of 1883 Thomas Davidson paid a short visit to London and held several little meetings of young people, to whom he expounded his ideas of a Vita Nuova, a Fellowship of the New Life. I attended the last of these meetings held in a bare room somewhere in Chelsea, on the invitation of Frank Podmore, whose acquaintance I had made a short time previously. We had become friends through a common interest first in Spiritualism and subsequently in Psychical Research, and it was whilst vainly watching for a ghost in a haunted house at Notting Hill—the house was unoccupied: we had obtained the key from the agent, left the door unlatched, and returned late at night in the foolish hope that we might perceive something abnormal—that he first discussed with me the teachings of Henry George in "Progress and Poverty," and we found a common interest in social as well as psychical progress.

The English organiser or secretary of the still unformed Davidsonian Fellowship was Percival Chubb, then a young clerk in the Local Government Board, and subsequently a lecturer and head of an Ethical Church in New York and St. Louis. Thomas Davidson was about to leave London; and the company he had gathered round him, desirous of further discussing his suggestions, decided to hold another meeting at my rooms. I was at that time a member of the Stock Exchange and lived in lodgings furnished by myself.

Here then on October 24th, 1883, was held the first of the fortnightly meetings, which have been continued with scarcely a break, through nine months of every year, up to the present time. The company that assembled consisted in part of the Davidsonian circle and in part of friends of my own....

A few words may be devoted to the Fellowship of the New Life, which continued to exist for fifteen years. Its chief achievement was the publication of a quarterly paper called "Seedtime," issued from July, 1889, to February, 1898. The paper contains articles on Ethical Socialism, the Simple Life, Humanitarianism, the Education of Children, and similar subjects. The Society was conducted much on the same lines as the Fabian Society: fortnightly lectures were given in London and reported in "Seedtime."

In 1893 we find in "Seedtime" an Annual Report recording 12 public meetings, 4 social gatherings, a membership of 95, and receipts £73. During this year, 1892-3, [url]J. Ramsay Macdonald[/url], subsequently M.P. and Secretary and Chairman of the Labour Party, was Honorary Secretary, and for some years he was on the Executive....

The future success of the Society was dependent in the main on two factors then already in existence. The first was its foundation before there was any other definitely Socialist body in England. The Social Democratic Federation did not adopt that name until August, 1884; the Fabian Society can therefore claim technical priority, and consequently it has never had to seek acceptance by the rest of the Socialist movement. At any later date it would have been impossible for a relatively small middle-class society to obtain recognition as an acknowledged member of the Socialist confraternity. We were thus in a position to welcome the formation of working-class Socialist societies, but it is certain that in the early days they would never have welcomed us....

The Social Democrats of those days asserted that unquestioning belief in every dogma attributed to Marx was essential to social salvation, and that its only way was revolution, by which they meant, not the complete transformation of society, but its transformation by means of rifles and barricades; they were convinced that a successful repetition of the Commune of Paris was the only method by which their policy could prevail. The Fabians realised from the first that no such revolution was likely to take place, and that constant talk about it was the worst possible way to commend Socialism to the British working class. And indeed a few years later it was necessary to establish a new working-class Socialist Society, the Independent Labour Party, in order to get clear both of the tradition of revolutionary violence and of the vain repetition of Marxian formulas. If the smaller society had merged itself in the popular movement, its criticism, necessary as it proved to be to the success of Socialism in England, would have been voted down, and its critics either silenced or expelled....

A fortnight later the "Lancashire campaign" was planned. It was thoroughly organised. An advanced agent was sent down, and abstracts of lectures were prepared and printed to facilitate accurate reports in the press. Complete lists of the forthcoming lectures—dates, places, subjects, and lecturers—were printed. All the Essayists except Olivier took part, and in addition Robert E. Dell, W.S. De Mattos, and the Rev. Stewart Headlam. An account of the Society written by Bernard Shaw was reprinted from the "Scottish Leader" for September 4th, 1890, for the use of the audience and the Press....

The lectures were given chiefly in sets of four in consecutive weeks, mostly at Liberal and Radical Clubs: others were arranged by Co-operative Societies, and by branches of the S.D.F. and the Socialist League. The subjects were "Socialism," "Where Liberalism Fails," "Co-operation and Labour," "The Future of Women," "The Eight Hours Bill," "The Politics of Labour," and so on. Those arranged by Co-operative Societies were, we are told, the least successful, but it is hoped "that they will bring about a better feeling between Socialists and Co-operators," a state of things which on the side of the Socialists was, as we have previously indicated, badly wanted. It should be noted that much of the success of the campaign was due to friendly assistance from the head-quarters of the Co-operative Union and the National Reform Union.

There is no doubt that this campaign with the series of lectures on the same lines which were continued for several years was an event of some importance, not only in the history of the Fabian Society but also in English politics. Hitherto the Socialism presented to the industrial districts of England, which are the backbone of Trade Unionism and Co-operation, to the men who are meant when we speak of the power and independence of the working classes, was revolutionary and destructive, ill-tempered and ungenerous. It had perhaps alarmed, but it had failed to attract them. It had made no real impression on the opinion of the people. From this point a new movement began. It first took the form of local Fabian Societies. They were succeeded by and merged into branches of the Independent Labour Party, which adopted everything Fabian except its peculiar political tactics. A few years later the Labour Party followed, more than Fabian in its toleration in the matter of opinions, and virtually, though not formally, Fabian in its political policy. No doubt something of the sort would have happened had there never been a Lancashire campaign, but this campaign may be fairly described as the first step in an evolution, the end of which is not yet in sight....

The Independent Labour Party was founded in January, 1893, at a Conference at which the Fabian Society of London and nine local Fabian Societies were represented, and from this time onward our provincial organisation declined until, in 1900, only four local and four University Societies remained.

The attitude of the parent society towards its branches has always been somewhat unusual. In early days it made admission to its own ranks a matter of some difficulty. A candidate resident in London had to secure a proposer and seconder who could personally vouch for him and had to attend two meetings as a visitor. We regarded membership as something of a privilege, and a candidate was required not only to sign the Basis, but also to take some personal trouble as evidence of zeal and good faith. To our provincial organisation the same principle was applied. If the Socialists in any town desired to form a local society we gave them our blessing and received them gladly. But we did not urge the formation of branches on lukewarm adherents, and we always recognised that the peculiar political methods of the London Society, appropriate to a body of highly educated people, nearly all of them speakers, writers, or active political workers, were unsuitable for the groups of earnest workmen in the provinces who were influenced by our teaching.
In fact the local Fabian Societies, with rare exceptions, of which Liverpool was the chief, were from the first "I.L.P." in personnel and policy, and were Fabian only in name.

This somewhat detached attitude, combined with the recognition of the differences between the parent society and its offspring
, led to the adoption of a system of local autonomy. The parent society retained complete control over its own affairs. It was governed by a mass meeting of members, which in those days elected the Executive for the year. It decided that a local Fabian Society might be formed anywhere outside London, by any body of people who accepted the Fabian Basis. The parent society would send them lecturers, supply them with literature and "Fabian News," and report their doings in the "News." But in other respects complete autonomy was accorded. No fees were asked, or subventions granted: no control over, or responsibility for, policy was claimed. Just as the political policy of each Fabian was left to his own judgment, so we declined the impossible task of supervising or harmonising the political activities of our local societies. When the I.L.P. was founded in Bradford and set to work to organise Socialism on Fabian lines, adopting practically everything of our policy, except the particular methods which we had selected because they suited our personal capacities, we recognised that provincial Fabianism had done its work. There was no room, except here and there, for an I.L.P. branch and a local F.S. in the same place. The men who were active in the one were active also in the other. We made no effort to maintain our organisation against that of the I.L.P., and though a few societies survived for some years, and for a while two or three were formed every year at such places as Tunbridge Wells, Maidstone, and Swindon, they were bodies of small importance, and contributed scarcely anything to the sum of Fabian activity. The only local Fabian Society which survived the debacle was Liverpool, which has carried on work similar to that of the London Society down to the present time. Its relations with the I.L.P. have always been harmonious, and, like the I.L.P., it has always maintained an attitude of hostility towards the old political parties. Its work has been lecturing, the publication of tracts, and political organisation....

Since the election of 1886 English Socialism had come into being and Trade Unionism had been transformed by the rise of the Dockers, and the other "new" unions of unskilled labour. But a Labour Party was still in the future, and our Election Manifesto (Tract 40), issued in June, bluntly tells the working classes that until they form a party of their own they will have to choose between the parties belonging to the other classes. The Manifesto, written by Bernard Shaw, is a brilliant essay on labour in politics and a criticism of both the existing parties; it assures the working classes that they could create their own party if they cared as much about politics as they cared for horse-racing (football was not in those days the typical sport); and it concludes by advising them to vote for the better, or against the worse, man, on the ground that progress was made by steps, a step forward was better than a step backward, and the only thing certain is the defeat of a party which sulks and does not vote at all. The Manifesto was widely circulated by the then vigorous local societies, and no doubt had some effect...

[T]he Society, in whose name the Manifesto appeared, called on the working classes to abandon Liberalism, to form a Trade Union party of their own, to raise £30,000 and to finance fifty candidates for Parliament. It is a curious coincidence that thirteen years later, in 1906, the Party formed, as the Manifesto demanded, by the big Trade Unions actually financed precisely fifty candidates and succeeded in electing thirty of them....

In January the article was reprinted with much additional matter drafted by Bernard Shaw. He showed in considerable detail how a Labour Party ought to be formed, and how, in fact, it was formed seven years later. With our numerous and still flourishing local societies, and the newly formed I.L.P., a large circulation for the tract was easily secured. Thousands of working-class politicians read and remembered it, and it cannot be doubted that the "Plan of Campaign for Labour," as it was called, did much to prepare the ground for the Labour Party which was founded so easily and flourished so vigorously in the first years of the twentieth century....

in 1899 the Trade Union Congress passed a resolution directing its Parliamentary Committee, in co-operation with the Socialist Societies, to call a conference in order "to devise ways and means for securing an increased number of Labour members in the next Parliament." In accordance with this resolution the Society was invited to appoint two representatives to meet the delegates of the Parliamentary Committee and of the two other Socialist organisations. Bernard Shaw and myself were appointed, and we took part in the business of arranging for the Conference. This was held on the last two days of February, 1900, and I was appointed the one delegate to which the Society was by its numbers entitled. The "Labour Representation Committee" was duly formed, and it was decided that the Executive Committee of twelve should include one elected by the Fabian Society....

For several years after this the Fabian Society did not greatly concern itself with the Labour Party. I attended the Annual Conferences and took a regular part in the work of the Executive Committee, but my colleagues of the Fabian Society as a whole showed little interest in the new body. In a sense, it was not in our line. Its object was to promote Labour Representation in Parliament, and the Fabian Society had never run, and had never intended to run, candidates for Parliament or for any local authority. We had made appeals for election funds on a good many occasions and had succeeded once or twice in collecting substantial sums, but this was a very different matter from accepting responsibility for a candidate and his election expenses. Therefore, for a good while, we remained in a position of benevolent passivity.

The Labour Representation Committee was founded as a Group, not as a Party, and one of the two members elected under its auspices at the General Election of 1900 ran as a Liberal. In 1903 it transformed itself into a Party, and then began the somewhat strange anomaly that the Fabian Society as a whole was affiliated to the Labour Party, whilst some of its members were Liberal Members of Parliament. It is true that the Trade Unions affiliated to the party were in the same position: their members also were sometimes official Liberals and even Liberal M.P.'s. The Labour Party itself never complained of the anomaly in the position of the Society or questioned its collective loyalty. And the Liberals in our Society never took any action hostile to the Labour Party, or indeed, so far as I know, supported any of the proposals occasionally made that we should disaffiliate from it. These proposals always came from "Fabian reformers," the younger men who wanted to create a revolution in the Society. And so little was their policy matured that in several cases the same member first tried to get the Society to expel all members who worked with any party other than the Labour Party, and a short time later moved that the Society should leave the Labour Party altogether. Or perhaps it was the other way round. Logical consistency is usually incompatible with political success: compromise runs smooth, whilst principle jams.

-- The History of the Fabian Society, by Edward R. Pease

Labour Party
Leader: Keir Starmer
Deputy Leader: Angela Rayner
General Secretary: Jennie Formby
Lords Leader: Lady Smith
Founded: 27 February 1900; 120 years ago[1][2]
Headquarters: Southside, 105 Victoria Street, London, SW1E 6QT[3]
Youth wing: Young Labour
LGBT wing: LGBT+ Labour
Membership (2020): Increase 580,000[4]
Ideology: Social democracy[5]; Democratic socialism[6]
Political position: Centre-left
European affiliation: Party of European Socialists
International affiliation: Progressive Alliance; Socialist International (observer)
Affiliate parties: Co-operative Party (Labour Co-op); Social Democratic and Labour Party
Colours: Red
Anthem: "The Red Flag"
Governing body: National Executive Committee
Constituting instrument: Labour Party Rule Book (Clause IV)
Devolved or semi-autonomous branches: London Labour; Labour in Northern Ireland; Scottish Labour; Welsh Labour
Parliamentary parties: PLP; Labour Lords
House of Commons[a]: 202 / 650
House of Lords: 176 / 785
London Assembly: 12 / 25
Scottish Parliament: 23 / 129
Welsh Assembly: 29 / 60
Local government[7]: 6,238 / 19,787
Directly elected mayors: 16 / 25
Police and crime commissioners: 15 / 40

The Labour Party is a centre-left political party in the United Kingdom that has been described as an alliance of social democrats, democratic socialists and trade unionists.[8] In all general elections since 1922, Labour has been either the governing party or the Official Opposition.

The Labour Party was founded in 1900, having grown out of the trade union movement and socialist parties of the 19th century. It overtook the Liberal Party to become the main opposition to the Conservative Party in the early 1920s, forming two minority governments under Ramsay MacDonald in the 1920s and early 1930s. Labour served in the wartime coalition of 1940–1945, after which Clement Attlee's Labour government established the National Health Service and expanded the welfare state from 1945 to 1951. Under Harold Wilson and James Callaghan, Labour again governed from 1964 to 1970 and 1974 to 1979. In the 1990s, Tony Blair took Labour to the centre as part of his "New Labour" project, which governed the UK under Blair and then Gordon Brown from 1997 to 2010.

The Labour Party currently forms the Official Opposition in the Parliament of the United Kingdom, having won the second-largest number of seats in the 2017 and 2019 general elections. Labour is currently the largest party in the Welsh Assembly, being the main party in the current Welsh government. The party is the third-largest in the Scottish Parliament.

Labour is a member of the Party of European Socialists and Progressive Alliance, and holds observer status in the Socialist International. The party includes semi-autonomous Scottish and Welsh branches, and supports the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) in Northern Ireland, although it still organises there. As of January 2020, Labour has 580,000 registered members, the largest membership of any party in Europe.[4]


Main articles: History of the Labour Party (UK) and History of the socialist movement in the United Kingdom

Founding (1860s–1890s)

The Labour Party originated in the late 19th century, meeting the demand for a new political party to represent the interests and needs of the urban working class, a demographic which had increased in number, and many of whom only gained suffrage with the passage of the Representation of the People Act 1884.[9] 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[10] and the Scottish Labour Party.

At 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".[11]

Labour Representation Committee (1900–1906)

Main article: Labour Representation Committee (1900)

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 Congregational Memorial Hall on Farringdon Street, London 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.[12]

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."[13] This created an association called the Labour Representation Committee (LRC), meant to co-ordinate 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.[14] Only 15 candidatures were sponsored, but two were successful: Keir Hardie in Merthyr Tydfil and Richard Bell in Derby.[15]

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 Conservatives' landed interests) intensified support for the LRC against a government that appeared to have little concern for the industrial proletariat and its problems.[15]

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.[15]

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.[15]

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.[16] 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.[17]

Early years (1906–1923)

The December 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 trade union members would have to 'opt in' to sending contributions to Labour, rather than their consent being presumed. 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 trade unions, the Liberal government passed the Trade Disputes Act to allow unions to fund Labour MPs once more without seeking the express consent of their members.

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.[18]

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.

At the end of the First World War, the Government was attempting to provide support for the newly re-established Poland against Soviet Russia. Henderson sent telegrams to all local Labour Party organisations to ask them to organise demonstrations against supporting Poland, later forming the Council of Action, to further organise strikes and protests. Due to the number of demonstrations and the potential industrial impact across the country, Churchill and the Government was forced to end support for the Polish war effort.[19]

Henderson turned his attention to building a strong constituency-based support network for the Labour Party. Previously, it had little national organisation, based largely on branches of unions and socialist societies. Working with Ramsay MacDonald and Sidney Webb, Henderson in 1918 established a national network of constituency organisations. They operated separately from trade unions and the National Executive Committee and were open to everyone sympathetic to the party's policies. Secondly, Henderson secured the adoption of a comprehensive statement of party policies, as drafted by Sidney Webb. Entitled "Labour and the New Social Order," it remained the basic Labour platform until 1950. It proclaimed a socialist party whose principles included a guaranteed minimum standard of living for everyone, nationalisation of industry, and heavy taxation of large incomes and of wealth.[20] It was in 1918 that Clause IV, as drafted by Sidney Webb, was adopted into Labour's constitution, committing the party to work towards "the common ownership of the means of production, distribution and exchange."

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.[21] The Communist Party of Great Britain was refused affiliation to the Labour Party between 1921 and 1923.[22]

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.[23] 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 Ramsay MacDonald was voted the first official leader of the Labour Party.

First Labour government and period in opposition (1923–1929)

Main article: First MacDonald ministry

Ramsay MacDonald, first Labour Prime Minister (1924 and 1929–1931)

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).

The most significant achievement of the first Labour government was the Wheatley Housing Act, which began a building programme of 500,000 municipal houses for rental to low paid workers. Legislation on education, unemployment, social insurance and tenant protection was also passed. However, because the government had to rely on the support of the Liberals it was unable to implement many of its more contentious policies such as nationalisation of the coal industry, or a capital levy. Although no radical changes were introduced, Labour demonstrating that they were capable of governing.[24]

While there were no major labour strikes during his term, MacDonald acted swiftly to end those that did erupt. When the Labour Party executive criticised 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."[25]

The government collapsed after only ten 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 forged 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 blamed for years 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.[26][27]

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.[28]

The party had a distinctive and suspicious foreign policy based on pacifism. Its leaders believed that peace was impossible because of capitalism, secret diplomacy, and the trade in armaments. That is it stressed material factors that ignored the psychological memories of the Great War, and the highly emotional tensions regarding nationalism and the boundaries of the countries.[29][30]

Second Labour government (1929–1931)

Main article: Second MacDonald ministry

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 woman cabinet minister; Margaret Bondfield, who was appointed Minister of Labour.[31]

MacDonald's second government was in a stronger parliamentary position than his first, and in 1930 Labour was able to pass legislation to raise unemployment pay, improve wages and conditions in the coal industry (i.e. the issues behind the General Strike) and pass a housing act which focused on slum clearances.[32]

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 slump in global trade hit Britain hard. By the end of 1930 unemployment had doubled to over two and a half million.[33] The government had no effective answers to the deteriorating financial situation, and by 1931 there was much fear that the budget was unbalanced, which was born out by the independent May Report which triggered a confidence crisis and a run on the pound. The cabinet deadlocked over its response, with several influential members unwilling to support the budget cuts (in particular a cut in the rate of unemployment benefit) which were pressed by the civil service and opposition parties. Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Snowden refused to consider deficit spending or tariffs as alternative solutions. When a final vote was taken, the Cabinet was split 11–9 with a minority, including many political heavyweights such as Arthur Henderson and George Lansbury, threatening to resign rather than agree to the cuts. The unworkable split, on 24 August 1931, made the government resign. MacDonald was encouraged by King George V to form an all-party National Government to deal with the immediate crisis.[34][35]

The financial crisis grew worse and decisive government action was needed as the leaders of both the Conservative and Liberal Parties met with King George V, and MacDonald, at first to discuss support for the spending cuts but later to discuss the shape of the next government. The king played the central role in demanding a National government be formed. On 24 August, MacDonald agreed to form a National Government composed of men from all parties with the specific aim of balancing the Budget and restoring confidence. The new cabinet had four Labourites (who formed a "National Labour" group) who stood with MacDonald, plus four Conservatives (led by Baldwin, Chamberlain) and two Liberals. MacDonald's moves aroused great anger among a large majority of Labour Party activists who felt betrayed. Labour unions were strongly opposed and the Labour Party officially repudiated the new National government. It expelled MacDonald and his supporters and made Henderson the leader of the main Labour party. Henderson led it into the general election on 27 October against the three-party National coalition. It was a disaster for Labour, which was reduced to a small minority of 52 seats. The Conservative-dominated National Government, led by MacDonald won the largest landslide in British political history.[36]

In 1931, Labour campaigned on opposition to public spending cuts, but found it difficult to defend the record of the party's former government and the fact that most of the cuts had been agreed before it fell. Historian Andrew Thorpe argues that Labour lost credibility by 1931 as unemployment soared, especially in coal, textiles, shipbuilding, and steel. The working class increasingly lost confidence in the ability of Labour to solve the most pressing problem.[37]

The 2.5 million Irish Catholics in England and Scotland were a major factor in the Labour base in many industrial areas. The Catholic Church had previously tolerated the Labour Party, and denied that it represented true socialism. However, the bishops by 1930 had grown increasingly alarmed at Labour's policies toward Communist Russia, toward birth control and especially toward funding Catholic schools. They warned its members. The Catholic shift against Labour and in favour of the National government played a major role in Labour's losses.[38]

Labour in opposition (1931–1940)

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.[39]

As the threat from Nazi Germany increased, in the late 1930s the Labour Party gradually abandoned its pacifist stance and came to support 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.[33]

Wartime coalition (1940–1945)

See also: Churchill war ministry

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.

Attlee government (1945–1951)

Main article: Attlee ministry

Clement Attlee, Prime Minister (1945–1951)

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,[40] Labour won a landslide victory, winning just under 50% of the vote with a majority of 159 seats.[41]

Although Clement Attlee was no great radical himself,[citation needed] Attlee's government 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.[42][43][44] To this day, most people in the United Kingdom see the 1948 creation of Britain's National Health Service (NHS) under health minister Aneurin Bevan, which gave publicly funded medical treatment for all, as Labour's proudest achievement.[45] 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,[33] in opposition to the pacifist and anti-nuclear stances of a large element inside the Labour Party.

Aneurin Bevan speaking in October 1952

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),[46] 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.[47]

Post-war consensus (1951–1964)

Following the defeat of 1951, the party spent 13 years in opposition. The party suffered an ideological split, between the party's left-wing followers of Aneurin Bevan (known as Bevanites), and the right-wing of the party following Hugh Gaitskell (known as Gaitskellites) 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. The ageing Attlee contested his final general election in 1955, which saw Labour lose ground, and he retired shortly after.

Under his replacement, Hugh Gaitskell, Labour appeared more united than before and had been widely expected to win the 1959 general election, but did not. Following this internal party infighting resumed, particularly over the issues of nuclear disarmament, Britain's entry into the European Economic Community (EEC) and Clause IV of the Labour Party Constitution, which was viewed as Labour's commitment to nationalisation which Gaitskell wanted scrapped. These issues would continue to divide the party for decades to come.[48][49]

Gaitskell died suddenly in 1963, and this made way for Harold Wilson to lead the party.

Wilson government (1964–1970)

Main article: First Wilson ministry

Harold Wilson, Prime Minister (1964–1970 and 1974–1976)

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.

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. Wilson's government also put heavy emphasis on expanding opportunities through education, and as such, comprehensive education was expanded and the Open University created.

Wilson's first period as Prime Minister coincided with a period of relatively low unemployment and economic prosperity, it was however hindered by significant problems with a large trade deficit which it had inherited from the previous government. The first three years of the government were spent in an ultimately doomed attempt to stave off devaluation of the pound. Labour went on to unexpectedly lose the 1970 general election to the Conservatives under Edward Heath.

Spell in opposition (1970–1974)

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 slim majority of three, gaining just 18 seats taking its total to 319.

Majority to minority (1974–1979)

Main article: Labour 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, 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[50]) by a policy of wage restraint. This was fairly successful, reducing inflation to 7.4% by 1978.[15][50] However it led to increasingly strained relations between the government and the trade unions.

James Callaghan, Prime Minister (1976–1979)

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".[51] By 1977 by-election losses and defections to the breakaway Scottish Labour Party left Callaghan heading a minority government, forced to do deals 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 (SNP) 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 the Welsh devolution referendum saw a large majority vote against, 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 the Conservatives triggered a vote of confidence in Callaghan's government that was lost by a single vote on 28 March 1979, necessitating a general election.

By 1978, the economy had started to show signs of recovery, with inflation falling to single digits, unemployment falling, and living standards starting to rise during the year.[52] Labour's opinion poll ratings also improved, with most showing the party to be in the lead.[15] Callaghan had been widely expected to call a general election in the autumn of 1978 to take advantage of the improving situation. In the event, he decided to gamble that extending the wage restraint policy for another year would allow the economy to be in better shape for a 1979 election. However this proved unpopular with the trade unions, and 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".

These industrial disputes sent the Conservatives now led by Margaret Thatcher into the lead in the polls, which led to Labour's defeat in the 1979 general election. The Labour vote held up in the election, with the party receiving nearly the same number of votes than in 1974. However, 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.
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Part 2 of 3

Opposition and internal conflict (1979–1994)

See also: Shadow Cabinet of Michael Foot, Shadow Cabinet of Neil Kinnock, and Shadow Cabinet of John Smith

Michael Foot, Leader of the Opposition (1980–1983)

After its defeat in the 1979 general election the Labour Party underwent a period of internal rivalry between the left represented by Tony Benn, and the right represented by Denis Healey. The election of Michael Foot as leader in 1980, and the leftist policies he espoused, such as unilateral nuclear disarmament, leaving the European Economic Community and NATO, closer governmental influence in the banking system, the creation of a national minimum wage and a ban on fox hunting[53] 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.[54] Benn was only narrowly defeated by Healey in a bitterly fought deputy leadership election in 1981 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.[citation needed]

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.[55] The party manifesto for this election was termed by critics as "the longest suicide note in history".[53]

Neil Kinnock, Leader of the Opposition (1983–1992)

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, which divided the NUM as well as the Labour Party, 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.[citation needed]

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.[56] At the 1985 Labour Party conference in Bournemouth, a resolution committing the party to support LGBT equality rights passed for the first time[57] due to block voting support from the National Union of Mineworkers.

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. During the 1980s radically socialist members of the party were often described as the "loony left", particularly in the print media.[58] The print media in the 1980s also began using the pejorative "hard left" to sometimes describe Trotskyist groups such as the Militant tendency, Socialist Organiser and Socialist Action.[59]

In 1988, Kinnock was challenged by Tony Benn for the party leadership. Based on the percentages, 183 members of parliament supported Kinnock, while Benn was backed by 37. With a clear majority, Kinnock remained leader of the Labour Party.[60]

Labour Party logo under Kinnock, Smith and Blair's leaderships

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 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. 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 change of leader from Thatcher to Major, and replaced the Community Charge. 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.[61] 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 succeeded by John Smith. Once again the battle erupted between the old guard on the party's left and those identified as "modernisers". The old guard argued that trends showed they were regaining strength under Smith's strong leadership. Meanwhile, the breakaway SDP merged with the Liberal Party. The new Liberal Democrats seemed to pose a major threat to the Labour base. Tony Blair (the Shadow Home Secretary) had a different vision to traditional Labour politics. Blair, the leader of the "modernising" faction, argued that the long-term trends had to be reversed, arguing that the party was too locked into a base that was shrinking, since it was based on the working-class, on trade unions, and on residents of subsidised council housing. Blair argued that the rapidly growing middle class was largely ignored, as well as more ambitious working-class families. Blair said that they aspired to become middle-class and accepted the Conservative argument that traditional Labour was holding ambitious people back to some extent with higher tax policies. To present a fresh face and new policies to the electorate, New Labour needed more than fresh leaders; it had to jettison outdated policies, argued the modernisers.[62] The first step was procedural, but essential. Calling on the slogan, "One Member, One Vote" Blair (with some help from Smith) defeated the union element and ended block voting by leaders of labour unions.[63] Blair and the modernisers called for radical adjustment of Party goals by repealing "Clause IV", the historic commitment to nationalisation of industry. This was achieved in 1995.[64]

Black Wednesday in September 1992 damaged the Conservative government's reputation for economic competence, 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.[65]

New Labour (1994–2010)

Main article: New Labour

See also: Premiership of Tony Blair and Premiership of Gordon Brown

Further information: Shadow Cabinet of Tony Blair, Blair ministry, and Brown ministry

Tony Blair, Prime Minister (1997–2007)

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.[66]

The Labour Party won the 1997 general election in a landslide victory with a parliamentary majority of 179; it was the largest Labour majority ever, and at the time the largest swing to a political party achieved since 1945. Over the next decade, a wide range of progressive social reforms were enacted,[67][68] with millions lifted out of poverty during Labour's time in office largely as a result of various tax and benefit reforms.[69][70][71]

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, major changes to the regulation of the banking system, and the re-creation of a citywide 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.[72] 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.[73] The UN Secretary-General, among many, considered the war illegal and a violation of the UN Charter.[74][75] The Iraq War was deeply unpopular in most western countries, with Western governments divided in their support[76] and under pressure from worldwide popular protests.[77] The decisions that led up to the Iraq war and its subsequent conduct were the subject of Sir John Chilcot's Iraq Inquiry (commonly referred to as the "Chilcot report").[78]

In the 2005 general election, Labour was re-elected for a third term, but with a reduced majority of 66 and popular vote of only 35.2%, the lowest percentage of any majority government in British history. During this election, proposed controversial posters by Alastair Campbell where opposition leader Michael Howard and shadow chancellor Oliver Letwin, who are both Jewish, were depicted as flying pigs were criticised as being anti-Semitic.[79] The posters were referring to the expression 'when pigs fly', to suggest that Tory election promises were unrealistic. In response, Campbell said that the posters were not in "any way shape or form" intended to be anti-Semitic.[80]

Gordon Brown, Prime Minister (2007–2010)

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.[81] 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.[82] 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.[83][84]

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.[citation needed] 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.[85] These debts eventually mounted to £24.5 million, and were finally fully repaid in 2015.[86]

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.[87] 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.[88] 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.[89]

Opposition and internal conflict (2010–present)

See also: One Nation Labour and Labour Party leadership of Jeremy Corbyn

Further information: Shadow Cabinet of Ed Miliband and Shadow Cabinet of Jeremy Corbyn

Ed Miliband, Leader of the Opposition (2010–2015)

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[90] subsequently won by Ed Miliband. Miliband emphasised "responsible capitalism" and greater state intervention to change the balance of the economy away from financial services.[91] Tackling vested interests[92] and opening up closed circles in British society[93] were themes he returned to a number of times. Miliband also argued for greater regulation of banks and energy companies.[94] He adopted the "One Nation Labour" branding in 2012.

The Parliamentary Labour Party voted to abolish Shadow Cabinet elections in 2011,[95] ratified by the National Executive Committee and Party Conference. Henceforth the leader of the party chose the Shadow Cabinet members.[96]

The party's performance 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.[97] In Wales the party enjoyed good successes, regaining control of most Welsh councils lost in 2008, including Cardiff.[98] In Scotland, Labour held overall control of Glasgow City Council despite some predictions to the contrary,[99] and also enjoyed a +3.26 swing across Scotland. Results in London were mixed: 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.[97]

On 1 March 2014, at a special conference the party reformed internal Labour election procedures, including replacing the electoral college system for selecting new leaders with a "one member, one vote" system following the recommendation of a review by former general-secretary Ray Collins. Mass membership would be encouraged by allowing "registered supporters" to join at a low cost, as well as full membership. Members from the trade unions would also have to explicitly "opt in" rather than "opt out" of paying a political levy to Labour.[100][101][102]

The party edged out the Conservatives in the May 2014 European parliamentary elections winning 20 seats to the Conservatives' 19. However the UK Independence Party won 24 seats.[103] Labour also gained 324 councillors in the 2014 local elections.[104]

In September 2014, Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls outlined his plans to cut the government's current account deficit, and the party carried these plans into the 2015 general election. Whereas Conservatives campaigned for a surplus on all government spending, including investment, by 2018–19, Labour stated it would balance the budget, excluding investment, by 2020.[105]

The 2015 general election unexpectedly resulted in a net loss of seats, with Labour representation falling to 232 seats in the House of Commons.[106] The party lost 40 of its 41 seats in Scotland in the face of record swings to the Scottish National Party.[107] Though Labour gained more than 20 seats in England and Wales, mostly from the Liberal Democrats but also from the Conservative Party,[108][109] it lost more seats to the Conservatives, including Ed Balls in Morley and Outwood, for net losses overall.[110]

Jeremy Corbyn, Leader of the Opposition (2015–2020)

After the 2015 election, Miliband resigned as party leader and Harriet Harman again became acting leader.[110] Labour held a leadership election, in which Jeremy Corbyn, then a member of the Socialist Campaign Group,[111] was considered a fringe hopeful when the contest began, receiving nominations from just 36 MPs, one more than the minimum required to stand, and the support of just 16 MPs.[112] However, he benefited from a large influx of new members as well as new affiliated and registered supporters introduced under Miliband.[113] He was elected leader with 60% of the vote and membership numbers continued to climb after the start of Corbyn's leadership.[114]

Tensions soon developed in the parliamentary party over Corbyn's leadership. Following the referendum on EU membership more than two dozen members of the Shadow Cabinet resigned in late June 2016,[115] and a no-confidence vote was supported by 172 MPs against 40 supporting Corbyn.[116] In July 2016, a leadership election was called as Angela Eagle launched a challenge against Corbyn.[117] She was soon joined by rival challenger Owen Smith, prompting Eagle to withdraw in order to ensure there was only one challenger on the ballot.[118] In September 2016 Corbyn retained leadership of the party with an increased share of the vote.[119] By the end of the contest Labour's membership had grown to more than 500,000, making it the largest political party in terms of membership in Western Europe.[120]

Following the party's decision to support the European Union (Notification of Withdrawal) Bill 2017, at least three shadow cabinet ministers, all representing constituencies which voted to remain in the EU, resigned from their position as a result of the party's decision to invoke Article 50 under the bill.[121] 47 of 229 Labour MPs voted against the bill (in defiance of the party's three-line whip).[122] Unusually, the rebel frontbenchers did not face immediate dismissal.[123] According to the New Statesman, approximately 7,000 members of the Labour Party also resigned in protest over the party's stance;[124] this number has been confirmed by senior Labour sources.[123]

In April 2017, Prime Minister Theresa May called a snap election for June 2017.[125] The Labour campaign focused on social issues like health care, education and ending austerity.[126] Although Labour started the campaign as far as 20 points behind, they defied expectations by gaining 40% of the vote, their greatest share since 2001. The party made a net gain of 30 seats to reach 262 total MPs, and, with a swing of 9.6%,[127] they achieved the biggest percentage-point increase in vote share in a single general election since 1945.[128] Immediately following the election party membership rose by 35,000.[129] This has partly been attributed to the popularity of its 2017 Manifesto that promised to scrap tuition fees, address public sector pay, make housing more affordable, end austerity, nationalise the railways and provide school students with free lunches.[130][131][132]

Following the general election, the Party faced internal pressure to shift its Brexit policy away from a 'soft Brexit' and towards a second referendum, a position widely supported among the party membership. In response, at the 2018 Labour Party conference Corbyn said he did not support a second referendum but would abide by the decision of members at the conference.[133][126] The party conference decided to support a Brexit deal either negotiated by the Conservatives and meeting certain conditions, or negotiated by Labour in government. The conference agreed to use all means to stop an unacceptable Brexit deal, including another referendum including an option to remain in the EU, as a last resort.[134]

A week after seven Labour MPs left the party in February 2019 to form The Independent Group, partly in protest over Labour's Brexit position, the Labour leadership said it would support another referendum "as a final resort in order to stop a damaging Tory Brexit being forced on the country".[135][136]

From 2016, allegations have been made regarding antisemitism in the Labour Party. It concerns both alleged antisemitism by individuals, and issues with the party's handling of accused members. The Chakrabarti Inquiry found instances of "toxic atmosphere" but exonerated the party of widespread antisemitism. Corbyn has been personally accused of antisemitism.[137][138][139][140] Ken Livingstone, Chris Williamson and Peter Willsman, amongst others, have been accused of antisemitism, and have since resigned or been suspended. The Labour Party has partially acknowledged that it has been slow in dealing with accusations of antisemitism by its members.[141][142] In 2018, the Party was divided over adopting the IHRA Working Definition of Antisemitism, with its references to Israel, prompting 68 rabbis from the Jewish community to criticise the leadership for ‘claiming to know what’s good for our community’.[143] The issue has been cited by a number of MPs who left the party to set up Change UK.[144] Later, Louise Ellman also left, having refused to support the leadership.[145] Following continuous media coverage of the issue, a survey conducted in 2018 showed that 86% of British Jews believe Corbyn is antisemitic.[146] In February 2019, party general secretary Jennie Formby issued statistics of antisemitism cases between April 2018 and January 2019 that showed 673 complaints had been made,[147] equating to around 0.1% of members.[148] During the 2019 general election, Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis made an unprecedented intervention in politics, stating that antisemitism, ‘A new poison – sanctioned from the top – has taken root in the Labour Party’.[149] His comments were supported by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby.[150] Earlier in 2019, the Equalities and Human Rights Commission launched an investigation into whether the Labour Party has "unlawfully discriminated against, harassed or victimised people because they are Jewish", following complaints by the Jewish Labour Movement and the Campaign Against Antisemitism.[151]

The 2019 Labour Party Manifesto included policies to increase funding for health, negotiate a Brexit deal and hold a referendum giving a choice between the deal and remain, raise the minimum wage, stop the age pension age increase, nationalise key industries, and replace universal credit.[152] Due to the plans to nationalise the "big six" energy firms, the National Grid, the water industry, Royal Mail, the railways and the broadband arm of BT, the 2019 manifesto was widely considered as the most radical in several decades, more closely resembling Labour's politics of the 1970s than subsequent decades.[153] The 2019 general election was the worst defeat for Labour since the 1930s.[154] At 32.2%, Labour's share of the vote was down around eight points on the 2017 general election and is lower than that achieved by Neil Kinnock in 1992, although it was higher than in 2010 and 2015. In the aftermath, opinions differed to why the Labour Party was defeated to the extent it was. The Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell largely blamed Brexit and the media representation of the party.[155] Tony Blair said that the party's unclear position on Brexit was a major factor together with the economic policy pursued by the Corbyn leadership.[156][157]

Sir Keir Starmer, Leader of the Opposition (2020–present)

Sir Keir Starmer was elected the new leader of the Labour party on the 4th of April 2020.[158]


The Labour Party is considered to be left of centre.[164] 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,[165] and were successful thirty-five years later,[166] with only limited opposition from senior figures in the party.[167]

Party electoral manifestos have not contained the term "socialism" since 1992. The new version of Clause IV, though affirming a commitment to democratic socialism,[168][169] no longer definitely commits the party to public ownership of industry: in its place it advocates "the enterprise of the market and the rigour of competition" along with "high quality public services [...] either owned by the public or accountable to them".[168]

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.[170] 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,[171] leading many observers to describe the Labour Party as social democratic or the Third Way, rather than democratic socialist.[172] 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",[173] and claim that this ideological shift has put new strains on the Labour Party's traditional relationship with the trade unions.[174] Historically within the party, differentiation was made between the social democratic and the socialist wings of the party, the latter often subscribed to a radical socialist, even Marxist, ideology.[175][176]

In more recent times, a limited number of Members of Parliament in the Socialist Campaign Group and the Labour Representation Committee have seen themselves as the standard bearers for the radical socialist tradition in contrast to the democratic socialist tradition represented by organisations such as Compass and the magazine Tribune.[177] The group Progress, founded in 1996, represents the centrist position in the party and is opposed to the Corbyn leadership.[178][179]

In 2015, Momentum was created by Jon Lansman as a grass-roots left-wing organisation following Jeremy Corbyn's election as party leader. Rather than organising among the PLP, Momentum is a rank and file grouping with an estimated 40,000 members.[180]


Labour has long been identified with red, a political colour traditionally affiliated with socialism and the labour movement. Prior to the red flag logo, the party had used a modified version of the classic 1924 shovel, torch, and quill emblem. In 1924 a brand conscious Labour leadership had devised a competition, inviting supporters to design a logo to replace the 'polo mint' like motif that had previously appeared on party literature. The winning entry, emblazoned with the word "Liberty" over a design incorporating a torch, shovel and quill symbol, was popularised through its sale, in badge form, for a shilling. 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".[181]

The red flag, originally the official flag and symbol of the Labour Party

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 socialism and social democracy, was adopted as the party symbol in 1986 as part of a rebranding exercise and is now incorporated into the party logo.[182]

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. It still remains in use, although attempts were made to play down the role of the song during New Labour.[183][184] The song "Jerusalem", based on a William Blake poem, is also frequently sung.[185]

Constitution and structure

Clause IV (1995)

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.

-- Party Constitution, Labour Party Rule Book[168]

The Labour Party is a membership organisation consisting of individual members and 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.[186] 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.

The Labour Party is an unincorporated association without a separate legal personality, and the Labour Party Rule Book legally regulates the organisation and the relationship with members.[187] The General Secretary represents the party on behalf of the other members of the Labour Party in any legal matters or actions.[188]

Membership and registered supporters

A graph showing Labour Party individual membership, excluding affiliated members and supporters (1928–2018)

In August 2015, prior to the 2015 leadership election, the Labour Party reported 292,505 full members, 147,134 affiliated supporters (mostly from affiliated trade unions and socialist societies) and 110,827 registered supporters; a total of about 550,000 members and supporters.[189][190] As of December 2017, the party had approximately 552,000 full members, making it the largest political party in Western Europe.[191][192] Consequently, membership fees became the largest component of the party's income, overtaking trade unions donations which were previously of most financial importance, and in 2017 making Labour the most financially well-off British political party.[193]

In February 2019, leaked membership figures revealed a decline to 512,000.[194][195] By July 2019, further leaked figures suggested the membership may have fallen to 485,000.[196] By January 2020, however, Labour was revealed to have around 580,000 registered members, making it the largest political party anywhere in Europe.[4]

For many years, Labour held to a policy of not allowing residents of Northern Ireland to apply for membership,[197] instead supporting the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) which informally takes the Labour whip in the House of Commons.[198] The 2003 Labour Party Conference accepted legal advice that the party could not continue to prohibit residents of the province joining,[199] and whilst the National Executive has established a regional constituency party it has not yet agreed to contest elections there. In December 2015 a meeting of the members of the Labour Party in Northern Ireland decided unanimously to contest the elections for the Northern Ireland Assembly held in May 2016.[200]

Trade union link

See also: Trade unionism in the United Kingdom

Unite the Union showing their support for the Labour party on their Leeds offices during the 2015 general election

The Trade Union and Labour Party Liaison Organisation is the co-ordinating structure that supports the policy and campaign activities of affiliated union members within the Labour Party at the national, regional and local level.[201]

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.[202] Other unions have also faced calls from members to reduce financial support for the Party[203] and seek more effective political representation for their views on privatisation, public spending cuts and the anti-trade union laws.[204] 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".[205] Union funding was redesigned in 2013 after the Falkirk candidate-selection controversy.[206] The Fire Brigades Union, which "severed links" with Labour in 2004, re-joined the party under Corbyn's leadership in 2015.[207]

European and international affiliation

The Labour Party is a founder member of the Party of European Socialists (PES). The European Parliamentary Labour Party's 10 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 in the PES Presidency.[208]

The party was a member of the Labour and Socialist International between 1923 and 1940.[209] 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 NEC decided to downgrade participation to observer membership status, "in view of ethical concerns, and to develop international co-operation through new networks".[210] Labour was a founding member of the Progressive Alliance international founded in co-operation with the Social Democratic Party of Germany and other social-democratic parties on 22 May 2013.[211][212][213][214]

Electoral performance

UK-wide elections

UK general elections

See also: Elections in the United Kingdom § General elections

Parliament of the United Kingdom

Election / Leader / Votes No. / Votes Share / Seats No. / ± / Seats Share / Position / Government

1945 Clement Attlee 11,967,746 47.7
393 / 640
Increase 239 61.0 Increase 1st Labour
1997 Tony Blair 13,518,167 43.2
419 / 659
Increase 148 63.6 Increase 1st Labour
1929[fn 2] Ramsay MacDonald 8,048,968 37.1
287 / 615
Increase 136 47.0 Increase 1st Labour minority
1935 Clement Attlee 7,984,988 38.0
154 / 615
Increase 102 25.0 Steady 2nd Conservative–Liberal National–National Labour
1922 J. R. Clynes 4,076,665 29.7
142 / 615
Increase 85 23.1 Increase 2nd Conservative
1964 Harold Wilson 12,205,808 44.1
317 / 630
Increase 59 50.3 Increase 1st Labour
1923 Ramsay MacDonald 4,267,831 30.7
191 / 625
Increase 49 30.1 Steady 2nd Labour minority
1966 Harold Wilson 13,096,629 48.0
364 / 630
Increase 47 57.8 Steady 1st Labour
1992 Neil Kinnock 11,560,484 34.4
271 / 651
Increase 42 41.6 Steady 2nd Conservative
2017 Jeremy Corbyn 12,874,985 40.0
262 / 650
Increase 30 40.3 Steady 2nd Conservative minority
with DUP confidence and supply
1906 Keir Hardie 321,663 5.7
29 / 670
Increase 27 4.3 Increase 4th Liberal
1987 Neil Kinnock 10,029,807 30.8
229 / 650
Increase 20 35.2 Steady 2nd Conservative
October 1974 Harold Wilson 11,457,079 39.2
319 / 635
Increase 18 50.2 Steady 1st Labour
1918[fn 1] William Adamson 2,245,777 21.5
57 / 707
Increase 15 8.1 Steady 4th Coalition Liberal–Conservative
February 1974 Harold Wilson 11,645,616 37.2
301 / 635
Increase 13 47.4 Increase 1st Labour minority
January 1910 Arthur Henderson 505,657 7.6
40 / 670
Increase 11 6.0 Steady 4th Liberal minority
1900 Keir Hardie 62,698 1.8
2 / 670
Increase 2 0.3 5th Conservative–Liberal Unionist
December 1910 George Nicoll Barnes 371,802 7.1
42 / 670
Increase 2 6.3 Steady 4th Liberal minority
1931 Arthur Henderson 6,339,306 30.8
52 / 615
Decrease 235 8.5 Decrease 2nd Conservative–Liberal–National Labour
2010 Gordon Brown 8,601,441 29.1
258 / 650
Decrease 98 40.0 Decrease 2nd Conservative–Liberal Democrats
1950 Clement Attlee 13,266,176 46.1
315 / 625
Decrease 78 50.4 Steady 1st Labour
1970[fn 3] Harold Wilson 12,208,758 43.1
288 / 630
Decrease 76 45.7 Decrease 2nd Conservative
1983 Michael Foot 8,456,934 27.6
209 / 650
Decrease 60 32.2 Steady 2nd Conservative
2019 Jeremy Corbyn 10,269,076 32.2
202 / 650
Decrease 60 31.1 Steady 2nd Conservative
2005 Tony Blair 9,562,122 35.3
356 / 646
Decrease 57 55.1 Steady 1st Labour
1979 James Callaghan 11,532,218 36.9
269 / 635
Decrease 50 42.4 Decrease 2nd Conservative
1924 Ramsay MacDonald 5,281,626 33.3
151 / 615
Decrease 40 24.6 Steady 2nd Conservative
2015 Ed Miliband 9,339,818 30.5
232 / 650
Decrease 26 36.0 Steady 2nd Conservative
1951 Clement Attlee 13,948,883 48.8
295 / 625
Decrease 20 47.2 Decrease 2nd Conservative
1959 Hugh Gaitskell 12,216,172 43.8
258 / 630
Decrease 19 40.1 Steady 2nd Conservative
1955 Clement Attlee 12,405,254 46.4
277 / 630
Decrease 18 44.0 Steady 2nd Conservative
2001 Tony Blair 10,724,953 40.7
413 / 659
Decrease 6 62.7 Steady 1st Labour


1. 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.
2. The first election held under the Representation of the People Act 1928 which gave all women aged over 21 the vote.
3. Franchise extended to all 18- to 20-year-olds under the Representation of the People Act 1969.

A graph showing the percentage of the popular vote received by major parties in general elections (1832–2005)

European Parliament elections

See also: European Parliament and Elections to the European Parliament

Elections to the European Parliament began in 1979, and were held under the first past the post system until 1999, when a form of proportional representation was introduced.

Year / Leader / % share of votes / Seats / Change / Position
1979 James Callaghan 31.6
17 / 78
1984 Neil Kinnock 34.7
32 / 78
Increase 15 Steady 2nd
1989 40.1
45 / 78
Increase 13 Increase 1st
1994 Margaret Beckett
(interim) 42.6
62 / 84
Increase 17 Steady 1st
1999[fn 1] Tony Blair 28.0
29 / 84
Decrease 33 Decrease 2nd
2004 22.6
19 / 78
Decrease 6 Steady 2nd
2009 Gordon Brown 15.7
13 / 72
Decrease 5 Decrease 3rd
2014 Ed Miliband 24.4
20 / 73
Increase 7 Increase 2nd
2019 Jeremy Corbyn 13.6
10 / 73
Decrease 10 Decrease 3rd

1. Electoral system changed from first past the post to proportional representation.

Devolved assembly elections

Scottish Parliament elections

See also: Scottish Parliament and Scottish Labour Party

Year / Leader / % share of votes (constituency) / % share of votes (list) / Seats / Change / Position / Resulting government

1999 Donald Dewar 38.8 33.6
56 / 129
1st Labour–Liberal Democrats
2003 Jack McConnell 34.6 29.3
50 / 129
Decrease 6 Steady 1st Labour–Liberal Democrats
2007 32.2 29.2
46 / 129
Decrease 4 Decrease 2nd Scottish National minority
2011 Iain Gray 31.7 26.3
37 / 129
Decrease 7 Steady 2nd Scottish National
2016 Kezia Dugdale 22.6 19.1
24 / 129
Decrease 13 Decrease 3rd Scottish National minority

Welsh Assembly elections

See also: National Assembly for Wales and Welsh Labour

Year / Leader / % share of votes (constituency) / % share of votes (list) / Seats won / Change / Position / Resulting government

1999 Alun Michael 37.6 35.5
28 / 60
1st Labour–Liberal Democrats
2003 Rhodri Morgan 40 36.6
30 / 60
Increase 2 Steady 1st Labour
2007 32.2 29.7
26 / 60
Decrease 4 Steady 1st Labour–Plaid Cymru
2011 Carwyn Jones 42.3 36.9
30 / 60
Increase 4 Steady 1st Labour
2016 34.7 31.5
29 / 60
Decrease 1 Steady 1st Labour minority

London Assembly and Mayoral elections

See also: London Assembly, Mayor of London, and London Labour Party

Year / Assembly leader / % share of votes (constituency) / % share of votes (list) / Seats / Change Position / Mayoral candidate / Mayoralty

2000 Toby Harris 31.6 30.3
9 / 25
1st Frank Dobson ✗
2004 24.7 25.0
7 / 25
Decrease 2 Decrease 2nd Ken Livingstone ✓
2008 Len Duvall 28.0 27.1
8 / 25
Increase 1 Steady 2nd ✗
2012 42.3 41.1
12 / 25
Increase 4 Increase 1st ✗
2016 43.5 40.3
12 / 25
Steady Steady 1st Sadiq Khan ✓

Combined authority elections

Year / Mayoralties won / Change

2017 / 2 / 6 / Increase 2
2018 / 1 / 1 / Increase 1
2019 / 1 / 1 / Increase 1
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Leaders of the Labour Party since 1906

Main article: Leader of the Labour Party (UK)

• Keir Hardie (1906–1908)
• Arthur Henderson (1908–1910)
• George Nicoll Barnes (1910–1911)
• Ramsay MacDonald (1911–1914)
• Arthur Henderson (1914–1917)
• William Adamson (1917–1921)
• John Robert Clynes (1921–1922)
• Ramsay MacDonald (1922–1931)
• Arthur Henderson (1931–1932)
• George Lansbury (1932–1935)
• Clement Attlee (1935–1955)
• Hugh Gaitskell (1955–1963)
o George Brown (1963; acting)
• Harold Wilson (1963–1976)
• James Callaghan (1976–1980)
• Michael Foot (1980–1983)
• Neil Kinnock (1983–1992)
• John Smith (1992–1994)
o Margaret Beckett (1994; acting)[215]
• Tony Blair (1994–2007)
• Gordon Brown (2007–2010)
o Harriet Harman (2010; acting)[215]
• Ed Miliband (2010–2015)
o Harriet Harman (2015; acting)
• Jeremy Corbyn (2015–2020)
• Keir Starmer (2020–present)

Living former Labour Party leaders

As of April 2020, there are seven living former Labour Party leaders.

• Neil Kinnock, (1983–1992), born 1942 (age 78)
• Margaret Beckett, (1994; interim), born 1943 (age 77)
• Tony Blair, (1994–2007), born 1953 (age 66)
• Gordon Brown, (2007–2010), born 1951 (age 69)
• Harriet Harman, (2010 and 2015; interim), born 1950 (age 69)
• Ed Miliband, (2010–2015), born 1969 (age 50)
• Jeremy Corbyn, (2015–2020), born 1949 (age 70)

Deputy Leaders of the Labour Party since 1922

Main article: Deputy Leader of the Labour Party (UK)

• John Robert Clynes (1922–1932)
• William Graham (1931–1932)
• Clement Attlee (1932–1935)
• Arthur Greenwood (1935–1945)
• Herbert Morrison (1945–1955)
• Jim Griffiths (1955–1959)
• Aneurin Bevan (1959–1960)
• George Brown (1960–1970)
• Roy Jenkins (1970–1972)
• Edward Short (1972–1976)
• Michael Foot (1976–1980)
• Denis Healey (1980–1983)
• Roy Hattersley (1983–1992)
• Margaret Beckett (1992–1994)
• John Prescott (1994–2007)
• Harriet Harman (2007–2015)
• Tom Watson (2015–2019)
• Angela Rayner (2020–present)

Living former Labour Party deputy leaders

As of April 2020, there are five living former Labour Party deputy leaders.

• Roy Hattersley (1983–1992), born 1932 (age 87)
• Margaret Beckett (1992–1994), born 1943 (age 77)
• John Prescott (1994–2007), born 1938 (age 81)
• Harriet Harman (2007–2015), born 1950 (age 69)
• Tom Watson (2015–2019), born 1967 (age 53)

Leaders in the House of Lords since 1924

• Richard Haldane, 1st Viscount Haldane (1924–1928)
• Charles Cripps, 1st Baron Parmoor (1928–1931)
• Arthur Ponsonby, 1st Baron Ponsonby of Shulbrede (1931–1935)
• Harry Snell, 1st Baron Snell (1935–1940)
• Christopher Addison, 1st Viscount Addison (1940–1952)
• William Jowitt, 1st Earl Jowitt (1952–1955)
• Albert Victor Alexander, 1st Earl Alexander of Hillsborough (1955–1964)
• Frank Pakenham, 7th Earl of Longford (1964–1968)
• Edward Shackleton, Baron Shackleton (1968–1974)
• Malcolm Shepherd, 2nd Baron Shepherd (1974–1976)
• Fred Peart, Baron Peart (1976–1982)
• Cledwyn Hughes, Baron Cledwyn of Penrhos (1982–1992)
• Ivor Richard, Baron Richard (1992–1998)
• Margaret Jay, Baroness Jay of Paddington (1998–2001)
• Gareth Williams, Baron Williams of Mostyn (2001–2003)
• Valerie Amos, Baroness Amos (2003–2007)
• Catherine Ashton, Baroness Ashton of Upholland (2007–2008)
• Janet Royall, Baroness Royall of Blaisdon (2008–2015)
• Angela Smith, Baroness Smith of Basildon (2015–present)

Labour Prime Ministers

Labour Prime Ministers

Name / Country of birth / Periods in office

Ramsay MacDonald / Scotland / 1924; 1929–1931 (first and second MacDonald ministries)
Clement Attlee / England / 1945–1950; 1950–1951 (Attlee ministry)
Harold Wilson / England / 1964–1966; 1966–1970; 1974; 1974–1976 (first and second Wilson ministries)
James Callaghan / England 1976–1979 (Callaghan ministry)
Tony Blair / Scotland / 1997–2001; 2001–2005; 2005–2007 (Blair ministry)
Gordon Brown / Scotland / 2007–2010 (Brown ministry)

See also

• Politics portal
• United Kingdom portal
• Organised labour portal
• Socialism portal
• Antisemitism in the Labour Party
• Blue Labour
• English Labour Network
• History of the Labour Party (UK)
• Labour Co-operative
• Labour In for Britain
• Labour Party in Northern Ireland
• Labour Representation Committee election results
• List of Labour Parties
• List of Labour Party (UK) MPs
• List of organisations associated with the British Labour Party
• List of UK Labour Party general election manifestos
• Politics of the United Kingdom
• Scottish Labour Party
• Socialist Labour Party (UK)
• Socialist Party (England and Wales)
• Welsh Labour
• Yorkshire and the Humber Labour Party


1. The Labour Party have a policy not to stand in the 18 constituencies in Northern Ireland. The Labour Party has recently set up an officially recognised branch party in the region. The SDLP MPs unofficially take the Labour whip.


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• Kenny, Michael; Smith, Martin J. (2013) [1997]. "Discourses of Modernization: Gaitskell, Blair and Reform of Clause IV". In Denver, David; Fisher, Justin; Ludlam, Steve; Pattie, Charles (eds.). British Elections and Parties Review. 7. London: Routledge. ISBN 978-1-135-25578-7.
• Hay, Colin (2002). British Politics Today. Cambridge: Polity. ISBN 978-0-7456-2319-1.
• Heppell, Timothy (2012). "Hugh Gaitskell, 1955–63". In Heppell, Timothy (ed.). Leaders of the Opposition: From Churchill to Cameron. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan. ISBN 978-0-230-29647-3.
• Hopkin, Jonathan; Wincott, Daniel (2006). "New Labour, Economic Reform and the European Social Model". British Journal of Politics and International Relations. 8 (1): 50–68. CiteSeerX doi:10.1111/j.1467-856X.2006.00227.x. ISSN 1467-856X.
• Jessop, Bob (2004) [2003]. "From Thatcherism to New Labour: Neo-liberalism, Workfarism and Labour-market Regulation". In Overbeek, Henk (ed.). The Political Economy of European Employment: European Integration and the Transnationalization of the (Un)employment Question. RIPE Series in Global Political Economy. London: Routledge. CiteSeerX ISBN 978-0-203-01064-8.
• Jones, Tudor (1996). Remaking the Labour Party: From Gaitskell to Blair. London: Routledge. ISBN 978-1-134-80132-9.
• Kelliher, Diarmaid (2014). "Solidarity and Sexuality: Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners 1984–5" (PDF). History Workshop Journal. 77 (1): 240–262. doi:10.1093/hwj/dbt012. ISSN 1477-4569.
• Leach, Robert (2015). Political Ideology in Britain (3rd ed.). London: Palgrave. ISBN 978-1-137-33255-4.
• Lund, Brian (2006). "Distributive Justice and Social Policy". In Lavalette, Michael; Pratt, Alan (eds.). Social Policy: Theories, Concepts and Issues (3rd ed.). London: SAGE Publications. pp. 107–123. ISBN 978-1-4129-0170-3.
• McAnulla, Stuart (2006). British Politics: A Critical Introduction. London: Continuum International Publishing Group. ISBN 978-0-8264-6156-8.
• McClintock, John (2010). The Uniting of Nations: An Essay on Global Governance (3rd ed.). Brussels: Peter Lang. ISBN 978-90-5201-588-0.
• McIlroy, John (2011). "Britain: How Neo-Liberalism Cut Unions Down to Size". In Gall, Gregor; Wilkinson, Adrian; Hurd, Richard(eds.). The International Handbook of Labour Unions: Responses to Neo-Liberalism. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar Publishing. pp. 82–104. ISBN 978-1-84844-862-9.
• Merkel, Wolfgang; Petring, Alexander; Henkes, Christian; Egle, Christoph (2008). Social Democracy in Power: The Capacity to Reform. London: Taylor & Francis. ISBN 978-0-415-43820-9.
• Pugh, Martin (2011) [2010]. Speak for Britain! A New History of the Labour Party. London: Vintage Books. ISBN 978-0-09-952078-8.
• Rentoul, John (2001). Tony Blair: Prime Minister. London: Little, Brown and Company. ISBN 978-0-316-85496-2.
• Riddell, Neil (1997). "The Catholic Church and the Labour Party, 1918–1931". Twentieth Century British History. 8 (2): 165–193. doi:10.1093/tcbh/8.2.165. ISSN 1477-4674.
• Shaw, Eric (1988). Discipline and Discord in the Labour Party: The Politics of Managerial Control in the Labour Party, 1951–87. Manchester University Press. ISBN 978-0-7190-2483-2.
• Smith, Paul (2009). "New Labour and the Commonsense of Neoliberalism: Trade Unionism, Collective Bargaining and Workers' Rights". Industrial Relations Journal. 40 (4): 337–355. doi:10.1111/j.1468-2338.2009.00531.x. ISSN 1472-9296.
• Smith, Paul; Morton, Gary (2006). "Nine Years of New Labour: Neoliberalism and Workers' Rights" (PDF). British Journal of Industrial Relations. 44 (3): 401–420. doi:10.1111/j.1467-8543.2006.00506.x. ISSN 1467-8543. Archived from the original(PDF) on 26 July 2016. Retrieved 26 July 2016.
• Taylor, A. J. P. (1965). English History: 1914–1945. Oxford: Clarendon Press.
• Thorpe, Andrew (1996). "The Industrial Meaning of 'Gradualism': The Labour Party and Industry, 1918–1931". Journal of British Studies. 35 (1): 84–113. doi:10.1086/386097. hdl:10036/19512. ISSN 1545-6986. JSTOR 175746.
• ——— (2001). A History of the British Labour Party (2nd ed.). Basingstoke: Palgrave. ISBN 978-0-333-92908-7.
• ——— (2008). A History of the British Labour Party (3rd ed.). Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan. ISBN 978-1-137-11485-3.
• Wright, Tony; Carter, Matt (1997). The People's Party: The History of the Labour Party. London: Thames & Hudson. ISBN 978-0-500-27956-4.

Further reading

• Bew, John. Clement Attlee: The Man Who Made Modern Britain (2017). the fullest biography.
• Cole, G. D. H. A History of the Labour Party from 1914 (1969).
• Davies, A. J. To Build a New Jerusalem: Labour Movement from the 1890s to the 1990s (1996).
• Driver, Stephen and Luke Martell. New Labour: Politics after Thatcherism (Polity Press, wnd ed. 2006).
• Field, Geoffrey G. Blood, Sweat, and Toil: Remaking the British Working Class, 1939–1945 (2011) doi:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199604111.001.0001 online
• Foote, Geoffrey. The Labour Party's Political Thought: A History (Macmillan, 1997).
• Francis, Martin. Ideas and Policies under Labour 1945–51 (Manchester UP, 1997).
• Howell, David.British Social Democracy (Croom Helm, 1976)
• Howell, David. MacDonald's Party, (Oxford University Press, 2002).
• Kavanagh, Dennis. The Politics of the Labour Party (Routledge, 2013).
• Matthew, H. C. G., R. I. McKibbin, J. A. Kay. "The Franchise Factor in the Rise of the Labour Party," English Historical review91#361 (Oct. 1976), pp. 723–752 in JSTOR
• Miliband, Ralph. Parliamentary Socialism (1972).
• Mioni, Michele. "The Attlee government and welfare state reforms in post-war Italian Socialism (1945–51): Between universalism and class policies." Labor History 57#2 (2016): 277–297. doi:10.1080/0023656X.2015.1116811
• Morgan, Kenneth O. Labour in Power, 1945–51, OUP, 1984
• Morgan, Kenneth O. Labour People: Leaders and Lieutenants, Hardie to Kinnock OUP, 1992, scholarly biographies of 30 key leaders.
• Pelling, Henry, and Alastair J. Reid, A Short History of the Labour Party, Palgrave Macmillan, 2005 ed.
• 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
• Clive Ponting, Breach of Promise, 1964–70 (Penguin, 1990).
• Reeves, Rachel, and Martin McIvor. "Clement Attlee and the foundations of the British welfare state." Renewal: a Journal of Labour Politics 22.3/4 (2014): 42+ online.
• Rogers, Chris. "‘Hang on a Minute, I've Got a Great Idea’: From the Third Way to Mutual Advantage in the Political Economy of the British Labour Party." British Journal of Politics and International Relations 15#1 (2013): 53–69.
• Rosen, Greg, ed. Dictionary of Labour Biography. Politicos Publishing, 2001, 665pp; short biographies.
• Rose, Richard. The relation of socialist principles to British Labour foreign policy, 1945–51 (PhD. Dissertation. U of Oxford, 1960)online
• Rosen, Greg. Old Labour to New, Politicos Publishing, 2005
• Shaw, Eric. The Labour Party since 1979: Crisis and Transformation (Routledge, 1994).
• Shaw, Eric. "Understanding Labour Party Management under Tony Blair." Political Studies Review 14.2 (2016): 153–162.
• Taylor, Robert. The Parliamentary Labour Party: A History 1906–2006 (2007)
• Worley, Matthew. Labour Inside the Gate: A History of the British Labour Party between the Wars (2009)

External links

Official party websites

• Labour
• Scottish Labour
• Welsh Labour
• Young Labour


• Labour History Group website
• Guardian Unlimited Politics—Special Report: Labour Party
• Tony Benn Speech Archive, former Labour Party Chairman, 1971–72
• Labour History Archive and Study Centre holds archives of the National Labour Party
• "Déroute historique des travaillistes". L'Humanité. 5 May 2008.
• Labour Campaign for Electoral Reform website
• Labour Party (UK) discography at Discogs
• Catalogue of the Labour Party East Midlands Region archives held at the Modern Records Centre, University of Warwick
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Barbara Castle
by Wikipedia
Accessed: 4/16/20

The Right Honourable, The Baroness Castle of Blackburn, PC
Secretary of State for Health and Social Services
In office: 5 March 1974 – 8 April 1976
Prime Minister: Harold Wilson
Preceded by: Keith Joseph
Succeeded by: David Ennals
First Secretary of State
In office: 6 April 1968 – 19 June 1970
Prime Minister: Harold Wilson
Preceded by: Michael Stewart
Succeeded by: Michael Heseltine
Secretary of State for Employment and Productivity
In office: 6 April 1968 – 19 June 1970
Prime Minister: Harold Wilson
Preceded by: Ray Gunter
Succeeded by: Robert Carr
Minister for Transport
In office: 23 December 1965 – 6 April 1968
Prime Minister: Harold Wilson
Preceded by: Tom Fraser
Succeeded by: Richard Marsh
Minister for Overseas Development
In office: 18 October 1964 – 23 December 1965
Prime Minister: Harold Wilson
Preceded by: Office created
Succeeded by: Anthony Greenwood
Member of the House of Lords, Lord Temporal
In office: 15 June 1990 – 3 May 2002
Life Peerage
Member of the European Parliament for Greater Manchester West (1984-1989); Greater Manchester North (1979-1984)
In office: 17 July 1979 – 21 July 1989
Preceded by: Constituency created
Succeeded by: Gary Titley
Member of Parliament for Blackburn, Blackburn East (1950–1955)
In office: 27 July 1945 – 3 May 1979
Preceded by: George Sampson Elliston
Succeeded by: Jack Straw
Personal details
Born: Barbara Anne Betts, 6 October 1910, Chesterfield, Derbyshire, England
Died: 3 May 2002 (aged 91), Chiltern, Buckinghamshire, England
Political party: Labour
Spouse(s): Edward Castle, Baron Castle (m. 1944; died 1979)
Alma mater: St Hugh's College, Oxford
a. ^ Office vacant from 19 June 1970 to 5 July 1995.

Barbara Anne Castle, Baroness Castle of Blackburn, PC (née Betts; 6 October 1910 – 3 May 2002) was a British Labour Party politician who was the Member of Parliament for Blackburn from 1945 to 1979, making her the longest-serving female MP in the history of the House of Commons until that record was broken in 2007 by Gwyneth Dunwoody. She later became the Member of the European Parliament for Greater Manchester from 1979 to 1989 and subsequently a member of the House of Lords, having been granted a life peerage in 1990.

One of the most significant Labour Party politicians of the 20th century, Castle developed a close political partnership with Harold Wilson and served in several Cabinet roles during both his premierships. As Minister of Transport (1965–1968) she oversaw the introduction of permanent speed limits, breathalysers and seat belts. Castle was then elevated to Secretary of State for Employment and First Secretary of State (1968–1970), and successfully intervened in the strike by Ford sewing machinists against pay discrimination. Following this Castle introduced the Equal Pay Act 1970. During her time in government Castle also served as Minister for Overseas Development and Secretary of State for Health and Social Services.

Early life

Barbara Anne Betts was born on 6 October 1910 at 64 Derby Road, Chesterfield, the youngest of three children to Frank Betts and his wife Annie Rebecca (née Ferrand).[1] Raised in Pontefract and Bradford, Castle grew up in a politically active home and was introduced to socialism from a young age. Her older sister, Marjorie, later became a pioneer of the Inner London Education Authority, while their brother Tristram (almost always called Jimmie) engaged in field work with Oxfam in Nigeria. She joined the Labour Party as a teenager.

Her father was a tax inspector, exempt from military service in the First World War due to his high rank in a reserved occupation. It was because of the nature of the tax-collecting profession, and the promotions he received, that the family frequently moved around the country. Having moved to Bradford in 1922, the Betts family swiftly became involved with the Independent Labour Party. Although her father was prohibited from formal political activity because of his role as a civil servant, he became editor of the Bradford Pioneer, the city's socialist newspaper, after William Leach was elected to Parliament in 1935.[2][3] Castle's mother ran the family home while also operating a soup kitchen for the town's coalminers. After Barbara had left home Annie was elected as a Labour councillor in Bradford.


Castle attended Love Lane Elementary School, then to Pontefract and District Girls High School. After moving to Bradford at the age of twelve, she attended Bradford Girls' Grammar School. She became involved in acting at the school and developed oratorical skills. She excelled academically, winning numerous awards from the school. She also organised mock elections at the school, in which she stood as the Labour candidate. There were some aspects of the school that she did not like, notably the presence of many girls from rich families. In her last year she was appointed Head Girl.

Her education continued at St Hugh's College, Oxford, from which she graduated with a third-class BA in Philosophy, Politics and Economics. She began serious political activity at Oxford, serving as the Treasurer of the Oxford University Labour Club, the highest position a woman could hold in the club at the time. She struggled to accept the atmosphere of a university that had only recently begun to question its traditionally sexist attitudes. She was scornful of the elitist nature of some elements of the institution, branding the Oxford Union "that cadet class of the establishment".

Early career

She was elected to St Pancras Metropolitan Borough Council in 1937 (where she remained until 1945), and in 1943 she spoke at the annual Labour Party Conference for the first time. Throughout the Second World War she worked as a senior administrative officer at the Ministry of Food and she was an Air Raid Precautions (ARP) warden during the Blitz.[4]

She became a reporter on the left-wing magazine Tribune, where she had a romantic relationship with William Mellor, who was to become its editor, until his death in 1942.[5] Following her marriage to Ted Castle in 1944, she became the housing correspondent at the Daily Mirror.[5]

Member of Parliament (1945–1979)

In the 1945 general election, which Labour won by a landslide, Castle was elected as the Member of Parliament for Blackburn. As Blackburn was then a two-member constituency,[6] she was elected alongside fellow Labour candidate John Edwards. Castle had secured her place as a parliamentary candidate through the women of the Blackburn Labour Party, who had threatened to quit unless she was added to the otherwise all-male shortlist.[7]

Castle was the youngest of the handful of women elected.[8][nb 1] Although she had grown up in similar northern industrial towns, she had no prior connection to Blackburn.[4] Eager not to appear as a "parachute candidate", she studied weaving and spinning, and spent time living with a local family.[4] In her maiden speech she highlighted the problems facing servicemen then going through demobilisation.[7]

Immediately upon her entering the House of Commons Castle was appointed Parliamentary Private Secretary (PPS) to Sir Stafford Cripps, President of the Board of Trade,[7] who had known her as a member of the pre-war Socialist League. Harold Wilson succeeded Cripps in 1947 and retained Castle as his PPS, marking the beginning of the pair's lengthy political relationship.[7] She gained further experience as the UK's alternate delegate to the United Nations General Assembly for 1949–1950, when she displayed particular concerned for social and humanitarian issues.[7] She soon achieved a reputation as a left-winger and a rousing speaker. During the 1950s she was a high-profile Bevanite, and made a name for herself as a vocal advocate of decolonisation and the Anti-Apartheid Movement.

Cabinet minister

Minister for Overseas Development, 1964–1965

Castle meeting John Tembo, Malawi Minister of Finance (circa 1965)

Labour returned to government under Harold Wilson in October 1964 following a general election, defeating Alec Douglas-Home's Conservative government by winning a slim majority of four seats, thus ending 13 years of successive Conservative governments. Wilson had selected his core Cabinet four months prior to the election;[10] Castle knew Wilson intended to place her within his Cabinet, which would make her the fourth woman in British history ever to hold position in a Cabinet, after Margaret Bondfield, Ellen Wilkinson and Florence Horsbrugh.[11]

Castle entered the Cabinet as the first Minister for Overseas Development, a newly created ministry for which she, alongside the Fabian Society, had drawn up the plans for.[10] For the last year she had acted as the opposition spokeswoman on overseas development.[10] Castle's plans were extensive, though the ministry's budget was modest.[12] She set about trying to divert powers from other departments related to overseas aid, including the Foreign Office and the Treasury. She was only partially successful in her aims and provoked an internal Whitehall dispute in the process.[13]

In June 1965 Castle announced interest-free aid loans would be available to certain (not exclusively Commonwealth) countries.[14] She had previously criticised the Conservative government for granting loans that only waived up to the first seven years of interest, which she considered to be counter-intuitive.[15]

In August, Castle published her government white paper Overseas Development: The Work of a New Ministry.[16] The financial commitments of the ministry were omitted from the report, after a protracted clash between Castle and her Cabinet colleagues James Callaghan (Chancellor of the Exchequer) and George Brown (Secretary of State for Economic Affairs). Labour had made a manifesto promise to increase aid spending to 1% of gross national product, almost double Conservative spending.[17] However, the national economy was unstable, public resentment towards the Commonwealth was growing due to immigration, and within Cabinet aid was viewed with either indifference or contempt.[15] Castle grappled with Callaghan and Brown over the department's budgetary allocation; they reached a compromise following Wilson's intervention,[18] but the sum only amounted to a small increase in spending.[19]

Minister of Transport, 1965–1968

Initially reluctant to head up the department, Castle accepted the role of Minister of Transport (23 December 1965 – 6 April 1968) in a Cabinet reshuffle after Wilson proved persuasive.[20]

In February 1966, Castle addressed Parliament, calling for "a profound change in public attitudes" to curtail increasing road fatality figures, stating: "Hitler did not manage to kill as many civilians in Britain as have been killed on our roads since the war".[21] The statistics bore out; between 1945 and the mid-1960s approximately 150,000 people were killed and several million injured on Britain's roads.[22]

She introduced the breathalyser to combat the then recently acknowledged crisis of drink-driving. Castle said she was "ready to risk unpopularity" by introducing the measures if it meant saving lives.[23] She was challenged by a BBC journalist on The World This Weekend, who described the policy as a "rotten idea" and asked her: "You're only a woman, you don't drive, what do you know about it?"[23] In the 12 months following the introduction of the breathalyser, Government figures revealed road deaths had dropped by 16.5%.[24]

Castle also made permanent the national speed limit (70 mph). Having been introduced as a four-month trial by outgoing Transport Minister Tom Fraser in December 1965, Castle first extended the limit period in 1966 and in 1967 made the limit permanent, following the findings of a Road Research Laboratory report revealing motorway casualties had fallen 20% since its introduction.[25][26]

During a tour of New York City in October 1966, where Castle was examining the impact of traffic problems in American cities, she vocalised plans to introduce a London congestion charge, which was to be introduced as soon as the technical details of fee collection were solved.[27] Castle urged New York's Transport Commissioner to adopt the same policy, describing plans for more roadways as "self-defeating", stating the solution was "more and better mass transit systems".[27]

Castle authorised the construction of the Humber Bridge (pictured in 1980, prior to completion)

Castle also sanctioned the construction of the Humber Bridge,[6] which was the world's longest suspension bridge upon its opening in 1981.[28] In late 1965, the Labour MP for nearby Kingston upon Hull North died, triggering a by-election. The marginal seat was of critical importance to the government and its loss would have reduced Labour's majority in the House of Commons to just one.[6] Harold Wilson invoked Castle to find the necessary funding and promise the bridge's construction as an 'election sweetener'.[6] The move paid off, with Labour holding the seat.

She presided over the closure of approximately 2,050 miles of railways as she enacted her part of the Beeching cuts—a betrayal of pre-election commitments by the Labour party to halt the proposals. Nevertheless, she refused closure of several lines, one example being the Looe Valley Line in Cornwall, and introduced the first Government rail subsidies for socially necessary but unprofitable railways in the Transport Act 1968.

One of her most memorable achievements as Transport minister was to pass legislation decreeing that all new cars had to be fitted with seat belts. Despite being appointed to the Ministry of Transport, a role which she was originally unenthusiastic about, Castle could not actually drive herself, and was chauffeured to functions. (The Labour politician Hazel Blears recalled driving Castle at one time as a young Labour Party activist in the 1980s.[29]) Despite her lack of a driving licence, she attracted controversy when she told local government leaders to give added emphasis to motor vehicle access in urban areas, as "most pedestrians are walking to or from their cars."

Castle and her husband Edward Castle had bought a new flat in John Spencer Square in late 1967[30] while she was the Minister of Transport.

First Secretary of State and Secretary of State for Employment, 1968–1970

As Secretary of State for Employment, she was also appointed First Secretary of State by Wilson, bringing her firmly into the heart of government. She was never far from controversy which reached a fever pitch when the trade unions rebelled against her proposals to reduce their powers in her 1969 white paper, 'In Place of Strife'. This also involved a major cabinet split, with threatened resignations, hot tempers and her future nemesis James Callaghan breaking ranks to publicly try to undermine the bill. The whole episode alienated her from many of her friends on the left, with the Tribune newspaper railing very hard against the bill, which they held to be attacking the workers without attacking the bosses. The split is often said to be partly responsible for Labour's defeat at the 1970 general election. The eventual deal with the unions dropped most of the contentious clauses.

Castle also helped make history when she intervened in the Ford sewing machinists' strike of 1968, in which the women of the Dagenham Ford Plant demanded to be paid the same as their male counterparts. She helped resolve the strike, which resulted in a pay rise for Ford's female workers bringing them to 92% of what the men received. Most significantly, as a consequence of this strike, Castle put through the Equal Pay Act 1970.[31] A 2010 British film, Made in Dagenham, was based on the Ford strike. She was portrayed by Miranda Richardson.

In April 1970, Castle's husband Ted lost his position as an alderman of the Greater London Council. He was devastated and although he was supportive of his wife's achievements, he considered himself a failure against her.[32] Upset and concerned by her husband's distress, Barbara moved to persuade Wilson to grant Ted a peerage.[7]


In May 1970, Wilson called a general election, held on 18 June. The Conservative Party, led by Edward Heath, enjoyed a surprise victory, despite opinion polling indicating a steady lead for Labour in the run-up.[33] Castle privately blamed complacency within Labour for their loss and had expressed skepticism of their poll lead, writing in her diaries: "I have a haunting feeling there is a silent majority sitting behind its lace curtains waiting to come out and vote Tory."[33]

In the immediate aftermath of the government's defeat, Castle found she was out of favour with Wilson. The day following the general election, Wilson held a final inner Cabinet meeting at Downing Street, to which Castle was not invited.[34] Eager to make contact, she later called him at Chequers, where Wilson engaged in a brusque telephone conversation with her.[34]

Refusing to acknowledge her career had been curtailed, Castle proposed to run for deputy leadership of the Parliamentary Labour Party.[35] When she informed Wilson of her plans he was furious; Castle's reputation within the party had been damaged by the failure of In Place of Strife and Wilson censured her, claiming her plan would split the party.[35] In an act of retribution for her challenge to the deputy leadership, Wilson impeded Ted Castle's peerage, which he had all but promised prior to the general election.[36]

Castle remained as the Labour shadow spokesperson on Employment. The new Government introduced many of her policy suggestions as part of their Industrial Relations Act. When she was attacking the Conservative bill, the government simply pointed to her own white paper, following which Wilson reshuffled her first to the health portfolio and then out of the shadow cabinet.

Return to Cabinet

Secretary of State for Health and Social Services, 1974–1976

In 1974, after Harold Wilson's defeat of Edward Heath, Castle became Secretary of State for Health and Social Services. While serving in this position, Castle introduced a wide range of innovative welfare reforms, including the introduction of the mobility allowance, the Invalid Care Allowance (July 1976) for single women and others who give up their jobs to care for severely disabled relatives, the introduction of a non-contributory invalidity pension for disabled persons who had not qualified for invalidity pension, reforms in child allowances, and the linking of most social security benefits to earnings rather than prices.[37]

In the 1975 referendum debate she took a Eurosceptic stance. During a debate with Liberal leader Jeremy Thorpe he asked her whether, if the vote would be yes, she would stay on as a minister. To this she replied: "If the vote is yes my country will need me to save it."[38] Despite her views she later became a Member of the European Parliament (1979–1989).

James Callaghan removed Castle from his Cabinet

In 1975, Castle introduced the Child Benefit Act, superseding the Family Allowances Act 1945.[39] The act provided new support for families' first child, unlike the previous system in place, which provided benefit for second and subsequent children.[39] Castle also ensured child benefit would be paid directly to mothers, not fathers, unlike Family Allowance, the previous system in place.[40] The legislation faced opposition from unions whose male members would receive less take-home pay with the loss of Family Allowance.[40]

Castle remained in cabinet until Wilson's resignation in March 1976. The head of the Downing Street policy unit, Bernard Donoughue, records in his diary that he warned Wilson that Castle's dogged pursuit of personal policy stances on public health would "wreck the NHS". Donoughue claims that Wilson agreed, but admitted he would leave it to his successor to resolve.[41]

Castle lost her place as a Cabinet minister when her bitter political enemy James Callaghan succeeded Wilson as prime minister following a leadership election. Although he left Wilson's Cabinet virtually unchanged, he dismissed Castle almost immediately upon taking office.[42] Callaghan removed her under the pretext he wanted to lower the average age of his Cabinet,[43] which she regarded as a "phoney reason".[44] In an interview years later, she remarked that perhaps the most restrained thing she had ever achieved in her life was not to reply with "Then why not start with yourself, Jim?" (Callaghan was four years older than Wilson, the man he was replacing).[citation needed]

European Parliament (1979–1989)

Despite her Eurosceptic stance, less than a month after leaving Westminster at the 1979 general election she stood for and was elected to the European Parliament, writing in the Tribune that "politics is not just about policies: it is about fighting for them in every available forum and at every opportunity." In 1982 she wrote in the New Statesman that Labour should abandon its opposition to British membership of the EEC, saying that Britain should fight its corner inside it.[45] This led her former ally Ian Mikardo to say to her: "Your name is mud".[46]

She represented Greater Manchester North from 1979–1984, and was then elected for another five years to represent Greater Manchester West from 1984–1989. She was, at that time, the only British MEP to have held a cabinet position.

In the European Parliament Castle led Labour's delegation, serving as vice-chair of the Socialist Group and as a member of the Committee on Agriculture, Fisheries and Rural Development and also the Delegation for relations with Malta.

The Castle Diaries were published in two volumes in 1980 and 1984, chronicling her time in office from 1964–1976 and providing an insight into the workings of Cabinet Government. Edmund Dell, reviewing the diaries that cover the years 1974–76 in the London Review of Books, said that it "shows more about the nature of cabinet government – even though it deals with only one Cabinet – than any previous publication, academic, political or biographical. It is, I think, better than Crossman".[47] Michael Foot in the Listener claimed that the diary, "whatever else it is or not, is a human document, hopelessly absorbing".[48] Paul Johnson in the Sunday Telegraph wrote that it was "a contribution of first rate importance to our knowledge of modern politics".[48]

Life peer

In 1974, Ted Castle was made a life peer.[49] This meant that Barbara was now formally Lady Castle, but she refused to use this courtesy title. Ted Castle died in 1979. In 1990, she was made a life peer in her own right, as Baroness Castle of Blackburn. She remained active in politics right up until her death, attacking the then Chancellor, Gordon Brown, at the Labour party conference in 2001 for his refusal to link pensions to earnings.

Castle was a critic of Blairism and "New Labour", in particular with Blairite economic ideologies, which she perceived to be acceptance of "market economics, unchallenged globalisation and the dominance of the multinationals".[20] She also accused Blairites of distorting and dismissing the Labour Party's past, stating in an interview published in the New Statesman magazine in 2000, the party's centenary:

"They do not seem to have realised that all governments, whatever their complexion, end in apparent failure. Macmillan was triumphant in 1959 and was biting the dust shortly afterwards. Heath won in 1970 and spent three and half years doing U-turns, looking for the perfect answer. Thatcher was a remarkable woman, but her premiership ended in ignominy. But the current leadership seems preoccupied by the failing of Labour in power and in opposition."[20]


Barbara Castle died in Chiltern, Buckinghamshire, on 3 May 2002,[50] of pneumonia and chronic lung disease.


Castle has been acknowledged as the most important female Labour politician of the 20th century.[2] An adept and gripping orator,[6][7][51] Castle garnered a reputation as a strong-willed,[52] sometimes single-minded crusader.[53] Political commentator Andrew Marr wrote of Castle in 1993: "Performance has been at the centre of her career. She makes excellent television and was a good Commons speaker. But she was really made for the platform, either at Labour conferences or during election campaigns. There, her wit, self-confidence and theatricality were displayed. A good Castle speech is unforgettable."[54]

She was admired by Bill Deedes, Conservative politician and editor of The Daily Telegraph, for "her astonishing tenacity, her capacity for getting her own way in Cabinet and nearly everywhere else,"[55] though he derided her politics.[55] To her allies, Castle was loyal and would fiercely defend them.[55] Colleague Roy Hattersley credited her with saving his career by insisting he remain her junior Minister when Harold Wilson attempted to sack him.[52] Nevertheless, she remained unforgiving of her enemies; when questioned on James Callaghan in a 2000 interview in the New Statesman, Castle said: "I think it is safest all round if I don't comment on him."[20]

Referred to disparagingly by fellow Labour MP Gerald Kaufman as "the Norma Desmond of politics [...] always ready for her close-up",[6] she was noted for always paying particular attention to her appearance.[56] Variously described as sophisticated, stylish and glamorous,[6][56][57] Castle was also characterised as vain,[2] while her critics called her egocentric.[6][58] Former Labour leader Neil Kinnock recalled she was distraught when her hairdresser cancelled before a television appearance;[56] in response, Castle said: "If you're a woman in the public eye, getting your hair nice is a constant preoccupation."[56] Her weekly appointments with her hairdresser were "an essential Friday engagement" according to Hattersley,[52] although she occasionally wore a wig – which she nicknamed Lucy – for public appearances without the benefit of her hairdresser to hand.[55]

In 2008, Castle was named by The Guardian as one of four of "Labour's greatest heroes"[59] and in 2016 she was named on BBC Radio 4's Woman's Hour Power List as one of seven women judged to have had the biggest impact on women's lives over the past 70 years, alongside Margaret Thatcher, Helen Brook, Germaine Greer, Jayaben Desai, Bridget Jones, and Beyoncé.[60] Several women politicians have cited Castle as an inspiration for embarking on their careers, including Shadow Foreign Secretary Emily Thornberry,[61] Tulip Siddiq, and former Conservative MP Edwina Currie.[57]

Since Castle's death there have been several plans mooted to memorialise her with a statue in her constituency town of Blackburn, most recently in 2018.[8][62][63] In the town a dual carriageway that constitutes part of the ring road is named Barbara Castle Way.[62] She was commemorated on a postage stamp issued as part of the Royal Mail's Women of Distinction series in 2008 for piloting the Equal Pay Act through parliament. She appears on the 81p denomination.[64]

Castle was portrayed by British actress Miranda Richardson in the 2010 film Made in Dagenham, dealing with the 1968 strike at the Ford Dagenham assembly plant.[65] She was later portrayed by stage actress Sophie-Louise Dann in the 2014 West End musical adaptation of the film.[66] In the third series of Netflix drama The Crown, Castle is portrayed by Lorraine Ashbourne.[67] In the BBC1 drama ‘’The Trial of Christine Keeler’’ (2019-2020) Castle is portrayed by Buffy Davis.

Honours and awards

Barbara Castle was the recipient of "The Order of the Companions of OR Tambo in Silver", a South African award to foreign nationals for friendship with that country. In a statement the South African government recognised Castle's "outstanding contribution to the struggle against apartheid and the establishment of a non-sexist, non-racial and democratic South Africa".[68] This can be seen throughout Castle's career with her active support for the Anti-Apartheid Movement (AAM) in Britain from the very start of its existence and her continued interest and devotion to colonial issues within Parliament.[68]

In 2002 Castle was posthumously awarded an honorary degree from the Open University. The award, Doctor of the University, was presented for Public Services for works in areas of special educational concern to the OU.[69]

Castle also received a Cross of the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany in 1990, for services to European democracy.[70]

In September 2008 Northern Rail, Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council and PTEG (Passenger transport executive Group) named a train after her. The plaque was unveiled by Barbara's niece, Sonya Hinton, and Ruth Kelly MP (then Secretary of State for Transport). A commemorative brochure of the event was produced by PTEG.

Books by Barbara Castle

• The Castle Diaries, 1974–1976, Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1980. ISBN 9780297774204
• The Castle Diaries, 1964–1970, Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1984. ISBN 9780297783749
• Sylvia and Christabel Pankhurst, Penguin Books, 1987. ISBN 9780140087611
• Fighting All the Way, Macmillan, 1993. ISBN 9780333590317

See also

• List of Members of the European Parliament for the United Kingdom 1979–1984
• List of Members of the European Parliament for the United Kingdom 1984–1989
• Ford sewing machinists strike of 1968
• In Place of Strife
• Rail subsidies



1. Throughout Castle's parliamentary career (1945–1979), women Members of Parliament consistently represented less than 5% of all MPs.[9]


1. Martineau (2000), p. 3.
2. Anne Perkins (4 May 2002). "Obituary: Baroness Castle of Blackburn". The Guardian. Archived from the original on 4 November 2007. Retrieved 17 September 2007.
3. "Barbara Castle". Lasting Tribute. Archived from the original on 26 July 2007.
4. Pickard, Jim (6 August 2018). "Non-Driver Derbyshire-Born MP Who Put Her Foot Down When It Came to Road Safety". Derby Telegraph. Archived from the original on 25 August 2018. Retrieved 27 August 2018.
5. Andrew Rosthorn (24 July 2014). "How Cyril Smith Outwitted Barbara Castle in the Strange Case of the Paedophiles at the Home Office". Tribune. Archived from the original on 14 September 2014. Retrieved 2 September 2014.
6. Kaufman, Gerald (5 May 2002). "Sacred monster – Barbara Castle: 1910–2002". The Daily Telegraph. Archived from the original on 28 August 2018. Retrieved 27 August 2018.
7. "Lady Castle of Blackburn". The Daily Telegraph. 4 May 2002. Archived from the original on 29 August 2018. Retrieved 28 August 2018.
8. "Barbara Castle: Statue Plan to Honour Former Blackburn MP". BBC. 8 March 2018. Archived from the original on 24 November 2018. Retrieved 27 August 2018.
9. "Women in Parliament and Government" (PDF). House of Commons Library. 20 July 2018. Retrieved 26 September 2018.
10. Martineau (2000), p. 161.
11. "Appendix C: Women MPs who have held Ministerial office". Women in the House of Commons House of Commons: Information Office Factsheet M4 (PDF). Archived (PDF) from the original on 8 November 2010. Retrieved 30 December2010.
12. Martineau (2000), p. 163.
13. Mitchell & Wienir (1997), p. 87.
14. Perkins (2003), p. 197.
15. Martineau (2000), p. 175.
16. Martineau (2000), p. 178.
17. Perkins (2003), pp. 197–198.
18. Martineau (2000), p. 177.
19. Perkins (2003), pp. 199.
20. Richards, Steve (28 February 2000). "The New Statesman Interview – Barbara Castle". New Statesman. Archivedfrom the original on 29 August 2018. Retrieved 28 August 2018.
21. "ROAD SAFETY BILL". Hansard. 10 February 1966. Archived from the original on 14 January 2019. Retrieved 14 January 2019.
22. "Science, Technology and Road Safety in the Motor Age". University of Leicester. Archived from the original on 17 April 2017. Retrieved 14 January 2019.
23. Pickard, Jim (1 March 2010). "BBC to Barbara Castle: "You're only a woman... what do you know about it?"". Financial Times. Archived from the original on 27 August 2018. Retrieved 27 August 2018.
24. Lee, John (5 October 1968). "Breath Tests Cut British Auto Deaths". The New York Times. Archived from the original on 14 January 2019. Retrieved 14 January 2019.
25. Judge, Ben (22 December 2015). "22 December 1965: 70mph speed limit introduced". MoneyWeek. Archived from the original on 27 August 2018. Retrieved 27 August 2018.
26. "From the archive, 9 June 1967: Casualties down 20 p.c. under 70 m.p.h. speed limit". The Guardian. 9 June 2012. Archived from the original on 27 August 2018. Retrieved 27 August 2018.
27. Schumach, Murray (16 October 1966). "London to Set Fees on Cars Entering City in Rush Hours". The New York Times. Archived from the original on 14 January 2019. Retrieved 14 January 2019.
28. Simpson, Dave (17 September 2012). "How we made the Humber Bridge". The Guardian. Archived from the original on 28 August 2018. Retrieved 28 August 2018.
29. Hazel Blears’ memories of Barbara Castle Archived 19 March 2008 at the Wayback Machine, The Labour History Group, 20 June 2007
30. "North Cross Route". Archived from the original on 17 November 2018. Retrieved 17 November 2018.
31. "TUC | History Online". Archived from the original on 14 November 2016. Retrieved 20 September2016.
32. Perkins (2003), p. 339.
33. Perkins (2003), p. 344.
34. Perkins (2003), p. 345.
35. Perkins (2003), p. 347.
36. Perkins (2003), p. 348.
37. Anthony Seldon and Kevin Hickson (eds), New Labour, Old Labour: The Wilson and Callaghan Governments, 1974–79.
38. Barbara Castle Labour's Greatest Woman, video on YouTube
39. "Q&A: Child benefit changes". The Guardian. 13 January 2012. Archived from the original on 23 October 2018. Retrieved 3 September 2018.
40. Perkins, Anne (25 September 1999). "Red queen in the pink". The Guardian. Archived from the original on 3 September 2018. Retrieved 3 September 2018.
41. Downing Street Diary: with Harold Wilson at no.10. Jonathan Cape, 2001. ISBN 978-0-224-04022-8.
42. "Lord Callaghan of Cardiff". The Daily Telegraph. 28 March 2005. Archived from the original on 3 September 2018. Retrieved 3 September 2018.
43. Pearson, Richard (6 May 2002). "Barbara Castle, 91". The Washington Post. Archived from the original on 3 September 2018. Retrieved 3 September 2018.
44. Jones, Chris (29 September 2000). "Barbara Castle: Scaling the ramparts". BBC. Archived from the original on 1 November 2003. Retrieved 3 September 2018.
45. Barbara Castle, 'Let them throw us out', New Statesman (17 September 1982), pp. 10–11.
46. The Times (10 June 1993), p. 37.
47. Edmund Dell, 'Keeping Left Archived 26 October 2019 at the Wayback Machine', London Review of Books, Vol. 2 No. 19 (2 October 1980), pp. 13–14.
48. The Times (16 October 1980), p. 7.
49. "Ted Castle". Spartacus Educational. 16 December 1979. Archived from the original on 4 October 2008. Retrieved 24 June 2009.
50. "Deaths England and Wales 1984–2006". Archived from the original on 27 June 2009. Retrieved 24 June 2009.
51. Crines & Hayton (2015), pp. 62–63.
52. Hattersley, Roy (5 May 2002). "Barbara the brave – a women to reckon with". The Guardian. Archived from the original on 30 August 2018. Retrieved 29 August 2018.
53. Kavanagh, Dennis (23 June 2003). "She craved the limelight". The Daily Telegraph. Archived from the original on 30 August 2018. Retrieved 30 August 2018.
54. Marr, Andrew (10 July 1993). "BOOK REVIEW / The lady of Hell Corner Farm: Andrew Marr on Barbara Castle's memoirs". The Independent. Archived from the original on 30 August 2018. Retrieved 29 August 2018.
55. Deedes, Bill (20 August 2007). "Deedes on Barbara Castle". The Daily Telegraph. Archived from the original on 30 August 2018. Retrieved 29 August 2018.
56. Baring, Louise (6 June 1993). "How we met: Neil Kinnock and Barbara Castle". The Independent. Archived from the original on 30 August 2018. Retrieved 30 August 2018.
57. Grant, Linda (22 January 1995). "The red Baroness". The Observer. Archived from the original on 31 August 2018. Retrieved 31 August 2018.
58. Harris, Robert (16 July 2002). "One final thought: 'Our Barbara' had many faults". The Daily Telegraph. Archived from the original on 31 August 2018. Retrieved 31 August 2018.
59. "Labour's greatest hero: Barbara Castle" Archived 21 December 2016 at the Wayback Machine, The Guardian, 19 September 2008.
60. "Margaret Thatcher tops Woman's Hour Power List" Archived 4 April 2018 at the Wayback Machine, BBC News (Arts & Entertainment), 14 December 2016.
61. Glinka, Elizabeth (27 April 2018). "Political heroes: Emily Thornberry on Barbara Castle". The Independent. Archived from the original on 2 November 2018. Retrieved 30 August 2018.
62. Perkins, Anne (4 June 2004). "Statue keeps Castle's flame burning". The Guardian. Archived from the original on 30 August 2018. Retrieved 29 August 2018.
63. Magill, Pete (24 September 2007). "Baroness Castle statue plan shelved". Lancashire Telegraph. Archived from the original on 30 August 2018. Retrieved 29 August 2018.
64. Salter, Jessica (22 August 2008). "New stamps mark women of distinction like Millicent Garrett Fawcett". The Daily Telegraph. Archived from the original on 2 May 2019. Retrieved 2 May 2019.
65. Singh, Anita (16 May 2009). "Sally Hawkins to star in strike film We Want Sex". The Daily Telegraph. Archived from the original on 23 May 2009. Retrieved 24 June 2009.
66. Cavendish, Domenic (4 November 2014). "Made in Dagenham, Adelphi Theatre, review: 'larger than life'". The Daily Telegraph. Archived from the original on 12 November 2019. Retrieved 12 November 2019.
67. Bley Griffiths, Eleanor (12 November 2014). "Meet the cast of The Crown season 3". Radio Times. Archived from the original on 12 November 2019. Retrieved 12 November 2019.
68. "The Order of the Companions of OR Tambo in Silver – Profile of Barbara Castle". The Presidency – Republic of South Africa. Archived from the original on 19 July 2010. Retrieved 24 June 2009.
69. "OU honours Barbara Castle" Archived 3 April 2015 at the Wayback Machine, The Open University, 1 July 2002. Retrieved 8 June 2013.
70. "WOMEN MPs ELECTED 1940s". Centre for Advancement of Women in Politics. Queen's University. Archived from the original on 24 June 2008. Retrieved 24 June 2009.


• Crines, Andrew; Hayton, Richard, eds. (2015). Labour Orators from Bevan to Miliband. Manchester University Press. ISBN 9780719089800.
• Martineau, Lisa (2000). Barbara Castle: Power & Politics. André Deutsch. ISBN 9780233994802.
• Mitchell, Austin; Wienir, David (1997). Last Time: Labour's Lessons from the Sixties. Bellew. ISBN 9781857251203.
• Perkins, Anne (2003). Red Queen: The Authorized Biography of Barbara Castle. Macmillan. ISBN 9780333905111.

External links

• Hansard 1803–2005: contributions in Parliament by Barbara Castle
• Barbara Castle – Blackburn Labour Party
• Photos of Barbara Castle – Blackburn Labour Party
• The Barbara Castle Cabinet Diaries – held at Bradford University Library
• Works by Barbara Castle at LibriVox (public domain audiobooks)
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