Posts Tagged ‘Tonypandy’

Labour history uncut: 358 days with George Barnes

27/12/2012, 10:33:51 PM

by Pete Goddard and Atul Hatwal

After the January 1910 election, Labour had, if anything, moved slightly backwards. But that was as nothing compared to the disaster the Liberals had experienced.

They had asked the country “who governs this nation: the peers or the people?” The voters of Britain had responded saying, “democracy is nice but ooh, feel that lovely soft ermine and listen to those posh voices. Can we phone a friend?”

This 1910 election poster foolishly pits the Liberals against a coalition of Santas

From 1906, when the Liberals enjoyed a landslide of 397 seats with a majority of more than 130 over all the other parties combined, they had slumped to just 274 seats – smaller than the Tories.

Parliament was hung (not “like a horse” but “like a legislative body where no clear majority exists on any side”) and the Liberal government was now a coalition, with the Liberals reliant on the support of the Irish nationalists to retain a majority in the House of Commons. If they could keep Labour on side too, so much the better.

The inconclusive nature of the election result meant another poll was surely around the corner.

That made for a tough year for Labour, waiting for this inevitable election. It was particularly hard for one George Barnes. He was the man in the hot seat as the new leader of the Labour party, a job that came with few perks and a dress code that included a pair of trousers with “kick here” embroidered on the seat.


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