Labour Party (LP)

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Colonel Creswell

The Labour Party (LP) came into being after the formation of the Union of South Africa in 1910. Colonel F. H. P. Creswell was the leader of the party. It received most of its support from skilled white workers in cities and its major aim was to protect these white workers from competition from black workers for jobs.

In the 1910 general election the LP won only 5 seats in parliament so they didn't have much political influence. However, with industrial development in South Africa they increased their membership because many Afrikaners came to the cities to work on the mines as semi-skilled labourers. The Rand Revolt in 1922 also boosted LP support.

In 1923 J.B.M. Hertzog, leader of the National Party (NP), and Colonel Creswell formed a pact between their two parties. This meant that they would not oppose each other during elections and would support each other's candidates in certain constituencies they had agreed upon. Together they won the 1924 general elections and this placed the Pact Government in power. During the next few years the LP initiated important economic and industrial legislation but these laws did nothing to improve conditions for black workers. When the Pact Government went out of power in 1933 the LP lost most of its influence.

Much later, during World War II (1939-1945) the LP formed an alliance with the United Party, which was the combination of the South African Party (SAP) and the National Party (NP). In 1945, at the end of the war, this agreement came to an end and the LP's support decreased steadily. By 1958 it had no more representation in parliament. The Coloured Representative Council adopted the name Labour Party in the late 1960s but this party had no other connection to the original LP, the Pact partner of the 1920s.

Last updated : 14-Jul-2015

This article was produced by South African History Online on 30-Mar-2011

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