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Keir Hardie.

Keir Hardie.
Keir Hardie.
© National Maritime Museum, London
Repro ID: H4363
Description: James Keir Hardie (1856-1915) was a pioneer of British Socialism. Born in Lanarkshire, Scotland, he was the illegitimate son of Mary Keir. He was sent to work as a baker's delivery boy aged eight without any schooling, and was the sole wage-earner of the family. By the age of 11, Hardie was a coal miner. By 17 he had taught himself to read and write. His career in politics began with the establishment of a workers' union at his colliery, and in 1881 he led the first ever strike of Lanarkshire miners. In 1892 he was elected Independent Labour Party (ILP) MP for West Ham (south). Soon after, he was elected chairman and leader of the ILP. The year 1899 saw the formation of the Labour Representation Committee, which eventually developed into the Labour Party. Hardie was elected MP to Merthyr Tydfil in 1900 and was one of only two Labour MPs in Parliament. In 1906 Hardie was elected leader of the party in the House of Commons, but was not very good at dealing with internal rivalries and he resigned from the post in 1908. From then on he devoted his energy to promoting the Labour Party and championing equality on an international scale. In 1910, 40 Labour MPs were elected to Parliament and Hardie gave up the party leadership to George Barnes. With the outbreak of war in 1914 he attempted to organise a national strike in opposition to the conflict and was denounced as a traitor by many of his former comrades. Hardie was also famous for his support of women's suffrage, an unpopular view to hold at the time.
Creator: Unknown
Date: c. 1900
Credit line: Newham Archives and Local Studies Library
National Maritime Museum/Royal Observatory GreenwichNew Opportunities Fund 
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