James Keir Hardie

1856 - 1915

Radical Socialist. A miner who became a founder of the British Labour Party. Born in Legbranock near Holytown, North Lanarkshire, Keir Hardie received no formal education and was working in a pit at Newarthill by the age of 10. He attempted to improve wages and conditions for miners and was sacked and black-listed by local mine owners. He was appointed Secretary of the Scottish Miner's Federation in 1886 and was also an active member of the temperance movement. He worked as a journalist in Cumnock (East Ayrshire), before editing his own socialist newspaper. He was a founder of the Scottish Labour Party in 1888 and stood for parliament for Mid-Lanark, but was defeated. He was finally being elected as Member of Parliament, first in the London constituency of West Ham (1892) and later for Merthyr Tydfil in Wales. His working-man's clothing did not go down well in the formal atmosphere of the House of Commons. This, and his activities in organising the workers, ensured he was not well liked. Keir Hardie was central to the formation of the British Independent Labour Party in 1893.

He died in Glasgow.

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