Thursday, January 12, 2012

120th anniversary of the election of Keir Hardie as Independent Labour MP for West Ham South

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.


Anonymous said...

What did do for the area?

John Gray said...

Hi anon

What did do do?

Bit early isn't it to be on the sauce anon?

Keir was of course a teetotalle :)

Gilberdyke said...

You might have been a little the worse for wear yourself John if you thought you saw the old Statford Town Hall on Stratford High St. It is, of course, on the Broadway.

But seriously, I've often wondered why there is no statue to Hardie in West Ham/Stratford. It might be that it couldn't come out of public funds but I would have thought there'd be sufficient from personal donations (count me in), the Labour Party, unions, the left in general. If I recall correctly there's a bust at the old town hall dating from the centenary of his birth and maybe the centenary of his death in 3 years time would be more appropriate to aim for (I don't know if the recently-formed Kier Hardie Society has any plans). Something you could take up John?

John Gray said...

Hi Gilberdyke

Apologies - You are quite right that the Old Town Hall is on the Broadway not that part of the High Street.

Very good point about there being no statute of Keir Hardie. There is a bust in the town hall on your left (of course) as you go into the reception.

Lots going on at the mo. Yes, this will be something I will take up.

I have just emailed the KH society here

Many thanks for the suggestion.

Anonymous said...

How about re-naming 306 as Kier Hardie House?

John Gray said...

Good point anon (about renaming West Ham Labour Party HQ at 306 High Street)after Keir Hardie. I will suggest to EC.

Due to redevelopment in the area we are not sure how long we are staying at 306.

John Gray said...

a Labour movmement history walking tour of Stratford