The history of the Labour Party divides into two phases. As any history book says the first stage began with the founding of the Labour Representation Committee on the weekend of 26-27th February 1900. However only 2 Labour MPs were elected in the 1900 election and progress was slow. 29 were elected in 1906 forming the Parliamentary Labour Party (PLP), but after the two elections of 1910 the Party still only had 42 MPs.
Exactly forty years ago, in October 1981, one of the most important collections of essays from the British Left ever published saw the light of day. The keynote essay, already published three years earlier in the Communist journal Marxism Today was Eric Hobsbawm’s provocative The Forward March of Labour Halted? which had sparked 17 responses.
To understand the emergence of the Labour Party in its current form demands examination of period after the First World War. Before the First World War, Labour was not at the races, with the Liberal and Conservative Parties the only ones that could win an election. The breakthrough happened after 1918
Harold Wilson is Labour’s most successful leader. This has long since been forgotten, but the House of Lords began to put the spotlight on him on March 6th 2018 when two politicians who served under him, Bernard Donoughue and Giles Radice, gave lectures remembering him as Prime Minister. Lord Donoughue, drew on inside knowledge – he was one of Wilson’s “Kitchen Cabinet” after the first 1974 election and set up the Number 10 Policy Unit.