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Labour's long search for someone like Jeremy Corbyn. See below...


Welcome to InfoBritain, for historical visiting information in the UK. InfoBritain tells you what happened and where it happened. We have articles and visits relating to all historical periods from prehistoric Britain to recent times, and to the lives of major British authors, artists, musicians, scientists, politicians, military and royal figures. You can use our site search, or our various menus to find suggested visits relating to times or people. Alternatively go to the regions menu, find a place to visit in a particular area, and then link back to the history relating to it. We also have a full accommodation booking service for all parts of the mainland UK. We specialise in historic accommodation, but we also have comprehensive lists of hotels of all types and price ranges. See the regional menus on the right. Enjoy!

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A Personal Note (Archive)

October 1, 2016

The history of the Labour Party could be seen as a continual search for someone like Jeremy Corbyn. The search began in the earliest days of the party, as a hunt for the first genuine Labour member of Parliament. For many years, two miners were pushed into this role - Alexander Macdonald, leader of the Lanarkshire miners, and John Burt, secretary of the Northumberland miners. These two men entered Parliament in the 1870s. Up until 1920, Macdonald was named by Labour Party historians as "Britain's first Labour member" (see The Book Of The Labour Party, ed H. Tracey Vol 32 P16). The problem as time went on was the willingness of Macdonald and Burt to enter into alliances with the Liberals to support their position, which eventually had historians ousting them as Labour Party founders.

With Macdonald and Burt no longer fitting the bill, Labour chroniclers looked for a different founding father. For a while they tended to settle on a miners' union representative and journalist named Keir Hardie who entered Parliament in 1892. Hardie won his time as Labour's apparent founder because, like Jeremy Corbyn, he was not a political animal at all. He refused to enter into the alliances his colleagues felt necessary. He stood alone as a party of one. But the fate of Keir Hardie is instructive, because inspite of his apparent attractions as a founding father, even the most enthusiastic historians realised that Hardie could not realistically be the creator of any party, because he simply was not a party man. Historians were then forced back into the world of fudge and compromise. Once Keir Hardie was quietly put to one side, the 1906 election became a defining moment for Labour, when 29 Labour Representation Committee MPs were returned. But even after this apparent breakthrough, the Labour Party still struggled to maintain distinctive independence from the Liberals. All Labour MPs were only elected because of local Liberal associations deciding not to put a candidate up against the Labour candidate and thereby splitting the non-Conservative vote. Labour, for all intents and purposes was still a wing of the Liberal Party.

So once more the quest had to begin, and it continues today. In the end, however, it seems that the Labour party's almost religiously inspired search for a divinely unsullied leader, does not have much to do with the reality of politics.


Best wishes


The InfoBritain view of history (with thanks to The Simpsons)


Historical news for October

Following a move from its former home near Tower Bridge, the Design Museum is now in the last stages of its redevelopment at new premises in Kensington High Street. The Museum shop is open, with the rest of the museum opening next month.

This year is the 300th anniversary of the birth of landscape gardener Capability Brown. The National Trust is celebrating this with events at many of its properties across the country. For more information go to


Anniversaries for October

4th October 1976: British Rail begins its new 125mph High Speed Train Service. An adult single ticket from London to Bristol cost £5.

3rd October 1952: Tea rationing finally ends in Britain.

14th October 1987: A massive storm hits southern England, causing £1 billion worth of damage, killing 18 people and injuring hundreds. The Met Office is criticised for not giving adequate warning.

22nd October 1884: The Royal Observatory, Greenwich is adopted as the universal time meridian of the world.

24th October 1857: Sheffield FC is founded, the oldest football club still in existence.

30th October 1794: Diarist Elizabeth Simcoe, wife of the first lieutenant governor of Upper Canada, writes of taking delivery of a canoe... "We have received from Montreal a birch bark canoe such as is used by the North-West Company to transport their goods to the Grand Portage. It requires 12 men to paddle is large enough to contain four or five passengers to sit very commodiously in the centre under an awning. An Indian woman came to-day with pitch, which is made by the Indians from fir trees, to gum the canoe if any part of it is worn off by bringing it hither. She held a piece of pitch in her hand, and melted it by applying a piece of burning wood. Her figure was perfectly wild & witch like & a little fire with a kettle on it by her side, in a stormy dark day, the waves roaring on the beach near which she stood formed a scene very wildly picturesque."

30th October 1938: A radio dramatisation of H.G. Well's War of the Worlds causes a short lived panic in the United States, when listeners believe a Martian invasion is underway.


A preview of my novel - about a girl who discovers that surprisingly she can't find her way to the sort of secret world found in story books. So she searches for an alternative.



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Thank you to photo contributors Danielle Davis, Jean Edwards, Vicky Eagle of Portsmouth Dockyard, Kevin Edwards, Derick Fusco, Julian Jones, Richard Jones, Jackie Lewis, Debbie Lowless, Judy Mills of the Corinium Museum, Jane Barron of the World Rugby Museum, and Susan Stuart of Old Spitalfields Market.

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