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Tuesday, 26 May 2015

Keir Hardie

James Keir Hardie was born in Newhouse, Lanarkshire, Scotland on August 15, 1856. The illegitimate son of Mary Keir, a domestic servant, James grew up in desperate poverty.

He started working as a coal miner at the age of ten. Hardie's bosses stopped him from working down the mine when he organised a union.

Hardie became a politician, and was elected as the Member of Parliament for the East London constituency of West Ham in 1892.

At first Hardie was a Liberal, but he was interested in forming a working class party. Together with various trade unions and the Fabian Society he founded the Independent Labour Party in 1893 to represent the laboring classes in the British Parliament.

Portrait of ILP leader Keir Hardie painted at the time of the foundation of the organisation in 1893.

Seven years, after Hardie founded the Independent Labour Party, it became the modern Labour party in 1900. He was elected as the first Chairman of the Parliamentary Labour Party in 1906.

Despite being brought up as an atheist, Hardie converted to Christianity through the ministry of the great American evangelist D L Moody. He joined the Evangelical Union Church and became a lay preacher. He once wrote "I claim for Socialism that it is the embodiment of Christianity in our industrial system."

Hardie met his future wife Lillias at a temperance meeting.

Keir Hardie eschewed the smart suits worn by other MPs in favor of crumpled jackets.

A photograph of Keir Hardie in 1909.

Hardie was mocked in Parliament when he wore a 'cloth cap' instead of a top hat.

Hardie died in Glasgow on September 26, 1915 of pneumonia, following a series of strokes.His family in Cunnock, Ayrshire, was so poor that a collection had to be organised to provide for his daughter, sons and widow. 

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