Red Clydeside: A history of the labour movement in Glasgow 1910-1932


ILP delegates, Edinburgh conference, 1924

image from Red Clydeside collection

The Independent Labour Party (ILP) made its electoral breakthrough in 1922, when it won 10 out of the 15 Glasgow parliamentary seats and sent a total of 29 Scottish MPs to Westminster. The following year, in the 1923 General Election, the ILP increased its number of Scottish MPs to 35 and in doing so contributed to Labour's continuing strength in Parliament and the election of the first Labour Government of 1924. The elections of 1922 and 1923 produced a crop of outstanding Scottish ILP MPs including, Maxton, Shinwell, Kirkwood and Johnston, and it was John Wheatley the MP for Glasgow Shettleston, who as Minister for Health steered through the greatest achievement of the first minority Labour government, The 1924 Housing Act. This Act introduced the first programme of large-scale council house building in which 2.5 million homes were built to ease the plight of those living in slum and exploitative accommodation.

However, the close relationship which the ILP enjoyed with the Labour Party was not to last and less than 8 years after the ILPs electoral and ministerial contribution to the 1924 Labour Government the ILP was to disaffiliate from the Labour Party. Disaffiliation in 1932 came as no surprise and was in fact the end product of years of frustration and tension within the ILP at Labour's reformist outlook and failure to adopt policies based on socialist doctrine when in government.

Following disaffiliation from the Labour Party the ILP adopted a `revolutionary' programme but lost most of its members and influence within the Labour Movement, although it did maintain a political base in it's stronghold of Glasgow. The ILP was able to maintain a parliamentary presence until the 1945 General Election although thereafter limping along without direction or influence until 1975 when it eventually ceased to exist as a political party.

Source: W.D. Kerr Collection, Glasgow City Archives