A panel of historians and politicians will mark the centenary of the formation of the first Labour government at the Mile End Institute in east London on 22 January, exactly 100 years since Ramsay MacDonald became the first ever Labour prime minister.
For the leader of the so-called ‘Wild Men’ – who helped to found the Labour Representation Committee in 1900 and had been the fledgling party’s leader for a little over a year – the formation of a minority administration was “an insane miracle”. The government was defeated just over nine months later, but it proved that Labour Party was willing and able to govern.
The Mile End Institute has assembled a host of experts on Labour politics, the constitution and interwar Britain, including Jon Cruddas MP and Dr David Torrance (whose new books, A Century of Labour and The Wild Men, will be published in January), plus Professor Jane Ridley (the author of George V: Never a Dull Moment) and Dr Richard Johnson (whose new book, Keeping the Red Flag Flying, will be published in April).
The discussion will be chaired by the journalist and former host of Radio 4’s Westminster Hour, Carolyn Quinn. It will focus on the King’s decision to call for MacDonald rather than the governing Conservative or Liberal parties, the Labour Party’s relationship with the Crown, and the government’s political and legislative achievements.
With a general election approaching, it will also explore the lessons that MacDonald’s minority administration offered to future Labour governments.