Britain’s first Labour MP Keir Hardie on stage

This BBC video from Britain says about itself:

3 February 2013

An exploration of the origins of the Labour Party, told through the story of Keir Hardie, Britain’s first working class MP.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

The life of Labour’s first MP hits the stage

Thursday 11th August 2016

A NEW theatre production on the life of Labour pioneer Keir Hardie will be staged across libraries in Newham for free.

The site-specific play, dubbed A Splotch of Red: Keir Hardie in West Ham, will be performed across the borough’s libraries and community links in Canning Town.

Newham has strong links with Labour’s first MP when he stood as an independent candidate for the West Ham South constituency in the 1892 general election.

The production notes state: “An illegitimate and wretchedly poor son of a servant, Hardie had worked in the coal mines from the age of 10.

“How could he possibly take on the formidable might of the Conservative Party candidate, the wealthy and blue-blooded Major Banes?

“Could he actually win the election in West Ham and become Britain’s first socialist MP?”

The same production team, with writer Jim Kenworth and director James Martin Charlton, staged George Orwell’s Animal Farm on a city farm in Newham.

7 thoughts on “Britain’s first Labour MP Keir Hardie on stage

  1. Wednesday 24th
    posted by Morning Star in Arts

    A Splotch of Red: Keir Hardie in West Ham Beckton Globe Library, London E8/Touring

    Beckton Globe Library, London E8/Touring

    THIS show could not be more timely. Documenting, as it does, Keir Hardie’s historic victory in West Ham South as an Independent candidate in the 1892 general election it took place a mile or so near to the Romford Road, where Jeremy Corbyn was addressing his latest electrifying rally.

    Both paid tribute to the struggles of London’s East End, where trade unionists such as Ben Tillett, John Burns and Annie Besant won major disputes for worker’s rights in the late 19th century.

    But Keir Hardie refused to be stuck in the past, as does Corbyn now.

    A Splotch of Red by Jim Kenworth imagines Keir Hardie (Samuel Caseley) and Will Thorne (James Dallimore) returned to the 21st century to find that The Red Flag and ideas of class consciousness are not as prevalent as they once were.

    Yet they soon find that low wages and poor employment conditions very much are and set about convincing the local workers to take a stand.

    Through the story of Hardie’s election battle against Major Banes we are given a compressed history of the Labour movement in the area and the birth of the Labour Party. A buoyant bunch of young actors from the local area bring great energy to the tale of the “Major v the Miner,” reminding the audience of exactly where much debated “Labour values” really lie. It was difficult to leave not feeling inspired by this tale of grass-roots socialism.

    Using just a few wooden crates in a stripped-back space, this agit prop-style production directed by James Martin Charlton is precisely what community theatre is all about. Performed in local libraries, with local performers passing on local history to the local community, it’s touring at a time when over 100 council libraries have been shut in the last year alone.

    A Splotch of Red is a fitting reminder of why they were created in the first place — and their continued importance as a hub for community learning.

    Final performance Thursday August 25 at The Gate Library, Woodgrange Rd, London E7 OQH.

    Review by Mayer Wakefield


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