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Keir Hardie

Scottish socialist and labour leader

James Keir Hardie (15 August 185626 September 1915) was a Scottish socialist and labour leader, and one of the first two Labour MPs elected to the UK Parliament after the establishment of the Labour Representation Committee (later the Labour Party).


  • From his childhood onward this boy [the future Edward VIII] will be surrounded by sycophants and flatterers by the score—[Cries of ‘Oh, oh!’]—and will be taught to believe himself as of a superior creation. [Cries of ‘Oh, oh!’] A line will be drawn between him and the people whom he is to be called upon some day to reign over. In due course, following the precedent which has already been set, he will be sent on a tour round the world, and probably rumours of a morganatic alliance will follow—[Loud cries of ‘Oh, oh!’ and ‘Order!’]—and the end of it all will be that the country will be called upon to pay the bill. [Cries of Divide!]
    • House of Commons speech (1894)
  • We are called upon at the beginning of the twentieth century to decide the question propounded in the Sermon on the Mount, as to whether we will worship God or Mammon. The present day is a Mammon-worshipping age. Socialism proposes to dethrone the brute-god Mammon and to lift humanity into its place. I beg to submit, in this very imperfect fashion, the resolution on the paper, merely promising that the last has not been heard of the Socialist movement either in the country or on the floor of this House, but that, just as sure as Radicalism democratised the system of government politically in the last century, so will socialism democratise the country industrially during the century upon which we just entered.
    • Moving a motion calling for a Socialist Commonwealth in the House of Commons, 23 April 1901.
    • Hansard, HC 5ser vol 92 cols 1179-80.
  • For my own part I have always maintained that to claim for the Socialist movement that it is a "class" war dependent for its success upon the "class" consciousness of one section of the community is doing Socialism an injustice, and indefinitely postponing its triumph. It is, in fact, lowering it to the level of a mere faction fight. Socialism offers a platform broad enough for all to stand upon who accept its principles ... Socialism makes war upon a system, not upon a class.
    • Article in Labour Leader, September 1904.
    • "Keir Hardie's Speeches and Writings", edited by Emrys Hughes ("Forward" Printing and Publishing Company Ltd, Glasgow, 1928), pp. 118, 120.

Quotes about Keir HardieEdit

  • The Independent Labour Party is extremely indefinite in its tactics, and its leader, Keir Hardie, is a super-cunning Scot, whose demagogic tricks are not to be trusted for a minute. Although he is a poor devil of a Scottish coal miner, he has founded a big weekly, The Labour Leader [366], which could not have been established without considerable money, and he is getting this money from Tory or Liberal-Unionist, that is, anti-Gladstone and anti-Home Rule sources. There can be no doubt about this, and his notorious literary connections in London as well as direct reports and his political attitude confirm it. Consequently, owing to desertions by Irish and radical voters [367], he may very easily lose his seat in Parliament at the 1895 general elections and that would be a stroke of good luck — the man is the greatest obstacle at present. He appears in Parliament only on demagogic occasions, in order to cut a figure with phrases about the unemployed — without getting anything done — or to address imbecilities to the Queen [A] on the occasion of the birth of a prince, which is infinitely banal and cheap in this country, and so forth. Otherwise there are very good elements both in the Social-Democratic Federation and in the Independent Labour Party, especially in the provinces, but they are scattered; yet they have at least managed to foil all the efforts of the leaders to incite the two organisations against each other.
    • Friedrich Engels[1]

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