In July 1892 Scottish trade union leader J Keir Hardie became the first Independent Labour MP when he was elected for West Ham South. He defeated the sitting Conservative candidate by 5,268 votes to 4,036. Following his election he made a speech to supporters from the outside balcony of the Old Town Hall in Stratford. Today you can walk past this spot on Stratford High Street.
At the West Ham ward meeting last week the following motion was passed unanimously:-
“West Ham Labour Party branch propose that the 120th anniversary of the election of Keir Hardie as Independent Labour MP for West Ham South be marked in some way in Stratford Town Hall ”. This was noted at West Ham Executive Council last night and will go to the local Party General Council on the 26th.
This anniversary will also take place just before the London Olympics 2012 begins in Stratford. We will see if we can possibly link both events. In the meanwhile I asked the social media Labour Movement historian Captain Swing (who had reminded me of the anniversary) if he had any ideas how we can mark the occasion. He suggested (amongst many things) that we hold a local Labour Party seminar to discuss what Keir Hardie can teach us today (and to dye the Thames Red!). Hat tip picture Captain Swing.