Liberal-Labour (UK)

The Liberal–Labour movement refers to the practice of local Liberal associations accepting and supporting candidates who were financially maintained by trade unions. These candidates stood for the British Parliament with the aim of representing the working classes, while remaining supportive of the Liberal Party in general.

The first Lib–Lab candidate to stand was George Odger in the Southwark by-election of 1870. The first Lib–Lab candidates to be elected were Alexander MacDonald and Thomas Burt, both members of the Miners' Federation of Great Britain (MFGB), in the 1874 general election. In 1880, they were joined by Henry Broadhurst of the Operative Society of Masons and the movement reached its peak in 1885, with twelve MPs elected. These include William Abraham (Mabon) in the Rhondda division whose claims to the Liberal nomination were essentially based on his working class credentials.

The candidates generally stood with the support of the Liberal Party, the Labour Representation League and one or more trade unions. After 1885, decline set in. Disillusion grew from the defeat of the Manningham Mills Strike, a series of decisions restricting the activity of unions, culminating in the Taff Vale Case and largely unchallenged by the Liberal Party, and the foundation of the Independent Labour Party in 1892 followed by its turn towards trade unionism.

The formation of the Labour Representation Committee in 1900, followed by the Labour Party in 1906, meant that in the House of Commons, there were two groups of MPs containing trade union-sponsored MPs, sitting on either side of the chamber (about 28 took the Labour whip and about 23 took the Liberal whip). The Trades Union Congress decided to instruct its affiliate unions to require their MPs to stand at the next election as Labour Party candidates and take the Labour whip. Of the 23 Trade Union sponsored Liberal MPs, 15 were sponsored by unions affiliated to the Miners Federation of Great Britain (MFGB). When the MFGB affiliated to the Labour Party in 1909, most of their MPs joined Labour after the January 1910 general election.

The Liberal-Labour group finally died out at the 1918 general election, when Thomas Burt (by then Father of the House) and Arthur Richardson stood down.

List of Liberal-Labour MPsEdit

Name Constituency Union From To Notes
William Abraham Rhondda SWMF/MFGB[1] 1885 1910 Joined the Labour Party in 1910
Joseph Arch North West Norfolk NALU 1885 1886
Joseph Arch North West Norfolk NALU/None 1892 1900
William Brace Glamorganshire, South MFGB[1] 1906 1909 Joined the Labour Party in 1909
Henry Broadhurst Stoke-upon-Trent Masons 1880 1885
Henry Broadhurst Birmingham Bordesley Masons 1885 1886
Henry Broadhurst Nottingham West Masons 1886 1892
Henry Broadhurst Leicester Masons[1] 1894 1906
John Burns Battersea Local committee[1] 1892 1905 Sits as a Liberal after joining the Henry Campbell-Bannerman cabinet. Retires as MP in 1918.
Thomas Burt Morpeth NMA/MFGB[1] 1874 1918
William Pollard Byles Shipley None 1892 1895
Herbert James Craig Tynemouth None 1906 1918
William Crawford Mid Durham DMA 1885 1890
Randal Cremer Haggerston ASCJ[1] 1885 1895
Randal Cremer Haggerston ASCJ 1900 1908
John Charles Durant Stepney None 1885 1886
Enoch Edwards Hanley MFGB[1] 1906 1909 Joined the Labour Party in 1909
Charles Fenwick Wansbeck NMA/MFGB[1] 1885 1918
Frederick Hall Normanton MFGB[1] 1905 1909 Joined the Labour Party in 1909
William Edwin Harvey North East Derbyshire MFGB 1907 1910 Joined the Labour Party in 1910
John George Hancock Mid Derbyshire MFGB 1909 1918 Joined Labour Party 1910. Re-joined Liberal Party 1915.
John George Hancock Belper MFGB 1918 1923 Sat as a Liberal.
George Howell Bethnal Green North East Operative Bricklayers 1885 1895
John Hagan Jenkins Chatham Associated Shipwrights[1] 1906 1906 Joined the Labour Party soon after election
John Johnson Gateshead MFGB[1] 1904 1910 Jan
William Johnson Nuneaton MFGB[1] 1906 1909 Joined the Labour Party in 1909
Barnet Kenyon Chesterfield MFGB 1913 1929 Broadly a Liberal after 1918
Joseph Leicester West Ham South Glassmakers 1885 1886
Alexander Macdonald Stafford MNA 1874 1881
Fred Maddison Sheffield Brightside Typographical Association 1898 1900
Fred Maddison Burnley Typographical Association 1906 1910 Jan
George Nicholls North Northamptonshire NUAW 1906 1910 Jan
William Parrott Normanton MFGB 1904 1905
Ben Pickard Normanton YMA/MFGB 1885 1904
Arthur Richardson Nottingham South Local committee[1] 1906 1910 Jan
Arthur Richardson Rotherham 1917 1918
Thomas Richards West Monmouthshire MFGB[1] 1904 1909 Joined the Labour Party in 1909
James Rowlands Finsbury East None[1] 1886 1895
Albert Stanley North West Staffordshire MFGB 1907 1910 Joined the Labour Party in 1910
W. C. Steadman Stepney Barge Builders[1] 1898 1900
W. C. Steadman Finsbury Central Barge Builders 1906 1910 Jan
Henry Harvey Vivian Birkenhead ASCJ 1906 1910 Dec
John Wadsworth Hallamshire MFGB[1] 1906 1910 Joined the Labour Party in 1910
John Williams Gower MFGB[1] 1906 1909 Joined the Labour Party in 1909
Havelock Wilson Middlesbrough Sailors and Firemen 1892 1900
Havelock Wilson Middlesbrough Sailors and Firemen[1] 1906 1910 Jan
John Wilson Houghton-le-Spring DMA 1885 1886
John Wilson Mid Durham DMA/MFGB[1] 1890 1915
Sam Woods Ince MFGB 1892 1895
Sam Woods Walthamstow MFGB 1897 1900

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t "The labour members and the Labour Party", The Times, 30 January 1906