Independent Political Labour League

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Independent Political Labour League
Abbreviation IPLL
Founded 1904
Dissolved 1910;108 years ago (1910)
Split from Liberal Party
Succeeded by Labour Party (1910)
Ideology Social democracy
Political position Left-wing
Colours     Red

The Independent Political Labour League (IPLL) was a small New Zealand political party. It was the second organised political party to win a seat in the House of Representatives, and was a forerunner of the modern Labour Party.

New Zealand House of Representatives Sole chamber of New Zealand Parliament

The New Zealand House of Representatives is a component of the New Zealand Parliament, along with the Sovereign. The House passes all laws, provides ministers to form a Cabinet, and supervises the work of the Government. It is also responsible for adopting the state's budgets and approving the state's accounts.

The New Zealand Labour Party, or simply Labour, is a centre-left political party in New Zealand. The party's platform programme describes its founding principle as democratic socialism, while observers describe Labour as social-democratic and pragmatic in practice. It is a participant of the international Progressive Alliance.



The IPLL was the product of a gradual move towards an independent working-class political vehicle. Previously, most workers supported the powerful Liberal Party, which had dominated Parliament since its creation. Eventually, however, the pace of reform began to slow, and calls arose for an independent workers' party. In 1904, the annual conference of Trades and Labour Councils called for the formation of a new organisation. This party would be focused solely on workers, unlike the Liberal Party, but would be committed to change through reform, unlike the revolution-minded Socialist Party. A constitution was drawn up in late 1904, and the first conference was held in early 1905, with John Rigg elected as the first president. [1] At the conference, it was claimed that the new organisation had over a thousand members. [2]

The New Zealand Liberal Party was the first organised political party in New Zealand. It governed from 1891 until 1912. The Liberal strategy was to create a large class of small land-owning farmers who supported Liberal ideals, by buying large tracts of Māori land and selling it to small farmers on credit. The Liberal Government also established the basis of the later welfare state, with old age pensions, developed a system for settling industrial disputes, which was accepted by both employers and trade unions. In 1893 it extended voting rights to women, making New Zealand the first country in the world to enact universal female suffrage.

The New Zealand Socialist Party was founded in 1901, promoting the works of Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels. The group, despite being relatively moderate when compared with many other socialists, met with little tangible success, but it nevertheless had considerable impact on the development of New Zealand socialism. It later merged in 1913 with a faction of the United Labour Party to form the Social Democratic Party.

John Rigg New Zealand politician

The Hon. John Rigg MLC CMG was a New Zealand politician of the Labour Party.


In 1905 the IPLL campaigned on a policy of "Nationalisation of land and means of production and distribution". It also had ambitions to establish a state owned and operated bank, unemployment benefits, a legal 40-hour working week, a minimum wage and expanding government pensions to include widows and orphans. [3]

Electoral history



(independents) Labour Party

United Labour

Social Democratic

Labour Party (1916)

Initially, the IPLL did not perform well. In the 1905 elections, the party stood 11 candidates: two in Auckland, four in Wellington, three in Christchurch, and one each in the Egmont and Invercargill electorates. [4] None were elected, and all but one failed to win enough votes to reclaim their deposits. [5] [6] The party also failed in its attempts to recruit from among the more sympathetic Liberal MPs.

Egmont is a former New Zealand electorate, in south Taranaki. It existed from 1871 to 1978.

Invercargill (New Zealand electorate) Current New Zealand electorate

Invercargill is an electorate of the New Zealand Parliament that has existed since 1866. Since the 2014 election, the electorate's representative is Sarah Dowie of the National Party.

In the 1908 election, however, one IPLL candidate was elected in the Wellington East electorate on the second ballot. The Liberal vote was split by two Liberal Party candidates, and both Liberal candidates were eliminated in the first ballot. This left the IPLL candidate, David McLaren, face a conservative candidate and with many Liberal voters transferring their allegiance to McLaren, he won the second ballot. [7] [8] This was the first time that any organised political party other than the Liberals had won a seat; the conservative opposition was still disorganised. Legislative Councilor (and party member) Tom Paul put he IPLL's lack of success down to making the mistake of running candidates against Liberal members who were sympathetic to the Labour cause. He concluded that this had completely broken the earlier Liberal-Labour alliance which had given Labourers a voice in parliament in the past. [9]

Wellington East was a parliamentary electorate in the eastern suburbs of Wellington, New Zealand from 1887 to 1890 and from 1905 to 1946. It was succeeded by the Miramar electorate. The electorate was represented by seven Members of Parliament.

The Second Ballot Act 1908 was an electoral system in place from 1908 to 1913 in New Zealand. It applied to elections to the House of Representatives. It was used in the 1908 and 1911 general elections, and a number of by-elections. It was introduced by the Liberal Government under Joseph Ward, who feared that the emergence of the Independent Political Labour League (IPLL) would split the vote on the political left and thus be beneficial to the conservative opposition, who in 1909 formed the Reform Party. Ward expected that this electoral mechanism would result in all second ballots to be between Liberal and conservative (Reform) candidates. In the Wellington East electorate, however, two Liberal candidates received similar votes and both were eliminated in the first ballot. This left the Labour candidate, David McLaren, face a conservative candidate and with many liberal voters transferring their allegiance to McLaren, he became the only candidate of the IPLL who was ever elected to the House of Representatives.

Election Restlts [10]
Election candidates seats won votes percentage
1905 9 0 3,747 0.87%
1908 11 1 16,974 3.95%

WHas The IPLL had more success in local government politics. Particularly in Wellington, the IPLL had many candidates elected as city councillors and harbour board members such as Frank Moore and Alfred Hindmarsh. [11] IPLL MP David McLaren was later elected the Mayor of Wellington, serving from 1912 to 1913. IPLL candidates were successful in the 1905, 1907 and 1909 Wellington City Council elections.

Francis (Frank) Thomas Moore was a New Zealand political activist.

Alfred Hindmarsh New Zealand politician

Alfred Humphrey Hindmarsh was a New Zealand politician, lawyer and unionist. He died in the 1918 influenza epidemic.

Mayor of Wellington City Wikimedia list article

The Mayor of Wellington City is the head of the municipal government of Wellington, New Zealand, and presides over the Wellington City Council. Adjacent local bodies – Lower Hutt, Upper Hutt, and Porirua – have their own mayors. The Mayor is directly elected using STV.

List of presidents

Position in wider Labour politics

The IPLL itself, however, was increasingly failing. Internal disputes, such as whether the party should work with or against the Liberals, created tension, and the party was generally disorganised. In 1910, the remnants of the IPLL were relaunched as a new organisation, known as the Labour Party (not to be confused with the modern party of the same name). Eventually, this Labour Party joined with several independent groups to create the United Labour Party, which then merged with the Socialist Party to form the Social Democratic Party. The Social Democrats, along with various members of the United Labour Party who had rejected the previous merger, eventually formed the basis of the modern Labour Party. [12]


  1. "Independent Political Labour League". The Evening Post . LXIX (118). 20 May 1905. p. 2. Retrieved 24 August 2011.
  2. Roth, Herbert Otto. "Independent Political Labour League". In McLintock, A. H. An Encyclopaedia of New Zealand . Ministry for Culture and Heritage / Te Manatū Taonga. Retrieved 21 November 2015.
  3. Brown 1980, p. 9.
  4. Gustafson 1980, p. 18.
  5. "The Recent Election – Men who Lost Money". Wairarapa Daily Times . XXIX (8327). 19 December 1905. p. 7. Retrieved 24 August 2011.
  6. "Results of the Polls". Ashburton Guardian . xxii (6742). 7 December 1905. p. 2. Retrieved 24 August 2011.
  7. Gustafson 1980, p. 19.
  8. "The General Election, 1908". National Library. 1909. pp. 13, 31. Retrieved 2 February 2014.
  9. Brown 1980, p. 11.
  10. Paul, J.T. (1946). Humanism in Politics: New Zealand Labour Party in Retrospect. Wellington, NZ: New Zealand Worker Printing and Publishing. p. 38.
  11. Taylor, Kerry. "Hindmarsh, Alfred Humphrey – Biography". Dictionary of New Zealand Biography . Ministry for Culture and Heritage . Retrieved 23 December 2011.
  12. Brown, Bruce. "Labour Party". In McLintock, A. H. An Encyclopaedia of New Zealand . Ministry for Culture and Heritage / Te Manatū Taonga. Retrieved 15 July 2015.

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