Labour Elector

The Labour Elector was founded by Henry Hyde Champion, Tom Mann and John Burns in 1888. The three men had previously been members of the Social Democratic Federation and had worked for the party journal Justice. The paper campaigned for the eight-hour day, denounced bad employers and criticised trade union Liberal MPs in the House of Commons.

Henry Hyde Champion was appointed editor of the Labour Elector. As well as writing about industrial disputes Champion also helped to organize them, and in 1888 joined with Annie Besant and her socialist journal, The Link, to help the Matchgirls Union defeat the Bryant & May company. The following year Champion emerged with Ben Tillett, Tom Mann and John Burns as one of the leaders of the London Dock Strike.

The Labour Elector (1st November, 1888)
The Labour Elector (1st November, 1888)

James Keir Hardie, who had established his own newspaper, The miner, became the Scottish correspondent of the Labour Elector in 1889. The Labour Elector argued strongly for a new working-class party with strong links to the trade union movement. The newspaper was very enthusiastic about the formation of the Independent Labour Party. It also took a great deal of the credit for the party's existence. In the Labour Elector published on 21st January 1893, the Henry Hyde Champion wrote that: "The first Conference of the Independent Labour Party has been a great and unqualified success. These results are due, principally and originally, to our work."

In May 1893 the Labour Elector became a monthly, rather than a weekly newspaper. The following month Henry Hyde Champion added the sub-heading: 'The Organ of the Independent Labour Party'. However, trade unionists in the ILP were suspicious of Champion. At a conference in Manchester in February 1894, references were made to Champion's involvement with the Conservative Party in the 1884 General Election and delegates suggested that he was not to be trusted. Champion was so upset by these comments he stopped publishing the Labour Elector and emigrated to Australia.