The dawn of the Labour Party


January 13, 1893
The first conference of the National Independent Labour Party was opened at Bradford yesterday morning, and was attended by about 150 delegates. Mr. Keir Hardie, M.P., was voted to the chair, and after the transaction of some formal business, considerable discussion followed as to the title of the party.

A proposition to call the party the Socialist Labour Party was defeated by an overwhelming majority, and it was resolved that the name of the party should be the Independent Labour Party.

Keir Hardie
Keir Hardie

The object of the conference was discussed, several organisations submitting a resolution to the effect that it should be to secure the collective and communal ownership of all means of production, distribution, and exchange.

An amendment was moved to his declaring the object to be the separate representation of labour interests on public bodies. The discussion was here interrupted by a report of the Standing Orders Committee on an objection to the credentials of Mr. Bernard Shaw and Mr. De Mattos, representatives of the London Fabian Society. It was urged there was ample proof that the Fabian Society had no intention of affiliating with the party, but after a lengthy argument a resolution admitting these gentlemen to the Conference was passed by 49 votes to 47.

Further discussion upon the objects of the party ended in the carrying of a resolution almost unanimously, with the omission of the word communal. Amongst other resolutions agreed to was one declaring in favour of independent representation on all legislative, governing, and administrative bodies as the best way of effecting the economic emancipation of the workers. A resolution was adopted in favour of federation with that object. The conference then adjourned for lunch.

At the afternoon session the Chairman delivered his inaugural address, which was largely taken up by definitions of the objects of the labour movement. In conclusion, he said it was no vain boast or exaggeration to say that the eyes of the people of this country were fixed on Bradford. Politicians were longing to see the apple of discord thrown down, but behind there were the wailing millions looking hopefully to their conference.

The aim of the labour movement was to direct the attention of the workers away from the questions of the reform of the political machinery, no matter how important those might be, and concentrate their whole energies on the one problem as to how to restore to the working classes of the community the capital and land without which they could not live and carry on their industrial operations.

He trusted that the form which the organisation would ultimately assume would be one which would leave to every locality the most ample freedom to develop along its own lines – (Hear, hear) – and that they would have ample confident in the central executive which they might elect.

The Conference afterwards adjourned.
(Source: Sunderland Daily Echo: January 14, 1893)