As we publicised, the 4th July 2012 marked 120 years since Keir Hardie made history in being elected to the British Parliament as MP for West Ham South.
The Keir Hardie Society was delighted to see the anniversary marked both in Newham Council which covers the area in which Hardie was elected, as well as in the Scottish Parliament.
The Society also welcomed the news from the Mayor of Newham that the council would honour Keir Hardie with an exhibition in the Old Town Hall in Stratford later in the year.
Below is an excerpt from the official minutes of the full meeting of Newham Council, with special thanks due to the Mayor of Newham, Robin Wales for taking the time to highlight this important anniversary.
“The Mayor informed that 2012 marks 120 years since Keir Hardie was elected to Parliament in the (then) West Ham South seat. Born in 1856, Keir Hardie was the first Independent Labour Member of Parliament and a pioneer and founder for what would later become the Labour Party.
Keir Hardie was the first truly working class representative in Parliament. He drew on his own experiences and hardships that he faced growing up in Scotland, where he first started work at the age of 7 in Shipbuilding in Glasgow, before at the age of 10 becoming a miner. He went on to become a trade union activist and leader. As secretary of the Ayrshire Miners Union, he lead some of the first organised campaigns for decent wages and living standards. His contribution as one of the first leaders of the Labour Party cannot be underestimated, in particular in helping to establish it’s founding principles and becoming the party which fought for the rights of the working class.
Hardie won the West Ham South seat in 1892, winning by over 5,000 votes. He stood for free schooling, pensions, women’s rights and the abolition of the House of Lords… Proof that sometimes over a century isn’t a long time in politics!
The Mayor stated that Newham Council would honour this great man this year with an exhibition at the Old Town Hall, Stratford, and that more details would be publicised in due course”.
the Scottish Parliament also saw a motion submitted from Labour MSP Neil Findlay, shown below.
“Keir Hardie Anniversary
Neil Findlay (Scottish Labour): That the Parliament notes that 4 July 2012 was the 120th anniversary of the election in which Keir Hardie became the Member of Parliament for West Ham South; remembers how Keir Hardie represented miners across Scotland as a trade union official and went on to represent constituents in West Ham South in England and Merthyr Tydfil in Wales as an MP; understands that Hardie used his time in Parliament to fight for a number of issues and greater rights for the working classes; notes that Hardie was a strong proponent for votes for women, which was achieved 13 years after his death; recognises his support for home rule for Scotland and considers that it was delivered by a Labour government, a government of the party that he founded; commends the Keir Hardie Society for its work in promoting the life and work of Keir Hardie, and looks forward to the 2020 celebrations marking the 120th anniversary of Keir Hardie’s election as MP for Merthyr Tydfil”.