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Keir Hardie (1856-1915) British politician

James Keir Hardie was born into an underprivileged Scottish mining family and became a miner himself. It soon became obvious to his co-workers that he was a guy of exceptional abilities. He rapidly advanced in the Scottish Miners' Federation and in the infant Labour movement. He was elected to Parliament in 1892.

In January 1893, the Independent Labour Party was formed with Keir Hardie as its person in charge. Seven years later the Labour Representation Committee took form to nominate Labour MP's to the House of Representatives. This Committee was soon known as the Labour Party. Ramsay MacDonald was appointed Organising Secretary, although there was some uncertainty as to what his exact tasks would be, while Keir Hardie remained very much in control.

When in February 1906 the Liberals won massively at the elections, they were accompanied by 29 new members of Hardie's Committee. The jubilant Liberals did not realize that they had unconsciously let a Trojan Horse into Parliament. Within half a life span, the Labour Party would have taken their place as the main faction of opposition.

In April of the same year, Keir Hardie introduced a Bill to give the vote to women, but it was not voted on in Parliament, much to the annoyance of the emergent suffragette movement. The same proposal was decisively whitewashed a year later.

Although not a very vocal or active one, the bearded, pipe-smoking Keir Hardie was a republican, which caused many rumours when he was not invited to a Royal Garden Party for MP's the next year. He was still on the go in 1911 during the strike of dockers, railwaymen and transport workforces, when he addressed many gatherings. He went to meet his maker in 1915 at the age of 59.

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