Tuesday, 8 August 2017

With the Labour Party Conference at Lambeth Baths in 1913 supporting the right of women to vote

I am looking at a photograph of the Labour Party Conference in 1913.

It was held at the Lambeth Baths at the end of January and it seems an odd choice of subject for a picture post card.

But the Labour Party was beginning to shake a few trees.

It had been formed as the Labour Representation Committee in 1900 as "a distinct Labour group in Parliament, who shall have their own whips, and agree upon their policy, which must embrace a readiness to cooperate with any party which for the time being may be engaged in promoting legislation in the direct interests of labour."*

Its role was to coordinate attempts to support MPs sponsored by trade unions and represent the working-class.

In 1906 the LRC won 29 seats and at the first meeting after the election the group’s MPs adopted the name “the Labour Party.”

So here we are in the Lambeth Baths at what was their eighth conference since the adoption of the new name.

Now I have yet to find out the details of that three day conference but I do know that it was here that the Labour Party decided to oppose any legislation which merely extended the vote to more men.  They were instead fully committed to votes for women and would only support moves to that end.

In response the National Union of Women’s Suffrage Societies, sent a telegram on the second day of the conference expressing “Heartfelt congratulations on fine policy adopted by conference.”

In time I guess I will be able to unearth who all the delegates were and the rest of their decisions, but in the meantime I am drawn to the details in the photograph and in particular the reference to the Daily Citizen.

This was a short lived newspaper which hit the streets in October 1913, just months after the launch of the Daily Herald.

Delegates and spectators might well have whiled away some of the more tedious moments with the paper or gazed at the poster with its stirring slogan of “Forward! The day is breaking.”

And amongst those earnest people looking back at us would have been the delegates from the Woolwich Labour Party which still in the 1960s had the largest membership of any constituency Labour Party, but that is for another time.

Pictures; the Labour Party Conference 1913, courtesy of Mark Flynn Postcards, http://www.markfynn.com/london-postcards.htm and the poster, Forward! The day is breaking” the Labour Party

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