Keir Hardie Centenary Celebrations

‘The Keir Hardie Factor’ at the Edinburgh Festival tomorrow (Thursday 27 August) is the first in a series of events being held across the country over the next month to mark the centenary of the Labour Party founder’s death on 26 September 1915.

Hardie signature headshotThe Edinburgh event will be followed by a discussion with writer Melissa Benn and Labour MP Keir Starmer, at London’s National Portrait Gallery on 3 September, called ‘What Would Keir Hardie Say?’; the Keir Hardie Centenary Conference at the Working Class Movement Library on 26 September; and the launch of a new book of essays on Keir Hardie at Labour Party conference in Brighton on 27 September, with Jeremy Corbyn.

‘The Keir Hardie Factor’ will look at the future of the Labour Party by revisiting its roots, asking ‘What is to be done to ensure its continued identification with socially progressive ideas?’ Speakers include Pauline Bryan and Richard Leonard of the Keir Hardie Society, plus former first minister of Scotland Henry McLeish. Tickets cost £5. More details here.

‘What Would Keir Hardie Say?’ is organised to coincide with the National Portrait Gallery’s current display on Hardie, called ‘Keir Hardie: Radical, Socialist, Feminist’, which runs until December.

Chaired by Guardian political columnist Rafael Behr, Benn and Starmer will discuss Hardie’s political life and legacy, particularly for the Labour Party now. Tickets are £8 and more details are here.

The Keir Hardie Centenary Conference in Salford will feature a keynote address from Labour historian David Howell of the University of York followed by papers on Hardie’s relationship with Wales and Ireland, and an afternoon session on Hardie and leadership.

Attendance costs £20 but places must be reserved and paid for in advance by emailing Royston Futter on More details here.

Corbyn will be just one of the speakers at the ‘meet the authors’ event at Brighton’s Hilton Hotel on 27 September, along with Benn, Owen Smith MP and John Callow. The book of essays, also called What Would Hardie Say?, will be published by Luath Press. It is edited by Pauline Bryan and available for £9.99.

The Brighton event is free. It starts at 17:30 in the Surrey 2 room at the Hilton Hotel. More details from Pauline Bryan: and the Keir Hardie Society.


1 Comment

  1. Barry Winter
    1 September 2015

    Anyone interested in the current debate about Keir Hardie should find Melissa Benn’s Guardian article much better informed than Alan Johnson’s recent contribution. Johnson and others on the party’s right (including Peter Mandelson no less) have tried to appropriate Hardie for their own political ends.

    Benn lucidly shows how mistaken they are and her critique is to be welcomed.

    Pity, however, that she makes no mention of the role of the ILP. This is not said for sentimental reasons. For Hardie, the grassroots ILP provided the very basis from which to take radical politics to the wider society. That’s what he loved doing and how he spent most of his life.

    Benn is right to say Hardie was an inspirational figure – but this was done for a very clear purpose. It is also fair to argue, as she does, that he was a “diffident party leader” (although strictly speaking he was chair of the parliamentary party).

    For Hardie, the Labour Party had to win votes and seats in the Commons. Whereas the ILP had an equally vital role: to win hearts and minds, not least amongst the young. Only in this way could an ethical and socially just society be established.

    For Hardie, combining those two aims provided the creative tension necessary to build a better world. This is no less relevant today.

Comments are closed.