7 significant moments in the Labour Party’s history

The Labour party is undergoing an unprecendented period of popularity since the election. Here are seven key moments from its past.

Formation and the 1906 election

The Labour Party was founded in 1900. In the 1900 election, the party had 2 MPs, but six years later the party won an extra 27 MPs, mostly in the north of England. It was a significant jump for such a young movement, and a striking turning point as it showed that the party could be a serious electoral force.

Four years later, they gained an extra eleven seats.

1923 election win

Following the 1923 election, Stanley Baldwin’s Conservatives emerged as the largest party, but thanks to the resultant hung parliament Ramsay Macdonald formed a minority government with support from Asquith’s Liberals.

The government did not last long, but the election showed that Labour could be a governing force.

1945 election win

At the end of World War Two Attlee’s Labour won a massive landslide, in what led to the first proper Labour government. The government is known significantly for the creation of the NHS and other radical public spending programmes. Attlee is one of the country’s most successful prime ministers.

1964 election win

In 1964, Harold Wilson beat Alex Douglas-Home’s Conservatives to form a slim majority government. Labour was back, but the small majority meant instability. Wilson called for another election in 1966 and won a significant majority. Labour’s spell in power lasted until 1979, with the brief exception of Edward Heath’s small Conservative majority government between 1970 and 1974.

1995 - Clause IV

According to the Guardian, the original Clause IV of the Labour Party said that:

To secure for the workers by hand or by brain the full fruits of their industry and the most equitable distribution thereof that may be possible upon the basis of the common ownership of the means of production, distribution, and exchange, and the best obtainable system of popular administration and control of each industry or service.”

The phrase “common ownership” implied a preference for nationalisation, however, Tony Blair’s Labour changed the vote in a move that has been seen as a shift away for the party’s preference to public ownership, something which has been controversial in the party.

The Guardian reports that the Clause now reads:

Labour will work in pursuit of these aims, with trade unions, co-operative societies and other affiliated organisations and also with voluntary organisations, consumer groups and other representative bodies.”

The move was seen a clear shift towards Britain’s political centre ground.


1997 election win

Tony Blair’s 1997 victory was the largest landslide since 1945. The election allowed Labour to implement a full legislative programme, backed in the knowledge that backbench rebellions were unlikely to be successful. The moment was successful as it was the first of three elections that Labour would win, the only period in which Labour has won three elections in a row.

Jeremy Corbyn’s 2015 victory

There is no denying that Jeremy Corbyn’s 2015 victory was a significant moment for the party. Seen as an outsider, Corbyn went on to beat establishment candidates Andy Burnham and Yvette Cooper, as well as Liz Kendall, in what was one of the most unexpected events in British politics.

The question now is, having had a successful second-place “victory” in the 2017 general election, can Jeremy Corbyn go on to win the next election and form a new Labour government. Now that would be a significant moment.

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