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Feb 27 Keir Hardy, Methodism and the Labour Party


Its 1900, London. where the Trades Union Congress and the Independent Labour Party met, to form a Labour Representative Committee. This soon became the modern Labour Party who would attain a majority in Parliament in 1945. The meeting which took place today at the Memorial Hall on Farringdon Street in London, was attended 120 persons gathered to form the "Labour Representation Committee". They were able to place two candidates in parliament in Ramsay MacDonald and Keir Hardie. Although MacDonald became the first Labour prime minister. Methodist lay preacher Kier Hardy is often considered to be the founder of the movement and served as its first parliamentary leader from 1906 to 1908. The current labour leader Keir Starmer is named after him.

The history of the British labour movement is intertwined with Christianity even though that is often downplayed. But any movement that is serious about renewal and revitalisation has to understand its origins and what motivated its founders . As Harold Wilson, the Labour prime minister between 1974-6, famously said Labour owed more to Methodism than to Marx. The Tolpuddle martyrs, formative in the trades union movement , were Methodists, led by a lay preacher, George Loveless. Keir Hardie, the first leader of the Labour party, was similarly a lay preacher and he honed his debating and campaigning skills in the evangelical temperance movement. Hardie, who wrote a book titled Karl Marx: The Man and his Message, also stated that for him socialism is more “an affair of the heart than of the intellect”. Born in Lanarkshire into very limited means, Hardie did not have clear access to education and at the age of ten years old, he went to work in the mines as a "trapper" — opening and closing a door to maintain the air supply for miners, he also began to attend night school in at this time. When the family moved, he worked as a pony driver at the mines, later working his way into the pits and then above ground in the quarries. By the time he was twenty, he had become a skilled practical miner.l

He was voted the party's "greatest hero" in a straw poll of delegates at the 2008 Labour conference in Manchester. However, like many heroes he did have feet of clay. Some of his views on record in the House of Commons Select Committee on emigration and immigration, argued that the Scots resented immigrants greatly and that they would want a total immigration ban, his comments about Lithuanian workers bring the black death are now seen as racist. Although he also campaigned for Indian Home Rule and the end of segregation in South Africa, whilst not accepting racial equality.