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Leader of the Labour Party (UK)

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Title: Leader of the Labour Party (UK)  
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Leader of the Labour Party (UK)

Leader of the Labour Party
Rt Hon. Ed Miliband MP

since 25 September 2010
Inaugural holder Keir Hardie
Formation 17 January 1906
Deputy Rt Hon. Harriet Harman MP
Website Labour Party Leader
Ed Miliband MP

The Leader of the Labour Party is the most senior politician within the Labour Party in the United Kingdom. Since 25 September 2010, the office has been held by Ed Miliband, following the resignation of former Prime Minister Gordon Brown.

Harriet Harman is currently the Deputy Leader of the Labour Party.


The post of Leader of the Labour Party was officially created in 1922. Before this time, between when Labour MPs were first elected in 1906 and the election in 1922, when substantial gains were made, the post was known as Chairman of the Parliamentary Labour Party.[1]

Unlike other British political party leaders, the Labour Leader does not have the power to dismiss or appoint their Deputy. Both the Leader and Deputy Leader are elected by an socialist societies and trade unions.

When the Labour Party is in Opposition, as it currently is, the Leader of the Labour Party usually acts as the Leader of the Opposition, and chairs the Shadow Cabinet. Concordantly, when the Party is in Government, the Leader would usually become the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, First Lord of the Treasury and Minister for the Civil Service, as well as appointing the Cabinet.

In 1921, John Robert Clynes became the first Leader of the Labour Party to be born in England; prior to this, all Leaders had been born in Scotland. In 1924, Ramsay MacDonald became the first ever Labour Prime Minister, leading a minority administration. Clement Attlee would become the first Leader to lead a majority government in 1945. The first to be born in Wales was Neil Kinnock, who was elected in 1983. The most electorally successful Labour Leaders to date are Tony Blair, who won three in 1997, 2001 (both landslide victories), and 2005, and Harold Wilson, who won four general elections out of five contested, in 1964, 1966, February 1974, and October 1974.

List of Leaders of the Labour Party

Leader Portrait Nation of Birth Constituency Took Office Left Office Prime Minister
Arthur Henderson Scotland Barnard Castle 22 January 1908 14 February 1910 Campbell-Bannerman
until April 1908
Asquith 1908–16
George Nicoll Barnes Scotland Glasgow Blackfriars and Hutchesontown 14 February 1910 6 February 1911
Ramsay MacDonald Scotland Leicester 6 February 1911 5 August 1914
Arthur Henderson Scotland Barnard Castle 5 August 1914 24 October 1917
Lloyd George 1916–22
William Adamson Scotland West Fife 24 October 1917 14 February 1921
John Robert Clynes England Manchester Platting 14 February 1921 21 November 1922
Law 1922–23
Ramsay MacDonald Scotland Aberavon 21 November 1922 1 September 1931
Baldwin 1923–24
himself 1924
Baldwin 1924–29
himself 1929–31
Arthur Henderson Scotland Burnley 1 September 1931 25 October 1932 MacDonald 1931–35
George Lansbury England Bow and Bromley 25 October 1932 8 October 1935
Clement Attlee England Limehouse 8 October 1935 14 December 1955 Baldwin 1935–37
Chamberlain 1937–40
Churchill 1940–45
himself 1945–51
Churchill 1951–55
Eden 1955–57
Hugh Gaitskell England Leeds South 14 December 1955 18 January 1963
Macmillan 1957–63
George Brown× England Belper 18 January 1963 14 February 1963
Harold Wilson England Huyton 14 February 1963 5 April 1976
Douglas-Home 1963–64
himself 1964–70
Heath 1970–74
himself 1974–76
James Callaghan England Cardiff South East 5 April 1976 10 November 1980 himself 1976–79
Thatcher 1979–90
Michael Foot England Ebbw Vale 10 November 1980 2 October 1983
Neil Kinnock Wales Islwyn 2 October 1983 18 July 1992
Major 1990–97
John Smith Scotland Monklands East 18 July 1992 12 May 1994
Margaret Beckett× England Derby South 12 May 1994 21 July 1994
Tony Blair Scotland Sedgefield 21 July 1994 24 June 2007
himself 1997–2007
Gordon Brown Scotland Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath 24 June 2007 11 May 2010 himself
Harriet Harman× England Camberwell and Peckham 11 May 2010 25 September 2010 Cameron 2010–present
Ed Miliband England Doncaster North 25 September 2010 Incumbent

×These assumed the role of party leader temporarily because of the death or resignation of the incumbent. In the case of Margaret Beckett, both were serving as Deputy Leader, and assumed the role temporarily following the sudden deaths of Hugh Gaitskell and John Smith respectively. Harriet Harman was Deputy Leader when Gordon Brown resigned, becoming Leader while the process of electing a new Leader was ongoing.[2]


It is not uncommon for a retired Leader of the Labour Party to be granted a peerage upon their retirement, particularly if they served as Prime Minister; examples of this include Clement Attlee and Harold Wilson. However, Neil Kinnock was also elevated to the House of Lords, despite never being Prime Minister, and Michael Foot declined a similar offer.

There are currently three living former Leaders of the Labour Party (with the period they were in office):

See also


  1. ^ Thorpe, Andrew. (2001) A History Of The British Labour Party, Palgrave, ISBN 0-333-92908-X
  2. ^ Labour Party Rule Book 2008, The Labour Party, retrieved 12 May 2010, When the party is in opposition and the party leader, for whatever reason, becomes permanently unavailable, the deputy leader shall automatically become party leader on a pro-tem basis. 
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