Liberal-Labour (UK)

Last updated
Leader Thomas Burt
Founder George Odger
FoundedFebruary 17, 1870 (1870-02-17)
DissolvedDecember 14, 1918 (1918-12-14)
National affiliation Liberal Party

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 1870 Southwark by-election. 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 1893 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 MPs

William Abraham Rhondda SWMF/MFGB [1] 18851910Joined the Labour Party in 1910
Joseph Arch North West Norfolk NALU 18851886
Joseph Arch North West Norfolk NALU/None18921900
William Brace Glamorganshire, South MFGB [1] 19061909Joined the Labour Party in 1909
Henry Broadhurst Stoke-upon-Trent Masons 18801885
Henry Broadhurst Birmingham Bordesley Masons 18851886
Henry Broadhurst Nottingham West Masons 18861892
Henry Broadhurst Leicester Masons [1] 18941906
John Burns Battersea Local committee [1] 18921905Sat as a Liberal after joining the Henry Campbell-Bannerman cabinet. Retires as MP in 1918.
Thomas Burt Morpeth NMA/MFGB [1] 18741918
William Pollard Byles Shipley None18921895
Herbert James Craig Tynemouth None19061918
William Crawford Mid Durham DMA 18851890
Randal Cremer Haggerston ASCJ [1] 18851895
Randal Cremer Haggerston ASCJ 19001908
John Charles Durant Stepney None18851886
Enoch Edwards Hanley MFGB [1] 19061909Joined the Labour Party in 1909
Charles Fenwick Wansbeck NMA/MFGB [1] 18851918
Frederick Hall Normanton MFGB [1] 19051909Joined the Labour Party in 1909
William Edwin Harvey North East Derbyshire MFGB 19071910Joined the Labour Party in 1910
John George Hancock Mid Derbyshire MFGB 19091918Joined Labour Party 1910. Re-joined Liberal Party 1915.
John George Hancock Belper MFGB 19181923Sat as a Liberal.
George Howell Bethnal Green North East Operative Bricklayers 18851895
John Hagan Jenkins Chatham Associated Shipwrights [1] 19061906Joined the Labour Party soon after election
John Johnson Gateshead MFGB [1] 19041910 Jan
William Johnson Nuneaton MFGB [1] 19061909Joined the Labour Party in 1909; Liberal from 1914
Barnet Kenyon Chesterfield MFGB 19131929Broadly a Liberal after 1918
Joseph Leicester West Ham South Glassmakers 18851886
Alexander Macdonald Stafford MNA 18741881
Fred Maddison Sheffield Brightside Typographical Association 18981900
Fred Maddison Burnley Typographical Association 19061910 Jan
George Nicholls North Northamptonshire NUAW 19061910 Jan
William Parrott Normanton MFGB 19041905
Ben Pickard Normanton YMA/MFGB 18851904
Arthur Richardson Nottingham South Local committee [1] 19061910 Jan
Arthur Richardson Rotherham 19171918
Thomas Richards West Monmouthshire MFGB [1] 19041909Joined the Labour Party in 1909
James Rowlands Finsbury East None [1] 18861895
Albert Stanley North West Staffordshire MFGB 19071910Joined the Labour Party in 1910
W. C. Steadman Stepney Barge Builders [1] 18981900
W. C. Steadman Finsbury Central Barge Builders 19061910 Jan
Henry Harvey Vivian Birkenhead ASCJ 19061910 Dec
John Wadsworth Hallamshire MFGB [1] 19061910Joined the Labour Party in 1910
John Williams Gower MFGB [1] 19061909Joined the Labour Party in 1909
Havelock Wilson Middlesbrough Sailors and Firemen 18921900
Havelock Wilson Middlesbrough Sailors and Firemen [1] 19061910 Jan
John Wilson Houghton-le-Spring DMA 18851886
John Wilson Mid Durham DMA/MFGB [1] 18901915
Sam Woods Ince MFGB 18921895
Sam Woods Walthamstow MFGB 18971900

See also

Related Research Articles

Joseph Havelock Wilson, commonly known as Havelock Wilson or J. Havelock Wilson, was a British trade union leader, Liberal Party politician, and campaigner for the rights of merchant seamen.

The Miners' Federation of Great Britain (MFGB) was established after a meeting of local mining trade unions in Newport, Wales in 1888. The federation was formed to represent and co-ordinate the affairs of local and regional miners' unions in England, Scotland and Wales whose associations remained largely autonomous. At its peak, the federation represented nearly one million workers. It was reorganised into the National Union of Mineworkers in 1945.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">John Williams (Gower MP)</span> Welsh politician

John Williams was a Welsh Labour Party politician.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Frederick Hall (Normanton MP)</span> British politician

Frederick Hall was a British Liberal Party or Lib-Lab then Labour Party politician who was an official of the Yorkshire Miners' Association.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Charles Stanton</span> British politician

Charles Butt Stanton was a British politician, who served as an Member of Parliament (MP) from 1915 to 1922. He entered Parliament by winning one of the two seats for Merthyr Tydfil at a by-election on 25 November 1915 caused by the death of Labour Party founder, Keir Hardie. After the two-member Merthyr Tydfil seat was divided into two single member seats, Stanton focused on the Aberdare division, which he won at the 1918 general election, but lost at the 1922 general election.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Robert Smillie</span> Scottish trade unionist and Labour Party politician

Robert Smillie was a Scottish trade unionist and Labour Party politician. He was a leader of the coal miners, and played a central role in moving support from the miners away from the Liberal Party to the Labour Party. He had a firm commitment to socialism as an ideal, and militancy as a tactic.

John George Hancock was a Liberal and sometimes Labour Party politician and Trade Unionist in the United Kingdom.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Thomas Richards (Welsh politician)</span> Welsh trade unionist and politician (1859–1931)

Thomas Richards was a Welsh trade unionist and politician.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">John Wilson (Mid Durham MP)</span> British politician

John Wilson was an English coal miner, trade unionist, and a Liberal Member of Parliament (MP) for more than 25 years.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">John Wadsworth</span>

John Wadsworth was a British trade unionist and Liberal or Lib-Lab politician.

The 1913 Chesterfield by-election was a by-election held for the British House of Commons constituency of Chesterfield in Derbyshire on 20 August 1913.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">William Johnson (Liberal-Labour politician)</span>

William Johnson MBE was an English coal miner, trade unionist and Liberal-Labour (Lib-Lab) politician from Warwickshire. He sat in the House of Commons from 1906 to 1918.

The 1897 Barnsley by-election, was a by-election held on 28 October 1897 for the House of Commons of the United Kingdom. It was notable for its role in the development of the Independent Labour Party.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">John Johnson (British politician)</span>

John Johnson was a British trade unionist and Lib-Lab politician.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">W. E. Harvey</span> British MP

William Edwin Harvey, known as W. E. Harvey, was a British Lib-Lab Member of Parliament.

The 1914 North East Derbyshire by-election was a Parliamentary by-election held on 20 May 1914. The constituency returned one Member of Parliament (MP) to the House of Commons of the United Kingdom, elected by the first past the post voting system. About a third of the electorate were directly involved in the mining industry. This was the penultimate by-election to take place before the outbreak of the First World War. It demonstrated the weakness of support for the Labour party in 1914 when opposed by a Liberal party candidate.

Sir Harold Elverston was a British Liberal Party politician.

Joseph Toyn was a British trade unionist.

Several British members of Parliament have been sponsored by mining trade unions. Many were sponsored by the National Union of Mineworkers, its predecessor the Miners' Federation of Great Britain, and the local trade unions which preceded it.

Trade union sponsorship of UK members of Parliament was a phenomenon whereby a union supported a member of the House of Commons with financial contributions.


  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 "The labour members and the Labour Party", The Times , 30 January 1906